Community Spotlight: Rohene Bouajram

This International Women’s Day 2021, we decided to connect with inspiring women championing inclusion at UBC to hear their reflections on this day and perspectives on a more equitable and inclusive future.

Associate Director, Strategic IBPOC Initiatives
Office of the Vice-President, Students


What does IWD mean to you?
It’s a moment to take stock of the incredible women in my life – my powerful ancestors who are an integral part of me, the dynamic women around the world who continue to inspire and female friends, family and colleagues who influence how I show up each and every day. IWD celebrates the achievement and impact of women. It is an important day of joy and reflection in how far we have collectively come and how far we will continue to go, together, in co-creating a gender equal world.


You’re recently been appointed to the role of an associate director for IBPOC initiatives for students. What does that entail?
In this role, I get to strategically consider how initiatives, programming and services can have a positive impact on the student experience, particularly IBPOC students at UBC. It’s a new role which allows for creativity and collaboration by drawing from the lens of equity, inclusion and anti-racism. The role also signals an ongoing commitment to recognizing how important students have and will always be to the institution and continuing to have them at the core of what we do is very important.


What are the different ways we can help be better allies to IBPOC students?
Accept and value lived experiences while giving a voice to them. When inviting IBPOC students to give voice to their experiences, come with an openness to really listen, not to tell them what you know or offer your opinion. It takes a lot of courage to be an ally because once you see what you have not seen, your commitment is cemented to change the unseen.


What role can universities play in advancing gender equality?
Universities can consider the intersectionality between gender and race. Not all women experience the same level of inequality; therefore, a critical examination and implementation of what is needed for different women to advance would be a healthy approach as opposed to painting all women with the same brush.


What is the one thing you want to challenge this IWD?
To disrupt the “because it has always been that way”. One of this year’s IWD themes is #ChooseToChallenge and it requires strength and courage to ask why, for whom, and who have we excluded? It’s my hope that we continue to challenge the status quo to deepen meaningful inclusion, belonging and joy for all women.


What’s your one self-care tip?
Learning to set boundaries with my relationships, energy and time has been crucial, especially when the separation between work and home has dramatically shifted as a result of working remotely. I don’t always get it right but when I do, I am energized, healthy and more aligned.


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