Jennifer Gold, President
It is an honour to be President of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario. I hope to continue the tradition of excellent leadership demonstrated by the Past Presidents of WLAO, including my predecessor, Jacquelyn Stevens. Since 1919, this organization has been committed to supporting women in the legal profession. What may have started more as a social club for women to network and support each other has evolved into an organization that also seeks to advocate for and empower all women lawyers.
I write “all women lawyers” with an understanding of intersectionality. The movement to dismantle patriarchal systems must also include discussion and action to remove all barriers that stand in the way of lawyers who seek equity whether they be racialized, have different abilities, or different sexual orientation.
Perhaps now, more than ever in some of our lives, there is greater reflection, discussion and debate about our systems including our education and legal systems. These discussions stem from the appalling treatment of Black and Indigenous lives. Many of us have very positively voiced support of Black and Indigenous lives with statements on social media and online forums. However, in order for such statements to be more than virtue signalling, we need follow up with action.
The movement towards action and real change requires self-reflection and education. Taking stock, so to speak. Do our legal organizations and institutions reflect the diversity of our community? Does leadership reflect the diversity of our community? If not, what is the plan to change that? If women do not make up 50% of an organization, why is that? What barriers are in place to prevent that from happening? What cultural change needs to happen? What can we individually and collectively do? Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has said, “Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”
WLAO seeks cultural change in the legal profession. In order to support and effect change, the WLAO provides support, mentorship, education, advocacy and networking opportunities. We invite you to volunteer with us, be a mentor, be an ally, and/or reach out to us regarding advocacy projects and endeavours.