International Women's Day

Every year on March 8 the world celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women during International Women’s Day. Here at the Humphrey School, the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy leads an annual celebration that lifts up community partners and digs deeply into an issue of contemporary concern for gender equity.

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Gender, Human Rights, and COVID-19 (2021)

In 2021 we were thrilled to partner with Minneapolis-based nonprofit Global Rights for Women as well as the UMN Human Rights Program, the Women's Center, the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, and the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change on a webinar series focused on the global intersections of the COVID-19 pandemic and women’s human rights.

The Global State of Reproductive Health: Examining the Intersection of Health Equity, Politics, and COVID

Featuring Dr. Senait Fisseha, Director of International Programs for the Susan Buffett Foundation. Watch the recording of the Global State of Reproductive Health event here.

Stopping Femicide: COVID-19 Brings Renewed Global Urgency

Featuring Patricia Olamendi Torres, Coordinator, Convention of Belém Do Pará, and Director of the Training Institute for Justice and Human Rights; Dr. Dubravka Šimonović, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women; Nicole Matthews, Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition; and Cheryl Thomas, CEO, Global Rights for Women (moderator). Watch the recording of the Stopping Femicide event here.

Obstetric Fistula: A Window into Disparities in Women's Health and a Call for Reimagining Global Health Engagements

Featuring Dr. Rahel Nardos, Director of Global Women's Health at the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility. Watch the recording of the Obstetric Fistula event here.

From Seeds to Movements: Feminist Leadership in Climate Justice (2020)

Feminists have long been on the front lines of environmental and climate justice activism. The Center hosted an interactive exploration of climate work on March 3, 2020, centering feminism at the heart of the movement. The purpose of the event was to build connections, explore community, and engage with students, activists, scholars, and local climate leaders. Read a reflection on the event written by two student facilitators and browse photos here.

Featured participants:

  • Mysti Babineau | MN350
  • Karen Clark | Women’s Environmental Institute
  • Michelle Garvey | UMN Sustainability Studies
  • Fayola Jacobs | UMN Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Juwaria Jama | Minnesota Youth Climate Strike
  • Bonnie Keeler | UMN Center for Science, Technology & Environmental Policy
  • Taysha Martineau | Gitchigumi Scouts
  • Cecilia Martinez | Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy
  • Ashley O’Neill Prado | Tamales y Bicicletas
  • Carissa Slotterback | UMN Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Elle Thoni | In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre

As facilitators of the plenary session, we both felt incredibly grateful to have shared space and time with these amazing leaders. Though the reality of the climate crisis can seem bleak at times, the event left us feeling hopeful by celebrating the abundant harvest growing from this brilliant and biodiverse ecosystem of local climate movement seeds. — Nina Domingo and Meredith Song, student facilitators

Indigenous Women Have Always Been Leaders (2019)

Indigenous women have always been the backbone and heartbeat of their families and communities. They channeled their history of leadership into victories at the state and federal levels during the 2018 election, marking a major turning point for their political representation. Indigenous women are poised, now more than ever before, to use their strengths to shape the future of their communities and awaken the nation. Co-hosted by the Native Governance Center and the Tiwahe Foundation, this daylong celebration of Indigenous women’s leadership on March 8, 2019, featured speakers, artists, food, and a truth and healing blanket exercise. You can watch a recording of the event here.

Featured participants: 

  • Melanie Benjamin | Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Ruth Buffalo | North Dakota House of Representatives
  • Sharon Day | Indigenous Peoples Task Force
  • Alexis Davis | Turtle Mountain Youth Council
  • Jayme Davis | Native Governance Center
  • Karen Diver | College of St. Scholastica, former Special Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs
  • Peggy Flanagan | Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota
  • Jodi Gillette | Indigenous Peoples Initiatives, Wend Ventures; former Special Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs
  • Vanessa Goodthunder | C̣aƞṡayapi Waḳaƞyeża Owayawa Oṭi (Dakota Immersion Head Start) 
  • Lourdes Tibán Guala | UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (Ecuador)
  • Mary Kunesh-Podein | Minnesota House of Representatives
  • Brook LaFloe | Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota Tiwahe Foundation
  • Honorable Anne K. McKeig | Minnesota Supreme Court
  • Jaidyn Probst | Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota
  • Prairie Rose Seminole | American Indian, Alaska Native Ministries for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Tina Smith | U.S. Senator for Minnesota

It was a powerful experience being able to work with the Center on Women, Gender and Public Policy team for the 2019 International Women’s Day celebration that focused on Indigenous Women. It showed me how Indigenous women of all ages are inspired by one another and how little space we get to actually celebrate it. This event did that. We were able to recognize and encourage each other for our strengths, influence, resiliency, and show our support for those who continue to break down barriers. I hope they continue to create these spaces of positive impact. — Jayme Davis (MPA ’20), Program Director, Native Governance Center 

Promoting and Supporting Women of African Descent (2018)

Co-sponsored by Isuroon, this daylong event on March 8, 2018 addressed the lives of women of African descent, featuring a keynote address by Linda Thomas-Greenfield and panels on economics, health, and other areas, and catering by local African restaurants.

Featured participants:

  • Bruce Corrie | City of St. Paul Dept of Planning and Economic Development
  • Judge LaJune Lange 
  • Kenya McKnight | Black Women’s Wealth Alliance 
  • Ikram Koliso | Mayor Melvin Carter’s Office
  • Toni Carter | Ramsey County Commissioner 
  • Antonia Apolinario-Wilcoxon | MN Department of Human Services
  • Lynn Nyamwaya | The African Nurses Network Inc. 
  • Zenzele Isoke | University of Minnesota, Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies 
  • Anitra Cottledge | Women’s Center, University of Minnesota 
  • Maryan Abinur | Hope Community 
  • Fata Acquoi | African Immigrant Services
  • Brittany Lewis | Center for Urban and Regional Affairs 
  • Fartun Welli | Isuroon 
  • Dean Laura Bloomberg | Humphrey School
  • Simone Gbolo | Public Policy and International Affairs Program

#BeBoldForChange (2017)

At the Humphrey School’s second annual International Women’s Day event, we gathered as a community to share stories and learn more about what each other, our students, our staff, our faculty, our community partners and our alumni are doing to #BeBoldForChange. With this celebration came a call to action: we asked you to pledge to promote gender parity in the coming year. View photos of the event.


Humphrey School's International Women’s Day Celebration (2016)