International Women’s Week seeks to empower, connect students about women’s issues

<p><strong>International Women’s Week, which will begin on March 9, aims to celebrate the role of women and encourage dialogue about women’s issues. </strong>PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY NAAZ MODAN / PHOTO EDITOR</p>

International Women’s Week, which will begin on March 9, aims to celebrate the role of women and encourage dialogue about women’s issues. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY NAAZ MODAN / PHOTO EDITOR

A carnival-themed social will kick off International Women’s Week at Rutgers on March 9, aiming to empower women and connect campus organizations about women’s issues.

International Women’s Day, observed each year on March 8, will be honored throughout the upcoming week with a series of events hosted by the Rutgers chapter of "ONE," a non-profit nonpartisan advocacy organization, said Shaila Huq, president of "ONE" at Rutgers.

A workshop will take place the following day on Tuesday, Huq said. The week will conclude with a screening of the documentary “Girl Rising,” accompanied by a guest speaker Wednesday night.

The issues impacting women range from human trafficking to discouraging sentiments towards girls interested in STEM fields, Huq said.

“It’s a mixture of very recognizable and serious issues that can be affected by policy and advocacy, and then smaller cultural issues which require thought and open and honest discourse with the people around you,” she said.

Throughout the University’s International Women’s Week, ONE will be collecting menstrual essentials for women in shelters across New Jersey, according to the Facebook page of "ONE" at Rutgers.

A School of Arts and Science senior, Huq said feminine hygiene products are one of the items most requested by homeless women and are severely underdonated.

Donations can be made at any of the events, and the group will be at the Busch and Livingston student centers throughout the week to accept donations, she said. Specific dates and times will be announced via their Facebook page.

The week was inspired by the intersection of International Women’s Day and the "ONE" campaign’s focus on extreme poverty and preventable disease, said Tiffany Wu, vice president of "ONE" at Rutgers.

A Rutgers Business School junior, Wu said International Women’s Week would have a series of events to remind students about issues with women’s empowerment, and inform them about ways they can help the cause.

“We’re having this week in honor of International Women’s Day,” she said. “We wanted to use that to draw attention to the fact that poverty affects women and girls in a disproportionate way.”

Students who are interested and able to attend an event are likely to learn the most from the screening of “Girl Rising,” Huq said.

“It follows nine women and girls and their stories of education and how they rose above their circumstances,” she said. “That really resonates and really starts a dialogue.”

The film’s screening will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Busch Student Center and will conclude with guest speaker Alexandra Behette, a field associate from "People Connection," a group that educates students on lobbying for issues such as reproductive health and family planning, Huq said.

Female students of varying class years and disciplines will facilitate the women’s leadership workshop, which will be held from 9:15 to 11:30 Tuesday night in room 115 of the Loree Classroom Building, Huq said.

The intention of the student-led workshops is to create an environment where students can speak comfortably about women’s empowerment, she said.

As a result, students will leave equipped with an understanding of the issues and how to engage others in a similar dialogue, she said.

Monday’s event will bring together social justice organizations on campus to engage them in improving the communication between groups to strengthen their collective efforts, Huq said.

The carnival-themed social will be hosted from 6 to 8 p.m. in room 174 of the Busch Student Center, and will concentrate on the theme #DemandBetter, Wu said.

The #DemandBetter pledge is sponsored by the "ONE" campaign and refers to the Sustainable Development Goals that the U.N. will establish in September, she said.

The Sustainable Development Goals will replace the Millennium Development Goals, a collection of eight international development goals that did not achieve their designated benchmarks within the 15-year time frame, despite substantial progress, Huq said.

“The emphasis is on the fact that the SDGs will affect women and girls the most, because the SDGs are set to really prime them for inclusion in the world in an equal way,” she said.

"ONE" at Rutgers already collected about 600 signatures for the pledge, Wu said. Students at the social will have the opportunity to describe the change they want to see in the world and what they are demanding politicians to do to create change by 2030.

Manoj Bhagroo, a School of Engineering sophomore, said International Women’s Day hits home for him in the wake of a 2012 rape case in Delhi, India.

The lawyers for the defense contended that the victim was responsible, and said women should not be out at night or wear certain clothing, Bhagroo said.

The incident went fairly unnoticed by the American news and public media, but it is important to spread global awareness about the issue, he said.

A BBC documentary about the 2012 rape and murder case was scheduled to air on International Women’s Day this Sunday, according to CNN.

The film, “India’s Daughter,” was banned by an Indian court, but was released early on March 4 by the BBC in some jurisdictions, according to CNN.

“(Empowerment) means that women can express themselves the same way men can express themselves,” he said.

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