The event is billed as “organized by women for women.” Several breakout sessions will be held on topics such as dealing with loss and grief in a number of life circumstances, living a happy life following childhood sexual abuse, a panel discussion on emerging from childhood to adulthood—what was taught and how they turned out as women, and what it takes to become an entrepreneur and starting a business.
“This is a celebration of women and this whole day is about women, have some fun and feel empowered,” said CeCe Norwood, symposium chair and founder of Nirvana Now while appearing on a recent radio public affairs show. “This is so we can leave feeling empowered and hopefully educated, because there will be a whole series of workshops.”
Last year’s symposium featured workshops on everything from belly dancing to creative writing. Nearly 200 women attended the first-ever WOW symposium held in Toledo. Cleveland-area immigration attorney Margaret Wong, who now employs 35 people at offices in Ohio and Michigan, served as last year’s keynote speaker.
“We say women of the world because we’re all different women and we represent all different kinds of races, ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities,” added Michelle Radtkin, president of the Toledo branch of American Association of University Women (AAUW).
“We wanted to have an event in all of those areas. We want women who would like to learn a little bit more, have a little bit more fun and just come and let their hair down a little bit for that particular day.”
The event will feature a marketplace of women-owned businesses and non-profit agencies who serve women, where symposium participants can shop or gather information, networking opportunities, and entertainment as well. Drummers and African dancers from the Toledo School for the Arts will perform. Free health screenings, a Zumba class, an “eating healthy on a budget” session, and financial literacy workshops also will be available. Unsung community heroes will be recognized during a presentation called “SHEroes Rock!”
“It’s a chance to see women who started with absolutely nothing but an idea and some hard work and have built a successful business, said Deb Stoll, director of the YWCA Hope Center. “This is a chance to say ‘If they can do it, I can do it, too.’”
Event sponsors include: the YWCA, UT’s Eberly Center for Women, People Called Women, Nirvana Now, El Centro de la Mujer, St. Martin de Porres, and UT’s Dept. of Women’s and Gender Studies, Assets Toledo, Equality Toledo, NAMI of Greater Toledo, Adopt America Network, Owens Community College, and AAUW.
The event is being held in conjunction with the annual observance of March as Women's History Month. Advance registration is required at the website www.wowtoledo.org or by calling 419.318.9705. A free luncheon is being offered to the first 100 women to pre-register. The event is free, even to those who don’t register who would like to listen to some of the breakout sessions or come to the marketplace.
MSU’s 21st annual Día de la Mujer
Meantime, Michigan State University will host the 21st annual Día de la Mujer conference at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, MI. Latinas from throughout Michigan, Ohio, and the Midwest gather each year to celebrate their success, share information, and discuss issues of concern within their communities.
The conference has developed into a day of workshops, exhibits, and entertainment, focusing on the personal, professional, and academic aspects of Latins. The event also provides an opportunity for Latinas to meet others who believe in the value of community-building and positive interaction.
Keynote presenters, forums and workshops facilitated by Latina women will provide conference participants with networking opportunities for employment, education and sharing life experiences. Topics to be addressed include education, health, politics, community, family, history, culture, career and personal development. The conference runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but on-site registration will begin at 9 a.m.
The overall mission of the Día de la Mujer conference is to help Latinas “conquer the fears, stereotypes, prejudices, barriers, and embrace their importance in society.” The theme of this year’s event is “El Valor De Educación and El Viaje Ahí” (An Education’s Worth and The Journey There). Conference organizers will give the María Zavala Founder’s Award, an honor presented annually to a Latina woman who has consistently and unselfishly contributed to the Latino community in Michigan.
The keynote speaker for the MSU event will be María Rita Jamarillo, president of MRJ Smart Solutions, a Washington D.C-area public policy consulting firm. She is a former external partnerships and advocacy associate with the National Education Association and served more than a decade as chief of state for former Texas Congressman Rubén Hinojosa. She graduated with a Master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
The Día de la Mujer (DDLM) conference is coordinated by MSU’s Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions (OCAT) in partnership with other university departments.