Celebrating International Women’s Day at UNC Charlotte: Empowering Voices and Inspiring Change

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On March 20, 2024, UNC Charlotte’s Pop Martin Union Room 340 was abuzz with anticipation and excitement as the university community gathered to commemorate International Women’s Day. Hosted by the Office of International Programs and the Office of Identity, Equity and Engagement, the event was a poignant celebration of women’s achievements and a reflection on the ongoing journey towards gender equality. The celebration was coordinated by the Office of Global Education and Engagement under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Hoff and graduate student Himanshi Khatri. 

The celebration began with a warm welcome from Denise Medeiros, Associate Director of the International Student and Scholar Office and founder of the celebration at UNC Charlotte, setting a tone of inclusivity and appreciation for the diverse voices present. The Charlotteans, UNC Charlotte’s Women’s Chorus under the direction of Ginger Wyrick, serenaded the audience with stirring renditions of “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” evoking both tradition and progress.

Vivian Klentos, International Student Advisor, took the stage to illuminate the history of International Women’s Day at UNC Charlotte, highlighting the university’s commitment to recognizing and honoring the invaluable contributions of women in academia and beyond.

The heart of the event was the recognition of the 2024 honorees, a group of approximately 50 extraordinary women whose accomplishments and resilience were celebrated with certificates and personalized bio cards. Each honoree’s story served as a testament to the power of perseverance and determination in overcoming obstacles and effecting positive change.

The keynote address, titled “Beyond Resilience: Advancing the Rights, Well-Being, and Belonging of Refugees and Immigrants in Charlotte,” was delivered by Sil Ganzó, Founder and Executive Director of OurBRIDGE, a refugee and immigrant students’ after-school tutoring center. Ganzó’s impassioned speech shed light on the challenges faced by immigrant and refugee communities and emphasized the importance of creating inclusive spaces where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Ysatiz Piñero, Director of the Office of Identity, Equity, and Engagement, introduced Ganzó, underscoring the significance of her work in fostering empathy and understanding among diverse populations.

As the event drew to a close, Denise Medeiros expressed gratitude to all attendees for their participation and support, reaffirming UNC Charlotte’s commitment to promoting gender equity and social justice. A group photograph was taken, capturing the collective spirit of unity and empowerment that permeated the room.

The event concluded with a lively reception, providing attendees with an opportunity to network and forge connections while enjoying delicious food and refreshments. Amidst laughter and camaraderie, conversations flourished, underscoring the importance of community and collaboration in effecting meaningful change.

In commemorating International Women’s Day, UNC Charlotte reaffirmed its dedication to championing gender equality and amplifying the voices of women from all walks of life. As the university continues to strive towards a more equitable future, events like these serve as reminders of the progress made and the work that lies ahead in building a more just and inclusive society for all.