March celebrates women, achievements

By Elizabeth zinchuk

Women’s History Month is a time to remember influential women of the past and address issues of the present.

The month kicked off Friday and will continue to have events throughout March and the beginning of April. Melinda Yeomans, coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center, is one of the many faculty and staff who have helped organize the programming.

Carbondale’s Women’s Center, the Women, Gender and Sexuality department and University Women’s Professional Advancement are some of the organizations collaborating for the programming.


Yeomans said this month is a way to have deep dialogue about such issues as sexual assault, body image and the way women are often depicted in the media.

“The events are celebrating women’s revolutionaries, activists and intellectuals that laid the groundwork for women to be where they are in the U.S. as we are emerging as leaders both in the community and at the state and national level,” Yeomans said.

Many of the events highlight the benefits women bring to society as leaders, she said.

“When women are in power, it is shown that you have healthier schools and a higher level of consciousness regarding wellbeing,” Yeomans said.

The Illinois Network of Women in Higher Education Conference will be hosted by SIU April 4.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from women leaders and to network professionally,” Yeomans said.

The 2014 Women’s History Month also will take a critical look at sexual assault and ways women are seen, she said. Yeomans said there is still a long way to go in regards to creating a culture that prioritizes women’s safety, equality and empowerment.


One in four women on a college campus are sexually assaulted in some way before they gradute, Yeomans said. The gender wage gap shows women are paid 77 cents for every dollar men make.

“Those are staggering statistics,” Yeomans said. “Some people tell me ‘Aren’t we equal by now?’ but there are still issues that we need to be reminded of.”

Lei Gao, a graduate student in business administration from Changzhou, China, is working with Yeomans to help create a website and social media platforms for the Women’s Resource Center.

Gao said it’s important to shed light on what women have achieved so present women have role models.

“It’s quite meaningful and despite working for the Women’s Resource Center, I can learn a lot by going to these events happening,” Gao said.

Gao said being from China, when she came to SIU and saw events for women empowerment she gained a different perspective.

The women equality is present in many cultures globally, Gao said. Gao said the U.S. is comparatively better but still needs to improve on its equality.

“It’s important to be a part of this movement, be connected and support each other as women,” Gao said.

Yeomans said Women’s History Month focuses on collaboration with multiple groups, including men derived groups.

“It’s about helping men and women create a culture that empowers women and is mutually respectful by helping remove exploitation and violence,” Yeomans said. “We want to create an environment that brings out the best in all of us where men respect women and women respect men,” Yeomans said.

Women’s self-image will also be addressed through “Self-Image, Self-Perception as a Black Woman” and “Within and Without: Inner Beauty versus Outer Beauty,” which is hosted by Sisters Interacting Successfully.

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected], on twitter at @ElizabethZ_DE, or by phone as 536-3311 ext. 256.