Women’s Week is an annual, weeklong event focused on the issues and challenges faced by those who identify as female or women. Topics are relevant to today’s socioeconomic and political climate, intersectionality and cultural movements. Women’s Week is planned by a volunteer committee of students, faculty, and staff collaborating across the university. All are welcome to get involved and participate!
Allies in ActivismWhile acknowledging colonialism and continued efforts to disenfranchise Indigenous women and their communities, this year’s events celebrated Indigenous knowledge and power. Women who are unapologetic in their activism and building of institutions and cultural spaces where people might flourish shared concrete examples of successful activism in the arenas of self-determination, politics and the law.
This year’s Women’s Week theme “Redefine” explored what it means to be powerful or to be radically creative. Keynote Gabby Rivera explored the definition of these traits and how to incorporate them into work, communities, and daily lives.
Resilience: We are powerful because we have survived.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. For social justice movements, the term has also come to reflect attention to resilience through individuals and group actions. People are engaging in politics, activism and the arts to improve their personal situations, but also move society as a whole. This year’s theme highlighted the lived experiences of women with events focused on the power of resilience that women, and especially women of color, have shown, and continue to demonstrate, in the face of increasingly repressive policies.
In recent years, scholars and activists have pointed out society’s desensitization to rape. Because sexual violence and rape happen often, and rarely go punished, we operate under the assumption that rape is an inevitable fact of life. This normalization of rape has led people to internalize beliefs and attitudes that condone and even encourage gendered sexual aggression and violence. The events of this year’s Womens Week promoted ways in which everyone can take steps to disrupt the current status.
The Political Body
How we approach women’s health — as individuals, communities and as a country — is tied up in broad issues of political personhood and women’s rights. This year’s theme, “The Political Body” focused on the political implications of legislated regulation of women’s bodies. Topics included adoption as a form of reproductive access, campus rape culture, and local access to health care for marginalized communities. Former Texas state Senator Wendy Davis delivered a keynote address on the implications of removing access to reproductive health care.
Consider it Handled
Women’s Week offers a forum for students, faculty and the community at large to have an open dialogue on issues around gender inequality, sexual identity, women in leadership, mentorship and empowerment. This year’s theme guided workshops and dialogues on advocacy and allyship within leadership, money management, networking, and community building.
The University of Utah has a strong commitment to helping women succeed. The university has programs in place to support women year-round, and taking a week to celebrate women elevates those programs. This year aimed to allow women to connect with each other, identify goals and passions and learn skills to confront challenges that inhibit their progress. This included a dialogue on how to support parents in the workplace, collaborative workshops, and exploring social barriers that prevent success.
Learning through Giving: Mentoring Young Women
Keynote Dr. Edith “Winx” Lawrence presented her thoughts on the benefits of mentoring to both adolescent and college women in the areas of self-esteem and finding one’s passions and meaningful careers that can make a difference in critical issues young women face today.
Powerful Beyond Measure: Women, Work & Education
This year’s theme honored the achievements women have made professionally and the importance of education in those achievements while focusing on the conflicts and challenges encountered by various identities in education, research, healthcare, and the workplace. Keynote Dr. Cynthia A. Bioteau, the first woman CEO of Salt Lake Community College, discussed her expertise and passion for establishing accessible and critical education for all community members.
Ain’t Misbehaving: Women Making History, Fighting for Equality
In many areas, women are still fighting for equality. Both nationally and locally women are paid less than men for doing the same work; lag behind in graduation rates and in entering the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Women’s Week celebrates women’s accomplishments but also reminds us there is work to be done. Women’s Week 2011 highlighted the progress women have made toward equality in the workplace, education, athletics and more, while underscoring the need for continued strides toward full parity.