Women’s conference to cover relevant issues

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

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The UTEP Women and Gender Studies Program will host the sixth-annual Women’s History Month Conference with a two-day event April 6-7, in congruence with National Women’s History month.

On April 6, starting at 4 p.m. at the Tomas Rivera Conference Center in the Union Building East, political science professor and co-founder of the UTEP Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Kathleen Staudt, will be honored for her work in the field and border studies.

On April 7, renowned Chicana anthropology professor from UC Santa Cruz, Patricia Zavella, will make the keynote address at the Undergraduate Learning Center in room 206.

Lastly, the conference will end with a faculty recital at the Fox Fine Arts Recital Hall given by Cherry Duke, Dena Kay Jones and David Ross.

The two days will cover topics ranging from social class to ethnicity, but interim director of the Women and Gender Studies Program, Guillermina Gina Nuñez-Mchiri, said the conference is an opportunity for students to learn.

“The overall takeaway message for students, faculty and staff attending is to get out of our comfort zones to learn and to grow,” Nuñez said. “Students will get a chance to learn from their peers and their professors to gain a broader understanding of gender in our society. This conference promises to be both informative and engaging.”

With headlining speeches and peer engagement, the conference will also host workshops by UTEP representatives on mental health, academic skills, leadership and career readiness. Nuñez said one of the key themes that will be seen continually throughout the two days is the idea of intersectionality.

One of the key concepts in feminist theory, intersectionality is a wide-ranging concept that studies how systems of oppression and discrimination intersect with cultural, social and biological markers, such as race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

Along with the broad brush of intersectionality, women in politics will be another major topic of discussion; with its relevance being at an all-time high, as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.

“This is a great opportunity for our UTEP community to learn about contemporary and historical issues impacting women and women in our society and other parts of the world,” Nuñez said. “Rather than hosting a list of activities, we organized a full conference to create a space for a diversity of topics on women and gender.”

One of the many student interns helping with the conference is Georgina Obeso. The junior psychology major, who is also working as an intern for the Women and Gender Studies Program, said the conference is an opportunity to show the importance of women throughout history.

“I believe the overall message is to show the importance of women and how far women have come,” Obeso said. “We have not always had the rights that we deserve and have been underestimated. No matter what gender we are, we should have the same rights as every citizen.”

Senior women and gender studies major, Daniela Marines, took the opportunity to take part in the conference to gain organization and leadership skills, while expanding her knowledge on women’s and gender studies.

“I have learned more than leadership skills. I’m involved because of the great skills in learning outside of school work,” Marines said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to get involved with the community. It is also important to recognize the work of students and experts’ research while we expand our knowledge.”

According to Nuñez, this year’s conference is expecting around 300 attendees comprised of students, faculty members and alumni. The conference will also provide information about community services currently offered to women, men and the LGBT community in El Paso.

Registration for the conference is still open. For more information, visit whm.iss.utep.edu.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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