International Women's Day Celebrations in Our Area
By Robert Bernstein
International Women's Day dates back over 100 years. The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, giving women the right to vote for the first time. This is a chance to celebrate progress and to raise awareness of inequalities that remain and progress that is still needed.
Santa Barbara celebrated the occasion on March 8 with two overlapping events. One was the HER Festival in Girsh Park in Goleta. The other was called "Women as Climate Champions" and was held at the Marjorie Luke Theater in Santa Barbara.
Here are my photos of both events, arranged in two separate galleries.
At the HER Festival we were greeted by Emcee Starshine Roshell who has written for local newspapers for many years. She has also spoken at the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara
The HER Festival was organized by and for young women. It was a chance for young female musicians to perform:
Most important, it was a chance for young women to recruit other young women to fields that historically have been male-dominated. These young women from the Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy were proudly showing off their engineering creations.
Women's Economic Ventures was raising awareness of local women entrepreneurs to inspire a new generation of young women to start their own businesses.
Caitlin Taylor is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UCSB. Here she was showing off actual brains of different animals. An invitation for other young women to get into the field that excites her and offers so much potential for the future.
These young women are with the San Marcos High School GSA which promotes LGBTQ empowerment and equality:
Ellen Bildsten is a local architect who was showcasing the wonderful and creative world of architecture to inspire a new generation of women to enter the field. I will add that Ellen often comes on our Sierra Club outings and her husband Lars Bildsten is Director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Here you can see all of my photos from the HER Festival.
While this event was just getting started we had to rush downtown to the Marjorie Luke Theater for the "Women as Climate Champions" event.
This event was sponsored by the organization "Dining for Women" which gives direct aid to development in poor countries to lift women and girls out of poverty. They host house parties where women cook meals for each other. They donate the money they would have spent if they had dined out to fund their development projects. Here you can get more information on Dining for Women.
Here are my many photos at this event, mostly showing the abundance of projects that they have helped with.
Women in poor countries are a key to economic justice and to climate justice. As women become more educated, they become more independent and they are likely to have fewer children.
One of the Dining For Women projects is called WINGS in Guatemala. It promotes contraception and women's health so that women can control the size of their families and have healthy families.
Much of the presentation was about the situation in Africa. They showed how women were using sustainable agriculture to reduce environmental harm and to adapt to a world of droughts and climate extremes.
Microfinance programs allow women to start their own small businesses such as setting up beehives and selling honey. Microfinance has been exceptionally successful with women, as almost all loans are repaid. This creates a virtuous cycle of creating an ever-expanding pool of money for new women to start new businesses.
True development requires bigger industrial projects on a scale that only governments can provide. But microfinance is a way for people to lift themselves out of the deepest poverty. Women and their families who were only eating one insufficient meal a day are able to eat two or three meals of more adequate nutrition.
Montecito resident Linda Cole has worked for years in Uganda and she spoke of the challenges and successes of her work there:
The keynote speaker of the event was actually speaking in Washington, DC. Her name is Dr Terarai Trent and was billed as "Oprah's favorite guest of all time". We viewed her speech as it streamed from Washington, DC. I am not able to find it online. But here is a TEDx talk she gave in San Diego four years ago:
After the event, some of the organizers and attendees posed for this group photo.
Their main message in 2020? Vote!