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International Women’s Day Festival 2014

March is Nation Women’s History Month and each year women of the United Nations create a theme to celebrate on International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “equality for women is progress for all.” 

The Ohio University Women’s Center hosted its sixth International Women’ Day Festival Sunday March 15 in the Baker University Center Ballroom. The festival highlighted the achievements of women and allowed participants to reflect on women’s current status in society. A large part of the celebration was discussing what can be done to further elevate the status of women.

Bhakti Shah, a henna tattoo artist tabling at the event, believes that despite the fact that society has changed, that change is slow, and women are still not as well acknowledged as they should be. She thinks a key factor in allowing change to continue is support from men.

“Acknowledgement by a few men who appreciate their own daughters, wives, mothers; who appreciate women and know that they have something and let them be what they want to be; who support them and give them encouragement. That is one of the basic factors.”

Shah thinks that another factor is changing the mindset of society.

“People are realizing that women are not just for the home. They have their own talents and they can also do things. Its not just that you have to be a man to earn money,” she explained.

Community members participated in the event in a variety of ways out side of discussion as well. Women expressed themselves through dance, poetry, song, music and speech. Ohio University’s F.A.C.E.S. modeling even put on a fashion show, modeling clothes made by a student at Athens High School.

OU Women’s Center Director Sussanne Dietzel believes this event gives women the opportunity to stand up against gender inequality issues such as violence against women, and engage in policy making that ties gender equality to other issues of social justice.

“Events like this help because we are bringing together women from a diversity of cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds and we are beginning to see our commonality, we are seeing each other in our beauty, and at the same time we are calling attention to the fact that women are subordinated and that women are secondary citizens still and that we need to stand up against it,” Dietzel explained.

She is already looking forward to next year’s Women’s Day Festival, as are the women of Her Campus Ohio University.

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