During March 1 – 8, 2016 Utah Valley University hosted a series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day at Utah Valley University.

MARCH 1, 2016.

UVUs Women’s Success Center started celebrations by presenting the Rainmaker Award to Barbara Barrington Jones on March 1, 2016 for her work to empower women globally. Barrington Jones is an author, speaker and image consultant, who aims to make a difference in the lives of women. She is CEO and founder of the Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation.




MARCH 7, 2016

International Women's Day at Utah Valley University


On March 7, 2016, the gathering hosted by Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU was started from a student round-table. Participants, Darian Hackney, Mary Cisneros, Kiersten Dumas, and Megan Raines reported about their research of different aspects of gender issues and successful contribution to the International Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) under the umbrella of the Mountain Partnership (MP), subunit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, held at UVU October 7-9, 2015.

Following the student round-table, Peggy Pasin, the Coordinator for the UVU Women’s Success, Center spoke on how the Women’s Success Center enables women to reach their full potential in both the workplace and academia.

As part of the gathering, Dean Torsak and Kiersten Dumas, student organizers of the WOMC then presented certificates with appreciation of the MP to all contributors of the conference.

As a highlight of the event, Alex Azmi DBA, Director and Executive Producer presented his award winning documentary To Climb a Gold Mountain about life of Chinese women – immigrants in Los Angeles during 19th – 20th centuries . This was second time screening of the documentary in Utah after its successful presentation in August 2015 during fundraising for the WOMC in Salt Lake City.

MARCH 8, 2016


On March 8, 2016, UVU hosted special ceremony honoring Leslie DeeAnn Mower, member of the UVU National Presidential Advisory Board, co-founder of Neways, entrepreneur and author. Dr. Pierre Padiukov, Vice-Rector of International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK) presented Mrs. Leslie DeeAnn Mower with Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from IUK for her outstanding contribution to the promotion of women cause globally and support to the partnership between mountainous Utah and Kyrgyzstan, as well as between UVU and IUK.





March 8th the International Women’s Day is a significant day where we celebrate appreciation, respect and love toward women, including mothers who sacrifice their lives for their children to achieve their goals, dreams and happiness. On this significant day we also shouldn’t forget about the mothers who are not among as. On Monday March 7, 2016 we celebrated this amazing day at Utah Valley University.  We were introduced to women who are working in amazing different areas, such as rocket scientists, humanitarian aid workers, pilots, fighters, professors, fashion designers.  All these women are great leaders who are using their knowledge or building technology to change lives. We should keep shining a light on their diversity and roles across the world. The louder we can hear their voices the better we can change the world.


Student Round Table Participants during International Women’s Day Celebration (L to R):Darian Hackney, Kiersten Dumas, Megan Raines and Mary Cisneros

During the event Utah Valley University hosted several students and professors who spoke to us regarding women in society, domestic violence among other issues.  I would have loved to have heard more about women in education. I think women in education is one of the important subjects to talk about it. For example, in some countries such as Pakistan or Afghanistan it is very hard for women to obtain education and achieve their goal. They are not only facing economic difficulties but potential terror threats and oppressive religious and political regimes. According to Sharia law and religion of Islam women are limited in education and freedom of speech. Women and girls have been victims of merciless power struggles for centuries in these societies. In majority of Islamic societies women are discriminated in different areas such as, education, unequal salaries.  Man is superior not only at home but also in workplaces.

I think we should focus more about “women and education in Islamic societies.”  I think we have brave women and girls in Islamic societies such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, but not all of them are fortunate like Malala to overcome and survived the brutality of fanatic Muslims such as, Taliban or ISIL. Stabbings or pounding on women and girls, especially domestic violence, cutting nose or part of their bodies, acid attacks,  honor killings, forced marriage that have become a growing problem in Islamic countries. It is a vicious, barbaric and inhumane act toward women. In such as society where the Sharia law is the rule of the law, women and girls can’t live with confidence and feel safe. Unfortunately, majority of women and girls fear physical harm from their own family members. It is sad but true.

