March is a month dedicated to the celebration of women and the beauty of womanhood in all of its aspects.
While women’s empowerment month is nationally recognized as being the month of March, this year, Austin Peay State University began their festivities March 13 with the last event being scheduled for April 14.
A couple years ago, Ashley Kautz, the director of the Adult, Non-traditional, and Transfer Student Center, and Yanaraliz Barnes, the director of the Latino Community Resource Center, began the tradition of championing female voices and experiences at Austin Peay through a week long string of events.
This is the first year that Austin Peay has held a month long observation of women’s empowerment, as previous years featured only a week of women’s empowerment programming.
Although the duration of the targeted programming is a significant change, it is not the only change that this year has brought to Austin Peay’s celebration of women’s’ stories.
Dr. Paula White, chair of women’s & gender studies and english professor, has been heavily involved in the planning and carrying out of several events.
These three women, along with other staff and faculty, came together with the intent of recognizing the unique challenges and triumphs of women’s history, along with the present reality of the modern-day woman.
They approached this daunting task through charged events and activities meant to inform and involve students and community members.
“We wanted to make sure to offer different opportunities to create community, as well as awareness about the intersectionality within women and women that make up Austin Peay,” said Kautz.
She continued, “I want to try and uplift other women so they don’t make decisions based on being a woman, they make decisions based on what they want to do.”
Barnes brought up another key point that this month is a culmination of everyone working together and everyone wanting to be a part of something.
She went on to speak about her personal connection to Women’s Empowerment Month.
“It is easy to feel discouraged and I know if I am feeling that way, other people are feeling that way. This is important for me. It’s a forum, it’s a space, its resources, its uplifting communities, and raising awareness,” said Barnes.
White shared that college is supposed to be a space where students can discover who they are.
“Part of discovering who they are is learning and exposure. They need to learn about the experiences of women… so much of women’s history, their accomplishments, their struggles, their stories, have been cut out of textbooks and cut out of curriculum,” said White.
APSU’s women’s empowerment month is largely about representation and education. If there were a goal to the month, it would be to help as many students as possible learn about the multitude of roles that varying types of women have carried out and continue to carry out in global society.