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The Manhattan Branch of American Association of University Women holds a virtual celebration of International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8, with a panel of women with origins outside the U.S., who live in Manhattan, sharing unique perspectives and personal experiences intended to increase individual understanding and appreciation of the diversity within the local community.

International Women’s Day is a global day recognizing and honoring the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is Choose to Challenge, asking the community to find their voice to challenge stereotypes and take action to accelerate gender equality.

Program Committee Co-chair Usha Reddi says this offers these panelists a chance to share their cultures, their traditions, their philosophies, what brought them to the United States, why they stay here, and traditions they continue here alongside the new traditions they picked up.

“It’s going to be one of those fantastic programs that we always look forward to, and it brings them into the loop of Manhattan because sometimes they themselves have not known all of the things that are happening in Manhattan, or have been introduced to others in Manhattan, so we get to build that relationship,” Reddi said. “We’re going to have some of our panelists from the past years, come back and visit us and watch the program and participate, and typically, we have this at the Holiday Inn in person, there’s usually a dinner and we invite community guests also to join us. But this is virtual this time, and anybody can join us that’s interested, and we are always excited to promote this event, and participate as well and celebrate the diversity we do have in the city of Manhattan.”

Fitting within this year’s theme of Choosing to Challenge, Reddi says AAUW dares to improve pay, equity balance, as well as voting, and childcare that we women may not have as they navigate the pandemic and daily life.

“What we realized is, it’s most of the woman that had to stay home or lost jobs or salaries, that have an extra burden placed on them, and it doesn’t matter if you were a international woman or not, it was just plainly gender equity that we’re talking about. What the national Woman’s Day highlights is that the comparisons between other cultures and here,” Reddi said. “When you are in a university town, you have the benefit of having such wonderful people in our community to make us better, stronger and unique, and also just very interesting. It’s just extremely interesting to have that dialogue, and during this panel discussion, people will have a chance to ask questions also, to the panelists. Oftentimes, those are the best questions when they come from the audience.”

Membership Vice President Mary Stamey says the AAUW got started with this initiative six years ago to make it a signature event for their branch, and are delighted with the progress they’ve seen with diversity in the community.

“We can learn and share our culture with and learn about all these other cultures, and what they continue to bring back to this community is just incredible. As a branch, we’re also celebrating 100 years in Manhattan,” Stamey said. “AAUW has been around since 1881, advocating for women through education and research, and just advocating for lobbying with legislators across the country. We’re really excited to celebrate in person in 2021, even though we’ve turned 100 years old this year in 2020. That’ll that’ll be exciting to do that.”

Reddi mentions two of these panelists recently graduated, and are looking for jobs wherever they can find them in the United States. With this in mind, being from a different country, they need to have a company sponsor them for a green card to stay in the United States.

“So they’re highly qualified, and they’re now job hunting to stay in the United States, to fulfill their dreams, in the position that a company will hire them. Most of them also came here because their spouses jobs brought them to the United States, and to continue their professional careers. What we do take for granted is how easy it is for us to get a job,” Reddi said. “In some of these fields, there may not be enough qualified American citizens that are  trained for those jobs. So when immigrants come here and want to be a part of that business and become part of an organization that are highly skilled and highly qualified, certainly we’re going to embrace them. And, and they come here for the opportunities and we get a chance to have be with them and learn from them and also build that broader community of understanding for other cultures, and other nations.”

Live at 7pm March 8th 2021, in the Public Forum, those interested in the community can RSVP to to receive a program link.

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