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Women's Day Celebration in Toronto Focuses on Education

Toronto, Canada - The Women's Federation for World Peace-Canada held its fourth annual International Women's Day celebration in Toronto on March 7. The theme for this year was “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All.”

Each year the International Women's Day is celebrated with a luncheon meeting where several speakers are invited to share their opinion on a set theme. The program started with a well-prepared lunch, during which time the participants had the opportunity to get better acquainted.

Songs by “Heavens Call” and a power point presentation on “Tears of a Woman” prepared the audience for the women’s status and progress report for the year 2010.

I welcomed the participants by stating that "we share common ground so that we may help bring new dignity and respect to women and girls all over the world and in so doing, bring new strength and stability to our families and society. We need to realize the fullness of our abilities. God blessed us with so many virtues and so much potential, the top being the heart of motherly love."

Mrs. Farzana Hassan, an author of several books (the most recent one being Islam Women and the Challenges of Today), a freelance writer, and radio program host, spoke about the status of the education system in Pakistan, where female children are not encouraged to go to school, so there is a shortage of female teachers. As an alternative, home schooling is offered, yet the government has not taken any measures to develop that program. The Internet and TV help to improve literacy skills, especially for girls who cannot attend school. Self-defense training is also encouraged for women and girls.

Ms. Barbara Siddiqui, born in Ontario, Canada, was the second speaker. An educator for 41 years, she currently heads the National Muslim-Christian Liaison Committee in Canada. From her perspective as a former school principal, Mrs. Siddiqui shared her experiences regarding religious diversity, cultural misunderstandings, issues of race, issues of women, and the need for more education. She became a teacher in order to give people the education they need to succeed in life. Although she is married to a Muslim, she never felt belittled or in any way hindered from voicing her opinion or developing her own abilities. She was constantly encouraged by her husband to advance herself through more education.

After the talks, the audience was entertained with fun games and music. Women went on to discuss the necessity for men and women to work together and help break down the misunderstandings of the past. Women were encouraged to be good teachers in the family and to be nurturers of love with patience and perseverance. The meeting concluded with a recognition of the need to work more closely with each other and share more responsibility.

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