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Activism & Action

LiisBeth’s #IWD2020 March Playlist: Marching On, Each for Equal

Image of rap star Haviah Mighty, black woman, singing.
Haviah Mighty wins the 2019 Polaris Music Prize for 13th Floor | Photo by HipHopCanada
Here are 10 new songs for us to march to on Sunday, March 8, for International Women’s Day. I believe that working towards equality is a balance between doing our own inner work and taking action in the world. We must be able to honour our pain and the learning we still need to do, and also look outwards to see where there is injustice in our communities and step forward proactively.

The artists below are each striving for equality in their own way, using their platforms and voices to help us all learn and grow. We are each here to contribute to that greater purpose. Let this #IWD2020 be an inspiration for us on how we can march forward, and what direction we are heading in.

Bikini Kill, “Girl Soldier”

Bikini Kill, known for pioneering the Riot Grrrl movement, was one of the first all-female bands in punk to speak out against abuse and misogyny. “Girl Soldier,” truly an anthem to march to, points to the irony of men fighting overseas when there is a war happening on our own homes against women, women’s lives, women’s bodies, women’s rights. Seen here in a live video from the early ’90s with “Turn Off Your TV” draped behind them, Bikini Kill inspired a revolution and called us all to action. 2020 sees them reuniting in a world that just might be ready for their message.

Haviah Mighty, “In Women Colour”

Brampton rapper Haviah Mighty made history in 2019 when she became the first female rapper to ever win a Polaris Prize. The opening track to her album, 13th Floor, cuts hard to the truth of how racist and misogynistic our world (let alone the music industry) still is. She tells her powerful story, how none of it could break her, and now as she breaks boundaries with her art, she is changing the landscape for Black women in this country.

Backxwash, “F.R.E.A.K.S”

Rising Montreal rapper Backxwash identifies as queer and a witch—two communities that have historically been broken through hateful, patriarchal culture. F.R.E.A.K.S is an anthem to all the incredible people existing in the margins of society who are changing our culture by showing up unapologetically. Historical change has always come from queer and marginalized communities, pushing the restricted boundaries of normalcy and redefining identity. Today we celebrate all the amazing freaks.

Riit, “qaumajuapik”

Riit, a Juno-nominated and rising artist from Nunavut, is an embodiment of the slow but real change beginning to happen in the music industry. Her Inuktitut lyrics and throat singing speak of her experience growing up in the Northern Territories, and the strength she has found as a woman through much of it. “qaumajuapik,” the first video from her 2019 album, landed her on many incredible shows and festival lineups, a massive hurdle for an artist living in such an isolated population. Making space for voices like Riit’s is the reason our individual actions matter.

Tei Shi, “Alone in the Universe”

Colombian-born singer Tei Shi often sings on themes of love and loss but her 2019 anthem “Alone in the Universe” is a song for us to march to. If there is a God, and if she is a woman, she’s dropping the ball, Tei Shi proclaims. She follows it by promising to speak up for the sake of others, where she hasn’t been able to speak up for herself. It’s a powerful reflection on the isolation of being a woman, and the importance of taking action on behalf of ourselves and others.

Lido Pimienta, “Eso Que Tu Haces”

Lido Pimienta returns this April with her first album following her 2017 Polaris Prize win, titled Miss Colombia. “Eso Que Tu Haces” depicts the magnificent colour, warmth, and dance tradition of San Basilio de Palenque, the first place of refuge for those fleeing slavery in the Colonial Americas. Her magnetic voice and storytelling has begged Canada for years now to be accountable to continued racism in the country, and this song is no different as she sets a boundary around what can be considered a “loving action,” and what is false.

Sudan Archives, “Glorious”

This video is Black Girl Magic personified as Brittney Parks imagines her own prayer to God in the style of old oral tradition hymns. Inspired by Aisha al-Fallatiyah, the first woman to ever perform in Sudan, “Glorious” prays for money, a foundation of life in our world. It is a stunning and raw nod to intersectional equality—if we want an equal world, we have to understand that it takes marginalized genders, races, and identities that much more effort to get what they need to survive in it.

