The Finger Lakes Region is an area known for its importance in the Women’s Suffrage movement in the United States. On Tuesday, March 8, the region will once again be home to an extraordinary meeting of women as Hobart and William Smith joins the Greater Rochester Area Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the United National Association of Rochester (UNAR), and a number of regional institutions in celebrating the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day.
Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer has aided in planning this event, proposing the postcard campaign and a rejoining of celebrating women’s progress with the larger International Women’s Day as a day to press for demands for equality, equity and justice. To her, International Women’s Day serves as both symbol and practice. “Women’s movements,” says Bayer, “begin and come back to questions of our daily lives – the conditions in which women live and the everyday day ways women engage change to larger political effect.”
“International Women’s Day serves to direct women to the larger political traditions of women around the globe and across time,” adds Bayer.
Along with Bayer, Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies Barbara LeSavoy, Director of Women and Gender Studies at the College of Brockport (SUNY), will be leading an area women and gender studies alliance with Monroe Community College, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher College and the University of Rochester. Some 60 students from all of the participating educational institutions will attend the celebration and dialogue for change.
The event will begin at 5 p.m. on the front lawn of Perkins Mansion, located at 494 East Avenue, where a dramatic presentation will feature personifications of historical leaders of U.S. Women’s Rights by local actors. Each of the actors will highlight issues and obstacles from their character’s point of view that society encountered from the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
William Smith students will represent the Colleges at an outdoor singing event. Senior Women’s Studies students Merrill Amos ’11, Marissa Biondolillo ’11, Julia Hoyle ’11, Rebecca Perkins ’11, Josephina Ragon ‘11 and Samantha Tripoli ’11 will perform for attendees. Gabrielle Perez ’11 also plans to film the entire event.
Following the dramatic presentation, attendees will move inside for a social salon with international food provided by AAUW members. This salon is in keeping with the spirit of Stanton’s salon, a space and exchange organizers imagine as a sustained call for change. “Together with students, we will dialogue about issues for change and action steps to achieve success,” says Greater Rochester Area AAUW President Marilyn Tedeschi. “We expect to learn so much from the students about contemporary issues and we will in turn offer our life experiences.”
Also on March 8, the participating colleges will have International Women’s Day displays and launch a “postcard signing campaign” in their student unions. Students will be encouraged to express their sentiments and calls for change at the local, national or international level on post cards. At HWS, students in the Women’s Studies senior seminar will be tabling in Scandling Campus Center as part of the postcard campaign. The completed postcards will be sent to the offices of Valerie Jarrett, chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and now Head of United Nations Agency for Women, and Melanne Veereer United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. The committee thanks all who add their voices to the 100th anniversary of calls for change postcard campaign; for support, the committee also thanks Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Young Memorial Trust for International Peace and Understanding and the Office of the President, Mark Gearan.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Rochester AAUW’s Women Helping Women Program and Pennies for Peace, which supports education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Annually on March 8, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. “While there are many large-scale initiatives, a rich and diverse fabric of local activity connects women from all around the world, ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more,” says Tedeschi. “We are excited to sponsor this event and to be part of a global display of recognition of contributions of women.”
International Women’s Day was launched on March 19 (not March 8) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The date was chosen because on March 19, 1848, the Prussian king made a promise, which he later failed to keep, to introduce votes for women. More historical information can be found on the International Women’s Day website: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/
To RSVP, call AAUW at 585-244-8890 by Feb. 25, 2011.