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International Women’s Day 2024

Mar 8, 2024 | Institution / General

Otterburne, MB – Friday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. The 2024 theme is “Inspire Inclusion,” which speaks to the importance of involving all voices in the ongoing process that’s required to ensure the experience of full equality for all people. As described on the official International Women’s Day site, this annual event exists, “to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected,” and that, “one of the key pillars of Inspire Inclusion is the promotion of diversity in leadership and decision-making positions.” To this end, let us celebrate the vital work of the following women who occupy key leadership roles at Providence.

Karen Anderson – Director, Centre for On-Demand Education (CODE)

“I have had many positive female role models: teachers, Sunday School leaders, camp counsellors, aunts and neighbours who have all been influential. As I think about who has impacted my life, particularly today, my Grandmothers come to mind. They both lived very challenging lives. One was a survivor of domestic violence, and the other suffered the loss of a child. But even with these hardships, they lived lives that were intentionally positive. They focused on the good around them and caring for their family so that the family’s life experience was better than their own. One would have expected their hardships to be swept under the rug, but that was not the case. They pragmatically shared the stories, framing them to show that living through something hard was possible. Their faith and the support of their family were what they relied on. So, instead of being encompassed with grief or shame, what defined them was their love for their family, their creativity, curiosity about the natural world, and their innate desire to share themselves and their passions with their kids and grandkids. In them, we were all cherished. I never had to doubt their love for me. It was lived out. They instilled in me a way to go through life knowing there will be hard things, but those hardships don’t have to be where you stay. I have been so blessed by them, and now, as I share life with my kids and grandkids, it is the selfless example of my Grandmothers that I try to emulate and work to share with my family what was passed onto me – faith, curiosity, creativity, and love for family.”

Nicole Barnabé – Associate Dean, Prov Downtown

“There are so many notable and talented women that it was a challenge to narrow down the list of those who inspire me. Some of the contenders were Julian of Norwich for faith, the Notorious RBG for justice, and Dorothy Parker for wit. The most inspiring was Rosa Parks. When Mrs. Parks was ordered to vacate her seat in the Black section of an Alabama bus in 1955 so that a white man could take it, she refused to move – not because she was tired from work, but because she was tired of giving in to systematic racism and abuse. As a result of her peaceful resistance, the civil rights movement in the USA gained strength and momentum, and official segregation was abolished. She changed an entire country, not by attacking or retaliating or trying to rob other people of their dignity, but by claiming dignity and respect for herself and people like her.”

Rebecca Dielschneider – Department Chair, Natural & Social Sciences

“It is important to celebrate International Women’s Day because women often do so much work that is not acknowledged. Whether it is work in the home, for the family, or in an office, women often don’t receive the credit and respect they deserve. Hopefully, as we take some time to celebrate the achievements of women, we can become more aware of discrimination and work toward a more inclusive future.


Here at Providence, I look around and I see a lot of amazing women! I see women who are mastering accounting, information technology, financial aid, marketing, development, facilities maintenance, athletic and community programs, human resources, enrollment, registration, academic advising, student life, library services, education, mentorship, research, leadership, governance, and much more. Of note, we employ women in science, information technology, biblical studies, and management, which are all areas where men tend to dominate. Overall, this demonstrates that women are diverse and have a variety of passions and skills. Women can succeed in any type of job!


It is especially important to highlight the numerous women that hold positions of leadership at Providence. Women in Canada and across the world are making huge strides in the workplace, but continue to be unrepresented in senior positions of leadership. Less than one third of senior leaders in Canada are women.”

Donna Jones – Director, Buller School of Business

“The story goes that the Monday after my mother got married, while my father was at work, she ventured out to look for a job. She returned on Tuesday morning, reassuring my father that she had found a job as a housekeeper and that she started the position right away. Despite my father’s willingness to support my mother, she felt that God had a purpose for her life. I had a front row seat as I watched my mother balance her roles as a wife and mother, and eventually rising to become a supervisor working at the Provincial government level. The saying goes, ‘if you see it, you can be it.’ So, the other day when my son admitted that I wasn’t just his role model, but also that of his engineering friends, I can thank my mother for being my example.


International Women’s Day is important because it celebrates women’s achievements and emphasizes the gaps that exist in achieving gender equality. It is important to recognize the accomplishments of people like Michaëlle Jean, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Hillary Clinton; but we must also acknowledge the women in our everyday lives, such as our mothers, sisters, daughters, and teachers. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take almost 132 years to reach global gender equality (Global Gender Gap Report, 2022). We must accelerate that timeline.