Austra, “Risk It”

Austra returns this year with new music after four years when we last heard “Future Politics,” a plea for a more equal, utopian world. “Risk It” is a call to action that can be interpreted in our love lives, our political lives, or both (since there’s really no separation in the end, is there?). As we march to the beat of this song, we can contemplate risk as an essential part of growth and change. There are places where we all need to risk it in our lives in order to see equality grow in the world.

Black Belt Eagle Scout, “Indians Never Die”

This song is a beautifully haunting comment on our Earth and the Indigenous communities that have cared for it over many generations. Colonial violence is still painfully active and destructive in the 21st century, and we are each responsible for our part in ensuring that the land we live on and the individuals who continue to care for it do not waste away. Perhaps the physical earth can be part of our vision for equality, too.

Vagabon, “Every Woman”

Do not be deceived by the gentle strum of this song. In the lyrics lives a war cry, a proclamation that Laetitia Tamko is not afraid of the battle that women face every day to exist and be free. There is a solidarity in her lyrics as we understand the importance of every woman coming together in the name of equality. We may be tired, but there’s a ways to go still before we sit down.

Related Playlists

You can also find all our playlists on Spotify under LiisBeth.

Sample Newsletter


The collage above is by Anne-Marie Hood. Artist Statement: What is growth? What is change? And how often do we misinterpret resonance with our own beliefs for growth? Perhaps it is time for a truly new approach where new ears take in sounds made up of the unfamiliar, singing unknown songs in unknown worlds.


A Reflection on Canada’s 2018 Gender Budget

Since the release of the Canadian federal government’s 2018 gender budget at the end of February, there have been dozens of follow-on announcements about initiatives designed to advance women entrepreneurs and women-led enterprises from all sorts of organizations across the country.

On March 6, the Ontario provincial government added its voice and announced that it will also be investing in improving support for women entrepreneurs by launching a new set of initiatives that will “help young women develop an entrepreneurial mindset” through the creation of the Ontario Women’s Entrepreneurship Association.

To date, Ontario is the only province without a women’s enterprise centre or women’s entrepreneurship strategy in Canada.

Sure. Canadian women entrepreneur advocates have already expressed concern that the money designated is long overdue and “not enough”. Many more critics are rightly questioning the implementation strategies. There is legitimate concern that unchanged parental leave pay and child care policies mean continued discrimination against startup founders and small business owners in an economy increasingly characterized by precarious employment gigs. In Ontario, leaders in the field are debating if launching a women’s entrepreneur association is the right approach or first step.

Me? I still remember the Stephen Harper days. So, I am reservedly pleased with the initiatives our various levels of governments are pledging to undertake this year to advance gender justice.

I also appreciate that in both provincial and federal budgets, women entrepreneurs are at least starting to be recognized as a distinct, large, economically vital demographic whose prioritized equality and equity needs are markedly different from those of our corporate sisters.

On this, and to activist women entrepreneurs everywhere working to be heard, I say congratulations. It’s high time that your street-level, in-the-trenches voices finally pierced the routinely media-privileged corporate coterie that tends to dominate the women’s economic advancement public policy conversation.

So when it comes to Budget 2018, I have to agree with Astrid Pregel, a woman with an impressive 20 years of experience advising governments around the world on women’s advancement who wisely quipped the other night, “Sometimes, you gotta know when to clap.”


CV Harquail Reviews Lauren McKeon’s book, F-Bomb: Dispatches from the War on Feminism

We just finished a week full of activities related to International Women’s Day worldwide.

Feeling alright? Things heading in the right direction?

Maybe. But not so fast. Welcome to the anti-feminist movement in Canada, as illuminated by Lauren McKeon, an award-winning Canadian feminist author and the current digital editor at The Walrus, in her fall 2017 book, F-Bomb: Dispatches from the War on Feminism.

