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Draper Journal

International Women’s Day events support, celebrate women

Mar 18, 2019 04:31PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Students, staff, faculty, and community members listen to talks at the University of Utah’s fifth-annual Women’s Leadership Summit. (Photo Dave Titensor/University of Utah)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]

March 8, the official “International Women’s Day,” is ever-growing in international and social-media buzz, and prompted a flurry of local activity on par with the weather happening that day.

City Journals presents a recap on several Salt Lake Valley-based activities and commemorations of Women’s Day.

First-time celebrators — for the youngest of young — Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

Nearly 900 members and guests of the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum were treated to a celebration of women’s social, cultural and political achievements, through the lens of gender equality.

A girl shows off her interpretation of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo as part of the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum’s recognition of International Women’s Day. (Photo Anna Branson/Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum)

On March 8, children up to age 11 learned “the amazing things women can do,” recounted marketing coordinator Anna Branson. 

Children used unique materials and media to create artistic renditions of historic and current women leaders, including the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, anthropologist and conservationist Jane Goodall, and human rights advocate Malala Yousafzai.

All received “Believe in Girls” stickers and had the chance to walk through a unique kaleidoscope, featuring all of the wonderful possibilities for girls and women.

Rising up, lifting up at the U of U – for college students, staff, faculty and community

At the University of Utah, the “day” has become a week-long celebration of women. The Women’s Leadership Summit, themed “Rise Up, Lift Up” was preceded by the “Empower U” Symposium, where president Ruth Watkins provided the keynote address.

The Women’s Leadership Summit, now in its fifth year, offered a resources fair, with everything from women’s health information to voting engagement. The fair was presented in booths lining a wall of windows in the Ray Olpin Student Union building. The university assembled a roundup of nearly 20 breakout sessions, dealing with topics as edgy as navigating shame culture to as vanilla as financial-planning strategies for women. 

“It was truly a day of learning, engagement, and idea sharing,” shared Jessica Lynne Ashcraft, co-chair for the event and associate director for student leadership and involvement at the U. Ashcraft indicated 200-plus women attended the event, “due to the wonderful range of topics presented and the excitement to engage on topics that are so salient for women right now.”

Women in international business 

World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah) leveraged one of its trademark strengths — partnering — to commemorate International Women’s Day, and, like the U of U, made the celebration into a full week of activities, versus just a day.

On March 8, WTC Utah co-hosted a sold-out luncheon, in collaboration with the Women’s Business Center of Utah and the Salt Lake Chamber. 

“WTC Utah would like to be a part of the solutions that address the challenges facing women as they pursue global economic opportunities,” said Suzette Alles, chief operating officer of WTC Utah. “Increasing international trade, and supporting women in their efforts to do so, helps companies grow, create wealth and become more resilient. This, in turn, bolsters economies on a local, national and global level.”

An inspiring thought of global contribution

March 7, the day before the official day of commemoration, WTC participated in the 10th-annual Women in International Business Conference. This power-packed day included perspectives from 30 business, government, and education leaders representing various facets of Utah’s diverse economy.

At the half-day conference, Dr. Mary Beckerle, CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, was named International Woman of the Year. 

In her role at Huntsman, Beckerle oversees a cancer research laboratory focused on fundamental cell biology and Ewing sarcoma, a type of bone cancer that typically affects children and young adults. All that, an incredibly important role, and yet, Beckerle shared with City Journals deeper insight into the awesome responsibility and opportunity she and other women and men like her bear.

“I believe that cancer researchers have a role in advancing global partnerships and understanding,” she observed. “In a sense, we serve as volunteer diplomats as we travel the world to share our results and work together to advance human health.”

More than a day, or even a week… a month?

Women Techmakers Salt Lake and Miss Nations of the World both identified March 23 as the day for their respective International Women’s Day Celebration event. The Women of the World held its ninth annual fashion show just a few days before the official date. Snowy weather on March 8 scrubbed or severely limited celebratory efforts from Sandy’s Miller Center to downtown Salt Lake’s Capitol demonstration.

Regardless of the stormy weather, the message at all events was clear.

Women — and girls — are to be encouraged, mentored, and celebrated all day, all week, all month, all year, whether officially or unofficially.

 

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