This week, Valpo’s Panhellenic Council will be hosting Women’s Empowerment week. The event takes place during Women’s History Month and will feature a number of educational events highlighting women’s issues.
The events will take place March 22-26.
“For me, Women’s Empowerment Week is an opportunity for the campus to come together and talk about issues that are central and important to the experience of women on campus,” said Carrie Whittier, Associate Dean of Students and an advisor to the Panhellenic Council.
Bella Limouris, current President of the Panhellenic Council, recalls the ways that her experience with Women’s Empowerment Week have changed since she began as a student at Valpo.
“The first year we did it, I was a freshman. So what that meant for me was, you know, seeing tabling done in the Union and selling shirts, and there were lots of events that week,” Limouris said. “This year, being able to run women's empowerment week, kind of seeing how it is from the inside out, it's bringing awareness to Women's History Month,” said Limouris.
According to Limouris, the event includes educational programming around things like gender inequality as well as raising money for a local women’s shelter.
“So it's a lot of fun stuff and a lot of educational things as well,” Limouris said.
T-shirts and buttons were sold in a pre-order over Instagram. The proceeds from the T-shirt saled raised close to $400 for the women’s shelter, Gabriel’s Horn. A select few remaining items will also be sold throughout the week.
“It's a temporary homeless shelter. So they really focus on getting women and mothers back on their feet...And then once the woman is no longer homeless, they offer childcare services, so like after school, daycare, and just so they can be at work and be making money and supporting themselves,” Limouris said. “So I'm really excited to be able to donate to them and have all of like, all of that money go straight to them. So that's going to be a really great impact to have like locally on our community.”
Educational programs throughout the week will be held at 6 p.m. each evening and will take place over Zoom. All of the events held for Women’s Empowerment Week have been adapted to meet COVID-19 guidelines.
“Just in the mindset of keeping everyone safe, and now with the guidelines that the university has, it's honestly not necessarily a bad thing for us because we think we'll be able to reach a broader audience this way,” Limouris said.
The Zoom events will feature topics ranging from lighter-hearted subjects like a “Historic Women’s Award Show,” done in collaboration with VUDU Comedy Improv, to more serious ones such as “Identifying Strengths Sharing Oppressions,” with Natalie Muskin-Press from Counseling Services.
“[Muskin-Press] is going to be leading an online discussion about how us as women have certain struggles and oppressions that a lot of the times men don't even know about and don't even think about,” Limouris said. “So that program is really open, we are trying to get a lot of men into that program so that they can hear these things.”
An example Limouris shared is that women might look over their shoulder when walking to their car at night.
“Things like that, that men would never really even need to think about,” Limouris said. “But as a woman, those are always on our mind and always on the forefront.”
According to Whittier, the specific programs held during Women’s Empowerment Week change each year, evolving with current issues.
“In general it’s an opportunity for both men and women to come together in dialogue about important issues that impact the experience of women both at Valpo and then globally as well,” Whittier said.
Whittier adds that the event has evolved over the years that it has been held. It does not solely include the Panhellenic Council, and that it is not solely a conversation for women.
“Now it involves a number of different student organizations and, with great intention this year, the women who are planning the week are inviting the men into the dialogue very intentionally so that it’s a whole campus conversation,” Whittier said.
Regarding her own experience with the event, Limouris expressed that it highlights the idea that we have come far in working for gender equality, but still have work to be done.
“So I think that this just brings to light in just in our small community that, you know, there is a lot of work that we have done, but look how much work we still need to do,” Limouris said. “So I think that it just brings light to that and just offers a week to celebrate the women that are on our campus community. And that yeah, they're--we’re awesome.”
Educational events will be held Mon.-Thurs. at 6 p.m. via Zoom link and are all CORE-Approved. The Zoom link can be accessed from a QR code @valpofsl on Instagram or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I just hope that everyone sees women's empowerment week as a way to educate themselves and open their eyes a little bit more to the world of women,” Limouris said.