In an inspiring and uplifting weeklong event, Semana de la Mujer 2021 took place from Feb. 20 to Feb. 26 and celebrated Chicana women’s contributions during Women’s History Month. Hosted in collaboration with the Semana de la Mujer Planning Committee, Teatro Quinto Sol, Writer’s Building Blocks, Mujeres Unidas, Native American Student Programs and Chicano Student Programs, these events created an inspiring and safe environment for all.
This year, Semana de la Mujer was themed after the saying, “Ella es tierna como una mariposa bailando en el cielo. Pero si te atreves a meterte en su vuelo, con la fuerza del fuego, su flama te quema con un solo aleteo,” which roughly translates to, “She is as delicate as a butterfly dancing in the sky. But if you dare cross her, with all the force of fire, her flame will burn you with a single flutter of her wings.” This theme was clearly reflected in the events and workshops held during the weeklong event.
The Mujer Conference hosted by Mujeres Unidas (MU) kicked off the weeklong event. The event took place on Feb. 20 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This year’s Mujer Conference marked the 26th annual conference where members of the MU gathered to discuss the empowerment of women. Julia Lemus, a fourth-year liberal studies major and co-president of MU, stated that they offered different workshops that relate to the theme of Semana de la Mujer. According to Lemus, one of the speakers held a self-love workshop where attendees wrote about things they loved about themselves. “People have told me they enjoyed themselves, and that’s honestly what matters,” stated Lemus.
Semana de la Mujer kicked off its second event on Feb. 22 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with “Tiendita Peligrosa.” The event was hosted by Teatro Quinto Sol (TQS) and is a new addition to Semana de la Mujer. TQS aims to promote social and cultural awareness in addition to the critical consciousness of the lived experience of students via creative outlets. According to Juan Soria, a fourth-year double major in Spanish and business administration, “TQS creates a supportive environment for students navigating an educational institution that allows progressive thinking and collaborative efforts amongst our members.”
As a result of the campus closure, Soria stated that traditionally, TQS would host the annual Poesia Peligrosa, an open mic night where vendors would also sell their products. Instead of hosting vendors and an open mic, Soria stated, “We tried to recreate the same event virtually, but it took a toll on our TQS members and community to host a three hour event via Zoom. So this quarter we decided to give the vendors their own event and hence Tiendita Peligrosa was born.”
“Las Profes Panel” was yet another newly added event held on Feb. 23 featuring keynote speakers Diamond Bravo, Lorena Gutierrez and Loralee Larios. Bravo is an assistant professor in psychology at UCR, Gutierrez is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at UCR and Larios is an assistant professor and plant ecologist in botany and plant sciences at UCR. This event was very inspiring as these women discussed their backgrounds and educational journey as first generation Chicana women. What stood out to me was the recurring theme of navigating spaces from a young age. Gutierrez recalled that she grew up translating for her parents, which gave her the skills necessary to communicate with people at a very young age. As a result, she was able to navigate difficult spaces at a young age, which has been a useful skill for her during her educational journey. She stated that being able to navigate these spaces at a young age gave her the ability to navigate the logistics of higher education, a sentiment also shared by Larios. It was very interesting and overwhelming to listen to stories of first generation women of color who have been able to accomplish their goals.
Two events took place the following day on Feb. 24: “Karla Cordero’s Writing Workshop” and “Susan Lopez’s Healing Circle.” Cordero is a Chicana poet, educator, artist and activist. She began the event with a three minute free write to “ground the spirit and the mind” before beginning the workshop. Throughout her workshop, Cordero gave attendees prompts to write about and created a safe space for attendees to share their work. It was stunning to see how Cordero was able to get everyone’s creative juices flowing and inspired me to write poetry myself.
In collaboration with UCR’s Chicano Student Programs (CSP) and Native American Student Programs (NASP), Susan Lopez hosted ”Healing Circle.” This event aimed to provide attendees with an opportunity to explore different healing processes with “la fuerza del fuego.” Lopez herself is a psychotherapist whose work aims to help strengthen people’s resilience and to address personal and systemic trauma.
On Feb. 25, Codero returned as the keynote speaker for Poesia Peligrosa. The event took place between 6 to 8 p.m., and Codero read a few poems from her book “How To Pull Apart The Earth” and even shared some background information that inspired her to write it in the first place. One poem that resonated with me was Cordero’s “Abuela is a Machete Wrapped In Her Favorite Apron” that explored Cordero’s grandmother being diagnosed with dementia. Cordero recalled the need to document her grandmother’s sharpness in order to remind her of her life. Hearing Cordero’s voice made this poem all the more powerful, and many people in the Zoom chat were complimenting and cheering on Cordero. What followed after was an open mic that touched upon topics such as immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement, the importance of family and the land we live on. Due to the intimate nature of these performances, hosts called for confidentiality regarding the poems read and the people reading them. Overall, this event was the highlight of the week for me as it exemplified unity and community.
Semana de la Mujer officially concluded with another newly added event, “La Mujer Vencera” that was held on Feb. 26. This event was an art workshop with coloring pages created by TQS member Veronica Sanchez that were available for attendees to print. This event was dedicated to celebrating body positivity through art.
Semana de La Mujer was an incredible week of events. Partaking in the week’s events and workshops allowed me and other attendees to go back to our roots and celebrate not only the contributions of Chicana and Latinx women, but also our own.