Holding Ground and Breaking Ground as the Executive Director of The MATCH International Women's Fund.
Jess Tomlin began her career working with female victims of violence in rural Ontario, Canada. Turning her focus internationally, Jess has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia for a range of actors including the Canadian International Development Agency, the World Bank, the UN, and USAID. Jess was the Director-Women’s Platform for CARE Canada’s ‘I am powerful’ campaign. Most recently, Jess was with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) managing large-scale reform for the Agency that supports Palestinian Refugees in Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria. In May 2012, Jess joined The MATCH International Women’s Fund as our Executive Director. Providing us with strong, feminist leadership, Jess has boldly and bravely guided our organization into this new era. Jess holds an undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies and a master’s degree in Leadership Studies.
Canada matters. As Malala herself said, "If Canada leads, the world will follow." As a country, we have an opportunity to aid the global women's human rights movements that, at this moment, are more powerful than ever.
Since the election of Donald J. Trump, people have been motivated, mobilized, and activated in ways we have never seen. The polite veneer of the status quo may have been ripped away, ugliness exposed, but hatred is not the only thing gaining speed.
As an increasingly isolated beacon of progressive values in North America and even the world, Canadians have a role to play in preventing the reversal of critical progress for women's rights. Especially now, we must first hold our Government to account for their stated priorities to advance the rights of women and girls.
We do, indeed, have what it takes to end the world's refugee crisis. But, as any athlete would tell us, the real work takes years. It happens behind the scenes. It happens when we reveal the blind spots. And, most importantly, it happens when we listen to the voices that can be the hardest to hear.
We can vote, and drive, and march on Parliament Hill without fear. But do we question the deep rooted inequalities that make it possible for Aboriginal women and girls to disappear without a trace, and without an outcry? Do we demand an end to the gender wage gap that has been stuck at around 72 per cent -- and hasn't budged in years?
It's not easy to be a girl here. And it's clear to me that it's not the strangers who are the biggest threat. It's poverty. It's the lack of good options. It's the prevalence of sexual violence, especially for Nepal's Dalit and Indigenous girls. And it's something else, too. It's the lack of programs for men and boys.
In 2116, women the world over are driving themselves to work and standing up for their rights without fear of arrest. And, at long last, your generation will close the wage gap -- just in time for my great grandson's daughter to enjoy nearly an entire career where her work is valued just as much as his.
If you were in Uganda today, you wouldn't see an "out" LGBT person on the streets. You might not see an LGBT person at the polls. Why? Because LGBT folks have gone underground. They are afraid for their lives, even more than usual.
It's hard to drum up generosity in a world that always demands you to give, give, give. So, this International Day of Charity, don't give. Take. Here are five takeaways that will make you ready to give again.
The right for women to play and attend sports is still, very literally, not an equal playing field. We have only to look as far as the complaint that female FIFA athletes filed to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to know this is true. But, sadly, we cannot stop there. In other words, we must not mistake a win at the World Cup as a win for women's rights. In fact, just last Wednesday as my Canadian daughter sat in the stadium cheering France to victory, men in Tehran were protesting women being allowed--in very limited numbers--inside Iranian stadiums. We have a long way to go.
The minute an earthquake (or any emergency) hits, women's organizations are responding. Before the humanitarian machine kicks in, before food aid drops, before reconstruction efforts get started, women's organizations are creating makeshift shelters, finding and preparing food, protecting girls and caring for the sick. They are an essential part of recovery and a huge asset in relief and reconstruction efforts.
While we can all agree that Uber -- let alone the Uber + UN Women partnership -- is far from perfect, let's not lose sight of the bigger picture: The digital economy does have the power to democratize employment opportunities for women.
I was greatly energized to see women's rights being championed on International Women's Day last month. But here's the thing: we need to be champions for women's rights every day. The awful truth is that women across the globe face arrest, persecution, and unspeakable violence for exercising their rights.