International Women’s Day Celebrates Business Owners

iwd-banner-2014-engMarch 8 is International Women’s Day and each year, the federal Status of Women office selects a theme which helps to focus our celebrations. This year, the theme is Strong Women Strong Canada: Canadian Women Creating Jobs One Business at a Time.

“This theme highlights the important role women entrepreneurs play in driving growth, creating jobs, and fostering innovation in the Canadian economy,” states the Status of Women website. Majority-owned women’s businesses contributed an estimated $148 billion dollars to the Canadian economy in 2011 and 71% of Canadian women would like to start their own business.

In eastern Manitoba, there are hundreds of women running their own businesses and managing companies. Elizabeth Siebold, Funeral Director at Sobering Funeral Chapel in Beausejour and Sandra Grouette, graphic designer at Grouette Studios in Lac du Bonnet agree that it can be tougher for women in rural areas because of fewer resources and less job diversity. But neither of these women have let that be a barrier for them.

Siebold says her mother was a community activist while growing up in Saskatchewan and this helped to instil confidence in Siebold as she pursued a career in funeral directing. Grouette says taking courses online or through Academy of Learning are important ways to stay sharp and maintain a diverse skillset that keeps a business going.

Though much change has taken place in Canada over the last 50 years, according to a 2011 study from the Conference Board of Canada, men are more than twice as likely as women to hold a senior executive position.

“Running a business has been the most rewarding experience,” said Siebold. “You can’t let fear or people’s pre-conceived notions hold you back.” When asked if she had advice for other women looking to start a business, Grouette said, “Learn more than you need to learn and don’t be afraid to keep learning. You’ll gain confidence with your abundance of knowledge and then experience.”

There are a number of activities happening in and around Winnipeg to celebrate International Women’s Day. Check out this calendar of International Women’s Week events for more details.

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