A promising beginning
The Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, September 11
History was made here this week, as the city hosted an inaugural international event all Edmontonians can take pride in being associated with. About 800 women and a handful of men from around the world are attending the first annual World Conference of Women's Shelters, which wraps tonight at the Shaw Conference Centre.
To begin with, initiating such a focused gathering makes perfect sense. Like most sound ideas, it seems odd that such an event hadn't been hatched years ago. Surely the interaction of shelter workers and others with a demonstrated interest in the field hailing from over 50 countries can only be seen as a positive development, offering fresh perspectives and timely inspiration for all participants. It's especially cheering that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) had the vision to sponsor dozens of frontline shelter workers, who normally wouldn't possess the resources to embark on an expensive trip. So often, these sorts of affairs are only peopled by lawyers, academics and the like, those privy to government or NGO grants.
In a sense, it's appropriate enough that the first-ever global conference of its kind was held here. Edmonton is a multicultural magnet with all the commensurate benefits and problems of such a centre, including family violence -- not to mention our homegrown difficulties in that shameful, if universal, realm. It's a sorry commentary that the abuse of women, children and elders is a societal blight common to all nations and regions, rich and poor alike, vast cultural differences notwithstanding.
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