Provo City celebrates International Women’s Day

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Taste owner Char Coleman celebrates International Women’s Day by offering free chocolate tours to local women. (Ryan Turner)

Provo hosted an all-day celebration of International Women’s Day by organizing free events for locals, including a lecture series, a chocolate tasting and a 1920s-themed after party.

The events kicked off with a breakfast with Provo Mayor John Curtis and a lecture series with several female speakers “who are changing the face of Provo with their passion and personal and professional projects,” according to the event’s website.

Michaelann Bradley spoke on mental wellness for women in Provo, encouraging women looking for help to call United Way of Utah County’s hotline at 2-1-1.

“Nine times out of 10, if things aren’t going the way you want, you’re missing one of these things,” Bradley said, gesturing to her slide that read “Safety + Connection + Competence = Well Being.”

BYU economics professor Jocelyn Wikle spoke on the reasons there are differences in work and pay between genders.

Wikle said several factors contribute to lower wages for women, including men generally receiving more education and being more competitive, and women taking more time out of the workforce for family situations.

“Time out of the labor force impacts a woman’s career options later down the road,” Wikle said.

Meredith Lam, a member of the Navajo tribe and the director of American Indian Education for Provo City School District, spoke on increasing awareness of American Indians.

“I love this motto I heard at the National Indian Conference: ‘Making the invisible visible,’” Lam said. “That’s what makes our community stronger — when we are aware of each other.”

Lam also said the name of a nearby mountain, Squaw Peak, is extremely offensive to Native Americans because in their language “squaw” is a derogatory term for the private parts of a woman’s body. Curtis announced at breakfast that Provo City is looking to change the name in honor of female Native Americans.

Stephanie Larsen, Executive Director for Encircle LGBTQ Family and Youth Resource Center, spoke on how her center is inspiring the community.

“Suicide is the forefront of why we’re doing this,” Larsen said. “Over 60 percent of LGBTQ youth will attempt suicide. We are losing far too many of our youth, and too many are struggling.”

BYU senior Deidrene Crisanto spoke as the assistant producer of “The Apple Seed: Tellers and Stories” on BYUradio and as a second-generation daughter of Filipino-American immigrants.

“I’m a woman of color,” Crisanto said. “I’m a whole person, a whole painting, but many times people only see one brushstroke.”

Alison Faulkner Robertson of “The Alison Show,” the final speaker in the lecture series, gave advice for building a business in Provo.

“My number-one tip for building or starting anything is to declare it,” Robertson said. “My absolute top takeaway is to just own it.”

Robertson said potential entrepreneurs should be resourceful in starting up businesses, including in the area of human resources.

“Invest in people who invest in you,” Robertson said.

Provo City hosted many activities throughout the day following the lecture series, including a tour and chocolate tasting at Taste.

Women celebrate Provo Women’s Day by tasting chocolate at Taste. (Ryan Turner)

Provo residents Rachel Kanoche and Gena Watkins went to the Taste tour and several other Women’s Day activities together.

“I’ve been on a chocolate tour before, and every time I love it,” Kanoche said. “It’s delicious.”

Watkins said the chocolate tour was very informative.

“They were very keen on how it was made,” Watkins said. “These guys rock.”

Kanoche said trying the chocolate made in-house at Taste makes other chocolate seem low grade in comparison.

“My mother-in-law buys Dove, and when you try this and you go back to Dove, it’s not the same,” Kanoche said.

Watkins said she also went to the yoga class activity.

“It was straining, but it was so worth it,” Watkins said. “It was very peaceful, too.”

Provo City’s final Women’s Day event was a 1920s-themed after-party with a secret speakeasy entrance, hip-hop dancers and 20s-themed food and drinks. Attendees dressed in 1920s costumes and learned a new twist on the Charleston dance move from one of the Rec Center hip-hop instructors.

Provo resident Krista Weibell said she couldn’t make it to Provo’s other activities because of work but came to the after-party with friends to celebrate together.

“I like the Fight the New Drug people, so I wore my ‘Porn Kills Love’ T-shirt today with my thoughts focused on those women who are struggling to escape human trafficking,” Weibell said.

Weibell said she had a lot of fun at the dance party.

“It’s fun to kick off International Women’s Day with a dance party and spend it with your girlfriends celebrating being women and being together,” Weibell said.