Wouldn’t you think that with the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s; heck, let’s go back to the women suffragists in the early 1900s who fought for the right to vote and to hold office, that discussions about eliminating all forms of discrimination against women would be found only in history books?
Not so. It was the theme for the 12th annual Terre Haute Human Rights Day early last week. Human Rights Day in Terre Haute is special. It’s the largest and best HRD gathering in Indiana. It is hosted by Indiana State University and several ISU groups are among the sponsoring partners . Terre Haute community partners also provide strong support. One of those partners is the Sisters of Providence.
Each year, a volunteer planning committee of about 15 or more individuals decides on a theme and meets monthly to talk about potential speakers and to plan the program. The Congregation, which works diligently on peace with justice issues, is represented on the committee by Sister Marsha Speth, postulant director, and Dave Cox, media relations manager.
The Congregation’s leadership team, for several years, has hosted an evening meal the night before the day-long program, inviting all of the planning committee volunteers and the presenters who are on the program. About 30 individuals attended this year’s gathering at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
So what about those issues of lingering discrimination against women? Well, it’s a rather wide-ranged topic. Celia Williamson, a professor at the University of Toledo, was the keynote speaker. She offered some dramatic statistics and information about human trafficking and forced prostitution.
Other presenters talked about Destiny Rescue, an organization dedicated to rescuing children who are victims of trafficking; women’s rights that are part of universal human rights; identification of key issues facing Indiana women presented by the Indiana Commission for Women; and information about the Christian Worker Movement. Other workshops explored different topics like the drone-strike policies being formed by the United States government and the Citizens United issue of secret corporate funding for political campaigns.
Who attends this event each year? Hundreds of high school and college students and people from everyday life in the Terre Haute area. You can read about two of the speakers in stories published in the Terre Haute Tribune Star here and here.