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International Day of the Girl: discussing what matters

In anticipation of Sunday’s International Day of the Girl, Belmont hosted its second day of convocations focused on the empowerment of women.

International Day of the Girl was started by the United Nations four years ago in order “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential,” according to the Day of the Girl website.

The convocation, Real Talks: International Day of the Girl, was lead Tuesday evening by Jaclyn Coleman, a senior at Belmont University.

The program was meant to start a discussion on women’s empowerment through face-to-face conversation. The attendees sat around a table and talked about what it means to be a woman, what femininity and masculinity look like and other similar issues.

“This series, this day, was built to create a space for dialogue that is frequently missing in our communities. This dialogue is imperative because all people, regardless of their sex or gender, benefit when we uplift women and girls. The challenge many people find is that the issues that relate to barriers women and children face around the world are intersectional and complicated and people tend to become intimidated or overwhelmed,” said Coleman.

Fourteen people attended the convocation and participated in the conversation, which opened with a few rules. Among them were things like seeking to understand before being understood, having discussions instead of debating and keeping everything said in the room confidential.

The crowd was mostly women with a few men added into the mix. The almost two hour conversation rarely grew quiet. Each member contributed his or her opinions and experiences in a way that added diversity to the conversation and new viewpoints on current issues.

“I hope that series events like International Day of the Girl help people navigate these complicated conversations and find a way to connect into work that uplifts and celebrates women and girls,” said Coleman.

The first of the convocation series, Empowering the Belmont Women, took place on Monday in the Neely Dining Hall, and Wednesday morning, Autumn Crew spoke about her experience in Cambodia and Iraq fighting human trafficking through photojournalism and missions.

On Wednesday evening, there was also a showing of the movie “Big Dream,” a documentary that follows the stories of seven young women working to follow their dreams in the STEM field.

“As the event series ends this year, I challenge the Belmont community to continue these conversations. Get connected on campus with organizations that celebrate women and girls. Read books, watch documentaries, and continue to ask questions,” said Coleman. “Take what you can do, what you love to do and create a space that uplifts women and girls. Right now, this series is all I can do as I continue my fight for women’s rights. I hope Belmont as a community continues to fight with me.”

This article was written by Melissa Kriz.

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