'Join me at the Arch' for International Women’s Day

Lex Treinen/Sun Star Reporter
March 6, 2012

The Introduction to Women and Gender Studies 201 class, taught by Dr. Kayt Sunwood, is organizing an event on March 8 to celebrate the 104th International Women's Day.

In Russia, every girl and woman will receive flowers or chocolates. In Portugal, women will leave their husbands behind to enjoy a women’s-only night out. In Japan, activists will hold meetings to push for more political power for women.

International Women’s Day is March 8, and while most people in the United States may not know about the holiday, the UAF Women’s Center and other campus organizations will host events to raise awareness of women’s issues on that day.

In the U.S., social and political goals are at the forefront of Women’s Day.

“Women are doing great stuff,” said Kayt Sunwood, the manager of the UAF Women’s Center, “we just don’t hear about it because they are supposed to be at home. Maybe 2012 will be different.”

The international organization Women for Women established this year’s theme, “Join me on the Bridge.”

“We were looking everywhere for a bridge that works on campus,” Sunwood said. “Finally we thought of the Ice Arch.”

On March 8 at approximately 2 p.m. students from the Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies class will lead a parade across campus to raise awareness about Women’s Day.

At 4:30 p.m., people will meet at the ice-arch at UAF to listen to guest speakers and an open discussion. Afterward, there will be a showing of the film “Grace Paley: Collected Shorts” in the Schaible Auditorium, in conjunction with Farthest North Jewish Film Festival.

The event began in the U.S. with the socialist movements of the early 1900s, according to the International Women’s Day website. The first celebration was held on Feb. 28, 1909. The event is part of Women’s History Month, which the U.S. Congress designated as March in the 1980s.

“It should really be called Women’s Month,” Sunwood said, “this isn’t just about their history.” Women are disproportionately affected by war, health crises, and politics, and thus it is essential to raise awareness about diverse topics, not just equal rights, Sunwood said.

Though they celebrate Women’s Day every year, this outdoor rally is new, Sunwood said. Though she has never seen any problems with disruptions, Sunwood said, “it could be interesting” when people are not supportive of an agenda.

“If there are people who come and who are saying ‘go back to the kitchen’ that will only raise awareness,” she said.

While organizers say they have no concrete goals for the event, it’s about “gathering as many people as possible to show the world support in the North for the causes of women,” said Enei Begaye, an event organizer and a student in Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies.

The Sun Star Salary Database changed the dynamics of the issue of equal pay at UAF, Sunwood said.

“The Sun Star project has made it really clear what kinds of inequities there are at UAF,” she said. Women in the U.S. are now earning more bachelor’s degrees than men, but are still paid much less, Sunwood said. Women in the workforce make 78 cents for every dollar that men make, according to the National Organization for Women.

The event is not just about women.

“It’s about bridging communities,” Begaye said.

Communities and organizations from across Fairbanks — including the Gay Straight Alliance, environmental organizations, peace groups, Alaskan Native organizations, local arts group Angry Young and Poor and the Jewish community —  are organizing or performing at “Join me on the Bridge” on March 8.

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1 Response

  1. Kayt Sunwood says:

    Happy International Women’s Day Everyone! Thanks Sun Star!

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