Thoughts on Women Who Build
by Tanei Atagi Henry
A few years ago, I read an article which reported Utah as the worst state for women. As a woman and the mother of two little girls, this alarmed me. (There are actually a few articles New York Post, 24/7wallst.com, and wallethub.com). I told my husband we HAD TO MOVE! I was already looking on Zillow for a new house in a new state. But then, I thought about our friends, the women with whom my family and I share our lives. These women are teachers, artists, mothers and business owners. I realized that my daughters are surrounded by women whose ideas of womanhood match my own. Women that I want on my team. Utah might not be the best state for women right now, but things are looking up.
On September 9, I attended Women Who Build, which was put on by SCORE, the Provo Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, and the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Here are two reasons I am glad I attended:
- I met more women from the area who share my interests
- I learned about very cool resources offered to women
Walking out of the Women Who Build summit that Friday, I held my head high. I learned about a number of resources that empower women in our area to get out there and make things happen. I was particularly impressed with the Women’s Leadership Institute’s Political Development Series, which offers training for women who are interested in running for a political office. Over a period of six weeks, women who are interested in running for office but don’t know where to start can learn about the process and connect with potential mentors. What a great program for women in politics and women interested in entering politics. Pat Jones, the keynote speaker, made it clear that women play a vital role in our political system. During her address, “Why Women Leaders Matter,” Pat talked about how the female perspective is essential in creating effective public policy. Women have a unique voice that needs to be heard in the legislative sphere.
The Women Who Build Themselves track featured a panel discussion on how to improve women’s health and safety in Utah. I was astounded to learn that 1 in 4 women in Utah will at some point of their lives become victims of sexual assault, which is a higher percentage than I had previously thought. That statistic frankly scares me, especially considering my daughters will face these odds. I really resonated with Ashley Larsen, Director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and Title IX Senior Deputy Coordinator at UVU, when she talked about how having age-appropriate discussions with children about sex and body parts can impact women’s health and safety. The other panelists placed an emphasis on teaching men and boys not to sexually assault women and also to use their voices to stand up for victims of sexual assault.
The summit also had tracks focusing on Women Who Build Businesses and Women Who Build the World, which I would have loved to hear. Although I wasn’t in those breakout sessions, I feel empowered knowing that so many local women are contributing in these important ways.
If Utah is going to resolve these distressing trends, it is going to require a lot of effort from a lot of women. Part of the solution is gathering together and addressing the issues, like we did at the Women Who Build summit. The next step requires each of us (and the men in our lives) to stand up and do something about it. Making this effort will cramp our schedules and other resources a bit, but when I look at my little girls and their friends I am confident they are worth the investment. They deserve to face the future with all the tools they need, especially a home state that supports them.