Luncheon broadens students’ view of women’s issues

Violence, lower wages, fewer rights and education. These are just some issues women still face today. Lubomira Slusna, an internationally known human rights activist, will address a few of these inequalities at the International Women’s Day Luncheon March 6 at noon in Phoenix C.

Slusna frequently speaks about the struggle of the Roma people, coommonly called Gypsies, in Slovakia. Many of these issues include the gender equality that exists not only in other countries, but in the U.S. as well.

The luncheon is held each year as a part of Women’s History Month.

International Women’s Day occurs annually March 8 and was established in 1911. It’s an international celebration of the accomplishments of women and raises awareness of challenges that still exist.

Sheila Carter, program coordinator for the Office of Student Life, runs the luncheon and tries to get an international speaker each year.

“We want to make students aware of things that they can do and ways they can help,” Carter said.  “Just because you live in Green Bay doesn’t mean you can’t have a global impact.”

Christine Smith, chairwoman of women and gender studies, agrees with Carter. She also said students are surprised every year by the issues presented.

“It’s easy for us to just focus on what’s going on in the here and now,” Smith said. “A lot of us don’t realize all the other things that are going on in the world for women.”

Slusna has spoken across the U.S. and several other countries, especially in Europe. She last spoke at the UW-Green Bay campus in 2007.

Brent Blahnik, director of the Office of International Education, encourages students to attend the luncheon each year.

Blahnik feels students’ knowledge of women’s equality varies widely. He says  any kind of information and discussion can help spread the word about issues.

“Learning happens in so many different settings, both in and out of the classroom,” Blahnik said.  “This is just one of the many examples where students have a great learning opportunity on campus but not necessarily in class, and the students get a free meal out of it as well.”

Carter believes that although the campus has a variety of students, they’re not exposed to many global issues.

“We try to get women who are talking about women’s issues that are global and still going on,” Carter said. “We have a lot of issues in the U.S., and some of the issues are global issues, too.”

Blahnik explained International Women’s Day as important in a variety of ways.

“It’s a celebration of women and their accomplishments,” Blahnik said. “It also raises awareness that inequality still exists.”

Blahnik said students will get different things out of this event, but if they recognize the challenges that still exist, then it will be a success.

“Slusna will give students a lot of perspectives,” Blahnik said,  “not only on women’s issues, but cultural issues as well.”

Approximately 45 students come to this event each year, but Carter hopes for 50 to 60 to be in attendance this year.  Because the luncheon is during the day, she understands if students need to arrive late or leave early because of classes.

All students are encouraged to attend. A light lunch of soup and sandwiches will be provided.

The luncheon is free, but students must pre-register before March 1. The registration form is available on the Student Life website.