Sheila Simon

February 24, 2023

SIU celebrating Women’s History Month in March with speakers, special events

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — In celebration of March as Women’s History Month, Southern Illinois University Carbondale will be hosting numerous special events, including guest speakers, a movie, discussions, a contest and much more.

“This year’s Women’s History Month theme is ‘Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,’ and it is really so important that we recognize women past and present who have been or are active in their communities,” said Charah McKenzie, Women’s Resource Center coordinator. “This includes, but is in no way limited to authors, journalists, artists, social activists, doctors, lawyers, educators, storytellers and members of the media. We want to honor the stories and experiences captured by women before us and let our stories guide the pathway for women in this generation. This is not the time for women to ease, but rather, we must keep pushing for equality, especially with the continuous threat of laws that dictate how much say women should have over their bodies. Let us celebrate not just in March, but all year-round, women who told and continue to tell their stories.”

The celebration begins with a kickoff on March 1, featuring Sheila Simon, assistant professor of law at the SIU School of Law. She will speak about “Finding and Sharing Women’s History.”

The doors open at 12:30 p.m. for the event in the Student Center Ballroom B with the luncheon and Simon’s presentation beginning at 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to wear purple in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Simon, who served as the Illinois lieutenant governor from 2011-2015, is a long-time law teacher and the first staff attorney for the Domestic Violence Clinic. She is a board member for the Women’s Center, Equality Illinois and Marcy’s Law Illinois, and a former Carbondale city council member.

Stories told in myriad ways

Throughout the month, women will be telling their unique stories in numerous ways, with events free and open to the public.

The virtual 2023 Conference on Women Telling Our Stories is set for 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 3. With the theme of “Telling our Stories,” there will be more than 20 sessions participants can enjoy. The conference will feature research presentations, creative performances, roundtable discussions, personal and professional development workshops, documentaries, media sessions, discussions and more. Register in advance online.  

The previous day, as a segue to the conference, SIU students will make their voices heard in ways that make them comfortable during “The Stories that Make Us,” a showcase featuring diverse storytelling through poetry slam, spoken word and other art forms. The event is set for 5-6:30 p.m. March 2 in the Big Muddy Room at the Student Center. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) counselors will be on hand to assist as needed.

Dr. Erhime Badejo, an emergency medicine physician with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will speak about “Black Women Leading in the Healthcare Field” at 4:30 p.m. March 24 in Wheeler Hall, third floor. Badejo, who is also a life coach, hosts the podcast “Beyond Your Scars with Erhime,” which seeks to inspire listeners to “see possibilities beyond the roadblocks of life.” Her own story began in a poor rural inner-city hospital when she was born to a teenage mother. Her career began as a nursing assistant and advanced through the educational system while working, becoming a nurse, then a nurse practitioner. She completed her medical degree to become certified in family medicine at the SIU School of Medicine.

Other highlights of Women’s History Month include:

  • Zero Discrimination Day – 1-3 p.m. March 2, Student Services Building, Rooms 150/160. Free and open to the public, the event will focus on ways to eradicate discrimination. Refreshments will be provided, and a silent walk will wrap up the event.
  • Women’s International Day – There will be a contest on March 8 giving students the opportunity to win a $50 gift card by submitting a one-page essay about how students can celebrate or reflect on Women’s International Day. In addition, everyone is encouraged to wear purple in recognition of the day.
  • “Selena” – March 23, 5-7:30 p.m. at Student Center Auditorium. The movie celebrates the impact the Latina singer made on the music and world with her work still celebrated nearly 28 years after her death.
  • Various other special events including a Black and Queer Roundtable discussion at 4:30 p.m. March 9 at the Student Services Building, Rooms 150/160 and a Lunch and Learn Women and Affirmative Action event, 11:30-1 p.m. March 21. There will also be a Black Women’s Brunch, 11:30 a.m. March 23, a Celebrating Gender Equality Day event at 2 p.m. March 23 at the Illinois Room at the Student Center and “Ask a Black Woman,” 6 p.m. March 31 at the Student Center Auditorium. A food and clothing drive is set for 3:30-6 p.m. March 27 at Student Services Building 150/160 as well.

Find the complete schedule of events on the Women’s Resource Center website. The center is a unit of the Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Contact Charah McKinzie, the center’s coordinator, at or 618-453-3470.

Sponsors include the Women’s Resource Center, Student Multicultural Resource Center, Med Prep Program, Career Services, Black Affairs Council, Africana Theatre Laboratory, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.