The International Women’s Conference in the Mecca/Thermal campus

Luis Medina
Campus life editor

COD Friends of the Earth, in partnership with local organizations, helps to raise awareness in the community about the suffering and abuse peasant women face in the Coachella Valley.  Physical, mental and sexual abuse of peasant workers is what has prompted COD students to develop this conference to provide adequate information for women.

The International Women’s Conference took place in the Mecca/Thermal campus on Thursday, March 24 at 11:30 a.m.

The mission was to open up discussions of tolerance, diversity, and acceptance inside the classroom and out. The conference featured inspiring women as speakers and student leaders seeking to inform, inspire and ignite women to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. Professor Oceana Collins said, “The reason for this event is that we are trying to inspire students to take leadership in our community.”

The COD Friends of the Earth’s objective is to bring women from the local community and from the COD campus together to share their passions, ideas, struggles and successes. Those in attendance included COD Dean of Instruction Annebelle Nery ; Coachella City Council woman Magdelena Zepeda; and COD Board of Trustees member Mary Sanchez.

Some of the local organizations that were represented were Birth Choice, Planned Parenthood, Mental Health, Cancer Foundation, and more.

Workshops like these provide help and support to women who have been victims of sexual abuse. “We help them if they are pregnant or if they need assistance in other things,” said Alicia Moya, a Birth Choice volunteer.

In addition to the support offered to them in case of physical abuse, there is also information on Mental Health. “Mental health covers not only women but also children. We help women to identify symptoms so they can help their family,” said Esperanza Sotelo, promoter of Mental Health.

The conference also focused on how important it is for women to be prepared to face new challenges. Martha Gutierrez, Coachella Valley resident said, “Its very nice to know that there is so much support for women and I like how there was a lot of information.”

Information makes a difference to young students like Mariela Rodriguez, who said “I have learned the importance of being well-informed of the procedures to be followed when a woman is being abused either physically or sexually.”

“Hopefully this is just a beginning and we can make an even bigger event at the Palm Desert campus.” said member of the COD Board of Trustees Sanchez.

The event organizers hope that this event will be the first of many more events like the International Women’s Conference so it can continue to provide information and resources that women need in the community.

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