Flowers were handed out at the Women’s Center on Wednesday, March 8 where a celebration was held for International Women’s Day. The celebration entailed the acknowledgement of women’s achievements and a discussion on the importance of equity and how it differs from equality.
The celebration began with a viewing of three different videos. The first video questioned the idea that CEOs are not always men, while the other two gave examples of equity and the importance of having it in the workplace. Equality is having everything the same for everyone regardless of differences, while equity is accommodating others’ needs to let them succeed, according to Rise.
After viewing the films, members of the Women’s Center and the Center for International Students and Scholars asked students about their views on equity in the workplace. Some students explained how issues go beyond pay and women lack necessary resources. There was agreement on how there is an “internalized patriarchy” within women when it comes to decision-making.
Natalia Turgeon, a front office coordinator for the CISS, explained that the International Women’s Day celebration began last year when Huong Pham, an international programs coordinator for CISS, joined the department. The department wanted to do something different since Turgeon and Pham both celebrated the day in their countries. Turgeon explained that they also did not see anything around campus that celebrated or mentioned the day. CISS then partnered with the Women’s Center to create a celebration for International Womens Day. The first celebration was spontaneous and quite small. This year, however, turnout increased since they prepared in advance and promoted the event to more international students.
“We wanted to make sure that women were aware that this day exists; that there’s a day to not just celebrate women, but recognize what women through history have gone through,” Turgeon stated.
Fatuma Sheriff, an eight-semester management information systems major, explained she was aware of the day but never celebrated it. Now, after working at the Women’s Center, she aims to spread awareness of the day to her friends and family.
“I think it’s very important and very impactful, especially as a woman and as someone who feels they’re unappreciated. It’s amazing that there is a day for that,” Sheriff commented.
Pham was ecstatic when she noticed there were two men that attended the celebration. Pham explained that it was comforting to see them and that she was curious as to what they thought about the celebration. Anthony Figueroa told Pham that while he works at the Women’s Center, he wanted to be there after noticing the inequalities the women in his life experience.
Figueroa announced he also works on the Men’s Project, an 11-week training program that promotes a safe space for men to be vulnerable and learn about gender-based issues. Figueroa elaborated that the program teaches men the inequalities that women face and how to become an ally for women. According to the Women’s Center, the program’s goal is to have attendees influence their peers “by challenging social norms.” The program focuses on topics related to masculinities, social justice and gender-based violence.
According to the United Nations website, the first National Women’s Day was observed on Feb. 28. to honor the women garment workers in New York who protested and striked against the working conditions they had in 1908.
Turgeon said that she is hoping to continue this celebration every year. This celebration provided an environment that made students, especially women, feel welcome and heard. While the event has ended, students should without a doubt keep an eye out for the celebration March 8 next year.