Womyn's Centre

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Womyn's Centre



Just wanted to post a quick note of appreciation for the Carleton University Womyn's Centre for thirty years well-done, doing crucial work in ensuring a healthy environment for female students on campus. It is unfortunate that there is a need for much of their programming, but I appreciate the hard work they've done:


Womyn's Cetre still strong after 30 years at Carleton
Written by Cyndi Vukets
Thursday, 07 December 2006
Women are graduating from university at a higher rate than men according to Statistics Canada. But at Carleton, women’s rights activists say they are still struggling to achieve equality on campus.

This year the Carleton Womyn’s Centre is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. The centre was created at a time when female students were a minority and women were often subject to sexual discrimination.

Now the Womyn’s Centre is a uniquely supportive atmosphere in which women and transgendered people can escape the confines of a patriarchal world, according to the service centre’s promotional brochure.

Ashley Hunkin is the programming co-ordinator for the Womyn’s Centre. She said it’s a “safe space if a woman needs some time to be a chick.”

The centre offers outreach programs such as the No Means No campaign against date rape. It is also a place where women can go for emotional support and referrals to counselling or shelters.

Another important aspect of the Womyn’s Centre is its “safe space,” a room off-limits to men. Hunkin said the safe space is most commonly used for breastfeeding and prayer.

The Womyn’s Centre is also a political organization. Its feminist caucus meets to discuss pertinent issues such as tuition fees and the under-representation of women in politics and academia. Men are welcome at these meetings but are not allowed to vote on any decisions.

Kenneth Woolliscroft, a first-year women’s studies major, said it does not bother him that men are excluded from decision-making at the Womyn’s Centre. He said it is time to reverse the patriarchal nature of education.

“If you look at everything we’re taught,” he said, “the vast majority of people you’re learning about are men. There’s plenty of information about what men have contributed.”

According to 2004-05 Statistics Canada data, women could be contributing a lot more in the next several decades. A study on university enrolment found that 40,000 more women graduated from Canadian universities than men. Of all students enrolled in full or part-time studies, women outnumbered men by more than 150,000.

Alison Callahan, a fourth-year applied science major, says women have equal opportunity to succeed at Carleton.

“There are tons of girls in all of my science classes,” she said.

She said she has never felt discriminated against on campus because of her sex, and points out that Carleton does not have a men’s centre. Also, she said the pool offers women-only swims, but none for just men.

“There’s no men’s swims but there are women’s swims every week,” she said. “I wonder how many men there are that feel like they would want a men’s centre, and if they feel that they aren’t getting what they deserve.”

Still, both Hunkin and Woolliscroft insist women are suffering in a male-dominated atmosphere.

“The Womyn’s Centre is there because we don’t have equality,” said Hunkin. “It’s about recognizing the fact that women and men are not equal because they have not had equal opportunity to succeed.”

The Womyn’s Centre is located in room 308 of the Unicentre. The main room includes a library and is open to both women and men who would like to know more about feminism and women’s issues.