Sally Armstrong – the Ascent of Women

December 2017

Human rights activist, journalist and author Sally Armstrong, BEd’66, DLitt’02, was a special guest at the Sir William Macdonald Luncheon.  Armstrong is an award winning author, journalist and human rights activist. She is a three-time winner of the Amnesty International Canada media award, holds ten honorary degrees and is a member of the Order of Canada. Armstrong was the first journalist to bring the story of the women of Afghanistan to the world and works tirelessly to expose the abuse of women, whether on an American university campus or in a war zone. She presented “Uprising: Despite Donald Trump, a New Age is Dawning for Every Mother’s Daughter.” (Source: Faculty of Education website).

Sally Armstrong (right) with Dean Geitmann

Highlights from Sally Armstrong’s address

“People who came to Macdonald College have a great deal in common. We might have seen ourselves as party animals but there was one thing that drew us all together – and that was not walking across the Oval until we graduated. We broke most of the other rules while we were here, but none of us broke this one. The Oval was sacrosanct. It stood for respect, it stood for tradition, it stood for history, and it stood as a sign that if we ever got through our shenanigans, we would become people of significance.

“Today change is everywhere and I don’t know what is sacrosanct anymore. Some of the changes we are seeing are very good – some of them are not so good. Your reunion theme, the anatomy of change, highlights the level of change that all of us are coping with today. 

“In this time of rapid change and turmoil, there has been an enormous flash of light, a transformative piece of light that focuses on women. The ascent of women began with the election of Donald Trump because it triggered an enormous boost in women’s equality issues. More than five million women around the world participated in the Women’s March on the first day of the Trump presidency. Since then record numbers of women are standing up and running for office and they are fighting back against bullies and harassers. 

“I work as a journalist in conflict zones. My beat is to find out what happens to women and girls and I can tell you in 30 years of doing this I haven’t had good stories to tell, but now I do because I realized a few years ago that the earth is shifting, a new day is dawning for every mother’s daughter. At first I thought that perhaps this was wishful thinking on my part, but I have done the research and can say unequivocally that this is true.”


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