The month of March is known as Women’s History Month and several events are taking place on campus to raise awareness about women’s history, including the feminist forum.
Today marks the 101st International Women’s Day. The holiday was first marked internationally in 1911 and women in the United States celebrated by demanding equal voting rights.
Patricia Earl, coordinator for the Women’s Studies Program, said the date for the feminist forum event was selected to coincide with International Women’s Day.
“It’s the 101st anniversary, a celebration for that recognition,” she said. “We thought this was a good opportunity for a newly formed student organization — Women for Women International — to talk about why they got involved with the organization and why it means so much to them.”
Earl said she hopes the forum inspires people to speak and ask questions.
“The intent of the forum is to create a discussion-based environment for topics,” she said. “The feminist forum brings specific topics to the community,” she said.
Hannah Lilly, a senior nutritional sciences major from Lubbock, recently started the student organization, Women for Women International. The organization raises money to help fund the education of women in Africa who face daily struggles from the aftermath of war, losing their husbands, not having enough money to support a family and potentially losing their family.
“(The program) teaches them their rights and it teaches them a trade,” she said. “Then they can start their own small business and we write them letters back and forth so that we can have a more personal connection with them.”
The organization meets the first Thursday of every month in the Estacado Room of the Student Union Building.
Lilly said she plans to use her time speaking at the forum this afternoon to inform people what the issues are and why they are so important to her.
“I think the overall awareness is pretty low,” she said. “College students are really busy and have a daily grind that they go through. They’re probably more focused on having to get up for an 8 a.m. (class) than looking outside of themselves and knowing what’s going on, and that’s why I started this organization — to increase the awareness of what women go through here and internationally.”
Lilly said the issues women face overseas also have surfaced in the United States and it is important that students know what is going on.
“International Women’s Day is really important because I think a lot of the issues women face internationally are the same things that we face here, just in a different context,” she said. “It’s important for women to be knowledgeable about what’s going on with other women.”
Emily Skidmore, an assistant history professor, said the level of awareness on campus regarding women’s history disappointed her.
“This morning I asked the students in my women’s history class, ‘How many of you know it’s Women’s History Month?’ and I was expecting everyone to raise their hand since they are taking my class,” she said. “Only one-third of them raised their hands. Only a third of them were aware.”