Iris Stewart asked Our President, Hélène Blanchette: What does International Women’s Day Mean to You?

Transcript of Video: 

Iris Stewart: “Today, I’d like to talk to you about international women’s day and get an understanding of what that means to you.” 

Hélène Blanchette: “You know, when I hear International Women’s Day, I would say I have two things inside of me that collide.

The first one is it’s a celebration and it’s a celebration of all the extraordinary women that I’ve met in my life. And I have met women that, like you…I have met women that, (because I lived in Asia also for so many years) I’ve met women that are Muslim and veiled, yet lead big enterprises. I have met Korean women and Japanese women that were in a very male-dominated society, but we’re the most, I would say amazing women and powerful women that I had ever met in my life. They have even taught me lessons on what it is to be strong.  I know that I am a strong woman, to begin with, but the courage & wittiness of these women that have been able to really bloom into certain societies that are still very dominated by men. This was very powerful to me. It’s a celebration of all these extraordinary women that I’ve met, that are really dear in my heart.

On the other hand, the conflicting part is the hard work and how little it really evolved over the last millennia or centuries. I mean, it really didn’t evolve as much as it should have.  Women in society…there’s still a lot of segregation. I think all of these Superhero women that are trying to make it that…you know, single women with children that need to work…they have to compose it all and make it work.

Yet if they make any other choices other than being that superhero, they would actually be penalized for it. Statistics show that the gender gap in salaries for instance, is so much more dominating for women that had decided to have children, which should not be a factual thing that we actually get punished because we decided to have children. It brings that important gap in the marketplace. They don’t get the promotion because they’re pregnant or they’ve been out of the market for two years. So they didn’t get the promotions and then when they come back, they’re seen and perceived as women that have children, therefore their priorities will be more with their children than with work. With these preconceived ideas, they are pushed to work at a lower salary and to stay at a lower salary with a lower possibility of promotion.

So there are always these two conflicts. The extraordinary women that really succeed to make it, I find women so courageous and yet the lack of programs, I would say, not just the lack of intentions, but the lack of programs in corporations to help them still stay relevant while they’re out.

And that’s something that should be really easy to implement nowadays.”

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