International Women’s Day at UVU

 

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Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted the panel of several prominent guests titled: “Time is now: rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” under the umbrella of the International Women’s Day on March 6, 2018.

First we had an introduction from each of the representatives on the panel. First is Celina Milner, she is a Utah native. She attended college in New York and has always had a love for politics. She ran for the House of Representatives and the Senate and lost in both races. However because of her experiences she is now a Political Consultant for Woman. Mrs. Gail Bindley is from the Caribbean. She was the only girl in her family and she grew up with a supportive father who allowed her to wash the car and had his sons wash the dishes. He encouraged her to make her voice heard and this is where her love for feminism comes from. She is now a journalist and works at the United Nations. Shirlee Silversmith, American Indian from the Bear People Clan and was raised in a village in Arizona. She is the director for the Utah Director of Indian Affairs. Utah has eight sovereign nations that have Indian Americans living on them. Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic said that before the war his life was good, however after the war his life was difficult. He became a legal representative in former Yugoslavia, and after the war broke out he was able to get away. He then became a judge and is now a diplomat and has spent most of his career working with the UN.

Each member of the panel were asked one general question about the importance of the International Women’s Day, first we hard that since women are living longer and are more than half of the population. By honoring women all around the world they can become more empowered. According to Celina men still hold onto two jobs, first is banking and second is politics. Gail Bindley said that by empowering women you will encourage your children to continue to pursue education and inspire others. She also mentioned that the closing the gender gap, educating people of female genital mutilation, and lastly the “me too” movement are why this day is so vital. Shirlee Silversmith said she wants to work on including tribal nations in women movements as often times they do not feel included or invited. Lastly, the Ambassador Vukasinovic said that although there are many days that celebrate women, this one should be supported daily but especially awareness raised on this day.

The first question then was asked regarding how the Utah Valley University will be teaming up with the UN and having a discussion with students involved about the pay gap between women and men. Gail Bindley explained that women all around the world have to travel to events to discuss things that are happening in their community. By doing this they can raise awareness and become empowered, many rural women feel secluded and alone. Many do not have the proper education, and many are mothers. However by allowing rural women to be included and reach out to them, we can improve relations.

I am very glad I was able to attend the panel and continue to learn more about women situation internationally. I liked that the panel had a diverse group of women and men, all from different background and some have different beliefs and values. But all came today because they want to build women up. All of the speakers were very inspiring, however one really stood out to me: Shirlee Silversmith, the Director of Utah Indian Affairs, inspired me on many levels. I was unaware of the challenges surrounding tribal women in the state of Utah. Also, Celina is writing a book on female candidates and the hardships surrounding campaigns. She compared running for office to childbirth. Lastly she compares election night to the “birthing of the baby.” I have a strong draw to politics and hearing how an election works from someone who has run for office and knows how it feels was an interesting perspective. This panel was inspiring and I am glad I was able to learn more about women and the International Women’s Day.

 Ezra Pugliano, member, SMD club

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Kymberlee Anderson-Celebrating women worldwide

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Celebrating International Women’s Day with Days for Girls International

Students at Utah Valley University had the opportunity to serve in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 5, 2018. The international group, Days for Girls, provided the opportunity to serve women in poverty-stricken areas of the world. Days for Girls International was founded with the simple idea of creating a sustainable solution to women’s reproductive health education and execution. The CEO of the group, Celeste Mergens, addressed students at UVU and explained the foundation and purpose of Days for Girls. She explained that the idea was formulated after watching many of the women and girls in poverty-stricken areas struggle with basic hygiene and feminine care. When a girl passes through puberty, her body is subjected to many changes, and the lack of formal education makes this problematic. The cultural stigma of these bodily changes is imbedded into areas of low education, the members of the community often shun the girls who are passing through this change. Celeste Mergens saw these problems in low-income areas, and formulated the concept of an international relief society that would be able to not only educate, but also provide resources for girls that are in desperate need of sexual health education. She explained that the key reason why targeting this demographic is so important is because these bodily changes and resulting shame culture often prevent these girls from attending school. The lack of education has profound negative effects on the overall GDP growth of a nation. So thus, as one can correct the solution of female reproductive resources and education would allow more girls to attend school, gain more skills, and thus raise their own income, and the income of the community and GDP. The resulting relief society, Days for Girls International, provides training, education, and personal objects of dignity (PODs) that contain resources such as washable, reusable pads that can allow low-income girls to attend school more often.

Students help to create personal objects of dignity for Days for Girls International

At Utah Valley University, students had an opportunity to help to create these PODs. Each student was tasked with either tracing, cutting, or sowing together various parts of the PODs. Together the students were able to create thousands of pads, educational resources, and bag to help support girls in low-income areas. I had the opportunity to help by tracing the outlines for the materials and providing pins to create the fabrics together, that were then cut and sewn together to create a washable and reusable pad. It was an amazing opportunity for me to serve, in only an hour of time, I traced and pinned hundreds of pads that could then be included in the PODs. It was astounding that only an hour of volunteer work can provide hundreds of women with simple hygiene items that can, in turn allow them to attend school and achieve education that can provide for a sustainable lifestyle in the future. This initiative helped to demonstrate to me the easiness of helping to provide sustainable solutions to poor and struggling communities. This program has far-reaching implications on low-income areas and especially mountain women and communities and I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to help in this facet of sustainable community service. The opportunity for students of Utah Valley University to participate in this project has far-reaching implications for the global lowland and mountain communities.

Andrew Jensen, member, Foreign Affairs club

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Photos from the Days for Girls event

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Rebecca-Bindraban-Days for Girls commemorates International Women’s Day

Caitlin Tomly – International Women’s Day with Days for Girls International

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