The International Women's Day festival took place Sunday with a blend of performers, vendors and presentations. 

Vendors lined the hallway into Baker Center Ballroom where inside, students and community members joined an Indonesian line dancer in performing a dance native to the country.

This was just one part of the four-hour celebration for the seventh-annual International Women’s Day Festival held Sunday. It featured dances, presentations and performances.

Besides just focusing on women’s empowerment, the festival focused on “women’s experiences around the world and things that are still challenges for women around the world” said Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator of the LGBT and Women’s Center.

“We really want to showcase women,” Jenkins said. “Men can be a part of the event as volunteers or in supporting roles, but we want women to be the main event.”

Cecilia Fernández, a second-year graduate student majoring in communication and development studies, performed a dance from her country, Bolivia, called the Morenada. Fernández sported an elaborate self-embroidered dress, feathered hat and 4-inch heels. To her, performing the dance represented both her femininity and her culture.

“My main thing with coming here was (to show) yes, this is how women dress for this dance and we’re so happy and proud of how we look,” Fernández said. “When I came (to America) I was like, ‘Oh my god, this skirt is too short!’ But then I was like, ‘Oh, you know actually, this represents that you see and you don’t touch.’ ”

In accepting applications for performers, Jenkins said many Americans were unsure of what to put for their nationality.

“The vast majority of Americans put ‘white’ or ‘Caucasian,’ ” Jenkins said. “Everyone who’s not American knows what ‘nationality’ is because they have to answer it all the time. I think that’s a great example of some of the things we want to encourage people to think of when they’re coming to International Women’s Day.”

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Kat Wargo, program coordinator of the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program, had a table with t-shirt decorating, highlighting different types of violence, assault and abuse people had experienced. These shirts will be used in the Athens, Meigs and Perry County Clothesline Project. The organization currently has about 500 shirts that they will hang up in different areas.

“This is just a really good way of being able to show people visually that violence does happen and it’s happening in our backyards and in our communities,” Wargo said.

Another table featured at the celebration was for Pure Romance, a company that holds in-home parties for adult women and sells products designed specifically for women’s sexual health and pleasure. In addition to rash-free shaving cream and lubricants, the company also sells many Fifty Shades of Grey-themed toys, such as paddles and floggers.

“I was very young, I got married and was very fundamentalist. My husband had authority over parts of my body that I didn’t, I had never touched myself because I was told it was dirty,” said Leah Graysmith, advanced consultant with Pure Romance. “It’s about being able to say what you like and what you want and having a network of communication for that. It’s empowering in that it’s giving women so many options and permission to explore without shame.”


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