In a speech after her historic 2020 election to the second-highest office in the land, Vice President Kamala Harris declared, “I may be the first woman to hold this office, but I won’t be the last.”
Harris, the first female, African American and South Asian elected vice president, often speaks of the women who paved the way for her groundbreaking career. She, in turn, lifts the hopes of girls, women and other marginalized groups of what’s possible.
The Women’s Week 2021 theme, “Inspiring a Movement,” reflects the importance of role models in advancing women’s political leadership, said Women's Week chair, Annie Isabel Fukushima, Ph.D.
“My own leadership continues to be fostered through models of mentorship and inspiration from other women—women of color and folks who defy gender and racial barriers,” said Fukushima, assistant professor of Ethnic Studies and 2020-2021 Presidential Leadership Fellow. “Although 2020 marked a year of tragedies and hardships, I witnessed how women were igniting the fire in our communities to inspire, lead and define change.”
Women’s Week 2021 will unpack the theme through workshops, insightful conversations and a culminating challenge to encourage more women’s political participation and civic engagement.
Women in Utah
Utah women have an inspiring legacy of political firsts.
In 1870, educator Seraph Young Ford became the first woman in the United States to vote under an equal suffrage law. In 1896, Martha Hughes Cannon, a physician and leader in Utah’s women’s suffrage movement, was elected the nation’s first female state senator.
Women’s Week will reflect on the history of women’s political leadership and community activism, discuss challenges and opportunities and celebrate trailblazers who encourage and empower the next generation of leaders.
Events kick off on March 8 with keynote speaker Amber Ruffin, a comedian, writer for the “Late Night with Seth Meyers” show and actress who uses her platform to address issues of racism, sexism and politics.
The Candidate Workshop: Running for Office as a Young Woman on March 9 will feature young women sharing their experiences, successes, and failures while running for office. Later that day, Navigating the Politics of Health: Inspiring Women Leadership panelists Utah State Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost and Drs. Jessica Sanders and Emily Spivak will discuss women’s leadership barriers, strategies to overcome them, and what motivated them to serve and lead in their community.
On March 10, start your morning with Wake Up with Woman’s Exponent, an hour-long look at women’s history through the pages of this newspaper, founded in 1872 by women in Salt Lake City. That afternoon Reframing the Conversation: Women Who Run panelists will discuss how and why more women should run for political office in Utah.
The Women’s Leadership Summit on March 11 will bring together students, faculty and friends of the University community for a day of learning and empowerment focused on equity and inclusion for all gender identities.
Do you have ideas on how to get more women of diverse backgrounds to seek political office in Utah? Register a team for the Real Women Run Case Competition that starts March 12. During the competition, teams will have an opportunity to get advice from experts and film their final presentations for review. The top three finalists will be invited to a viewing of their videos, a question-and-answer session and final judging on March 26.
Women’s Week is an annual event focused on issues faced by those who identify as female or women. Topics are relevant to current socioeconomic, political, intersectional, and cultural movements.
To learn more about events and sign up to attend, visit diversity.utah.edu/ww.
Morgan Aguilarcommunications specialist, University of Utah Communications