By LEAH KEMPLE
Around 10 tables were set up with feminine products, information on coding classes and statistical trivia to celebrate women at the Women’s Empowerment Fair Wednesday, March 29 in the Elliott Student Union Atrium.
Sara VanSteenbergen, diversity education graduate assistant, said the goal of the event was for organizations supporting the empowerment of women to come together and raise awareness of certain issues.
“March is Women’s History Month and it’s important that we recognize the struggles but also celebrate the strength and greatness of women,” VanSteenbergen said.
One booth provided statistics on how many women are sexually assaulted around the world each year, how many women hold seats in Congress and what percent of women own land around the world.
The Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for Women displayed multiple packages of feminine products and several letters to Missouri politicians protesting the luxury tax on the products presented.
VanSteenbergen asked the head of the KCMO NOW chapter, Amanda Buchholz, to attend as a way to get the women of UCM acquainted with the chapter and to make a reliable connection with an organization that will support them.
“It is imperative to create a community that is supportive of women,” Buchholz said. “Getting women equality is a long-term issue.”
The event wasn’t just geared toward women. Buchholz said many men stopped by her booth out of curiosity and left with knowledge and anger about the luxury tax.
“They were a little intimidated at first because of the products, but they were just as disturbed (about the tax) as the women were,” she said.
Sarah Ray Randot, professor of women, gender and sexual studies, said she attended to get the word out about studying her area of study and also because she is passionate about supporting women.
“Events like this are important because we are able to support our female students, meet people and let them know that our support is here whenever they may need us,” Randot said.
This was the first time that the event has been held at the University of Central Missouri and the organizers plan on making it a yearly tradition.
“Never forget the strength that exists within you,” VanSteenbergen said. “Women are strong and graceful and we need to remember that more often.”