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LAWC marks 20 years of its International Women’s Day Breakfast

London Abused Women's Centre executive director Megan Walker addresses a packed house inside RBC Place London during the 20th annual International Women's Day Breakfast.
London Abused Women's Centre executive director Megan Walker addresses a packed house inside RBC Place London during the 20th annual International Women's Day Breakfast. Andrew Graham / Global News

The International Women’s Day Breakfast made a triumphant return to RBC Place London on Friday.

Hundreds gathered and thousands of dollars were raised for the 20th anniversary of the event, which is hosted annually by the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC).

READ MORE: London’s Shine the Light campaign raising awareness of gender-based violence hits 10-year mark

“This is my favourite event of the year,” said LAWC executive director Megan Walker.

“I always love events where the community gathers to celebrate women and girls, and today, for me, was a real celebration.”

A surprise announcement from Walker revealed local Shoppers Drug Mart owners had collected $64,000 for LAWC.

“That helps us retain a new a staff member and [will] also be put towards a new project that we are working on, which will help trafficked, sexually exploited and prostituted women and girls,” Walker said of the donation.
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The breakfast also featured a speech from keynote speaker Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy.

The first woman president and CEO of Startech.com, a London-based company that saw massive growth under Smurthwaite-Murphy, the keynote speaker brought her wealth of experience in the business world to express a need for more gender diversity in the workplace.

Smurthwaite-Murphy presented a sobering reality check of the business world, citing a New York Times analysis that found “fewer large companies are run by women than by men named John” in the United States.

READ MORE: A Toronto startup folded after a sexual harassment claim. This is the woman who spoke out

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The keynote speaker also spoke of the power that comes from women embracing themselves.

“When we know what we love to do, we do our best work,” Smurthwaite-Murphy told Global News.

“Take control, get to know what your strengths are and be in charge of your own development.”

Friday’s event also saw a live auction raise thousands of dollars for LAWC, with items ranging from a breakfast with legendary figure skater Tessa Virtue to a London Knights fan package provided by Global News.

Local politicians from all levels of government attended the breakfast, along with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

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Singh has a full day scheduled for London on Friday that includes an International Women’s Day announcement the My Sisters’ Place on Dundas Street.