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Women's Day Luncheon

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Friday marked International Women’s Day.

Celebrations honouring women for their achievements and progress over the past century took place in countries around the world.

In Tillsonburg, Annandale National Historic Site held a Women’s Day Floral Luncheon with guest speaker Marilyn Edmison-Driedger.

“The museum has been doing a luncheon for Women’s Day since 2000, we added it as a Millennium project,” said Patricia Phelps, curator at Annandale National Historic Site. “The first few years, we did historic talks on important women in local history, Tillsonburg history.”

Phelps said they provide a theme for the luncheon every year, and the last three had a chocolate theme. This year, deciding to change things up a bit, they chose a floral theme.

“Spring is coming, flowers are coming, and there’s an interest in gardening and edible flowers that’s growing,” said Phelps. “So this year I thought a floral luncheon would be really great.

“I also was aware of the fact that we do have the wonderful Marilyn Edmison-Driedger locally, who is a master gardener and a very well-known personality.”

Edmison-Driedger lives in Otterville and operates The Herbal Touch, a floral shop for weddings and special events. She spoke of the role flowers had in the Victorian age, including a small bouquet women used to carry with them called a ‘tussie mussie’.

“She is always willing to come out and share her wonderful knowledge,” added Phelps. “Of course being a Victorian house, what’s better than the Victorian language of flowers.”

Approximately 42 people, including one man, came out Friday to celebrate women, enjoy the luncheon, and talk on ‘The Language of Flowers.’

Guests were treated to a three-course meal by chef Rick Harris of Chrissy’s Catering in Tillsonburg. The meal had a ‘floral’ theme and included a spinach salad with a pickled hibiscus and an emulsified hibiscus vinaigrette. The main course included a boneless, skinless chicken breast with herbs de provence, olive oil and lemon, lemon-pepper roasted mini red potatoes, and a baked cauliflower and cheese dish. The meal was topped off with coffee or tea and black forest cake.

Phelps noted the significance of International Women’s Day and the progress women have made in various areas of society and the growth of the women’s movement since the turn of the century.

“International Women’s Day is a very important day. It started out as a protest movement,” she said, noting a historical incident which sparked much of the women’s movement, demanding change in society with regards to voting rights, job security and working conditions.

“There was a huge factory fire where almost 200 women died because they were locked in. There was a huge march and protest after that for safety and women’s rights.”

That tragic fire, known today as the Triangle Fire, took place on March 25, 1911 in New York City. More than 140 workers, mostly young Italian and Jewish immigrant girls, working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company lost their lives because of a lack of safety measures.

International Women’s Day is now recognized and celebrated in both developed and developing countries. In December 1977, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day (March 8) for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

Phelps said in addition to celebrating the achievements and progress of women, International Women’s Day also helps highlight the plight and struggles many women continue to face around the world today in areas such as discrimination, exploitation and global inequality.

“In North America we do it with luncheons, spa days, talks, and teas, but in other developing parts of the world, it’s still a day of protest - where women are taking to the streets and still demanding their rights. And in certain parts of the world, where women’s rights still have a long way to go, they are still demonstrating and protesting.

“We’re very fortunate that we live in a province and in a country where our voices can still be heard,” Phelps concluded.

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