March 8, 2022

Education Forward Arizona Celebrates International Women’s Day

Observed since the early 1900s, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day dedicated to celebrating women’s accomplishments, raising awareness against gender biases, learning more about women’s history and taking action for equality.

We asked Education Forward Arizona staff members what IWD means to them and what their advice is for younger women.

What does International Women’s Day/Women History Month mean to you?

“I have bittersweet feelings about International Women’s Day. On one hand, I am so happy to see women and their contributions being celebrated, but on the other hand, I can’t help but think of all the women that have been erased from history or never got the chance to reach their potential. For me, it is a reminder that we need to keep doing better and look for the ways that women are still undervalued.” – Lauren Miller, Ask Benji Outreach Coordinator.

“As a young girl I never truly knew the impact women had in the world. When I was a junior in high school a very profound event took place that would forever shape my view on how women played a major role in history – the space shuttle Challenger disaster. I was home sick from school that day and as a space and astronomy buff, it was so cool to be able to watch the launch. I sat, glued to my television as catastrophe took place. I was in disbelief. Words cannot describe it. Dr. Sally K. Ride, a schoolteacher and the first American woman to travel into space, was on board and became a hero in my eyes. I later wrote an essay about the event that was published in Mesa Public Schools annual literary magazine Voices.” – Rita Bracamonte-Rodriguez, Ask Benji Engagement Specialist.

“Women’s History month is critical for us as a society because it celebrates how women are instrumental for creating change in the workplace, in our communities and worldwide.  It celebrates the female perspective and gives voice to their potential, passions and purpose by empowering young women to dream and make those dreams a reality.  I am fortunate and blessed to have so many women pour into my life and shape who I am today.” – Ruben Saenz, Senior Director of Statewide Initiatives and AzCAN.

“I have seen how differing cultures treat women and it made me really thankful to be an American woman.  When I was in college in the 70s, we were not only protesting the Vietnam war, but also for civil rights and women’s rights.  My parents did not support me going to college because I was a girl, so I had to get there on my own and most women went into teaching – which I did – or nursing and now my daughter is an engineer.  We’ve come a long way baby!” – Donna Davis, Senior Community Impact Manager.

“I grew up in a single-parent household with just my mom, myself and my two siblings. I’ve seen firsthand the immense strength, wisdom and power of women through my mother who overcame so much to give us a great life. I know there are so many other women in this world that are just as strong, wise and powerful. For me, as man, it is my responsibility to uplift and amplify the voices of all women, not just on a day like this but every single day. This is what International Women’s Day means to me.” – Zach Rosas, Success Adviser.

“Women’s History Month to me acknowledges the need for gender equity. It is a celebration of historical triumphs, recognition of roadblocks, and an exploration of the potential of every woman.” – Stephanie Capps, College Knowing & Going Program Coordinator.

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to remember all the challenges women have had to overcome throughout history and celebrate the accomplishments women have had in society, but most importantly it is a day to recognize that inequalities that still exist and showcase our support for women who face constant discrimination for their gender. To me, it is a day that not only promotes awareness but hope.” – Emily Richardson, Digital Communications Coordinator.

“International Women’s Day is a wonderful day to celebrate so many amazing women from all over the world. We are all amazing. We are all beautiful.” – Diana Bejarano Figueroa, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Strategic Initiatives.

What advice do you have for younger women?

“The advice I would give to young women is to find strong, female mentors and to look for women who can offer mentorship to. With men holding the majority of leadership roles, it can be hard for young women to envision how their strengths could translate to being a leader. Seeing how other women lead a team and utilize their strengths can empower you to understand your own value and potential. Then, guiding and mentoring other women can help you put into practice what you have learned, and it builds a stronger network of women that are supporting you.” – Lauren Miller.

“You are brave, strong and can do anything you believe you can – you are not inferior. It is important to ASK! Afterall, what’s the worst thing that can happen? All they can say is no and then you’re no worse off than you began with. Do all things CON GANAS and practice loving and kindness in all encounters with humanity. Lastly, always remember the humble beginnings you came from.” – Rita Bracamonte-Rodriguez.

“The woman next to you can be your sister not your competitor. Get to know her, learn from her and work with her.” – Selena Llama, Community Impact Manager, Southern Arizona.

“Everyone wants to feel seen and heard. Look for opportunities to help other people shine and grow.” – Erin Hart, Senior Vice President and Chief of Policy and Community Impact.

“Find a woman who can mentor you, one who can support you as you learn to advocate for yourself and find your place at the table.” – Stephanie Capps. “As a young girl, I would often find myself minimizing the more feminine parts of myself and judging the girls who didn’t, but now I realize there is nothing wrong with that part of myself. It is important to not let internalized misogyny dictate how you feel about yourself. Find a solid group of female friends and mentors you can rely on and make sure you are always sharing your thoughts and opinions.” – Emily Richardson.  

It’s OK to be you. Remember that you have unique strengths to offer the world and in your work. Take the time to learn what you enjoy and make the time for those things in your life. Explore career paths that might align with your strengths or passions and consider jobs and fields that skew traditionally male, too. Reach out to women doing the jobs you’d be interested in someday. You’d be surprised at how many people want to help you succeed! – Laura Ory, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications.

“We are all in the struggle together. Let’s support and uplift each other because together we rise.” – Diana Bejarano Figueroa.