We felt this was an important book. So we commissioned LiisBethian CV Harquail to conduct a book review from an American feminist entrepreneur’s perspective. Harquail concurs with McKeon that “the anti-feminist movement remains strong and [therefore] feminists must find ways to be stronger.” Harquail suggests that this starts with trying to understand their limited world views and better yet, how other systems of oppression are shaping anti-feminist movements.

Read her review here.

The Artivist Woman’s Playlist by Aerin Fogel

What’s the best way to honour International Women’s Day and the art + activist women in our society who use pens, instruments, their bodies, and their voice to advance justice—often at great personal expense?
Answer: Take the time to listen to LiisBeth’s Stand Up, Get Up playlist, curated by Aerin Fogel and featuring 10 women whose songs and performances help up see the world differently.

MK Asante, who is an American bestselling author, award-winning filmmaker, recording artist, and distinguished professor, wrote: “The artivist knows that to make an observation is to have an obligation.”

Fogel is a regular playlist contributor for LiisBeth, and founder of Toronto’s fall feminist music festival, Venus Fest. Listen here.

Highlights from Toronto’s International Women’s Day March on March 3, 2018.
It was hailed as the largest IWD March in North America. Toronto’s theme was liberation and justice for Indigenous women, particularly Tina Fontaine. We estimate approximately 3,000 to 4,000 participated.
LiisBethian’s had a busy IWD week: the IWD march in Toronto, the SheEO Summit, several workshops on the feminist business model canvas, and a grand finale at the Social Innovation Bootcamp on gender and the economy held at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University. Go team!

SheEO Entrepreneurship Clubs for Girls is coming to Ontario High Schools!

When SheEO founder Vicki Saunders began her quest in 2015 to create a billion-dollar loan fund for women founders, there were naysayers galore. But no more.

SheEO has found its stride. And then some: Starting this fall, SheEO will be launching entrepreneurship clubs for up to 1500 girls in Ontario high schools.

Just three years in, the fast-growing organization now has 3000 activators globally and 17 Canadian ventures (32 worldwide) under its belt, including seven new SheEOs for 2018, announced at the annual SheEO Summit & Cocktail this week:

Applications for the 2019 investment round will open August 2018. You can sign up to be notified when the application portal opens here!

On Tuesday, March 13, LiisBeth had an opportunity to visit the new feminist bookstore in Montreal called L’Euguélionne. What a treasure trove! The store was well-stocked with feminist, LGBTQ+ and queer books, zines, pamphlets, and more (including this one featured above) in both English and French. The staff were super helpful and knowledgeable. We Say. Just. Go. And if you are interested in what makes an enterprise feminist, check out this zine!

Alexandra Ketchum, author of the zine How to Start a Feminist Restaurant, says, “Feminist restaurants are spaces that take their food and labour politics seriously. They challenge the status quo…and provide a space for political organizing, recreational activity, and commerce.” Ketchum also holds workshops on the topic. To connect with her, visit her Facebook page. To learn more about feminist bookstores, read our feature story here.

  • Have you heard of the term “stretch collaboration”? While conventional collaboration tends to be organized around like-minded people working together, stretch collaborations involve working with individuals or groups that can actually tighten your throat at the mere thought of their name. According to author Adam Kahane, “…stretch collaboration encourages us to use the power of discomfort to craft and experiment our way forward with multiple options or possibilities…”
  • Calling LiisBethians in STEM: Is your business about A.I., Big Data, or 3D Printing? Innovative Solutions Canada is a new program with over $100 million dedicated to supporting the scale-up and growth of Canada’s STEM-based innovators and entrepreneurs by having the federal government act as a first customer. The program is designed to encourage government procurement from companies led by under-represented groups, such as women, Indigenous, youth, disabled individuals, LGBTQ+ and others. You can find more information here.
  • Calling LiisBethians under 25! You might want to apply to the Youth Can Do It! initiative where 25 diverse young entrepreneurs will be selected to come to Ottawa in June to connect with inspiring business experts who will support their journey forward. Can’t hurt, right?


Understanding Your Taxes: Knowledge is Power, For Women Entrepreneurs
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
2:00 PM–3:00 PM
2111 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON
Cost: FREE. Register here.

