International Women’s Day was marked by celebrations around the globe on March 8, at Colgate in the Women’s Studies Center, with events sponsored by Women’s Studies, the Dean of the College, the Sophomore Year Experience and the Office of Undergraduate Studies.
The day celebrated the achievements of women internationally in the economic, political and social spheres. The idea of holding such a day was born in 1909 out of consideration for women’s role in the world’s rapid industrialization and economic growth.
At a protest of poor working conditions staged on March 8, 1857, police violently responded by attacking the women demonstrators. Two years later, the women involved organized the first female labor union. The same day in March saw further demonstrations in the following years.
At the first International Women’s Conference, held in 1910, International Women’s Day was officially established.
Colgate’s celebration saw students, faculty and staff gather in the Women’s Studies Center lounge. Goodie bags filled with candy, pens and condoms were distributed to every guest.
Sisters of the Round Table (SORT) Senior Advisor senior Kia King opened the event by giving a historical background about the worldwide celebration. Program Assistant Cassie Quirindongo ’06 facilitated the day’s activities.
Quirindongo made a public invitation to the catered buffet of international cuisine. Guests enjoyed a variety of foods of Native American, Japanese and Puerto Rican origins. A slice of cheesecake and banana dessert was the last course of the meal.
While people bit into their sushi or sipped on their fruit punch, several students took the stage to present pieces of poetry, to sing or play an instrument or to talk about their experiences being a woman in their particular culture or a foreign setting.
First-year Tanya Matos began by reciting a poem entitled Julia de Burgos, by the Puerto Rican poet of the same name.
“I represented Puerto Rico. I chose to perform that poem because it expresses how society sees the narrator as a mother and wife, but she wants to be who she wants to be and not what others want her to be. I find it powerful that she doesn’t give in to society’s expectations and stereotypes,” she said.
Native American junior Audrey Stevens spoke about the matriarchal environment she grew up in. She talked about the customs of her particular tribe, and specifically about the rite of passage that young girls must engage in as they enter womanhood.
Other performers included senior Nzinga Job, juniors Courtney Richardson and Dominick Ruggerio, sophomore Jahnelle McMillan and Liddy Kang Covington, and Africana and Latin American Studies Program Assistant Sylvia Smith ’06.
“I personally never knew that this day was celebrated worldwide, but I would definitely like to see more people involved next year,” Matos said.
SORT Liaison first-year Myra Guevara applauded the day’s event.
“I feel that it is important to reach out to different people with different interests and from different backgrounds and encourage them to come into the Center,” Guevara said. “International Women’s Day is a unifying day and bringing different dishes from all over the world was a reminder of that global unity.”