Celebrating International Women's Day in London

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, where women are globally recognized and celebrated for their achievements. Although there are many successes that women have accomplished economically, politically and socially, we wanted to highlight a few particular individuals in the arts, culture and mental health space. This year’s IWD campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange, and it’s clear that the following women have made bold actions in their fields to foster inclusion and gender-balanced leadership.

Arts & Culture:

Shahrzad Rafati, Founder & CEO, BroadbandTV


A Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 winner and recognized as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, Shahrzad Rafati has made many achievements in media and entrepreneurship. Her media and technology company, BroadbandTV, has become a leader in the multi-platform network. Ms. Rafati has brokered deals with major media companies and created partnerships with organizations such as The Huffington Post.

Karen Kain, Artistic Director, The National Ballet of Canada

Karen Kain has been a longstanding advocate of the arts and has received many international and Canadian awards for her work, including the first Canadian recipient of the Cartier Lifetime Achievement Award. After retiring from an international career in ballet in 1997, she has since held various positions at the National Ballet and was previously  Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts. 

Sandra Laronde, Executive & Artistic Director, Red Sky Productions


Sandra Laronde has worked in various roles in arts in culture including as a director, producer, choreographer, program manager and creative leader. Her innovative vision for her company, Red Sky Productions, is to become a leading international company in Indigenous performance. She has been the recipient of several awards including two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and an Honorary Degree (LL.D.) from Trent University in 2011. She is also the Curator for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and continues to speak at forums, conferences and other arts and culture events. 

Mental Health:

Clara Hughes, Six-Time Olympic Medalist, Mental Health Advocate


Clara Hughes has won medals in both the summer and winter Olympics as a cyclist and speed skater. She has also been the national spokesperson for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign since its inception in September 2010. Her role as an advocate of mental health has helped change the landscape of mental illness in Canada. In 2014, she completed “Clara’s Big Ride”, a 110 day journey across Canada to every province and territory to build awareness for mental health. She has since written a book and has won several awards including a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. 

Louise Bradley, President & CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada


Louise Bradley’s passion for working in the mental health sector began when she was a Registered Nurse in Newfoundland. After working in various capacities and roles, she has seen mental health issues across a range of sectors and situations. She has held her current position at the Mental Health Commission of Canada since 2010. She was awarded Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her contributions to Canadian mental health, and also presented with the Innovation Award for Health Care Leadership in 2015.

Mary Deacon, Chair, Bell Mental Health Initiative


After a long and successful career in the Non-for-profit sector, Mary Deacon assumed her role as Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Initiative. She has also spent a decade as President of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation. She serves on several boards and continues to have a prominent role in Canadian philanthropy. 

London IWD Events:

There’s an event for everyone during the week of International Women’s Day in London including:

International Women’s Day Symposium & Luncheon - March 8th, 9am
The Business Help Centre of Middlesex County is hosting a symposium and luncheon at Sunningdale Golf and Country Club and features several female leaders in business. 

Community Rally & March, March 8th, 12-2pm
Meet up with other members of the community in Victoria Park to celebrate the diversity, inclusion and empowerment of women on International Women’s Day. Listen to speakers and musical performances!

International Women’s Day Rally - March 8th, 6-8pm
Join members from across the community at the Kingsmill Room at Huron University College to hearing inspiring speakers, enjoy refreshments and hear about the re-launch of the London Status of Women Action Group (LSWAG). 

HRPA Daring Leadership Seminar - March 9th, 8am to 12pm
Presented by Medpoint Health Care Centre, this event hosted at Goodwill Industries features Janet Frood, an internationally certified executive, leadership and team coach who works with leaders and organizations. The meeting will be interactive and encourage people to share and reflect on their own experiences as leaders in the HR field.

17th Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast and Auction - March 10th, 6:30am
This annual fundraising event takes place to support the London Abused Women’s Centre. The keynote speaker this year will be Judy Miller Rose who will share her story and life experiences as a survivor of abuse. 

There are more great resources on the International Women’s Day website, including social media updates, additional information, and event searching. This day is being recognized globally across diverse communities in inspiring ways.  Enjoy celebrating IWD -- please let us know how you make your mark and a woman you think should be celebrated! 


Ellen Husk