UC Berkeley, city of Berkeley celebrate International Women’s Day

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Can Jozef Saul /Staff
UC Berkeley and city of Berkeley Councilmember Sophie Hahn each sent out newsletters in honor of International Women's Day that celebrated Bay Area activists and campus resources for gender equity.

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The UC Berkeley community and the city of Berkeley marked International Women’s Day on Tuesday by recognizing activists both locally and internationally.

Campus kick-started Women’s History and Empowerment Month by sending out a newsletter acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the Title IX legislation — an amendment which prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs — and the 50th anniversary of campus’s Gender Equity Resource Center.

“Sexism, misogyny, transphobia, cissexism, and intersectional discrimination exist in our community,” the newsletter reads. “As a campus, it is incumbent on each and every one of us to learn more about these issue, uplift all women, and remove barriers to all women’s success, advancement, and sense of belonging.”

Sent out by various campus leaders, the newsletter highlighted several Bay Area-based activists and healers. Included were campus University Health Services psychologist Veronica Orozco, author and campus alumna Michelle MiJung Kim and campus African diaspora studies Ph.D. candidate Ree Botts, among others.

Berkeley City Councilmember Sophie Hahn also sent out a newsletter to her constituents.

Hahn’s newsletter centered around celebrating women’s rights activist Jessica Neuwirth, who was recently honored by the French government for her work and who Hahn considers a friend and mentor.

According to Hahn’s newsletter, Neuwirth has founded three major organizations advocating for women — Equality Now, which Hahn helped launch; Donor Direct Action: A Fund for Women and the Equal Rights Amendment Coalition.

“Please honor Jessica Neuwirth by taking action for women’s human rights, and join me in expressing gratitude to the many indefatigable women who today, and throughout the centuries, fight for women’s inequality,” Hahn said in her newsletter.

Hahn has been a feminist since her years at Berkeley High School and became involved with many women’s rights advocacy organizations during her time at UC Berkeley, including Planned Parenthood. She added that she went on to chair the city Commission on the Status of Women.

Currently, Hahn said she has been working with that same commission to check in with women and girls as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Anecdotal evidence has found that women have taken on increased responsibility for family members during the pandemic, which impacts women’s ability to make a living and remain housed.

Additionally, a potential state grant will allow the city to document and quantify the impact of the pandemic on women’s health, economic status, education and employment prospects, Hahn said.

“International Women’s Day is a day to rededicate ourselves to the long, hard work of achieving equality, dignity, safety and opportunity for all women, across the globe,” Hahn said in an email. “As we sharpen our focus on equity, we cannot forget that women are a majority in the United States, yet still face many forms of discrimination and violence, even here in Berkeley.”

Contact Tarunika Kapoor at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @tkapoor_dc.