This month, CSB/SJU participated in the annual tradition of Women’s Month.
The Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) and the St. Ben’s Senate are sponsoring events that celebrate women’s rights, women’s issues and history, women leaders and all things that affect and inspire women. March is also Women’s History Month, and March 8 was International Women’s Day. The IWL organizes events that educate and raise awareness that further the messages of these national and international initiatives.
Both students and faculty recognize the importance of Women’s Month.
“Women’s Month is a really great way to shed light on women’s experiences as not only negative, but positive matters too, like achievement,” junior Caitlin Swanson said.
English Professor Mara Faulkner, who teaches a Literature by Women Class, believes Women’s Month is an important celebration on campus.
“Falling into silence or complacency on women’s issues is always a danger, and so many issues are not in the public eye. Women’s Month could make it possible to gain awareness for these issues,” Faulkner said.
Events for Women’s Month include slam poet and performer Maya del Valle, Joy Friedman’s presentation on sex-trafficking in Minnesota, letter writing to women soldiers, lunch with the CSB President MaryAnn Baenninger and a documentary screening for “Spin the Bottle: Sex, Lies, and Alcohol.”
Saima Wahab came to campus as the keynote speaker for Women’s Month. Wahab is an Afghani woman who moved to the U.S. as a teenager. She is one of the few female translators and cultural advisers to the U.S. Army and has travelled back to Afghanistan multiple times. She offers a different perspective on the war in the Middle East through her experiences.
“Women’s Month on campus is a great way to celebrate womanhood and to see inspiration, success and diversity through our peers and others, like the keynote speaker Saima Wahab,” junior Andrea Driscoll said, the Women’s Issues Representative for the St. Ben’s Senate.
Students also attended the “Women, Horses, and Leadership” event earlier this month. This program uses horseback riding to expose women to their inner leadership capabilities.
“This event incorporates women’s empowerment in an activity that is in a teamwork atmosphere and allows women to recognize personal strength and identity,” Rachel Daniel, Women’s Expeditions Coordinator for the IWL, said.
The CSB/SJU community joined in for a day of going make-up free for Natural Beauty Day.
“Natural Beauty day is the most well-known ritual we have every year,” IWL Program Coordinator and CSB junior Danielle Liebl said. “Students really get excited and involved in this topic that everyone on campus can relate to.”
Bennies and Johnnies wore T-shirts supplied by the IWL to encourage and support Natural Beauty Day.
“It’s a good way to embrace true beauty and a reminder that we don’t need makeup to be beautiful,” sophomore Bridget Foley said. “Natural Beauty Day was actually a challenge for me to go against my typical routine, but it was a good way for girls to come together to support each other and build self-confidence.”
Sophomore Ali Mick also supports Natural Beauty Day.
“It’s a really cool concept to promote Bennies to show their natural beauty and that women are internally strong and not only focused on how they externally represent themselves,” Mick said.
However, students share concern over the lack of male integration into Women’s Month.
“It is a great idea and I appreciate it, but I think there should be a corresponding Men’s Month to bring awareness that there are issues and matters for men that should be discussed,” junior Amanda Brown said.
“I’d like to see male speakers or male integration for events during Women’s Month because their experiences influence our experiences, so we should pay attention to them and strengthen community,” Swanson said.
The annual tradition of Women’s Month strives to bring the community together and show support for women in all positions and locations.
“I’ve seen how women often use the word ‘just;’ they are ‘just a student’ or ‘just this’ or ‘just that,'” Liebel said. “But I hope women will put their foot down and be proud and acknowledge who they are as a human and a woman.”