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The Battalion

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Celebrating women in Aggieland

International+Womens+Day+Conference
Photo by Photo by Annie Lui
International Women’s Day Conference

For over a century, International Women’s Day has celebrated the influence of women and their various achievements on March 8.
In 1909, the first International Women’s Day was observed in honor of the 1908 workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against unfair working conditions. At Texas A&M, women’s organizations take part in an array of events occuring at the annual International Women’s Day Conference to celebrate the campaign theme of 2018, Press for Progress.
The International Women’s Day Conference was held March 7 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) at Texas A&M hosted the annual conference, which included a student panel of international students, a faculty panel of those involved in gender and global affairs, table discussions led by the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) and three entertainment groups: Fade 2 Black, Percussion Studio and Dance Arts Society. The conference ended with a call to action encouraging social activism.
Sarah McKeen, political science junior, is the Head Executive of the AAUW at A&M. In addition erto raising awareness about national and global issues that impact women, AAUW also promotes female leadership on campus. McKeen said she believes International Women’s Day enables intersectional and global discussions on evident gender inequality.
“Press for Progress means acknowledging the strides women around the world have made this year through various social movements, but also acknowledging that progress is still needed for gender equity,” McKeen said. “The day should be notable because it acknowledges that gender inequality is a global issue that transcends societies and cultures; the day truly proves the importance of feminism nationally and internationally.”
Wilmarie Marrero Ortiz, chemistry Ph.D. candidate and former conference panelist, is the Diversity & Inclusion co-chair of GPSC and helped organize the 2018 conference. Ortiz said International Women’s Day should increase the awareness for the gender equality movement.
“We are half of the population but without equal representation yet,” Ortiz said. “I am looking forward to learning new ways to get empowered. We need to continue supporting each other, because you cannot grow without lifting others.”
Feminism 4 Aggies presented a table at the International Women’s Day Conference this year. According to Marina Castañón-Villarreal, psychology junior, Feminism 4 Aggies’ mission is to promote, develop and empower people in all sectors of society on campus and the community. McKeen said she hopes to attract new members and discuss how women around the world encounter feminism and oppression differently daily .
“This holiday is important to me because it recognizes how women from different parts of the world face oppression,” McKeen said. “As a Mexican-American, it is incredibly humbling and makes me so proud when I see other Latin or Hispanic American women take the stage. To speak about their oppression, while heartbreaking, makes me happy that they have a stage and a voice at places like the International Women’s Day Conference.”
Victoria Guerrero, political science freshman, said she enjoyed listening to the comments from the international student panel because it helped her understand a variety of issues women face from another point of view.
“I thought it was really insightful that they had international students and international faculty at this conference because you got to hear different perspectives, not only from different nationalities and ethnicities, but also age, and that’s really important,” Guerrero said. “I know the faculty members are much older than the students so to see how different women approach these issues was really interesting.”
While Perla Lopez, political science junior, said she would encourage more students to attend the conference next year to hear from more inspiring women, she said she was disappointed by the lack of representation on the student and faculty panel. Lopez said she hopes students can come together to make sure women of all backgrounds are represented.
“I would tell them they should come to see what our university considers diversity,” Lopez said. “They did not have a single black woman up there and its important to see that. Even when they do have these events, there is still a lack of representation in many areas. So they could be part of that and ask how they can be that voice for someone else that needs that voice.”
Ashley Danforth, landscape architecture sophomore, said she heard about the International Women’s Day conference from one of her classmates and decided to attend. With the great food and insightful conversations, Danforth said this conference provided a sense of community for her at A&M.
“The first panel of women, the faculty women, were amazing,” Danforth said. “They were just so inspirational and empowering and it was just fun to hear their opinions on many different topics on what’s important today and what they think needs attention. After listening to something like that you want to know more and just get involved more.”

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    Photo by Photo by Annie Lui
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    Photo by Photo by Annie Lui
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