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Ishita Aggarwal is a Woman of Influence

Ishita Aggarwal was recently named one of Canada’s Top 25 2020 Women of Influence.

She also received the YWCA Young Woman of Distinction Award for her work in gender equity and is a Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders honouree.

In high school, she launched Science4Girls to highlight the contributions of women scientists. The project was adopted by other schools.

She helped organize the first national Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) conference at the University of Toronto, raising over $300,000.

Aggarwal says it’s not so much that women’s human rights differ from those of men but that women aren’t necessarily granted their rights to the same degree.

“The issue is that the access to these rights is different. And when they try to claim their rights, they are ridiculed. Women, essentially, have to work harder to participate.

 “Women have to fight for things men don’t even think about. Access to sexual and reproductive health info is a case in point. In some countries these resources are not even available. In Canada they are, but in some cases, there are so many roadblocks, they might as well not be for some sections. Take maternal health. Women belonging to lower income groups find it difficult to access services if it means taking time off work – those in precarious work situations actually risk losing their jobs if they take time off. Men don’t have to deal with such choices.

 It was to address some of these issues that Aggarwal founded Mom’s The Word. The network of on-call volunteers runs travelling workshops to support and educate pregnant women and new mothers.

 Aggarwal attributes her passion for gender equity to the way her parents raised their children.

“They moved to Canada in 1998 because they saw better growth opportunities for themselves and a better future for their children here. It was also culturally diverse. They are both very progressive in their thinking and they raised my brother and I with equal opportunities, held us both to the same standards. They always told me not to let anything hold me back and encouraged me to excel. So you could say I absorbed my values from observing how my parents were. That interest became a passion.”

Seeing her work make even a small difference is very rewarding, she says.

“Sometimes I am caught off-guard by the deep, heartfelt gratitude of someone when I was just doing my job. The connections one forms with people makes them a part of my extended family. I want to see them do well. It’s wonderful seeing people get better under my care. Their spur-of-the-moment response, when I realize how much it meant to them, makes it all so worth it. It makes me feel I am working towards something meaningful, something with a bit more purpose. I have always wanted a more meaningful life.”

Posted: May 11, 2020

May 2020

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

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