I was born in Afghanistan and used to live there for over 16 years, then moved to the Czech Republic. Even though, Afghanistan is a country where women are discriminated and do not have possibilities for higher education. We still have brave women who sacrifice everything for their children to achieve their goals and dreams.  For example, my mother provided me higher education in Prague the Czech Republic where I studied Languages and used to work over 14 years as an interpreter and translator for the Ministry of Home affairs in Prague including, immigration Police, Criminal and investigation department. As an interpreter I was able to help women in need who were seeking help from the United Nations, as well as the Czech Republic police.  Women have an important role to play in all professions.  International Women’s Day helps us come together to share ideas and inspiration.

Stella Przybyla, UVU student



Utah Valley University (UVU) students and faculty participated in several events on March 7 and 8, 2016 highlighting International Women’s Day as well as recognizing Leslie DeeAnn Mower, co-founder of the company Neways for all of her great contributions to Utah Valley University and elsewhere. Events were held on campus at Utah Valley University.

On Monday March 7th a celebration was held for International Women’s Day. I was able to participate in a student round table, where myself and three my other colleagues, amazing students Mary Cisneros, Kiersten Dumas and Mega Raines shared their experiences and thoughts about the International Women’s Day as well as the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference that was held at UVU in October 7-9, 2016. All of us were members of the organizing committee of the conference and were proud to contribute to its successful hosting at UVU.

After the student round table we heard a presentation from Peggy Pasin, a representative of the Women’s Success Center at UVU and watched a documentary “To Climb a Gold Mountain” that was created by filmmaker Alex Azmi. Alex Azmi came to UVU from Los Angeles by invitation of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU. Our members were impressed by his documentary during the fundraising event in Salt Lake City, when we raised funds for the conference. Alex Azmi answered questions about the film, a story of four Chinese women who lived in Los Angeles between the middle of the 19th century until recent times. The event was a success and certificates of appreciation from the United Nations Mountain Partnership were given to those who participated in conducting the International Women of the Mountains Conference.

During my presentation as round table participant, I was able to speak about my experiences in assisting with the International Women of the Mountains Conference, how I helped people register for the conference, find where they needed to be as well as participate in the video interviews that were taken featuring many guests from around the world. I was also able to share my achievements of collaborating with many amazing students at UVU to gather signatures for a petition that advocated for a more detailed look at mountainous communities while the climate change discussions were happening at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December of 2015. Together with many of our colleagues in Kyrgyzstan, Colombia, and Russia we were able to gather many signatures through our efforts. It was a very great night to be able to share my experiences as well as receive a certificate of appreciation for the work that I did.


(L to R): Dr. Pierre Padiukov, Leslie DeeAnn Mower, Meerim Abdrisaeva and Dr. Cholpon Almatalieva After Presenting an Honorary Doctorate Degree

On Tuesday March 8th Leslie DeeAnn Mower was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree from The International University of Kyrgyzstan. Guests were honored to hear from Ambassador Baktybek Abdrisaev, Dr. Danielle Butler, Dr. Pierre Padiukov, and Mrs. Leslie DeeAnn Mower. I was privileged to translate Dr. Pierre Padiukov’s speech about Leslie DeeAnn Mower’s achievements. Dr. Pierre Padiukov is the Vice Rector of the International University of Kyrgyzstan, he and Dr. Cholpon Akmatalieva presented Mrs. Mower her award and regalia.


Dr. Pierre Padiukov and Darian Hackney during official ceremony Honoring Mrs. Leslie DeeAnn Mower

I was able to speak with Mrs. Mower and assist to Dr. Pierre Padiukov, which was an extraordinary experience for me, as a second semester student in a Russian Language class. However, I was so honored to be a part of the ceremony. The experience had encouraged me to continue learning Russian. Another great experience from this week for me that I was being able to get to know Alex Azmi, who created the documentary that we watched on March 7th. I was able to converse with him and a member of the board of trustees for the university at my table. It was an incredible experience that I wasn’t expecting. I gained several new relationships and gained confidence speaking in front of people.

The two events were very successful and effectively celebrated International Women’s Day and honored accomplishments of male and female students as well as recognize Mrs. Mower for her accomplishments as a successful businesswoman, and sponsor of many programs at UVU and the State of Utah assisting women, families and promoting cooperation between different mountain communities, including Kyrgyzstan and Utah.

It was so nice, that each woman received a rose after the ceremony for Mrs. Mower. It was my first experience celebrating International Women’s Day and it is not one that I will soon forget. I have made incredible relationships and I was able to be a part of something worthwhile to many.

Darian Hackney, UVU student