The sky cleared over Brackley on Wednesday, September 3, just in time for an end-of-summer garden party at The Dunes to celebrate 150 years of work towards women’s equality in Prince Edward Island.
“When the Charlottetown Conference took place among men in 1864, women had no public political power at that time,” says Diane Kays, Chairperson of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women. “But in the past 150 years, through their own effort and advocacy, women have advanced the status of equality for all people. We thought it was a good time to celebrate that.”
The Equality Garden Party was attended by more than 120 people, many of them wearing special hats or fascinators for the occasion. The event was made possible by the PEI 2014 Fund and put on by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The Hon. Catherine Callbeck, a Canadian icon of women’s leadership in business and politics, served as honorary host for the event. In her words of welcome, Senator Callbeck quoted Emily Murphy, one of the “Famous Five” women who pushed for Canadian women to be recognized as persons under the law: “Nothing ever happens by chance. Everything is pushed from behind.”
The Equality Garden Party recognized the special role of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women by inviting past and current chairpersons, staff, and Council members as special guests. The Council is approaching its 40-year anniversary in 2015, and the province’s PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act was legislated just over 25 years ago, in 1988.
The Equality Garden Party also acknowledged Council’s mandate to advise government through the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women by specially inviting current and past Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women, to thank them for their work in this role. Says Diane Kays, “The current Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Hon. Valerie Docherty, is always gracious in her relationship with the Advisory Council, and she works hard in what is a challenging role to increase equality for women, diverse groups, and all Islanders. We appreciate her work as an individual and with her colleagues in government. Because as far as women have come, we still have far to go.”
Garden Party attendees were pleased for the opportunity to take the time to network, share appreciations of women’s past and present leadership, and plan for a future where equality exists for women and diverse groups in politics and all spheres of life.