Pictured is the poster for this year’s International Women’s Day Festival. The poster was designed by Amy Darlene, an Athens freelance graphic designer and illustrator.

Pictured is the poster for this year’s International Women’s Day Festival. The poster was designed by Amy Darlene, an Athens freelance graphic designer and illustrator.

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Ninth annual International Women’s Day Festival to be held March 19


Ohio University is preparing to celebrate Women’s History Month with an annual tradition of celebration, reflection, education and an opportunity to showcase the diverse talents of the OHIO and Athens communities.

The ninth annual International Women’s Day Festival is scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 19, in the Baker University Center Ballroom. Free and open to the public, the festival is sponsored by OHIO’s Women’s Center, the Multicultural Center, the International Student Union, the Black Student Cultural Programming Board, the Campus Involvement Center, the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Center for International Studies and International Student and Faculty Services.

According to M. Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center, OHIO’s International Women’s Day Festival is a multi-faceted event.

“It is a celebration, recognizing the achievements and contributions that women make around the world to improving the lives not just of women but everyone, regardless of gender,” Dr. Murray said. “But it’s also about where we have to go. Our theme for this year’s festival is ‘Making a Difference,’ and the theme of this year’s global celebration is ‘Be Bold for Change,’ so we’re also asking for people to take the festival as a call for action. We’re asking attendees to do what they can outside of the festival – in their workplace, in their home, on a political level if that is where they are at – to improve the lives of women.”

First observed in 1911, International Women’s Day is held on March 8. Because OHIO’s Spring Break coincides with the global celebration, the University marks the occasion later in the month.

This year’s International Women’s Day Festival will feature more than 20 individual or group performances, representing diverse nationalities and ethnic backgrounds from throughout the OHIO and local communities, as well as vendors and educational displays. Performances will include dancing; singing; baton twirling; historical readings; poetry; a Burmese yoga, kickboxing, stick and sword forms demonstration; and the always-popular fashion show, allowing attendees to see clothes worn around the world and to learn about their cultural significance. Each hour of the festival will kick off with a featured performance from some notable vocal and dance ensembles, including the Ohio University Tempo Tantrums, a female a cappella group; Sisters of Salaam, a local Middle Eastern dance troupe; OHIO’s MarvelOUs Dancers; and New Chords, an Ohio University mixed a cappella group. A full schedule of performances is available here

Dr. Murray noted this year’s event will continue a tradition started last year – child-friendly hours, which will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. The festivities during 4 to 6 p.m. will include both child-friendly performances and some adult content. The event will also include a children’s play area where staff will be available to provide empowering women’s stories and coloring books for children of all ages and genders. Parents are encouraged to visit the play area with their children, but the event will not be offering childcare.

According to Dr. Murray, there will be a few new features at this year’s International Women’s Day Festival, including an innovative opportunity for all attendees to actively participate in the festivities. 

This year’s festival will include the debut of a video booth where attendees can record their thoughts on such topics as “Why Celebrate International Women’s Day.” Some of those recordings will then be streamed on the festival’s stage throughout the event. 

“It’s a wonderful way for attendees to really interact as part of the performance this year,” Dr. Murray said.

In addition, the planning committee for this year’s festival has partnered with Ohio University Culinary Services, which will be making its Hungry Cat food truck available at the event. From noon to 5 p.m., the food truck will be located outside the student lounge on the first floor of Baker University Center. Culinary Services’ has prepared a special international menu for the festivities.

Dr. Murray also noted that this year’s festival will take place entirely within the Baker University Center Ballroom. In year’s past, the festival’s vendors and educational displays were located in the hallway outside of the ballroom.

“We really wanted to bring more of a festival feel to the International Women’s Day Festival, so we’re holding everything in the same room,” she said. 

In preparation for the festival, a campus- and community-wide competition and open auditions were conducted to select the poster design and the emcees for this year’s event. Amy Darlene, an Athens freelance graphic designer and illustrator, was the winner of the poster contest. The four emcees selected for this year’s event are students Ansam Al Harthy from Oman, Helen Cumberbatch from Trinidad and Bukky Shaba from Nigeria, as well as Elizabeth Lehman, event specialist at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Murray noted that the International Women’s Day Festival is just one of the many ways Ohio University celebrates Women’s History Month (see sidebar for information on other events).

“What I hope people take away from all of these events, but the International Women’s Day Festival in particular, is the connectiveness of women’s lives around the world and a feeling of being called to act to support women on their path to equality,” she said.

For more information about the International Women’s Day Festival, click here

OHIO hosting a plethora of Women’s History Month events

The Ohio University Women’s Center, in partnership with offices and programs throughout the University, is offering more than 20 Women’s History Month events throughout March. 

Women’s History Month events kicked off March 2 with the “Thirsting for Knowledge Thursdays: Bollywood” program and the Women’s Achievement Dinner and wrap up on March 31 with Ohio University’s Seventh Annual World Music and Dance Concert, which this year is coinciding with OHIO’s Moms Weekend.

“During Women’s History Month, we want to make sure we are encouraging people to think about different aspects of women’s history,” said M. Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center. 

Dr. Murray noted that among the month’s events is a March 23 “Thirsting for Knowledge Thursday” program featuring Athens resident Lois Whealey, who will share her experiences attending women’s meetings that occurred across the United States in 1977.

On March 22, Renee Tajima-Pena, director of “No Mas Bebes” will speak as part of the Race, Gender, Culture Film Series. “No Mas Bebes” is a film about the forced sterilization of Latina women in the United States.

On March 29, “Breaking Barriers: A Case Study in the Life of Lt. Col. Layla Sweet” will highlight OHIO’s first female commander of the Air Force ROTC Program who joined the University this past July. 

“We have some very serious events during Women’s History Month, but we also want to make sure people are thinking about women’s history in the arts and other areas,” Dr. Murray said, noting the March 16 program titled, “Women within the Wizarding World: The Witty Quiz Game for Wizards.” Dr. Murray described the program as one that is more family-oriented.

“We also have some activities that are really about looking forward,” Dr. Murray added. Among those activities are the “AAUW Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop” being held on March 28 and the “Stay out of your own Way: How Gendered Language Threatens our Success” program slated for March 30.

A complete list of Women’s History Month events is available here