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International Women's Day Festival a hit

Women of all ages and cultures gathered in the Baker University Center Ballroom Sunday to celebrate the fifth annual International Women's Day Festival sponsored by the Ohio University Women's

The festival's theme was "A Promise is a Promise: Time for action to end violence against women," which reinforced the fact that this celebration of culture, but also the struggle of women, is an international ordeal.

"Once I came to Athens I realized what a rich international community we have here and I felt obliged to highlight that and combine that with our interests in feminism and gender equity," said Susanne Dietzel, director of the Women's Center.

The festival showcased a diverse array of performers, educational displays, and vendors that supported were all centered on the support and empowerment of women.

"Some people in the United States don't understand how repressed the situation is for women around the world," said Cathy Murphy, residential coordinator of Bromley Residence Hall. "Women in the U.S. are repressed too but we don't really understand how bad it is for international women and today is the day to call attention to that struggle as well as celebrate culture."

The International Women's Day Festival is not the typical program that opts for lectures or discussions to promote feminism. The festival had 36 performances put on by domestic and international students that ranged from poems and monologues, Irish dancing, fashion shows, musical performances and much more.

One performance that received great audience reactions was a re-enactment from "The Vagina Monologues" performed by graduate student Lyndsay Coleman. The monologue titled "Because He Liked to Look at it" detailed a woman who ignored the existence of her vagina because of shame, but embraced it and became liberated after a man took the time to appreciate its beauty. Members of the audience that milled around the audience were mesmerized by the performance.

"The message in the Vagina Monologues empowers women and enables us to talk about our experiences in a safe place," said Coleman. "I love that this festival is a place that celebrates our place in the world."