International Women’s Month Series 2016

The Latin American Cultural Association and fair trade shop, El Buen Amigo hosts an annual International Women’s Series in March. This month is to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

In March 2016, the Buffalo State Writer’s Network partnered with

El Buen Amigo to present

International Women’s Month Series

Women Birthing, Women at Work, Women Aware of Mental Health, Women During Wartime, and Women in Shakespeare’s Time were hosted by Rachel L. Johnson  and donations benefited YWCA of WNY.

PaintingThe Puerto Rican Poet, Dr. Mervin Capeles presented Artist Representation and the African Diaspora and Casa Auto’noma del Arte sponsored an art exhibit opening on March 11. The artists are from Yabucoa Puerto Rico.

Various leaders from the community throughout the month came to share:

newEileenEileen Stewart from Buffalo Midwifery Services

Regine L. Marton from Buffalo Midwifery Services

Songwriter, Sara Rodriguez from pranamama birth services

MollyMolly McDermot from Yogic-Birth and WNY perinatal mood and anxiety disorder task force

Kinsey A. O’Brien from Hurwitz & Fine and Chair of the Employment Law Committee of the WNY Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

Maria Whyte from the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning

Natalie Brown from Project 308 Gallery

Shayna S. Israel from Plur·al·ity Press

portrait for websitesJanna Willoughby-Lohr from Papercraft Miracles

Sherry Byrnes from NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Health

Performers, Alicia Leigh and Joe Evans

image (1)Local poet and teacher, Theresa Wyatt

Local poet, writer and teacher, Marc Belisle

El Buen Amigo owner, Santiago F. Masferrer

Buffalo State Writer’s Network founder, Rachel L. Johnson

Tai Moore from Arbonne

Dr. Mervin Capeles from Casa Auto’noma del Arte

Women from diverse backgrounds answered questions pertaining to the first 3 exhibits for Join the Conversation.

This year the International Women’s Day theme is Pledge for Parity.  #genderparity

Especially treating women equal in status and pay in the workplace. Pledge for Parity links below:

Help women and girls achieve their ambitions

Challenge conscious and unconscious bias

Call for gender-balanced leadership

 Value women and men’s contributions equally

Create inclusive, flexible cultures

Women Birthing

Read an article about the exhibit from Plur·al·ity Press blog contributor, Rachel L. Johnson.

Excerpts from Join the Conversation

Please share a funny moment you had with birth.

2 Lies and a Truth

It was our second child and I had decided not to get the epidural this time around and just go “natural”. Something in me wanted to experience what women throughout all of time had during birth. It was beautiful sounding, almost mystical, the idea I had surrounding what I would experience and overcome in those moments.

As I laid in the hospital bed and things progressed rapidly to agonizing pain and waves of nausea I remember thinking, what am I doing? I could be sleeping, or watching tv! Why didn’t I take the epidural???

I got panicky and told the nurse I wanted the epidural. She smiled sweetly and lied to my face, saying, “sure honey, as soon as we get this bag of IV fluids into you.” She later told me she knew the baby would be out before the bag was done. Thank God she didn’t let me know! Staring at the IV bag dripping gave me enough strength to hold on for “just a few more minutes.” When you’re in a lot of pain that seems like an eternity. I couldn’t have dealt with the thought of hours.

In the end, I am proud I did it! Anyone who’s ever given birth naturally knows that feeling. I did get to become a part of something greater, and I feel stronger for it.


Women at Work

Excerpts from Join the Conversation

Gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision-making, and when the different behaviors, aspirations and needs of women and men are equally valued and favored.  What is your country doing for gender equality, especially in regards to status and pay for women?

I’m in the US, I work in the tech industry we are seeing a lot more companies pay attention to issues around pay and opportunity equity by releasing their diversity statistics, teaching courses about bias to bring more awareness, giving generous maternity leave for both men and women so as to level the playing field.

Have you experienced work place bias? What does work place bias look like?         Yes I have experienced work place bias.

I’ve had situations where my ideas were challenged or I’ve had to provide additional data and documentation to prove that an idea is worth pursuing whereas similar ideas form male counterparts were more readily accepted.

Would you like to say anything else about gender parity?                                        Gender parity is not just good for women and minorities, studies show that more diverse companies actually perform better. So ultimately, giving women and minorities equal opportunity benefits entire communities.


Women Aware of Mental Health

Excerpts from Join the Conversation

Are you aware of your feelings/moods most of the time? Sometimes? Or not really?  Yes, I am normally aware of my moods.

What do you do to beat stress?                                                                                             When I feel stressed, I have to withdraw myself from the situation or the project that is causing the stress.  Sometimes I choose to do something I find fun to beat the stress, but if I cannot withdraw myself from stressful situation because of deadlines and things, I will opt to prioritize my tasks.

Was there a time when someone you loved got very angry? What did you do to help them, help themselves?                                                                                                            Yes, I have seen loved ones very angry.  Sometimes I help them by giving them space and other times I want them to talk about what is causing them to be angry.

Do you think people with mental illness are portrayed fairly in TV and movies? Please give an example?                                                                                                              No, I do not think that people with mental illness are portrayed fairly in TV and movies.  You see the plight of individuals mistreated, but you do not always see preventive measure taught or used.  Movies can magnify illnesses (that people want to hear about), but movie makers can make it what they want. Example: Girl Interrupted