Locals mark International Women’s Day

MIDDLEBURY — This Tuesday, people in countries across the world joined together on bridges, standing symbolically with women at the war-torn border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The events, organized by Women for Women International, were held in observation of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day in support of peace and an end to violence against women in Rwanda, the DRC, and across the world.
And while the piled and packed snow in downtown Middlebury following Monday’s storm served as a deterrent for some, 12 people turned out at midday to hold up banners in observance of the occasion. The Women for Women International event declared support for women, especially in time of conflict.
“Stronger women build bridges of peace,” declared the event literature, which explained that the bridge events are calling for women to “have a greater say at the peace negotiating tables,” and for countries to honor the United Nations goals of ending violence against women in times of conflict.
Melissa Sullivan-Many, a Middlebury College employee, said she stumbled upon the Join Me on the Bridge website in February and decided to take on the task of organizing an event in Middlebury, reaching out to campus organizations for support.
“I just wanted to bring attention to this,” said Sullivan-Many. “This event promotes peace, and allowing women to have more of a say in peace.”
Also in attendance at the event were Jyoti Daniere, the director of health and wellness education at the college, and Julia Sisson, a junior at the college. Sisson said that although gender inequality isn’t something that’s always easy to see, it’s something that exists even here in Vermont.
“This is important because women are half the population of the world,” said Sisson. “Women’s rights are something to stand for.”
Karin Hanta, director of the women’s and gender studies house on campus, threw her energy behind the event as well, arriving with a bright pink sign announcing, “Honk if you stand for reproductive rights!”
Hanta also that a focus on women and peace in conflict-torn areas goes hand-in-hand with an acknowledgement of gender inequalities that exist here in the U.S. She cited statistics derived from the 2000 census.
“When white women make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes, and African-American women make 68 cents to the dollar, it’s important to stand up and raise awareness.”
She said that this event was just the first of a number of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Next Thursday and Friday, Hanta’s office is sponsoring a two-day symposium called “The ‘F’ Word,” where speakers and students will discuss their views on feminism.
And while Sullivan-Many said she’d been in contact with many who couldn’t make it to Tuesday’s event, the group was heartened by support from passing cars in the form of honks, fist pumps and waves.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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