Women’s Day inspires

Accomplishments, hope influence global activism


Michael Santone / The Advocate

Executive Director of the East Bay Community Law Center Tirien Steinback shares her struggles and triumphs in GE-225 with an audience packed with faculty, staff and students during International Women’s Day celebration on campus March 8.

By Jshania Owens, Staff Writer

Students, faculty and staff came together to celebrate International Women’s Day presented by the political science department and Community Organizing Political Action Club (COPA) to commemorate the women of yesterday and today who have made an impact in their communities and in society.

Political science department Chairperson Vanna Gonzales began the event in GE-225 with the history of International Women’s Day, which highlights the struggle against gender discrimination and the triumphs leading to equality among women around the world.

Gonzales introduced keynote speaker Tirien Steinbach, executive director of the East Bay Community Law Center.

Steinbach shared her journey as a lawyer in a male-dominated profession, detailing her experiences like facing discrimination and overcoming the struggle.

“Fight for inclusion, not for just women’s issues,” she said. “We all have work to do. We need to find ways to impact our lives and the lives around us.”

The #MeToo movement, started by Tarana Burke on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, was also discussed.

Steinbach said that it was important to educate boys and men about the movement.

“We have to speak out for marginalized women, women of color, trans women, minorities,” she said. “Who is held protected by the law?”

Later in the afternoon, a round table discussion was held in the Fireside Hall, with two leaders at each table sharing advice and answering questions asked by people who attended.

After 15 to 30 minutes, leaders rotated to a new table.

Hosted by COPA’s Christopher Miller, each table was draped in red, purple or green table cloths with cards containing questions like “What three laws would you enact if you were queen of the world?” for participants to anonymously write down.

The leaders also talked about their professional backgrounds and what they’ve experienced as a woman in their field of work.

They also shared advice and answered any questions by the people seated at the table.

At the red table, Steinbach shared how she overcame gender discrimination as a woman working in the law field.

“I wanted to pursue anything that wasn’t expected to be done by a black woman,” she said. “There is a lot of sexism and racism in my profession as a lawyer. I learned not to be bitter about hate and discrimination.”

Contracts and compliance officer Cheryl Sudduth also shared her experience working for Goodwill Industries.

Sudduth is also a disability rights advocate.

She discussed how few women like her work for the government or private corporations like Sony.

“As a woman and a mentor, there is no crying in business,” she said. “I hired and trained women. I had an intuitive sense of knowing people, sitting and observing instead of speaking.”

Sudduth’s said the most rewarding part of her job is fighting for wounded soldiers and people with disabilities.

“Everyone will try to tell you something about your career path,” she said.

“The best thing to do is not listen to them. Make mistakes. Try as many majors as possible. Explore life and travel.”

Youth Organizing Coordinator Diana Diaz was next to sit at the red table, sharing her background as she endured abuse in her home.

“I was always silenced as a child. I was never listened to,” Diaz said.

She experienced the effects of intergenerational trauma, or trauma passed down from the first generation to the next, she said.

To help her overcome it, Diaz was determined to stay on the move and make a change in her community.

She began by doing commission work in Richmond where she grew up, working as a youth organizer for children with a similar background as she.

“I want to relate what I do to what I experienced in the past and at home.”

Union organizer and former chairperson at the Labor Center Katie Quan has experience in sweat shops in San Francisco and parts of Asia.

Quan shared how the women were expected to not fight back and defend themselves where they were treated unfairly.

Quan encouraged and joined the organizations started by women working in sweat shops, one being the Peace Right, where the women went on strike until their salaries were raised.

One of the challenges she faced was how to break the system of economic exploitation.

Quan shared how the fight against this exploitation is still going on in parts of Asia, including China and Vietnam.

“Where there is oppression, there is resistance,” she said.

A raffle was held for everyone attending as winners took home an Amazon Kindle Fire, a Starbucks basket with coffee and a collectible mug, three books written by women for women, and a Pegasus Books gift card.

Contra Costa College’s Marketing Director Brandy Howard was impressed with the turnout.

“The COPA students were very creative and they worked really hard. This campus is about 58 percent female and there aren’t many women’s events going on here,” she said.

“The fight for equality isn’t over though. We’ll continue to come together and share our struggles and celebrate our accomplishments.”