Advocate for Afghan girls to speak at Langley International Women’s Day lunch

Three local women will be honoured at March 8 event, to take place at Newlands.

A young woman who has made it her mission to help Afghan girls get an education will be the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of Langley Central’s third annual International Women’s Day lunch.

The event takes place on Saturday, March 8 at Newlands Golf Club.

Lauryn Oates became interested in the plight of Afghan women in 1996, at the age of 14. She read about how the Taliban was treating women and girls, refusing to allow girls to go to school. In 1999, she founded the Vancouver chapter of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) and is currently projects director for the organization. Since 2008, CW4WAfghan has graduated over 4,000 teachers and puts thousands of girls through school as a result. It is developing a multilingual online database of educator resources for Afghan teachers.

In 2004, Oates conceived  Ideaccess, which translated and distributed human rights and women’s rights resources into Arabic, Farsi and other languages. She is also a founding member of the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee and past co-ordinator for the Funders’ Network for Afghan Women.

She divides her time between B.C. and Kabul, Afghanistan.

The lunch takes place for 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Three local women who have been leaders in a variety of endeavours will be specially honoured at the event. They are Kwantlen First Nation chief Marilyn Gabriel, businesswoman and philanthropist Ingeborg Violet and social activist Krissi Bucholtz, a 23-year-old founder of the People’s Foundation of Sierra Leone.

Gabriel has been chief of the Kwantlen First Nation for almost 25 years. She has led her First Nation in regaining its traditional name; established social and educational programs; made retaining and strengthening the traditional culture a priority; improved relations with all levels of government and helped the First Nation become involved in a series of business ventures.

Violet co-founded Domaine de Chaberton Winery with her late husband Claude. It was the first winery in the Fraser Valley and set the standard for many which have followed.

She is also an active philanthropist and community volunteer, raising money for Langley Memorial Hospital and other community organizations and charities.

Bucholtz began travelling to Sierra Leone as a Grade 12 student, and founded her organization to empower young people in that war-torn African country with leadership and mentorship opportunities, and a chance to attend university on scholarships. Thus far, 12 Sierra Leoneans are in university on scholarships provided by the foundation.

Entertainment at the event, will is open to both women and men, will be provided by students from Langley Community Music School. Tickets and more information are available through the website www.internationalwomensday.ca or from Rotary Club members.

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