• ../../../images/Article_pics/March2018/march15/internationalwomensday/images/desjardins.jpg

    Chief Warrant Officer Sophie Desjardins, the Canadian Armed Forces Defence Ethics Program Chief Warrant Officer, was invited to talk at Garrison Petawawa for International Women’s Day on March 8. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

  • ../../../images/Article_pics/March2018/march15/internationalwomensday/images/group.jpg

    Garrison Petawawa held a special International Women’s Day event on March 8, inviting members of the military and the Defence Team to listen to guest speaker Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Sophie Desjardins, the Canadian Armed Forces Defence Ethics Program Chief Warrant Officer. Afterwards, they were invited to mingle at a reception. Cutting a special cake are, from left, Garrison Petawawa Commander Colonel Louis Lapointe, event organizers Bev MacLeod and Master Warrant Officer Sarah Powers, CWO Desjardins, 4th Canadian Division Support Base Personnel Services (4 CDSB Pers Svcs) Commander Lieutenant Colonel Darcy Wright, 4 CDSB Pers Svcs Regimental Sergeant Major Master Warrant Officer Kim Pyke and CWO Tom Verner, Garrison Petawawa Chief Warrant Officer. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

  • ../../../images/Article_pics/March2018/march15/internationalwomensday/images/talking.jpg

    Chief Warrant Officer Sophie Desjardins, the Canadian Armed Forces Defence Ethics Program Chief Warrant Officer, was invited to talk at Garrison Petawawa for International Women’s Day on March 8. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)


 

 


International Women’s Day event celebrates progress in CAF

By Patricia Lebeouf

Posted on Thursday March 15, 2018


In honour of International Women’s Day, Garrison Petawawa highlighted some of its female members’ achievements and historical milestones.

Chief Warrant Officer Sophie Desjardins, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Defence Ethics Program Chief Warrant Officer also inspired the crowd with her own journey through the ranks.

“From memory, it is one of the best attendance we’ve had for an International Women’s Day,” said Garrison Petawawa Commander Colonel Louis Lapointe at the March 8 event.

International Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the world, marking the socio-political, religious, and economic contributions of women everywhere.

Locally, the event was held at the Reichwald Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911, but the Canadian military was already admitting nurses to the Regular Force in 1906. Women held different roles throughout the years in all occupations, with combat roles opening up in 1989. On March 8, 2000, women were fully integrated into all occupations and roles by the government. “We’ve made some great progress,” said Col Lapointe. “We try to apply gender-based analysis to all our operations, but we are still only starting.”

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) has allotted a considerable amount of resources towards equality, acceptance, and fairness. “That makes us a precursor to our allies,” said Col Lapointe. “We are leading the charge right now in our integration of women.

“We’ve had a lot of progress but it isn’t over,” he added. Much of this progress is due to women in the CAF pushing for change; women like CWO Desjardins. She has spent 28 years in uniform and has seen some of those changes firsthand. “And I can tell you that it is all positive,” said CWO Desjardins.

However, it wasn’t always easy, she admitted. When she enrolled in 1990, only five percent of the military was composed of women. She knew she would encounter resistance and difficulties, yet it has been an overall positive experience and she forged ahead and defied all expectations held of her. When she stated that she wanted to become a Chief Warrant Officer, it was initially met with some skepticism. “That comment, ‘You are a girl.’ was obviously meant to discourage me, but it did the complete opposite,” said CWO Desjardins. “It fueled me.”

As time went on, however, attitudes changed and programs and training were put in place to encourage women to explore different roles. Soon, the military became at the forefront of societal change. “We have a better understanding and I’ve seen a huge difference and I believe the CAF is committed to creating a safe environment for us ladies in the room and for men as well,” said CWO Desjardins.

“You are all part of the progress,” she told those in attendance.