Sisterhood is a wonderful thing

Sisterhood prevails, as the 29th Annual Portland International Women’s Day will take place on Saturday, March 6, in the SMSU Ballroom from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature international food from local restaurants, retail vendors, workshops on the emotional and physical health of women, a reading by women writers and an all-woman poetry slam.

Portland State University professor and local slam poet/activist Turiya Autry will be hosting the event for the fourth year.

“I’ve been involved with the Women’s Day for six years, in one form or another,” Autry said. “It usually has a very large turnout. People come down from Washington and from all over Oregon. There will be writers from all over Oregon reading their work throughout the whole day, as well as participating in the poetry slam.”

The Portland event is to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.

The first IWD was held on March 19, 1911 in a select few European countries including Germany, Denmark and Austria. The International Women’s Day has been recognized by the United Nations since 1975, and has become a national holiday in some countries.

“The really great things about this event are the workshops. Even though there is a $5 suggested donation, we won’t turn anybody away. That means that these important workshops about health and well-being are available to the public,” enthused Autry.

In keeping with the spirit of the day, free daycare will be available during the event in ASPSU.

The focus of this year’s Portland International Women’s Day is International Peace, one of the original themes of the first International Women’s Day. Workshops will explore this theme throughout the day, covering such topics as “When Women Stand for Peace,” “Women as Peacemakers: UN Resolution 1325,” and “Women, Work, and Peace in the Global Economy.”

There will also be a screening of the movie, “Beirut: The Last Home Movie,” which follows a Lebanese family living in a heavily-bombed Beirut neighborhood over a three-month period.

Local restaurants will add their own international flavor to the event, providing dishes from Lebanon and East Africa. The PSU Women’s Resource Center will be providing snacks and beverages, and Soy Sweet Bakery will be offering vegan/natural cakes for dessert.

The vendors will be a mix of women-centered non-profits and women-owned/run retail shops. Among them will be NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, the League of Women Voters of Portland, Amnesty International, Nervy Girl Magazine and Love Makes a Family, Inc.

The day will end with the all-woman poetry slam, an event near to Autry’s heart.

“I hosted the all-woman poetry slam for six years, which I loved doing. Rarely do you find a place where women can have equal representation in this medium. When I did the Portland Poetry Slam, it was very hard to get women involved, to have them as a visible presence there. This is really a great opportunity to see work by women.”

Participants in the slam aren’t limited to working poets, Autry explains. “Anyone can sign up to participate. If they sign up early they will have a better chance of being able to perform their work – the slam is only an hour long, so that puts constraints on how many performers we can have …I might even perform a few pieces. We’ll see.”