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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

#InspireInclusion: UWL celebrates International Women’s Day with panelists from Ghana, Japan and Malaysia

Hephzibah Ohihoin
Panelists on stage.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse International Women’s Day Committee invited members of the La Crosse community and beyond to join them in celebrating International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 5. The annual program was held in the Bluffs Ballroom in the student union. 

Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Greater La Crosse, Sarah Ellingson started the program off with a small speech that better defined the theme of the event, #InspireInclusion.

“We forge a better world when we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, when women themselves are inspired to be included there’s a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment,” said Ellingson. “To truly include women means openly embracing their diversity of race, age, ability, faith, body image and how they identify. Worldwide women must be included in all fields of endeavor.” 

Former panelist and this year’s moderator, Lema Kabashi first asked the panelists to tell their story. 

Representing Ghana, Gifty Amedoda is a UWL graduate student who had been a teacher for eighteen years before coming to Wisconsin. 

“Because I’ve worked for so long in education, I decided to move away from the classroom, but not move away from education so I’m here [UWL] to study student affairs administration,” said Amedoda.

Amedoda spoke about the difficulty of using different languages in the school system.

“In Ghana, our first language is our Ghanaian language but then our instructional language is English so that makes it difficult for a lot of children to transition into the formal education system. This is not their language, they don’t speak this at home so they find it difficult to switch,” said Amedoda. 

Representing Japan, Dr. Yuko Iwai is a professor in the department of educational studies.  Iwai was born and raised in Japan and majored in education while studying there. 

“I taught in Japan and then I came to the United States to pursue [sic] graduate studies degrees and then I ended up getting a job here at UWL”, said Iwai. “So, I’ve been here at UWL teaching different classes for 15 years.” 

Iwai also spoke about the progress made by Japan in supporting minority groups such as women, the LGBTQ community and disabled individuals. She commended Japan, emphasizing that they have implemented a lot compared to the past.

“Speaking of the LGBTQ nowadays, I see people becoming more open to the public, and Japanese people support them more compared to the past so I think we’re heading to the [sic] better direction,” said Iwai. 

Representing Malaysia, Yi-Ann Tham is currently a junior at UWL pursuing a degree in computer science. 

When asked about issues women faced in Malaysia, Tham said, “Malaysia is a Muslim majority country so because of that some of our laws are based on the Shariah law which is the Islamic law and some of the laws have a few disadvantages to women such as inheritance.” 

“Other than that, for Muslim women in Malaysia it’s also very common to get female genital mutilation or female circumcision,” added Tham. “I’ve seen the statistics, they say about 99% of Muslim women in Malaysia are circumcised and honestly that kind of scared me a little bit.” 

When asked about how inclusion was being inspired in Malaysia, Tham said, “What a lot of students end up doing in their colleges is that they will start clubs, have campaigns, events to promote all of this diversity inclusive stuff which I think is really good because obviously the students can relate to one another and it’s kind of like our safe space.” 

The event concluded with each panelist receiving flowers. Amberly Roeck and Madeline Kohn, who were a part of the audience, had some words to share regarding the event. 

Roeck said, “I learned so much from all three, I wasn’t expecting to learn as much as I did.” 

Kohn added, “This is my first year at UWL, I’ve not been to this event before and so I didn’t quite know what to expect but to see everything that was going to be involved with it [the event] was really great.”

This International Women’s Day event was brought to UWL with help from sponsors; the AAUW La Crosse, the League of Women Voters, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, the International Women’s Group, UWL International Education & Engagement (IEE), Viterbo University, division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), the Women’s Fund of Greater La Crosse, YWCA La Crosse.   

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About the Contributor
Hephzibah Ohihoin
Hephzibah Ohihoin, General Assignment Reporter
Year at UWL:  First PGPs: She/Her Hometown: Sabongida-Ora, Edo State, Nigeria. Major: English Minor: Legal Studies and Creative Writing Other Campus Involvement: Xi Alpha Ministry, Cru, ALANA, Pre-Law Organization and BSU Future Plans after Graduation: Law School Favorite activity in La Crosse: Playing badminton and pickleball
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