Girl Power: Texas celebrates International Women’s Day

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Organizations worldwide are celebrating International Women’s Day to recognize accomplishments of women and girls around the world.

The global celebration aims to applaud progress women have made toward achieving equity and equality. Groups around Texas hosted events to challenge stereotypes and biases, while promoting inclusive communities. The recognition on March 8 comes with a call by female leaders to push gender parity worldwide.

One of the goals is to bridge the gap between men and women, providing equal pay, access to education, and job opportunities.

“Women should be represented in every type of business,” Morgan Kelly, taproom manager at Blue Owl Brewing, said. The Austin brewery, co-founded by Suzy Shaffer and her husband Jeff, has several women in leadership roles.

“We do have a young woman brewer who is moving into a head brewer position, which is pretty exciting for the brew industry,” Kelly mentioned. “It has been a mostly dominated male industry, so it’s nice to kind of have a female vibe to it.”

A few dozen women gathered in Central Texas for a networking event and discussion about female entrepreneurship, sharing paths to success and journeys about women leadership.

President and co-founder of online commercial real estate platform Tenavox, Marissa Limsiaco, was one of the panelists at Thursday’s Austin workshop.

“I went to West Point, I was in the military, there were definitely not a lot of women,” Limsiaco said afterward. “So, for me personally, to be in events and be able to meet other women, professionals, I’m always excited to be here for these type of events.”

Girls Empowerment Network was founded in 1996 to boost self-esteem in young girls, from third through 12th grade. The group’s community relations and volunteer manager, Brittany Yelverton, said working with young girls to build confidence sets them up for success down the road.

“We ignite the power in girls and we help them really develop their voice and develop that believe in themselves that they are unstoppable, and that they can accomplish whatever it is that feels important to them,” Yelverton explained. “We believe in the power of girls and we want them to believe in it too.”

Yelverton said International Women’s Day not only celebrated achievements, but also “highlights there is still so much more change that needs to be made to reach that kind of equitable state.”

“We are four times more likely to tell a young girl to be careful then we are to tell a young boy. And so that can impact how willing are they to take risks,” she stated.

Girls Empower Network will host a Girl Advocacy Day on March 13 in downtown Austin to “celebrate and the knowledge the power that they have as advocates for change,” Yelverton said. The free event will address issues like mental health, teen dating violence, sexual harassment and bullying.

“We wanted to make sure [girls] had an outlet to really advocate for issues that disproportionately impact girls… it is a day to really ignite the power in young people and to celebrate the value of what they have to say and the impact that their voice can make when they are advocate for positive change,” she added.

Kelly takes a simple approach to equality.

“My words of wisdom would have to pertain to the beer industry: don’t let anybody say that ‘you can’t carry that load, that might be too dangerous of a position for you,’” she said. “Just be strong and be diligent and confident and you can learn and grow really fast, I’ve seen it.”

Austin-area women take part in an International Women’s Day event on March 8, 2018. (Nexstar Photo/Todd Bailey)
Austin-area women take part in an International Women’s Day event on March 8, 2018. (Nexstar Photo/Todd Bailey)
Girls Empowerment Network’s Brittany Yelverton’s branded t-shirt. March 7, 2018. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Blue Owl Brewing tap room manager Morgan Kelly works at the bar on March 7, 2018. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

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