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National Women's Conference Looks to Next Century

March 1, 1999

Bill Sasser

Women from across the country and around the world will gather at Tulane this month for three days of lectures, workshops and panel discussions on issues facing women in the next century. Women@2K, the South Central Women's Studies Association's annual conference, will be held March 11/13.

It will focus on the lessons learned by women during a century-long struggle for equality as well as critical issues that will affect women in the future and the potential for women's activism inside and outside the academy.

In addition to a presentation of academic papers, the conference will feature a creative-writing section; special sessions and workshops for, by and about high-school and college-aged women; and a number of panels and events celebrating the centennial of New Orleans author Kate Chopin's groundbreaking feminist novel, The Awakening.

Sponsored by the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, the Louisiana Women's Consortium and the South Central Women's Studies Association, most events will be held at the Tulane University Center and Dixon Auditorium.

Organizer Crystal Kile, program coordinator for the Center for Research on Women and organizer for the conference, encourages Tulane students and women in the New Orleans area to attend.

"People shouldn't be put off by the notion of an 'academic conference,'" says Kile. "This conversation about women at the millennium should be enticing to intelligent, curious, opinionated women of all ages and from all walks of life."

The keynote speaker for the conference is Barbara Smith, a noted writer and activist who has edited or co-edited four major collections on ethnicity and women's issues. Smith will deliver her lecture, "The Truth Never Hurts: Thirty Years of Writing and Working for Justice and Change," at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 12. in McAlister Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Other speakers include Wendy Chapkis, associate professor of sociology and women's studies at the University of Maine, and Krishanti Dharmaraj, a human rights activist and educator, who is executive director of the Women's Institute for Leadership Development and a member of the board of directors of Amnesty International.

The conference will begin with an open-mike reading and reception on Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. in the Anna E. Many Lounge on the second floor of Caroline Richardson Hall. Readings and creative writing workshops will take place throughout the day on Friday and Saturday. A young women's section for Women @2K will host a series of panels, roundtable discussions, workshops and films throughout the conference.

Part of the series includes the March 13 premiere of "The Desire Media Project," a film directed by Julie Gustafson as part of the New Orleans Girls Documentary Project. "After Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia, visited last spring, the center received many requests for more programs about and for younger women," says Kile.

"We've responded, and encourage young women from all of New Orleans to attend."

Conference goers also will explore the New Orleans of Kate Chopin's The Awakening on Sunday, March 14, with a tour led by local women's history activist Mary Gehman, followed by a special Awakening-period lunch at Tujague's in the French Quarter. Registration for this event is closed. The conference organizers and committee members include faculty, students and staff at Tulane University, University of New Orleans, Loyola University, Xavier University and Louisiana State University.

For more information about Women@2K, call 865-5238. Walk-up registration is available during the conference. Detailed information about the conference program and registration are on the center's Web site at http://www. tulane.edu/~wc/sewsa99.

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