U hosts Women’s Day celebration

The theme for the 12th annual event was “Crossing Borders, Connecting Cultures.”

by Kathryn Nelson

Coffman Union buzzed with action as presentations, speakers, activists and participants milled throughout the building to learn about women’s rights in the 21st century.

The 12th annual International Women’s Day Celebration, sponsored by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and the Human Rights Program at the University, commenced Saturday morning.

This year’s theme, Crossing Cultures, Connecting Borders, described the culmination of more than 60 diverse groups that cosponsored the daylong event.

Connecting borders

100,000 new cases each year, according to the United Nations.

The Fistula Foundation provides free medical treatment from women suffering from fistulas in African nations.

In December 2004, Hoese and a group of friends began making support bracelets for the women who were being treated by The Fistula Foundation. She also used them to fundraise for the organization.

Hoese said she decided to e-mail The Oprah Winfrey Show to tell producers about how the segment on fistulas had impacted her life and about the bracelets she was making.

She heard back from the show within a few weeks with an invitation: an opportunity to hand deliver her bracelets to The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia with Oprah Winfrey.

Hoese said it was amazing to see how such a small surgery changed the lives of thousands of women each year.

Because the smell associated with the condition often forces the women to live in seclusion, Hoese said the operation enabled them to return to their communities.

“They have their dignity back,” she said.

Connecting genders

Cindy Jackson and Donna Jarvis of Women of Whim showed off their art designs.

Martini glasses, bowls, shoes, bags and other knickknacks covered in bright colors clustered their table.

“I paint anything and everything,” Jackson said. “I can’t get enough of my ideas out of my head.”

The women also teach glass and leather painting workshops to others who want to learn the trade.

“We’re a party waiting to happen,” Jarvis said.

Men also participated in Saturday’s events.

University graduate Joe Lowinske interned as an outreach coordinator with the Rape and Sexual Abuse Center in Minneapolis.

Sitting next to the organization’s booth, Lowinske said he became involved with the center because he wanted to help prevent abuse toward women starting with a male’s perspective.

Just because violence happens to females “doesn’t make this a women’s problem,” he said.

Lowinske said he hopes his effort as a male against violence will help create a more holistic approach to abuse prevention.