How to Create Multiple Sources of Income
Thursday, March 29, 2018
6:00 PM–9:30 PM
Baka Gallery Cafe
2256 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON
Cost: $25. Register here. ​

CryptoChicks Hackathon and Conference
Friday, April 6 to Sunday, April 8, 2018
MaRS Discovery District
101 College St., Toronto
Cost: $50–$500. Register here.
Details: “This is an open invitation to take part in a bold blockchain event. Women are underrepresented in the crypto space and with your help, we want to change that.”

Walking Your Why: Discovering Your Values Perspective
Thursday, April 12, 2018
6:00 PM–8:00 PM
School for Social Entrepreneurs
CSI Annex
720 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON
Cost: $50. Register here.

That’s it for our mid-March International Women’s Day roundup newsletter!

Like what we do? Support us! It’s easy! Subscriptions are $3/month, $7/month or $10/month. We accept PayPal and credit cards. And we also now have a Patreon page!

Funds go directly towards paying writers, editors, proofreaders, photo permission fees, and illustrators. Remember, there is no other feminist business media voice dedicated to supporting those looking to build and grow ventures in alignment with their feminist values.

The next newsletter is scheduled for the end of March 2018. In the meantime, enjoy the better weather!

Petra Kassun-Mutch
Founding Publisher, LiisBeth

Activism & Action Our Voices Systems

Why We're Feminists


Curling up with the Sunday New York Times is a ritual that goes back to my teen years. A couple of weeks ago on February 21st, I pulled my favourite sections—the magazine, Book Review, and Sunday Review—and headed to a coffee shop to pass a few hours.
In that one issue of the New York Times, I read four pieces that show how far women still have to go to achieve equality. When people say that the feminist struggle was yesterday’s battle, I want to know how they’ve drawn that conclusion. Who told them that? What advantage does that person have in perpetuating this lie?
I feel strongly about feminism. Even the word is important to me. It has been manipulated and hijacked, as women’s issues often are in the mainstream. But we would do well to remember the simple dictionary definition of feminism: “social, political, and economic equality for women.” There’s hardly anything radical or threatening in that definition so I don’t understand why most people wouldn’t be comfortable being a feminist under that banner. But the term is used in so many ways that have little to do with addressing inequality and a great deal to do with undermining the principles of equality by distracting, labeling, and demeaning women (and men) who call themselves feminists.
I have tried to understand younger women who say they need to define feminism for themselves, to claim it and make it their own. But I don’t really understand. I agree that younger women—or any individual, really—should be able to define for herself how she wants to live her life, and the great thing about democracy is that we can each do that to a large extent. But what would the new definition of feminism be that would suit younger women, if not social, political, and economic equality? Those fundamentals capture virtually anything that someone might want to claim as their definition of feminism, no less fairness.

And for women who say they’re humanists but not feminists (they’re not mutually exclusive), it’s not an adequate response because humanism doesn’t address political and economic equality.

