It has been a long wait, but the University of Calgary finally has a women's centre of it's own. The Women's Resource Centre grand opening is Wed., Oct. 18, and students are invited to look at the new space and learn more about the centre's purpose.
The centre is located on the third floor of MacEwan Student Centre in the former Chaplain's Centre space. MSC was an ideal location because of the many services it houses and because it is accessed equally by people who teach, learn and work at the U of C, noted WRC executive director Stephanie Garret.
"The main goal is to enhance the overall experience of the women at U of C," said Garret. "We want part of their daily experience to be a welcoming environment where they can feel comfortable and interact."
With the inclusion of a bistro kitchen centre and meeting spaces, women can meet together to discuss concerns and issues, or just chat in a relaxed environment. Garret said the women's centre will be run on a non-hierarchical peer based model to allow women using the centre more input into what activities and programs will be offered.
"The centre is a space to study gender and women's issues that are relevant to the U of C mandate," said Garrett. " There are resources to help women ease the transition into jobs and careers. Women face challenges when going into traditionally male-dominated fields."
Although the university has always offered services for women, Garrett said many women are either unaware of the services, or not sure about how to access them. Many of the new services will help connect women with resources on campus, locally and internationally.
The women's centre will also open up volunteer-for-credit opportunities. Alex Judd is an executive member of the Feminist Initiative Recognizing Equality, a campus club that deals with social and feminist issues. She said many members from the club are volunteering at the grand opening.
"We're really excited about the centre," said Judd. "It's going to be great to have that space as a central meeting area."
Two new programs will involve international women and women from the queer community in leadership and volunteer initiatives. A mentorship program will also connect women entering the job market with career women. The Calgary Women's Centre is working to train volunteers for the centre.
Although the physical space is intended for women, men can still volunteer, lead sessions and access resources at the centre and Garret said she recognizes the important support role of fathers, brothers, partners and other men in women's lives.