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12th Annual International Women's Day Celebration Visit

This weekend I visited the 12th Annual International Women’s Day Celebration, located here at the University of Minnesota in Coffman Memorial Union. The women’s fair was presented by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and the Human Rights Program at the University of Minnesota. There were display and information tables from over 65 co-sponsoring organizations that I went around and visited. They all were very eager to answer any questions and were extremely happy to be there supporting their organization.

I started off my visit with a fresh cup of Peace Coffee, an organically shade-grown coffee that is 100 percent fair trade. I was also given plenty of free food! I then went around to the information tables and learned about each organization.

The Midwest Health Center for Women is a non-profit clinic dedicated to the belief that reproductive choices for women are vital for their health and well-being. They provide low cost birth control, Plan B, Surgical and Medical abortion, free pregnancy testing, HIV testing and counseling, annual exams or PAP smears, ultrasound exams, and Colposcopy. They were handing out different forms of free birth control and I learned about the great volunteer opportunities as being a clinic escort. There were also many other clinics that had information tables such as Planned Parenthood, Abortion Provider Expansion Project (APEP), and Aurora Center for Advocacy & Education.

Another favorite booth of mine included the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters’ mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government. They sponsor debates, hold open forums on local, regional and national issues, register voters and encourage everyone to get involved in democracy, influence public policy through education and advocacy, and publish and distribute non-partisan voter guides and other election materials. I was also given a booklet of the history of Minnesota women’s suffrage and the latest issue of their newsletter.

There were many domestic violence organizations that had informational booths set up. I visited the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project’s table were I was given many pamphlets on the abuse of children and the effects of violence on children, warning signs of an abusive partner, and how to profile a stalker.

At another booth, I met Siona L. Nchotu, founder of Zyombi International Project, Inc. a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide consistent, reliable education and HIV/AIDS prevention to the African community. She was informing me about ‘Zip It Up’ the promotion for stopping and spreading the knowledge of HIV and AIDS.

I visited many other booths including Sigma Delta Epsilon, a fraternity for graduate women in the science field, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), Employment Action Center, Zonta Club, Girl Scouts, and plenty of cultural booths with clothing, jewelry, instruments, and art work of the featured country or culture.

After I was done browsing the informational booths, I watched a performance by Voices Merging. The performers included: Moira Pirsch, Lenora Magee-Howard, Mosunmola Ogunlana, and Jasmine Omorogbe. Voices Merging is a multi-cultural student organization founded in 2002 at the University of Minnesota by a group of students and a faculty advisor. This organization gives students to perform their art at regular open mic sessions twice a month and also at workshops throughout the year. The songs were about everything we’ve talked about in class. They included white privilege, gender roles, ethnic/cultural identity, and media portrayed beauty. I enjoyed one song about a man’s life as soldier fighting over seas and a woman’s life in poverty with three children. Another song was about beauty and the artist got a good laugh out of the audience when she explained that media portrays beauty as the “balla hoes? and even though they have large, fake breasts and are pencil thin, they end up with four kids in the next three years with uncertainty of the father and who will end up on welfare. She says she’ll take her junk-in-the-trunk booty and plus size body over that any day. My favorite song was about a woman’s African heritage and the difficulty living in the United States entails. She says that they get harassed for being in poverty, but yet criticized for getting an education and being as smart as the ‘white man.’ She sings that an intelligent black is the white man’s worst fear, and though I don’t think there are problems to the extent of that today, she certainly gets her point across.

The International Women’s Day Celebration really exposed me to all of the elements that make up a feminist view. I never knew there were so many organizations to go to when in need of help or guidance. It was nice to see all the organizations that are involved in encouraging feminism and out there to help and educate others!

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