The idea that “power can be taken, but not given,” a quote attributed to Gloria Steinem, concludes with, “The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.” The operative element in this is action. If women are coerced into believing that it’s unattractive to be a feminist, they are relinquishing their own power. Hillary Clinton’s attempt to become the first female president of the United States is complex and complicated by the men around her, starting with Bill. Whether you like her or not, this woman is undoubtedly the most qualified candidate running for the office, but look how her campaign is being dissected and deconstructed in ways that a man’s would not.
Consider the piece “Why Sexism at the Office Makes Women Love Hillary Clinton” by journalist and lawyer Jill Filipovic. She shines a clear light on some of that complexity as it is playing out with younger women who are supporting Bernie Sanders. The irony is that Sanders advocates for all sorts of things that he could not deliver on, but the sheer fact of expressing himself garners support. Clinton contains herself to what a president could accomplish, with an eye to addressing the systemic barriers that women still face. Yet she’s criticized for being status quo. What Clinton understands are the systemic structures that need to be disassembled, and she knows that women need to take action to disassemble them. Men may do it with us, but not for us.
If Clinton doesn’t make it to the White House, I don’t expect that I will see a female president in my lifetime. There are many countries that have elected female leaders, and they espouse as wide a range of political views as men. But amid the hypocrisy of the US—land of the free, built on the Horatio Alger myth of success—ultimate success appears to be reserved for Horatio not Hermione. Women are not part of the national mythology. Isn’t that reason enough to be a feminist?
It’s important not to confuse feminine with feminism. One doesn’t cancel the other. You can be a feminist and be as feminine as you like. But if you want to understand what it means to have a paternalistic hand define your femaleness, then read the piece in The New York Times Magazine titled “Over Bearing” by Emily Bazelon. This fascinating—and frightening—piece is an excellent example of inequality being paraded as protection for women. Why is a women’s right to choose and have control over her own body being challenged and distorted in Texas and many other US states? This is not about protecting women; it’s about controlling women. It’s an attempt to remove a fundamental right from women under a guise that is not applied to other medical procedures because those don’t involve control of self. Abortion, more than anything, is about control.
Another piece, “It’s Not Cute To Be Scared” by Caroline Paul, focuses on girls and had me nodding in recognition and agreement. My father wouldn’t buy me a bicycle in 1958 because he couldn’t afford insurance (he probably couldn’t afford the bicycle either) and was afraid that if I fell off and hurt myself, he’d be unable to “protect” me. That was the same reason I couldn’t ride a horse or swim in the ocean. He projected all his fears onto me, his little girl. He had a pony when he was a little boy and he survived a broken arm when he fell off. He had a near-drowning incident, which forced him to become a good swimmer. And when he finally brought home a rusty old bike, he rode it down the street, sitting backwards on the handlebars. Who knows what provoked that prank? But he survived living, which most of us do, even when he took risks.
I doubt he would have been so afraid for me if I had been a son. When my own son was born, I promised myself—for him—that I would not let my fears hold him back. I explored the natural world without fear and encouraged him to explore it too so he would not assume girls were perpetually scared. I ran and played ball with him. We built a fort and a tree house together. I was the best Lego-assembler mom around. I’m still not a strong swimmer, but I took him for lessons when he was a baby.
The last New York Times headline that caught my eye, “The Female Pilots We Betrayed” by Sarah Byrne Rickman, is required reading to understand why feminism is important. It will break your heart while inflaming you with rage. Sometimes injustice is so raw that its reasons are hard to comprehend, and this is one of those cases. If any of the men with whom these women served could speak from their grave, would they deny their female comrades the dignity of recognizing their accomplishments? I somehow doubt it because their reasons would be ruled by meaningful experiences, not by ideology, policy, and prejudice. Read the article and then answer the question: are you a feminist? Do you believe in social, political, and economic equality for women? If you say no, then you will be indifferent to the women who served as pilots alongside men in World War II and the fact that the US Army prevents them from having their ashes laid to rest alongside their fellow veterans. If you can withstand the blatant unfair sexism and not feel enraged by the treatment of these heroes, then you really aren’t a feminist. And how sad for you.
(Publishers Footnote:  Over the past week, LiisBeth attended several women’s events in downtown Toronto, with audiences of 500+.  During question period, I asked the speakers, all women in executive roles, and many who attended, if they identified as feminists.  One said yes, and the rest said categorically said no.  I was genuinely surprised followed by deeply disappointed. If Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can call himself a feminist, why do so many Canadian women, especially those in positions of significant corporate power and influence find it difficult to do so?  Some of the explanations, including “because I have two boys at home” or “its an outdated idea” reads uninformed at best.  Perhaps Margaret Wente in March 8th’s Globe and Mail has the answer?  We think its time women entrepreneurs and their corporate sisters unlearn, re-learn, and re-connect with feminism.  It remains the worlds only large scale, international, yet multi-faceted movement that ultimately works for equality and inclusion. Can you be supportive of equality and inclusion and not call yourself a feminist? Sure. But what’s the point.  When you say feminist, you are really saying you are part of something bigger than yourself.  When you say feminist, you also say you are actively engaged in making a difference on these issues).