As Director of the Buller School of Business and a business educator, it is important to support women through mentorship so that we can succeed in positions of leadership and to financially support women entrepreneurs. Women’s economic empowerment and executive success are crucial to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5 of Gender Equality.”

Hannah Loewen – Director, Library Services

“Celebrating International Women’s Day is important because it gives us the opportunity to recognize and highlight contributions women have made to our world. Despite challenges of limited opportunities and lower pay (compared to men), women reached new heights in science, medicine, the arts and sports this past year. This day is also a reminder of the value of women and the importance of defending women. It is a time to mourn the despicable and evil treatment of women here in Canada (MMIWG and human trafficking as examples) and in other countries, and to stand up for our sisters. Far too often we hear examples of a male dominated world, leading to unimaginable horrors for women. Let’s start a movement of loving and valuing our women beginning in Canada. Let’s hold all countries accountable.”

Heather Macumber – Department Chair, Biblical and Theological Studies & Humanities

“I am indebted to the work of previous generations of women academics who made it possible for me to earn a PhD. My two advisors, Judith Newman and Hindy Najman, were fantastic role models equipping me to research and teach in a traditionally male-dominated discipline. A first step to address gender inequality is the recognition that it exists. In my courses, I encourage students to acknowledge their lenses that privilege the stories of men in the biblical text. While we continue to read the stories of Abraham and Jacob, we also celebrate the legacies of Hagar, Leah, and Huldah. These marginalized stories not only highlight the inequalities of the past but speak into the present moment where women face similar struggles. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to recognize the work of women but also question spheres where women are underrepresented.”

Kathryn Mulolani – Director, Marketing

“There are many women who’ve inspired me. On the personal side, I am inspired by people closest to me like my mother and dear friends who’ve stuck by through hard times. I’ve also gleaned inspiration from reading books authored by women of faith such as Elizabeth Elliot (A Chance To Die) and Bilquis Sheikh (Dare To Call Him Father) who’ve emulated a life of courage and intimate devotion to our God who so lovingly leads us in both purpose and calling.


On the professional side, like many of us, I’ve been inspired by the stories of trailblazers like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michelle Obama, and Brené Brown. Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, also stands out to me as she explores topics like: balancing career and motherhood, partnering with your spouse to share equally in household duties, examining the barriers that women still face in the workplace and advocating for change.


I am encouraged by the strides women have made in leadership around the world, and hope for a brighter future for my own daughter with fewer barriers (i.e. gender biases and inflexible work scenarios) to overcome.”

Janice Priess – Department Chair, Counselling

“When I think about the celebration of International Women’s Day, I think of its value for us as Christians and how we are to live out the gospel in our lives. It provides an opportunity for us as a Christian community to affirm the inherent worth and value of women as equal partners in God’s creation. With its focus on the achievements and contributions of women throughout history it serves to inspire future generations. It is an opportunity to recognize how women’s experiences intersect, providing space to acknowledge the diverse challenges faced by women of different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and abilities. It also serves as a reminder about the need for us to advocate for gender equality and to challenge the injustices and discrimination still faced by women around the world, in line with the biblical call to pursue justice and stand up for the oppressed.”

Catherine Rust-Akinbolaji – Dean, University College

“I am inspired everyday by the women with whom I work. They are educators, scholars, writers, leaders, artists, athletes, healers, caregivers, risk takers and problem solvers. I have personally learned so much from each of them and I aspire to support and encourage them in any way that I can. It is my prayer that all who come to study at Providence are equally inspired by these women. And that our community sincerely values the opportunity to learn from the women of Providence what it truly means to grow in knowledge and character for leadership and service.”

Leshia Verkerk – Vice President, Student Life

“The woman who inspires me most will always be my mother. Tanya Knopf modelled how to lead with kindness and professionalism, and it brought her respect and appreciation. I was raised to never doubt that my voice had value and that my gender should never hold me back from my ambitions. It certainly never held her back. My mom loved and adored me and my brother. We were her pride and joy, but she showed me how to live a life of service and compassion inside the home and outside of it. I now look to her example as a working mother myself. It has been said that you rarely remember the words people say, but you remember how they made you feel, and my mom made people feel respected, heard, cared for, and above all, loved. I can only pray that God works through me the same way.”