International Women’s Day goes online


The Independent

A group of local business women is launching a pandemic-proof virtual celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8.

Cat Cabajar, owner of The Painted Cat, and Chelsey Hart, founder of Her Initiative Co., are spearheading an online day of events and calling it Her Gathering 2021.

“It’s important, especially with the uncertainty of the pandemic, to come together to support and inspire each other,” said Cabajar.

International Women’s Day has been marked in various ways around the world for more than 100 years.  About 10 years ago, the event cranked up in Canada with gatherings and speakers to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

It also became a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

“When I started my own business 17 years ago in Sarnia, it was still rare for a woman,” said Cabajar.  “We’ve come a long way since then but we still fight double standards.

“That’s why events like this are needed to empower women and make sure they know they are part of a larger, supportive community.”

With a grant from Startup Canada and sponsorship from more than 20 local businesses, Her Gathering 2021 hopes to attract at least 100 women to the zoom event. 

“And we hope we’ll be successful enough to do it annually,” said Cabajar.

In total there will be three hours of programming that combine professional development with self-care.  Guests are from the local community and include Ashley Smith, owner of Heart & Hands who will lead live meditation and yoga.  Carrie McEachran, executive director of Rebound and the owner of F. Revolution, who will join Hart to discuss this year’s theme “Choose to Challenge” and what leadership and courage mean.

Cabajar and Danielle Catton, founder of Danielle is Anxious, are discussing self-love and body positivity, followed by a therapeutic art session hosted by Cabajar. Musical guest is Cynthia Fay performing original songs. 

Hart is also introducing a new online meeting place called Her Community for women who are in business or aspiring to start one.

Tickets are on sale at under her gathering. The first 20 registrants in Lambton County receive swag bags.