As International Women’s Day quickly approaches on March 8, women around the globe are asking for a world that’s #EachforEqual. This means gender equality in boardrooms, governments, media coverage, workplaces and sports, to mention just a few areas.
From concerts and conferences to fun runs and races, IWD belongs to all groups anywhere and everywhere, but the student-led organization Voices of the Community knows change starts from home. To make their mark, the Dos Pueblos high schoolers have created Her Festival, a new celebration for the women of Santa Barbara.
Just in time for IWD, Her Festival invites the whole community to gather at Girsh Park on Sunday for entertainment, education and empowerment. From 12 to 4 p.m., 61 booths, four keynote speakers, and live music, as well as food trucks, will populate the park.
Voices of the Community expects anywhere from 500 to 1,000 visitors at the event, hoping to attract kids in particular.
“What we have is a festival uplifting equality in youth-based environments, especially for young girls,” said Cami Chou, DPHS junior and Voices of the Community Co-President. “We hope they can see all the amazing women in the community that have done so much. Maybe it’ll encourage them to see how much potential they have as girls and future women.”
Taking #EachforEqual to heart, the event seeks to celebrate voices that are often left unheard. From women in STEM to female politicians, Her Festival will give a spotlight to almost every field fighting for gender equality.
“We’re going to have women firefighters with their trucks, women police officers with their cars, and one of the only female Marines in the district,” said Cami. “We’ll also be showcasing authors, aviation, politics, and communication.
“There are just so many fields that are usually male-dominated where a lot of amazing women in this community are really making an impact.”
To not just inspire but instill change, each of the 62 booths will be interactive. Some will feature local organizations like Girls Inc., Association of Women in Communication, League of Women Voters and the Ninety Nines. Others will focus on female-run businesses such as Santa Barbara Gift Baskets and RoHo.
Spirals Gymnastics, Santa Barbara Soccer Club, and female soccer players from UCSB will represent the sports side of gender equality. Even local museums, like MOXI and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, are set to display interactive art exhibits featuring different female artists.
Even so, not all the stops will be information-based. These more activity-based booths will have arts and crafts, henna, rock climbing and face paint.
On stage, women will continue to represent with a lineup of local female artists like singer-songwriter Jamey Geston, sister duo Let Flo Go, and Teen Star finalist Meghan Downing.
Amidst the music, assemblywoman Monique Limon, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara CEO Barbara Ben-Horin, Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley, and California State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson will address the crowd.
Despite some weather concerns, Voices of the Community is excited to see each of these elements and over a year’s worth of work finally come together.
“Other than the rain, it’s actually been really fun to watch everything happen this week,” said Geneva Walman-Randall, DPHS junior and Voices of the Community Co-President. “I’m so excited to do this for International Women’s Day and just to represent myself.”
Representation has been a common thread for Voices of the Community since they began last year. Born out of the Women and Tech Club at Dos Pueblos, the group started as a separate club to ensure underrepresented groups in the community are heard.
Determined to make Her Festival a reality, the small bunch of high schoolers had their work cut out for them.
“We had absolutely no experience at all with any of this,” said Mia Chou, DPHS junior and Voices of the Community Co-President. “Everything just starts off with researching the internet and finding people in the community who might be able to help us or connect us with other resources.”
Luckily, that community has been nothing but supportive, even when Voices of the Community didn’t have a clear path to follow.
“It kind of feels like we’ve been trying to solve a puzzle, but we don’t know what the whole puzzle looks like,” said Geneva. “But we’re slowly getting the parts uncovered, and it’s really because all the people that have been really patient and willing to help us along the way.”
Holding meetings as early as last May, Voices of the Community has spent the last year fundraising, learning from other event planners, clarifying ideas and contacting as many organizations as possible.
Planning for a much smaller event than they have today, the group originally prepared for a budget of $10,000 and a booth limit of 50. Now, they’ve raised over $37,000 and have had to turn potential partners away.
“This started out as just an idea, but we knew this was something we had to do,” said Geneva. “It took a lot of work. Eventually we’ll hope it pays off.”
And it already looks like it is. This process alone has given Voices of the Community more determination than they’ve ever had before.
“We were able to teach ourselves how to do everything,” said Mia. “It’s just given me so much confidence.”
Her Festival is a free event and will take place from 12 to 4 p.m. March 8 at Girsh Park, located at 7050 Phelps Road. For more information, visit herfestivalsb.com.