11th Celebrate Women Conference Features Piper Kerman

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Today marked the 11th annual Celebrate Women Conference at Ohio University Lancaster. Founded in 2006 by a group of women’s studies students looking to commemorate women’s history month, the event has grown annually; this year marking the largest attendance to the conference to date. The theme of the conference was “The Power of YOU: Advocating Wellness, Work, and Women,” concentrating on empowerment through knowledge.

Throughout the event participants sit in on lectures on a variety of issues that affect women, such as gender inequality, the gender wage gap, gender stereotypes, psychological and emotional issues, and more. Representatives from health agencies, social work agencies and other organizations with an interest in the well-being of women are also present.

This year the event hosted keynote speaker author Piper Kerman, whose book, Orange Is the New Black informed the creation of the wildly popular Netflix series of the same name. Based on Kerman’s experiences in a women’s correctional facility in Danbury, CT; Kerman’s book examines both feminist and humanist issues, all through the lens of a poignant and often hilarious narrative.

“(Kerman) is a major inspiration to me,” said Arlene Colvin, an Ohio University communications student who volunteered during the event. Colvin was first in line to get her copy of Kerman’s book signed by the author following Kerman’s book discussion during the early part of the conference. “She really pushed through things from her past to look forward into the things to come for her.”

Ohio University communications student Spinisha Rains was excited to take part in volunteering for the event when she heard about it.

“Last spring was my first semester, so I didn’t really have a chance to get involved with anything. When I heard about this event, and saw how big it was, I decided that I had to get involved,” said Rains. “It’s been a great learning experience.”

Leah Good, who represented Indivisible Columbus at the event, said that she has attended some of the past Celebrate Women conferences and has enjoyed seeing the event grow.

“More and more people are learning about this great little conference,” said Good. “Getting someone like Piper Kerman to speak is a pretty big catch.”

“There are so many people here representing organizations that focus on helping women be healthy,” said Good. “Everything is focused on health and how you define that. And I think that we really need healthy women in order for our voices to be heard.”