International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on March 8 and is a time to celebrate the contributions of women and acknowledge the challenges they face in the quest for gender equality.

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) is committed to creating a diverse workplace.

Forty-six per cent of WDBA’s workforce are women, and hold key roles in all areas including engineering, project delivery, project management, finance, legal, communications and procurement.

In addition, within WDBA’s senior management team (Director and above) seven of the fifteen positions are currently filled by women.

WDBA is also proud that we have gender-balanced representation on our Board of Directors and the International Authority. Read what they had to say about International Womens’ Day, women’s rights and gender equality.




In Canada, this year’s theme is “Innovate for change”. What does that mean to you?

I want women to be empowered and to be the change you want to see. Make the path and bring others along with you. Raise each other up and celebrate our successes. We need to do things differently and be open to the process in getting there. As an alumni of the National Society of Black Engineers in Canada, I am privileged to have peers that’s innovations are making a difference.


What do you believe is the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

Women themselves will be the challenge if we don’t be brave to fight for what is right while at the same time respect and learn from the shoulders upon which we stand. I don’t view things as a challenge but an opportunity. I want women to know that in a world where people are constantly trying to define what women can and should do, to do just the opposite. Set your own goals, follow your heart and your dreams and don’t let anyone but you define who you are as a women both personally and professionally.


Photo of Karla Avis, Director, WDBA Board of Directors

Photo of Kristine Burr, Chair, International Authority




What does International Woman’s Day mean to you?

Having started my own career back in the Seventies when International Women’s Day was being launched, I always take a moment on the day itself to think about how far we have come in creating better educational and work opportunities for women. Yes, more needs to be done in some fields and around the world, but having a day set aside like this helps provide focus and momentum. The contribution of the many talented women working on behalf of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, both at the WDBA itself, and as members of the WDBA Board of Directors and the International Authority, is a testament to our collective progress, and something we can all celebrate.


What assumptions about women would you like to change?

The varied expertise, the professionalism, and the level of commitment board members and WDBA staff bring to the Gordie Howe project belies any stereotype that might still be lurking somewhere about women and big, technical projects!




The global campaign theme this year is “Balance for Better”. What does that mean to you?

In a balanced world, everyone has opportunities based on their unique skills and abilities. Historically, that has not always been the case as people have been systematically discriminated against based on factors like sex, colour, religion, etc. While we have had many legislative changes that seek to address this, a lot of bias remains. Unfortunately, this bias is woven into our culture and often those making decisions are blind to their own bias. Diversity provides perspective and opportunities to view things in a different way; often leading to better decisions. Nevertheless, changing culture is difficult and takes a long and sustained effort. As we move into the future, we need to continue to provide learning and development opportunities equitably to all. My hope for the future is that we will build a world with better balance where individual skills, competencies and initiative drive hiring and promotions.


What woman inspires you the most and why?

There are very many strong women who inspire me; however, I have to say my own mother offers the most inspiration. She personifies strength, conviction, determination and a true “can do” attitude. Born in the early 1930s in a mountain village in Lebanon, she had none of the advantages like higher education, household conveniences or superb medical care that we often take for granted. Yet, she had a strong mind, deep faith and an even stronger will. Early in her married life, she knew that her young family needed to move to Canada to enjoy the economic benefits of that country. She pushed and prodded my father endlessly until he agreed to move. When we arrived, we did not know the language, money was scarce and she knew it would not be easy. Undaunted, she braced herself to work hard and to take care of a large family. She often worked two jobs while also managing to raise 10 children. Despite working so much, she managed to make each child feel loved and cherished. Today at 86 years of age, she continues to inspire her grandchildren and great grandchildren. We often joked that she would be the best CEO: she shared a vision, enrolled you in that vision, delegated well and gave you encouragement and positive feedback. Her vision was always achieved! She taught me to think strategically, work hard, stay focused on a goal and to always believe that everything was possible.

Photo0 of Marie Campagna, Director, WDBA Board of Directors

Photo of Judi Cohen, Director, WDBA Board of Directors




If you could pick a woman from any culture to talk to, which culture would you pick?

This is a difficult question as there are so many cultures I would like to learn about. I am proud to sit on the Toronto Executive Committee of the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Canada. IWF provides its members opportunities to know and learn from other women leaders in a variety of disciplines, sectors, and societies both in Canada and around the world.


What is your favourite International Women’s Day experience?

I once stayed at the Taj Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, India on International Women’s Day. The hotel, which was once the former royal residence of the Maharaja, hosted a beautiful event in recognition of International Women’s Day and we were immersed in the culture.








What advice would you give woman who are starting their career today?

My advice is twofold. First, always be a learner. Ask lots of questions to learn from your peers. Learn and grow through courses and reading. Spend equal time on soft skills and technical skills. Receive any feedback with grace and consider it to be a gift. Act on the feedback that makes sense. My second advice is to be yourself. I see women who believe they have to act a certain way to fit in with men. People will see through this. You will ultimately be respected for doing a great job and being genuine.


As a busy professional - how do you achieve a work/life balance?

Work/life balance is very important to me. I achieve work/life balance by making conscious decisions and choices about what I do with my time and only taking on things that I both have time for and that are important to me. As part of that I anticipate all the busy stuff that comes with life and work to ensure I have time. I focus on making the most of my choices and being excellent at what I do. There have been moments in my career that work was busier and moments I had more time for personal pursuits yet I have always felt that was OK because I made conscious decisions about what I committed to.

Photo of Shelly Cunningham, Director, WDBA Board of Directors

Photo of Birgit M. Klohs, Director, International Authority




If you had the opportunity to tell your younger self something, what would it be?

If I had the opportunity to tell my younger self something, it would be to never give up to always persevere in spite of the obstacles.


What obstacles have you encountered as a woman in the workforce?

There were many obstacles I have encountered as a woman in the workforce. Even though I was often the only woman in a meeting, I never gave up and continued to move forward.





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