Making Public Policy Personal

A recent spate of events—unfolding in national headlines and in sites of political power—have demonstrated both the ways women can shape societal change and the impact policy can have on women’s personal lives. During Women’s Week 2023, a series of events investigated when public policy becomes personal, and explore what this means for us as individuals, citizens, and participants in a diverse democracy. Now, as legislative and judicial acts feel increasingly personal, it is important that we all consider how to best support each other and work together—thoughtfully, strategically, and with clear purpose—to affect meaningful change.

Recordings from Women’s Week 2023, can be found on EDI’s YouTube channel.


Shift. Strive. Thrive.

Grappling with remote work or essential conditions; managing extra duties at home; combining children, chores, and school; coping with isolation; and fighting racial injustice have resulted in an overall lack of self-care, manifesting in mental and physical health concerns we have all dealt with over the last two years. We need a space to find help, heal, and grow. Women’s Week 2022 validated and acknowledged the struggles from the past two years and explored the ways we’re shifting, striving, and thriving to become stronger as we emerge to a new future.


Inspiring a Movement

“Inspiring a Movement” reflected on the history of women’s political leadership, celebrated women’s contributions to our communities, honored those who have come before us, endeavored to create community and belonging, and facilitated a collective call to action to make changes that are needed to enact an equitable future.


Allies in Activism

While 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.

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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 individual 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, 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 Women’s 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.


What Matters

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.