UW-Eau Claire to celebrate a ‘robust’ Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month kicks off March 1 in the Ojibwe Ballroom


Photo by Gabbie Henn

In lieu of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Women’s Resource Center is hosting an open house to recognize the resource center’s opening.

To honor the influential women throughout history during Women’s History Month this March, the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) has planned a variety of events which will take place throughout the month. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on March 1 with the Women’s History Month Kickoff in the Ojibwe Ballroom.

“We (the Women’s History Month planning committee) were looking to make a really robust Women’s History Month,” Ashlea Orth, an intern with GSRC, said. “We just sat down and kind of hashed out ‘What are the kind of programs we want to see?’”

Each year, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) picks a theme for the month. This year’s theme is “Nevertheless She Persisted” in honor of the women throughout history who have worked toward ending gender discrimination, according to NWHP’s website.

Orth said the planning committee — which consists of the GSRC, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Services for Students With Disabilities and the Women’s Studies department — worked to create a variety of events and programming that represent this year’s theme. For example, there will be a display in The Bridge titled “Influential Women of Yesterday & Today” which, as its name suggests, is a timeline of accomplishments of women throughout history.

Previous Women’s History Month themes include 2017’s “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business,” where the Eau Claire Student Labor Coalition led a rally for International Women’s Day and 2009’s “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet,” which Eau Claire celebrated by hosting a talk about ecofeminism, a clothing swap and other events.

Kallie Friede, a graduate assistant at GSRC, said intersectionality is an essential aspect to consider when thinking about history. When celebrating Women’s History Month, it’s necessary women in the LGBTQ+ community, women of color and transgender women because they’re often left out of women’s history, Friede said.

“We have to reconcile with the fact that our entire history is told from the perspective of white, cis (-gender), straight men,” Friede said. “So when we have months recognizing other histories, it’s because they’re often left out of the narrative. … Women’s History Month gives us a chance to really recognize the incredible work that women have done throughout history.”

Women’s History Month was created to celebrate women, but anybody will benefit from attending March’s events, Friede said.

“College is a great opportunity to go to something you never thought you would have gone to,” Friede said, “and a great opportunity to learn about communities we’re not a part of.”

To appeal to a wide audience and cover a range of topics, the planning committee orchestrated 15 events taking place in March to celebrate women in history.

There’s the “Night OUT Film Series,” which features documentaries about women’s issues. Eau Claire will also host three speakers: Sonia Ruef, an assistant athletic trainer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, on March 9; Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of the bilingual newspaper Voces de la Frontera, on March 28, and Angela Hazen, an Eau Claire graduate who owns three businesses and survived breast cancer.

Additionally, the Women’s Resource Center open house is March 8 in Hibbard 311C. The month also features presentations by students returning from Nicaragua at 3:30 p.m. on March 12 at Centennial Room 1920. Additional events can be found on posters around campus.

“We’re trying to hit a wide berth of things right here in our local community and issues to women worldwide,” said Kelsey Avey, a graduate student who helped plan this month’s festivities.

Avey, a graduate student doing her practicum at the GRSC, is part of the planning committee. She worked on planning the “Women’s Health and Loving Your Body” event — which takes place at 5 p.m. on March 7 in The Cabin — and the “Gender Pay Gap Salary Negotiation Workshop” at 4 p.m. on March 5 in Centennial Room 1920.

“Women have made so many strides in this world; however, it’s not time to become complacent,” Avey said. “I think celebrating and recognizing women today helps promote how far we’ve come and then also realizing how far we still need to go for equity and equality.”