Women prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day


Hochul Kim/Iowa State Daily

The Ames Public Library hosted an International Women’s Day event in the Farwell T. Brown Auditorium on March 8, 2015.

Kim Hiltabidle

Women and men of various ages and nationalities celebrated International Women’s Day at the Ames Public Library on Sunday during an event that recognized the role women play.

They also discussed issues women face in the modern world.

International Women’s Day emphasizes the respect and appreciation of women and their economic, social and political achievements throughout history.

In many countries, the holiday can be seen as a mix of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. The earliest observance of the holiday dates back more than a century ago in 1909 and took place in New York.

Although International Women’s Day isn’t officially until Tuesday, people from all over the world celebrate it throughout the entire month. The two-hour event that took place Sunday in Ames attracted about 50 participants and focused discussion around women in politics, women in the workplace, sex versus gender and childhood gender stereotypes.

Daniela Dimitrova, professor in Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and member of the Friends of International Women, an organization that co-sponsored the event, led a discussion on women in politics.

“The idea is, when you do something interactive and you get people to participate, they feel more engaged and empowered and they learn more about the topic,” Dimitrova said.

Before the event, Dimitrova spoke about the differences in celebration of the holiday in other countries versus the lesser known role it plays in United States.

“I’ve realized that in my country, Bulgaria, that International Women’s Day is a big deal,” Dimitrova said. “I would always, as a child, bring flowers to my mom as a kind of sign as respect toward women and recognizing their role. When I came here, it wasn’t so popular, and I think even now people don’t know about it that much.”

Other sponsors for the event included the Ames Public Library, the League of Women Voters of Story County, Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support, Iowa Resource for International Service, Worldly Goods and Wheatsfield Cooperative.

Andrea Mallarino, moderator for the event and advocate at ACCESS, said she hoped people would walk away from the event with a sense of empowerment and involvement.

“The biggest thing is to get an idea of the organizations that are in our community and how there are people really fighting for this equality and making change happen,” Mallarino said. “There are things you can do to help fight this individually and as a group.”

The theme for this year’s event was Pledge for Parity, with an emphasis on parity, or equality, in regard to the ongoing gender pay gap issue facing women.

Globally, social media users have been using the hashtag #PledgeForParity to raise awareness about gender inequality in hopes of individuals making their own pledge to help accelerate gender parity around the world.

At the end of the event, participants wrote down their own pledges and placed them on a board labeled “What are you pledging for?”

This year marks the second year the event has been more interactive based with open-ended discussion in small groups instead of having just one or two guest speakers.

Kimberly Hope, event coordinator, spoke about how increasing interaction has been a success for the event because it encourages communication and sparks conversation among participants.

“We really think that every woman has a story to tell, and there is a lot of injustice in the world that people can speak to,” Hope said. “Even if they haven’t experienced it — I think that they see it. Instead of just having one person tell us about their successes, why not have everyone talk about their own successes and struggles and work together?”