Women stand tall

Thom Larkin | Daily Tidings Ashlanders marched from Triangle Park to Southern Oregon University's campus Saturday afternoon for International Women's Day.

Triangle Park filled with men and women, both young and old, on Saturday morning to celebrate one thing &


Young girls dressed in Indian saris with bells on their ankles and red-painted fingertips marched alongside Soroptimist members, men from the Mankind Project and international students from Southern Oregon University in a short parade led by giant girl puppets, then spent the afternoon celebrating at the Stevenson Union with some of Ashland's most prominent women.

Saturday was International Women's Day, an occasion celebrated in more than 50 countries that commemorates the progress women have made around the world and acknowledges where improvement is still needed, said Barbara Winkler, the women's studies director at SOU who helped spearhead the event. It was the first time Ashlanders have marked the occasion in a joint festival with Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College, she said.

"The mayor asked me to represent the city and I was delighted to do that," said City Councilor Alice Hardesty, who read proclamations along with SOU President Mary Cullinan and RCC Interim Dean of Students Kori Bieber. Hardesty attended Mount Holyoke, one of the first women's colleges in the U.S. and was a charter subscriber to Ms. Magazine, but still she felt the effects of being a woman, she said.

"When I was in college, I told my father one time that I thought I might want to be an architect because he was an architect, and he said it's not a good profession for women ... it was like the door was shut. I didn't even consider it."

Hardesty noted that the majority of elected officials in Ashland are now women, however, and she said she is proud of the progress women have made in her lifetime.

"I was able to succeed, and I was treated very well, so I feel like I've been really lucky," she said.

After the proclamations, performers from Planned Parenthood's Teen Theatre, Ananda Natya Dance Company and the drumming group Ashland Taiko entertained the crowd, which was made up of women of all ages, the international community and plenty of men as well.

— — Large puppeteers lead the march from Triangle Park to Southern Oregon University's campus for International Women's Day Saturday.

Paula Sohl, a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, sported a red, white and blue sash along with her patriotic blue blazer and straw hat in honor of the women who worked for the right to vote (19th Amendment approved by more than the required two-thirds majority of Congress in 1919 and ratified by three-fourths of the states on August 18, 1920), but also as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done for women's rights, she said.

"Domestically, my concern is that the values of women and the strengths of women are given more attention and are mobilized," she said. "And throughout the world, the violence against women still continues to need to be addressed."

Dawid Skrzypek, an international student from Poland, said he was surprised the day was celebrated in the United States

"In Poland, it's a big day, especially 20 years ago during the Communist times," he said. Although the day has lost some of its significance since the fall of Communism, he said, employers still hand out flowers to women, and Skrzypek made sure to call his mother and grandmother and wish them a happy women's day before attending the parade.

Lady Vanderlip and her daughter Alexandra came dressed in traditional Panama clothing to celebrate both women and culture.

"We came because I want to teach her to be proud of her heritage, her culture, and proud to be a woman," she said.

Helga Motley devised her own teapot costume just for the day and encouraged women to write names that bother them on tea bags, as a symbol that women become stronger the longer they are left to sit in hot water. She collected labels such as "old bag," "babe" and "hon."

Crisol Valencia, who came with a group of Hispanic students from RCC, added a Spanish name to the list, which she views as a double insult, to both women and Hispanics.

"Most Hispanics are being put down and we wanted to show that we also get involved in the community," she said.

Manny Pachero, who leads the Oregon Leadership Institute Valencia is a part of, said he felt it was important to bring all members of his group, not just the women.

"I feel like it's important because I would like to see the men that I work with to have a little more awareness of women's issues and possibly learn to be an ally," he said.

At the end of the day, Jill Mackie announced raffle prizewinners and that it was her 68th birthday.

"We've come a long way since I was born, and it feels good," she said.

— — Manny Pachero gathers his class from Medford for the International Women’s Day march in Triangle Park Saturday afternoon.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227.

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