Gender Equity Center Coordinator Kirsten Vinther (L) and Safer Director Christina Kaviani (R) talked about what International Women's Day means for them. Madi Burgess | Mustang News

March 8 was International Women’s Day, a global commemoration of the movement for women’s rights and a celebration of women’s achievements.

The day was first proposed and approved by a conference of more than 100 women from 17 different countries in 1910. The United Nations first officially celebrated International Women’s day on March 8, 1975. Every year since then, people around the world unite March 8 to bring awareness to the issues women face and to celebrate one another.

Mustang News talked to women about their experiences at Cal Poly and what International Women’s Day means to them.

Madi Burgess | Mustang News

Forestry senior Amanda Alvarez

“Issues that I face at Cal Poly, especially being in a STEM field and being in a lot of classes that are super male-dominated, are being dominated in classes — being talked over, interrupted, not taken seriously, people not choosing me for groups, that kind of thing,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said International Women’s Day brings an opportunity for people to raise their voice.

“I think that it’s important that people celebrate this day to understand that feminism doesn’t mean white, liberal feminism. Feminism means inclusion of trans women and inclusion of women of color,” Alvarez said.

There are steps to make the most of the day,  Alvarez said.

“Instead of making an Instagram post about it, educate yourself on these issues and try to use your platform to help lift up other peoples’ voices, hand somebody else the mic.”

Business administration sophomore Danielle Tatsuno and political science sophomore Kristen Chung

Danielle Tatsuno (L) and Kristen Chung (R) Madi Burgess | Mustang News

The two friends said they found a supportive female community on campus.

“I feel like Cal Poly makes a pretty conscious effort, with the many resources we have for women,” Tatsuno said. “There are communities you can go to and be a part of and that’s really awesome.”

“I agree. Being in [a] community at Cal Poly has been really empowering. I feel like everyone is very supportive, my guy friends too,” Chung said. “Today is to bring awareness, and I think the progress that has been made already is really encouraging.”

Tatsuno said encouragement of women can extend beyond just one day.

“I think we celebrate each other just by sharing and doing life together,” Tatsuno said.

Gender Equity Center Coordinator Kirsten Vinther and Safer Director Christina Kaviani

Madi Burgess | Mustang News

Vinther and Kaviani shared their hopes for the students of Cal Poly.

“I am really excited that this day could be somebody’s first step into some kind of activism. And I don’t think that looks one way, I think it looks like volunteering, like giving money, like writing letters, like changing things from within,” Vinther said.

Kaviani echoed a similar message.

“Personally at Cal Poly, this day is just another way for students to get out of the Cal Poly bubble of San Luis Obispo and think: what are women all over the world experiencing and how is that affecting them? What are Cal Poly people, not just women, doing to help that cause?”

Vinther said the many identities of a person and the unity women share.

“While we all have different intersecting identities that come together and create different levels of oppression, there are things that we share experiencing this world as women. Assigned female at birth or not,” Vinther said.

City and regional planning senior Ali Alvarez

Madi Burgess | Mustang News

Alvarez discussed the issues she faces in the professional realm.

“I think that being a woman is hard in any profession. Male-dominance is very present in all aspects, especially when you go to career fairs,” Alvarez said. “It’s very clear that I am the minority when I go to events like that. It’s something I’m always aware of.”

She also addressed her experience as a minority on Cal Poly’s campus.

“When I’m home, there is a sense of culture that is always so present in my life and it always has been,” Alvarez said. “I think that coming here and not seeing that culture is really hard.

“Wherever you came from though, you have that one thing in common of being a woman. We have so much to fight for and to look forward to, no matter where we come from.”

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