March 3, 2000

Changing Role of Women is Focus of Conference and International Women's Day Celebration at UCSD

From the corporate boardrooms of Japan to Argentina's military regime and its "disappeared" victims, women have struggled to make a difference—and continue to grapple with change. Building New Societies: Women in Asia and Latin America is the subject of a major international conference and three keynote presentations by prominent women leaders—including activist and scholar Angela Davis—to be held March 8-11 at the University of California, San Diego at the Copley International Conference Center in the Institute of the Americas Complex.

The program begins with public events in honor of International Women's Day (March 8), which serves as benchmark for women in developing countries to assess how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace, and development. "There are many ways to think of women's issues—and American feminists are not the only out there," said UCSD History Professor Christine Hunefeldt, an authority on the history of gender and family in Latin America and a coordinator for the March conference. "Participants in our interdisciplinary program will trace the long-term similarities and differences in feminist agendas—by analyzing women in different national and regional settings, and in different walks of life," she continued.

Estela B. de Carlotto will set the tone on Wednesday evening, March 8, with a moving talk on Women and the Struggle for Human Rights. During Argentina's "dirty war" in the 1970s, some 9,000 people were abducted or "disappeared" by military forces—including young children and pregnant women. As president of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina (Aso-ciación de Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo), Carlotto led the crusade to find the missing children who were, in some cases, illegally adopted. She will lecture in Spanish and simultaneous translation will be provided in English.

Human rights activist, 1960s radical, and author Angela Davis was imprisoned and tried on conspiracy charges in 1970s. Her public address on Thursday evening, March 9, is on Wars Against Women — Past, Present, and Future? Davis, now a professor at the University of California Santa Cruz, is currently working on a comparative study of women's imprisonment in the U.S., the Netherlands and Cuba.

At the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, representatives of 189 different countries agreed that inequalities between women and men have serious consequences for the well-being of all people. A key participant in that event was Tao Jie, of Peking University, whose talk on Friday evening, March 10, will focus on The Beijing Conference of 1995: Impacts on China.

The conference portion of the program, on March 10-11, focuses on women in Asia and Latin America. It is the culmination of a year-long project which brought eight scholars-in-residence to UCSD this winter. The visitors have been exploring a wide variety of themes relating to rights and roles of women, and one of their workshops has examined the depiction of women and gender issues in kindergarten-through-twelfth grades. Findings from this effort will be presented at a Friday, March 10 morning panel on Gender Socialization and Schools. "It is essential to understand the origins of gender roles," said Jennifer L. Troutner, a program organizer and Lecturer in the UCSD Department of Communication, "and comparisons of textbooks narratives should provide us with important clues."

A Friday afternoon panel on Women in the Corporate World will probe widely held stereotypes about Asian and Latin American women in business. Other panels will address such topics as Women in Media and the Arts, Women and Politics, Social Control and Sexual Regulations, and Struggles for Human Rights. Participants in the conference will be coming from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, and throughout the United States.

The program is sponsored by UCSD's Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies (CILAS) in cooperation with the university's Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) and the Program in Critical Gender Studies. CILAS Director Peter Smith launched the Latin America/Pacific Rim program in 1996 with funding from the Ford Foundation and other sources. Now in its fourth and final year, program has sought to focus attention of emerging links between the two regions, to strengthen ties between Asian and Latin American academics and mid-career professionals, and to train future leaders who will be in positions to manage these new relationships.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, please call the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies (CILAS) at (858) 534-6050.

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