Women and men celebrate International Women’s Day

Marissa Mendel

About 30 students, professors and international scholars gathered yesterday to celebrate International Women’s Day by sharing international food and engaging in a discussion about women’s issues.

The Association of International Students in Education joined together with the International Leadership in Education Program visiting scholars for the program in White Hall.

The program opened with a presentation by AISE’s President Raisa Ignatieva giving an overview of International Women’s Day and moved into a skit about the holiday performed by Ignatieva, Maya Satlykgylyjova and Mikhail Bukhtoyarov.

Then Ignatieva broke the group into two discussion circles and asked the participants to share their views on the roles of women, expectations from men, global women’s issues and stereotypes.

In one discussion circle, Ignatieva spoke about gender roles in her family growing up in Russia. She said girls had to work in the house while the boys could go have fun.

“I always wanted to be a boy in my family,” she said. “I thought it was utterly unfair.”

Other issues in the small discussion group ranged from the world’s perception of American female promiscuity to how rape offenders are treated in other countries.

ILEP visiting scholar Nurhalis Lauselang said that in his home country of Indonesia, inmates look down on people who are sent to prison for rape.

“It’s just what people think. You’ll go to jail, and people in jail will treat you very bad,” Lauselang said. “If they know you are there for rape, you will have many bad days.”

After small discussion circles, the discussion opened up to the entire group, allowing the participants to hear views of people from many cultures on the same topics.

Isna Shobirin, ILEP scholar from Indonesia, shared with the group something he learned in a lecture class.

He held up a piece of paper and read it. “‘Woman, without her man is nothing.’ Most women would say ‘No!’ But when I take the comma and put it here, ‘Woman, without her, man is nothing.'”

The participants, more than half of whom were women, preferred Shobirin’s quote the second way.

Fahmida Sharmin, ILEP scholar from Bangladesh, told the group her opinion of International Women’s Day.

“We should drop the Women’s Day (holiday), and every day should be Women’s Day,” she said.

Ignatieva said she thinks the program went well.

“I am pleased with it because there were many diverse opinions from different cultures, and it was an opportunity to share our opinions and our views,” she said.

Abdesalam Zouita, ILEP scholar from Morocco, said he enjoyed participating in the discussion and learning new viewpoints.

“I like to know something that is new,” he said. “I thought it would be interesting because (I) am not learning just about one country but many countries.”

Contact International Affairs reporter Marissa Mendel at [email protected].