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VWU Celebrates 2023 Women's History Month

Prominent speakers and special events pay tribute to the vital role of women in society

University News | March 1, 2023

During the month of March, in honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day, special events will take place on campus. Organized by Virginia Wesleyan's Departments of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, History, Business, Student Activities, and Student Health, the events are designed to heighten awareness and celebrate the vital role of women throughout history and in contemporary society. Each year, the National Women’s History Alliance identifies a theme for this special month; the 2023 theme is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories."

VWU Associate Professor of History and Coordinator of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Dr. Kathleen Casey explains that Women’s History Month allows us to refocus our attention on the challenges that women have faced in the past and continue to face today.

“These events can be an opportunity to draw attention to how different women's experiences have been in the United States and what it even means to be a woman,” says Casey. “I think it's important to continue to reflect on those things as well as how gender and sexuality constructs meaning in our lives and how people who identify as women have found ways to resist and strategize around the challenges that they have faced over time.”

Casey notes that over the last year or two, women have faced increasingly new and dangerous obstacles with regard to autonomy, having control of their bodies, and reproductive justice.

“I think it's a very good time to reflect on those histories and also consider where we are right now."

VWU Women’s History Month Events

Women’s History Month Periodic Table
Throughout the month, Student Activities will display a Women’s History Month Periodic Table outside of Boyd Dining Center. The campus community can scan QR codes to learn more about historical figures and their important contributions.


Book Display in Hofheimer Library
A Women’s History Month book display is available in Hofheimer Library. Learn about some amazing women in sports, politics, the arts, and more. All books are available for check out at the library’s front desk. 


Why You Should Observe International Women's Day on March 8
On March 7, at 12 p.m. in Brock Commons, the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies department, in collaboration with the History Department, will host  "Why You Should Observe International Women's Day on March 8."  Attendees are invited to bring lunch to this event if they wish. Students from the Social Work Program will be serving light refreshments. VWU Professor of History Dr. Sara Sewell will serve as the keynote speaker, providing insight into why we should observe International Women’s Day.

“As a historian of modern European history, I know only too well the perils of complacency with the political status quo,” says Sewell. “When citizens become politically apathetic, ambitious politicians maneuver to accumulate power, often at the expense of ordinary people's rights.”

Sewell noted that the history of International Women's Day is an example of the power of citizens committed to democracy.

“Most notably, on International Women's Day in 1917, the women of Russia toppled their autocratic ruler. We all can learn a lot from the intrepid women of Russia and Iran about how to mobilize for equality and democracy.”


Thank a Woman
On March 7 at 11 a.m., Counseling and Student Health will host a "Thank a Woman" card-writing event in Kramer Lounge in the Jane P. Batten Student Center. Blank thank you cards will be provided for students to write notes of appreciation to influential women in their lives.


Protecting Abortion Rights as a Jewish Religious Imperative
On March 9 at 7 p.m. in Blocker Auditorium, the Robert Nusbaum Center will host Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg, senior rabbi at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, Virginia, who will speak on “Protecting Abortion Rights as a Jewish Religious Imperative.” Rabbi Roz is recognized throughout Hampton Roads, building community in the local Jewish and interfaith communities. Recently she has served as co-leader of such interfaith groups as HUBB (Hands United Building Bridges) and Sacred Spaces of Hampton Roads.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
On March 23 at 11:30 a.m., Student Activities' Off The Hook and Student Health will sponsor “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” Students, staff, and faculty of all gender identities are invited to “walk a mile” in high heels to create awareness and confront gender stereotypes and expectations. 

Guest Speaker: Erin Dougherty
On March 28 at noon in Brock Commons, the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, History and Business departments will host guest speaker Erin Dougherty. Dougherty, a local small business owner of Eleanor's Norfolk: Your Intersectional Feminist Bookstore, will speak on how ethical businesses can exist, and thrive, through the embrace of radical feminist values and how these businesses can create the walkable, sustainable communities we dream of and deserve through mutual aid. In addition to being a bookseller, Dougherty is a community organizer and self-proclaimed 'knowledge pusher' based in Norfolk, Virginia. She works to create change based on an abolition feminist framework and is also co-founder of Hampton Roads Mutual Aid Network and serves on the board for the Hampton Roads Reproductive Justice League.

Attendees are invited to bring lunch to this event if they wish. Students from the Social Work Program will also be serving light refreshments.

Dougherty's talk, "‘Using Mutual Aid and Intersectional Feminism to Build a Community-Based Business," will be introduced by Casey who will offer brief comments on the history and renaissance of feminist bookstores. Casey recently published "The Renaissance of Feminist Bookstores" in Ms. Magazine, which explores the history and current resurgence of self-identified feminist bookstores in the United States. 

“My life has changed by having access to Eleanor’s Norfolk feminist bookstore,” said Casey. “It filled a bit of a void for me and many others, I think, to have that sort of space to go to, not just to purchase books or products but to have conversations and build community. We're really lucky to have Erin and her store just a few miles from campus, as it has become a hub for activism at a really important time for intersectional feminism.”

Equal Pay Day
On March 30 at 11 a.m., Wesleyan Engaged and the VB American Association of University Women will host a "Equal Pay Day" popcorn event in the Harbor Grille.


Learn more about Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at VWU