Girls Night: How Generation Y Tackles Gender Based Violence

Shaaz Nasir

The Girls Night Conference

Girls Night 2013 is a student-run conference on gender-based violence to be held at the University of Ottawa on February 8-9, 2013. The conference is a clear example of the type of social change and healthy discourse Generation Y is capable of. The conference is being organized by the Political and International Development Studies Student Association (PIDSSA) as a student initiative by second-year student Maddy Orr and her team. I met Maddy over coffee, and within moments was captivated by her raw drive to bring about real discussion on gender-based violence.

The event will include a keynote speaker, six riveting panel discussions, two workshops, an organization fair, a benefit concert, an hour of zumba (part of CWF’s Shelter from the Storm campaign) and a documentary showing.

Girls Night 2013 Committee

Girls Night 2013 Committee, back row (l-r) Shevaun Ensor, Zahura Ahmed, Alysha Vallée, front row (l-r) Brittany Skeritt, Liz Radtke, Maddy Orr, Megan Beretta, Rona Ghanbari. (photo cred: Miliban Keyim)

Mindthis recommends its Ottawa readers to attend the event for its contribution to the improvement of community life in Ottawa, its philanthropic initiative through the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and the networking potential for students and professionals at the organization fair and social events. Girls Night started as a high school project for Maddy a few years back and has grown since, spanning multiple high schools and is now into universities. This growth is a true testament to what happens when an all encompassing young professional acts on an idea.

The Girls Night Talk and Music

Girls Night 2013 begins with a keynote address by Aruna Papp, Canada’s expert on honour killings and culture-based violence. She will be speaking about public education on violence, her own experience as a survivor, and the current state of violence in immigrant communities in Canada. This will be at 7pm on Friday, February 8th at the University of Ottawa’s Lamoureux building.

Aruna Papp

Aruna Papp – Canadian expert on honour violence and culture-based violence. (photo cred: Aruna Papp)

Later that same night, the university will host a benefit concert for the Canadian Women’s Foundation featuring Montreal’s Motel Raphael and Bowmanville’s Eleven Past One. Entrance will by by donation, and the concert will be in the University Centre Terminus and Student Bar 1848, beginning at 9pm.

Motel Raphaël

Motel Raphaël, indie girl-band from Montreal will play the Girls Night Concert on February 8th at Ottawa U. (photo cred: Motel Raphaël)

Motel Raphael has just released their first official music video “Ghosts” and has been playing the Montreal indie scene for the last two years. A seven-piece band, this young band has been getting airtime across the country on CBC radio stations and on local Montreal radio. Eleven Past One is a boy band that has just hit the Much Music charts with the release of “The World is Ours”.

Eleven Past One

Eleven Past One, pop-rock band from Bowmanville, Ontario. The headliners for the Girls Night Concert on Feb 8th. (photo cred: Eleven Past One)

The Girls Night Workshops

The Saturday program is jam-packed with panels and workshops on the various dimensions and manifestations of gender-based violence.  The morning will be aimed at exploring the issue and debunking the myths that surround violence, such as the stereotypes surrounding rape culture. Some speakers and participating organizations include: PLAN Canada, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, Amnesty International, the Ottawa Police, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, University of Ottawa professors and many more. All panel discussions will be held in rooms on the second floor of the Montpetit Library.

The afternoon events on Saturday, February 9th will focus on activism and moving forward. PLAN Canada will be presenting a workshop on strategies for successful activism, the Canadian Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse will present about ending violence against men, the University of Ottawa’s Dr. Holly Johnson will address the evolution of violence in our communities and the academic approach to understanding violence.

The Girls Night Fair

Following the workshops, between 4pm and 5:30pm, the University Centre Terminus will welcome organizations from across Ottawa for an organization fair of activist groups, services, and resources that may be of interest to social workers, students, medical professionals, law professionals and survivors of violence.

The conference will conclude with a ‘Girls Night Out’ at JunXion Public House (15 George Street) that will begin, as a reception from 8-10pm, then will become an open event for the remainder of the evening.

The team behind Girls Night 2013 is an illustration of the work our connected generation can accomplish. I strongly encourage our readers to check out the events to open a conversation on violence against women at the student level and develop strategies for eradicating violence, and second: to raise funds for the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

For more information please visit the PIDSSA website.