Area women will gather to inspire change locally and globally as AFRICaide, Inc. hosts International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 at Covenant Presbyterian Church.
“The goal is to inspire those who will come to the event and to empower ourselves and to empower women everywhere,” says Emilie Songolo, founder of AFRICaide and organizer of the event. “We are very excited about the event and we have been getting a lot of encouragement from the community and that’s telling me that an event like this is really needed.”
International Women's Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women's Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations range from general celebration of respect, appreciation, and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political, and social achievements.
“Every year on March 8 we celebrate International Women's Day around the world and I've been thinking about having an event on this day for awhile,” says Songolo. “I thought it would be great for AFRICaide to organize something with a grassroots and community-based spirit that we can continue to grow in subsequent years.”
AFRICaide is a grassroots non-profit organization that Songolo founded in 2005 that strives to reduce abject poverty in Africa through rural development projects, and to empower and assist female victims of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo in rebuilding their lives.
The purpose of AFRICaide's International Women's Day 2014 event titled “Inspiring Change” is to bring diverse groups of women together around the theme of inspiring change and to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event will feature various women's organizations that work in areas such as education, health, development, and women’s empowerment. In the afternoon, there will be a performance by the African Students Association dancers. The event is free.
Dr. Aili Tripp will be one of the speakers at the event. Tripp is professor of political science and gender and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her teaching and research interests are in African politics, comparative politics, women and politics, and gender studies in an international context.
“Lisa Peyton-Caire will give the opening address and I invited her because of her work in creating the Black Women Wellness Foundation which has provided a space for women to talk about disparities in the health field,” Songolo says. “She should be very interesting.”
There will be a roundtable discussion panel with Rahel Desalegne, a registered professional engineer and traffic operations engineer with a private engineering firm in Madison who has worked on traffic safety in Ethiopia, and Janetta Pegues, a graduate student at UW-Madison who started the Haitian Library Promise project that brings books to people and helps improve literacy in Haiti..
“We have women from all walks of life who have been doing amazing things,” Songolo says. “Many of the things don't necessarily require a lot of money, but care and passion and the ability to pull others in to lend a hand with the work.
“The goal of our panel is to find out the things that haven't been addressed and then we begin thinking about ways for addressing those issues,” Songolo adds.
After the panel discussion, there will be breakout sessions on topics that the International Women's Day planning committee has selected — things like mentoring, partnerships, communication, making your project sustainable, etc.”
For women, Songolo says, it's so important that they have access to resources, education, space, and other things. “We hope that the event will bring attention to this,” Songolo says. “One of the issues that we thought was really important is that of advocacy and activism. It's very big. We have to raise awareness and we have to get out there. This is our first year doing this event but we're already thinking ahead to next year and we would like it to get even bigger and to raise more awareness on women's issues."
AFRICaide's International Women's Day 2014 will be a great chance for area women to share information and to network with each other on important issues.
“There are a lot of women who are doing great work here in Madison without necessarily helping each other. I like connecting people,” Songolo says. “It's important for women to know other people around the city and what they are doing and to see if we can work together to share resources and to help one another. By networking with each other, we can all become stronger.
“We cannot solve all the problems, but if we can work with local people and individuals here and there to change things, we will really have accomplished a lot,” Songolo adds. “If we put our heads together, there's so much we can do.”
Come celebrate International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.. This event will be held at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 326 S. Segoe Rd.
The event is free. Register today at www.eventbrite.com/e/international-womens-day-2014-inspiring-change-tickets-10715914589. Free lunch will be provided!
For more information, contact Emilie Songolo at (608) 217-6497 or firstname.lastname@example.org