On Friday, March 7, the YWCA Evanston/North Shore celebrated their third annual International Women’s Day at a breakfast featuring keynote speaker Scherherazade Tillet, the co-founder and executive director of A Long Walk Home, a non-profit that uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to end violence against girls and women. The event, which was a collaboration between the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, Northwestern University Women’s Center and the Woman’s Club of Evanston, drew nearly 250 guests to hear Tillet reflect on this year’s International Women’s Day theme: Equality for Women is Progress for All.

“While great advancements have been made in many arenas,” said Cece Lobin, Women’s Empowerment Coordinator of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, “we acknowledge that progress is slow and often uneven concerning the complex challenges of violence against women and girls. Today, we hope you will join us in the growing movement to end gender based violence locally and across the globe.”

“Since our first IWD gathering just three years ago” Lobin remarked, “we’ve grown our circle of community partners and organizers and more than tripled our attendance for what we believe is a fundamentally important community initiative to take meaningful, strategic steps towards a more equitable, stable society for women and girls in our community and the world.

“IWD was an invitation for our team to explore one piece of women’s experiences — this year we chose to focus on the denial of fundamental rights and opportunities of women simply by the nature of our gender. Additionally, it allows us to reflect on the continued oppression of individuals worldwide based on race, gender and class,” Lobin remarked.

“At the YWCA, our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women provides an opportunity to explore the intersectionality of these issues: specifically working toward achieving gender and racial equity and justice. Our work, in many ways, dovetails perfectly with the vision of this year’s IWD theme.”

To learn more about the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, visit their website at www.ywca.org/evanston or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ywcaevanstonnorthshore.