UIMF Contributes to International Women’s Day Celebration at UVU





On Monday, March 9, International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated in the Multicultural Center by students, including members of the Utah International Mountain Forum and the Sustainable Mountain Development Club. It was one of the gatherings at UVU which during March highlighted gender agenda and role of the global community and the United Nations as well.

The event was opened with my welcoming address and introduction to International Women’s Day, with a brief history and an overview of countries where IWD is an officially recognized holiday.


Deena Ainge greets audience during International Women’s Day Celebration

The United Nations signed the very first international agreement in 1945 that supported the idea of gender equality and has since promoted women as equal partners with men to achieve goals in peace and security, social and economic equality and moving toward global sustainable development.

International Women’s Day began in the United States in 1909 to honor the women of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers union in New York who staged a strike to protest against working conditions. The Socialist International met in 1911 and created and international Women’s Day to foster support for women’s suffrage worldwide and was approved unanimously by the conference.

In spite of the vast achievements globally in gender equality, it is recognized that there is still a long way to accomplish the goal of gender equality. One of the themes that has emerged in this year is “Not Quite There Yet”, and advertisers have taken photographs of women out of ads and replaced them with silhouettes. The Clinton Foundation, with Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Melinda Gates, along with an advertising group used social media and ads to promote their No Ceilings Initiative report on the status of women globally.

According to the World Health Organization, 35% of women will experience sexual or physical violence, that over one billion women worldwide will experience violence against women. Worldwide, women work more hours, earn less pay, have educational opportunities frustrated, and don’t have access to proper medical care or maternal leave. These facts remind us that while we are celebrating International Women’s Day, we still have a long way to go to achieve gender equality. It is very important issue also for the mountain communities and in Utah in particular.

As part of the IWD celebration at UVU, Jesler Molina, president of the UIMF, UVU International Student Council and Model UN club, on behalf of Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy and focal point at UVU, made a presentation about UIMF contribution to gender agenda as a part of the sustainability in the mountain areas. His report included recent actions with focus on preparations to the Women of the Mountains (WOM) Conference, which UVU students will host in October 7-9, 2015 in Orem, UT: about participation at WeForShe campaign at Brigham Young University on December 4, 2014 when UIMF members invited BYU students to join organizing committee of the WOM conference; Participation at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. during the first week of February, when he and several other students met representatives the UNA-USA, the State Department and other institutions and NGO’s to encourage their support for the upcoming WOM Conference; recent meeting UIMF members with the United Nations Association at Utah on February 24, 2015 with the same goal of spreading a word about WOM conference among all interested institutions in Utah.

Next item on the agenda of IWD celebration was a report of the members of the organizing committee of the Fourth International WOM Conference about preparations for the event. Lisa Shepherd, Kiersten Dumas, Jason Linde and others, who already are responsible for panels on seven different issues of gender agenda of the WOM conference, shared their activities and plans in approaching different schools, interested scholars and individuals for their contributions to the conference agenda. Jesler Molina and Hailey Eggleston as senior leaders of UIMF summarized activities and identifies new targets and priorities.


Dr. David Connelly, Chair, History and Political Science Department presents the second volume of the “Youth and the Mountains” journal

As the third item on the agenda of the IWD celebrations, Dr. David Connelly, Chair of the History and Political science Department and editor-in-chief of the journal “Youth and the Mountains” presented the second volume of the journal, that stresses the importance of sustainable mountain development. The articles are written by students at UVU as well as high school students who have participated in a statewide essay contest that focuses on mountain development issues in Utah as well as global sustainable mountain development. Dr. Connelly also discussed some of the issues we face in Utah in achieving sustainable mountain development and stressed the importance of the inclusion of youth in the discussions, as well as the important voice women have played in the state in achieving those goals.


UVU students after screening documentary “Wiring the Amazon-WEB” with Tyler Brklacich, UVU Student body President (third from the right) and Jesler Molina, President of UIMF (holding video)

The final event of the day was an Award-winning documentary film “Wiring the Amazon-Web” that was introduced by Tyler Brklacich, UVU student body president, who contributes to UIMF activities on regular basis. UVU student body purchased and donated film to UIMF. It follows children in remote villages in Peru as they receive laptops through the program One Laptop Per Child, and gain internet access for the first time. Director Michael Kleiman’s goal was to highlight the idea of human connectivity and to expose the children to education resources that expand their opportunities for higher education and eliminating poverty.

The students that attended participated in discussions and were able to make connections as well as to celebrate the importance of gender equality, in particular in reaching sustainable development goals in Utah and in the world.

 Deena Ainge, President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club