Of Heroes and the Fellowship of Women/Guest Post

Today’s post is a guest post via Breathe Now. I am one of the four co-founders for Breathe Now. Our conference will take place in Victoria, BC on Friday, Sept 30th and Saturday, October 1st. This conference is geared for college aged women through women established in their careers. This particular post penned by the lovely and talented Janice Mansfield was posted on April 18th on http://breathenow.ca/2011/04/of-heroes-and-the-fellowship-of-women/.

Thanks to the powers of Social Media, I was alerted last week to the fact that Marilyn Waring was going to be speaking at the University of Victoria as part of the Centre for Cooperative and Community Based Economy‘s Distinguished Speaker series.

Marilyn Waring is a distinguished economist, researching and exploring issues of gender balance and the impact it has in the traditional economic paradigm.  Her work also extends to analysis of environmental issues, governance, human rights, and economic valuations of public goods or “the commons”, and she regularly contributes to international discussions on economic measurement and valuation.

As an economist in my previous career, I have to say I did a quiet squeal at the prospect of listening to her latest.  Her groundbreaking work in the latter 1980s on public accounting practices and their omissions of subsistence activity (much of it by women) in developing countries was front and centre in my bookshelf.

After the Thursday evening talk, my friend Dr. Janni Aragon invited me to come as her guest the next day for an afternoon of tea and talk with Dr. Waring — an exciting prospect indeed to meet and talk with someone who has had such an influence and impact on my thinking early on in my career.

The following day, we gathered around a table with tea with Dr. Waring as a small group of women, seeking fellowship and connection.  The first thing Marilyn said when we sat down was she seeks out opportunities to listen to what other women are interested in and researching, as she spends so much of her time on the road talking.  The thing that struck me through the afternoon was the genuine interest with which Dr. Waring had for areas of work being undertaken by each woman in the room — and a diverse group indeed (Political Science, Environmental issues, Cooperative Economic models, Womens Studies …).  Dr Waring has such a wealth of knowledge and experience, she spoke to each woman with an equal level of expertise, but was also making notes through the afternoon of things that piqued her interest, and provided some great guidance and feedback for the undergraduate students who had joined us.

Janni and I had the chance through this discussion to share the fact that we are two of the co-founders of the Breathe Now conference — an opportunity for all women to connect, decompress, enjoy the fellowship of each other and talk about substantive issues they are dealing with in a supportive environment.  While neither of us remember the exact quote (I have to confess being a little starstruck!), she was quite interested in the conference, and remarked that it was such a such great idea to bring women together to support each other.   Dr. Waring is a mentor in the truest sense of the word, and the afternoon with her and other like-minded women was a priceless experience.

It struck me after, that this afternoon of tea and easy conversation was a micro-version of what we are hoping to achieve through Breathe Now — mentorship and fellowship with some goodies on the side!