As March marks Women’s History Month, University of Miami students are taking initiatives to raise awareness about women’s empowerment and gender equality. The Women’s Leadership Symposium (WLS) on Saturday will serve as a forum for insight on the topics on leadership, community and the daily challenges women face in their personal and professional lives.
The symposium, organized by the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, will consist of networking events, workshops and wellness classes like self-defense and meditation. WLS is targeted toward women, but all students are welcome and encouraged to register.
“This year’s theme, ‘Constructing You,’ is really amazing and is focused on you as a person and an individual and how to build yourself up and be the best person you can be,” said sophomore Nika Hosseini, workshops co-chair. “Also, the inclusiveness of the theme is special, as it caters to both women and men.”
According to Mikayla Farr, WLS chair, one of the organized workshops is actually specifically targeted toward male attendees. The session is titled “KEEP OUT: Toxic Masculinity” and will encourage male participants to engage in conversation about feminism and their role in solving the problem of gender inequality.
“I hope that the participants not only learn something new about issues that affect women, but how to control it in our own community,” Farr said. “Sometimes we focus so much on the problem that we fail to shed light on the solution, but I think that WLS does a good job at giving solutions to a lot of the problems facing women on a community-based level.”
Senior Mischael Cetoute, workshops co-chair, said that through his involvement with the event, he had the opportunity to learn more about gender issues that men are typically unfamiliar with. Cetoute, who identifies as a feminist, encouraged students of all genders and sexes to attend the symposium.
“Women make up half of the earth’s population and issues that affect women affect everyone,” Cetoute said. “Most men and women who I meet that say they do not identify as feminists are unaware of what it means to be a feminist. To quote [novelist and short story writer] Chimamanda Adichie, ‘Feminist is a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.’ When presented with that definition, I find very few people disagree with feminism.”
Through its workshops and activities, WLS will promote the development of leadership skills and break stigmas associated with gender differences. The idea is to invite students to have the same kind of conversations in their own communities to raise awareness about the issue.
“College students are the leaders of tomorrow and therefore, for women, it’s about showing them that there is no glass ceiling and the opportunities are just as limitless as they are for men,” Hosseini said. “There is a serious issue globally regarding gender inequality, and spreading awareness about the issue is the first step in solving the problem.”
Participants can register at www.miami.edu/wls.