There will be an international audience at this Friday’s International Women’s Day Breakfast, officials with the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) say.
The 21st edition of the annual breakfast, the agency’s largest fundraising event, is being held virtually this year for the first time as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The event is set to run from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., with tickets on sale until 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
In previous years, the event would see hundreds of people pack into RBC Place London to eat, raise money for LAWC’s services and hear from speakers.
This year’s event will still see fundraising and speakers, but those attending will have to make their own food, and for some, it may be a late breakfast. According to LAWC, a number of tickets have been purchased by people outside of the city, province and even country.
“We are at 680 tickets… There really is no limit because it’s a virtual event, and we have people joining from all over the world. We have people from Ukraine, Sweden, some from Spain, Austria, all across Canada,” Fabienne Haller, fund development co-ordinator with LAWC and organizer of the breakfast, said early Thursday afternoon.
“It didn’t really cross my mind until probably one of the earliest ticket sales way back was from the United Kingdom,” she continued, adding that LAWC then began to reach out to its international partners to let them know the breakfast was taking place.
“We have strong relationships with organizations all across the world, and it just wasn’t feasible in the past for someone from Sweden or someone from Ukraine to attend… Even people we have from Manitoba this year, from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia… It really opened up a new opportunity.”
Advocates concerned abuse being under-reported
LAWC has set a $50,000 fundraising goal for this year’s breakfast, to go towards supporting abused and exploited women and girls. All money raised goes toward supporting the agency’s front-line services, which have seen a 40 per cent increase in urgent service demand since the pandemic started.
The pandemic has forced abused women to be isolated in their homes where they’re subjected to torture and physical and verbal abuse at the hands of their abusers — abuse that is often being witnessed by their children, agency officials have said.
“We need to be able to attend to those rising requests for help and for service,” Haller said.
“The issue of violence against women, it goes across each demographic, each economic standard, it goes from one country to the other, it is a global issue. Unfortunately, in Canada, in London, we are not spared from this issue.”
This year’s virtual breakfast, in partnership with Kim Mullan Sutton Group Select Realty, will be a “morning show-style event,” LAWC officials say, with a tour of the agency’s offices, a special remote appearance by Olympic champion ice dancer Tessa Virtue, and prizes.
The event will also see an interactive conversation between LAWC executive director Megan Walker and FM96 DJ Andrea Dunn on the topic of “women forcing change” where attendees will be able to get involved and ask questions.
“They’ll be taking us a little bit down history lane,” Haller said.
“Who were the women who really paved the way in the early days and who are the current women? There’s so many of them and we need to acknowledge all that work that is being done.”
— With files from Kelly Wang
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