ASCSU Women’s Caucus celebrates women on International Women’s Day

Julia Trowbridge

It wasn’t just women who gathered to uplift women on International Women’s Day.

On International Women’s Day, the Associated Students of Colorado State University Women’s Caucus hosted an open event for the CSU and Fort Collins community to come together to celebrate and empower women. International Women’s Day is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, according to the official website.

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Merall Sherif, chair of the Women’s Caucus, and Cerridwyn Nordstrom, vice chair of the Women’s Caucus, emphasized the event wasn’t just for women, but the entire community.

Sherif said that the specific invitation for the event was for anyone who wants to celebrate community and empower women.

“Our goal is to inspire and encourage women to go after their ambitions, to go after higher leadership positions in whatever activity and organizations that they’re involved in and to become engaged with their community and to become engaged with the campus,” Sherif said. “And I think that is really the focus of the event particularly today, to engage the Fort Collins community and the campus with each other and encourage everybody to get more involved.”

Both Sherif and Nordstrom echoed the same sentiment for the Women’s Caucus in general. Although the caucus hasn’t established a weekly meeting yet, they encouraged anyone to join or contribute to the caucus, regardless of gender identity.

“If you don’t have allies, nothing is ever going to get accomplished,” Nordstrom said. “The fact of the matter is empowering women isn’t a women-on-women-only thing, it has to come from lots of different people of all kinds of backgrounds and identities, and building that community is what accomplishes that.”

How do you welcome women and people with all sorts of identities and empower them to have a welcoming and healthy work environment … . And that’s what we’re celebrating today: all the women who have paved the way for us to even be able to bring together a Women’s Caucus.” – Merall Sherif, Chair of the Women’s Caucus

The gathering consisted of a speaker, free food and interactive poster boards where participants were encouraged to write about prompts like “women who inspire us,” “things that make you feel loved” and “what is something you learned today.” In addition, the Senate seats had placards of women who made history such as Sarah Breedlove, Frida Kahlo and Ilhan Omar.

The formal structure of the event ended with Sherif asking participants to write a positive note to “speak some positivity into existence.”

The speaker, who asked to remain anonymous, spoke about self-love and mindfulness in addition to her personal life journey of being married at 15 to an abusive man and being disowned from her family when she left the marriage. The speaker said since then she has gone on a journey of healing through self-care and wants to inspire and lift up more women to use their voices to speak up for themselves and other women.

“Just imagine how much y’all appreciate you when you exercise self-love. It’s the most fulfilling feeling I have ever received,” she said. “Everything I’ve ever walked through is worth it because (of) the self-love I believe we all strive to accomplish, receive and share with others.”

The speaker also encouraged women to become mindful, act on what they need rather than what they want, practice good self-care, set boundaries and to forgive themselves.

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Anyone who wants to get involved with the ASCCU Women’s Caucus or learn more about events can email csuwomenscaucus@gmail.com or find them on Instagram @csuwomenscaucus.

Britney Brightwell, a CSU alumna who was invited to the event by a friend, said she was happy to see people at the event and hoped that more people will attend this event in future years.

“I think it’s important to keep celebrating (International Women’s Day) until we don’t have a reason for it, until it’s celebrated on a daily basis,” Brightwell said.

The theme of the event was “how to make your space in your place,” which aligned with the theme of this year’s International Women’s day, which was #Balanceisbetter or “Think equal, build smart and innovate for change.” Sherif said that this theme was perfect for encouraging the whole community to come together to support women and emphasize the importance of not excluding other genders from this celebration of women.

“It’s really about how do you enter into any sort of environment in which you want to succeed, and how do you establish your place, and then how do you make it easier for other women to establish their place,” Sherif said. “How do you welcome women and people with all sorts of identities and empower them to have a welcoming and healthy work environment … . And that’s what we’re celebrating today: all the women who have paved the way for us to even be able to bring together a Women’s Caucus.”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.