Ashland marks International Women's Day

A number of events are planned this week in celebration of International Women's day.

Southern Oregon University will host a Provost's Panel on International Women's Issues from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in Stevenson Union room 330. The event features speakers on international women's issues who will talk about women and micro-enterprise, women and HIVand AIDS, and ending female circumcision.

Southern Oregon University Economics Professor Linda Wilcox Young will speak first with her topic, "Millennium Goals: Empowering Women through Microfinance," followed by SOU Sociology Professor Cynthia White on "Women as subjects and agents in the African HIV/AIDS crisis."

Liberian activist Sia Amma will then speak on "Educating women in rural Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea on the dangers of female genital circumcision through her organization Global Women Intact."

The free event will be moderated by SOU Women's Studies Professor Barbara Scott Winkler. Refreshments will be served.

Amma will also be honored on Saturday during the third annual Rogue Valley celebration of International Women's Day, which starts at 11:30 at Triangle Park.

Amma, a performance artist and activist based in the Bay Area, works to educate women and girls about the dangers of female circumcision. She was born in Liberia and underwent a female circumcision as a young girl. Amma founded the organization Global Women Intact and travels to Liberia annually to educate women on the issue. She has also performed a number of one-woman shows tackling female circumcision from a comic angle.

Amma's work fits with the Ashland celebration's focus this year, which is "honoring the resiliency of African women who often live amidst conflict and suffer from violence, hunger and disease," a press release states.

The Saturday events start at 11:30 a.m. with a sidewalk parade from Triangle Park at the corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and Morton Street to Southern Oregon University's Stevenson Union.

At the University Ashland Mayor John Stromberg will read a proclamation of support and recognize local women civic leaders. A two-hour celebration of music, dance and a free international food fair will follow.

Now celebrated as a day to recognize the contributions of women past and present and to work for a better future for women across nations, International Women's Day is rooted in the struggle for fair working conditions and organized efforts for peace in the early 20th century.

In 1975, the United Nations officially endorsed International Women's Day and the events has become more popular each year. Last year 64 counties joined in the festivities and almost a thousand events were held across the globe. The day is marked on March 8 every year.

The 2010 Rogue Valley celebration of International Women's Day is sponsored by Southern Oregon University in conjunction with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the American Association of University Women, Planned Parenthood, Soroptimists International, Jackson Country Victim Services and the Northwest Seasonal Workers Association among others.

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