Hundreds of students, faculty, and community members shared stories of struggle and solidarity at the second annual UTEP Women’s History Month Conference, March 26-28. The conference included a wide variety of academic and practitioner presentations, including two panels on women’s health and reproductive rights, which culminated in the formation of the “El Paso Women’s Health Interest and Advocacy Group.”

Attendees delighted in the inspiring plenary session with Martha Cotera, Ruth Mojica Hammer, and Linda Garcia Merchant. Linda featured highlights from her film “Las Mujeres de la Caucus Chicana”, in which Ruth, Martha and others narrate their groundbreaking political activism and participation in the 1960s-1990s. Ruth was the first female Congressional candidate in Illinois; Martha a leader in the Raza Unida party for decades. Linda also described the innovative “Chicana por Mi Raza” digital humanities project, an online archive and video initiative documenting the development of Chicana Feminist thought and activism over the long civil rights era. All three presenters spoke about the importance of women raising our voices in support and defense of our communities, evoking shouts of solidarity and reflective questions from the audience. 

Another plenary session featured the editor of Grace & Gumption: The Women of El Paso (TCU Press, 2011), Marcia Hatfield Daudistel, who shared stories of the doctors, journalists, curanderas, educators, researchers, political leaders, religious sisters (some of the early feminists in our community), even bullfighters who have shaped the Paso del Norte community. These influential and oftentimes “ordinary” women are hiding in plain sight. Significant to the entire border region, Marcia emphasized awareness and celebration of the border people throughout the centuries, highlighting the legacy of settlers from the south. Grace and Gumption invites us to recognize women’s contributions and draw inspiration to continue their work. The book is available at Barnes and Noble and online booksellers. 
FWF salutes the philanthropy and advocacy of Grace and Gumption.The project is donating 100% of the royalties to the UTEP Women’s Studies Department to lay a foundation for the first-ever departmental endowment. UTEP Women’s Studies is a long-time supporter of and partner with FWF. We commend their work! 
FWF also congratulates the work of the “Friends of Women’s Studies” donor advised fund, whose fundraiser at the conference earned more than $500 in donations – all of which goes directly to next year’s stipend for paid student internships serving local non-profit organizations.

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