Women’s Health Lecture ‘Top Priority’

Lillian Wu

One in six women and one in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime, said the chair of the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women at the “Women’s Health, Top Priority” presentation at Glendale Community College.

The one-hour presentation was part of Women’s History Month and held on March 3 at Kreider Hall.

“We are here to recommend programs on issues regarding the needs of women in our city,” Paula Devine, chair of the commission, said. “We work to provide outreach information which will empower women. We act as a liaison to all the organizations and support systems in this city that help women and girls.”

Every month the commission addresses a different topic, such as nutrition and economic and educational empowerment, by having events and bringing speakers. This year, they are working with State Sen. Carol Liu, who represents Glendale, Pasadena and Burbank in the 21st District, on the topics.

“The purpose of this Commission is to educate, elevate and empower women in Glendale,” Devine said. “That is our mission. That is my mission.”
One of the commission’s focus is anti-bullying.

Its program, called “Hands and Words are Not for Hurting” involves kindergarten to senior high school students. This program allows students to pledge not to use their hands or their words to hurt themselves or others. All schools in the Glendale district have joined this program since it started at the elementary school level five years ago.

The commission has also worked with the Los Angeles Unified School District in creating a curriculum about teen dating violence.

“College women ages 20 to 24 years old experienced the highest rate of rape and sexual assault followed by women 16 to 19 years old,” Devine said.

In April, the commission will celebrate the programs that prevent sexual assault. Events during this awareness month include Take Back the Night, the Clothesline Project and Denim Day.

The Take Back the Night Rally on April 28 is a march starting at the Young Women’s Christian Association in Glendale. Upon returning to the YWCA, marchers will view the Clothesline Project in which survivors of domestic violence designed T-shirts with testimonies and hopeful messages.

On Denim Day, everyone is encouraged to wear denim jeans to protest the 1999 decision of the Italian Supreme Court in the rape of an 18-year-old girl. A judge overturned the rapist’s conviction after he learned that the girl’s jeans were too tight. He said the rapist could not have taken off her jeans by himself without her help.

“Every year we wear denim to say that there is no excuse for rape. There is no excuse for abuse. There is no excuse for assault,” Devine said. “No matter what you wear. No matter what. When you say no, that means no.”

Devine said that “we should be prepared,” so the commission is “providing a self-defense class” for students at GCC.

“I encourage everyone to go. It’s very effective. It was fascinating what I learned [in that class],” Marie Danielian, who does outreach to GCC students and the public, said.

She also announced the new Women’s Health and Awareness Club at GCC. Danielian said the focus of the club is “to inform and educate” women and men about “social, political, psychological, health and economic issues that pertain to 21st century women.”

The commission is an advisory commitee to the city council and has five members. More than 40 cities have a commission including Pasadena and Santa Monica.

By assessing and evaluating the needs of women in Glendale, Devine said the commission “wants all of the women in Glendale to be successful, happy, healthy women [who are] able to take care of themselves emotionally and financially and ready for the world.”

Devine said that she was able to speak at GCC because of Danielian.

“[Danielian] has many ideas and really shines at the Commission,” Devine said. “She’s very good at this. We are very proud of what she did.”

Peggy Renner, professor of history, introduced the presentation and Devine with a history of women’s fight for employment and equal pay.
Renner noted that people began questioning the issues at the federal and state level and asked if there were other ways to fight discrimination.

“Women in Glendale decided we need to look at this issue,” Renner said. “What is the status of women in this town? What do we need to do? We want to see young women in our community effectively making contributions to the city using their energy, their knowledge, their skills.”

Renner said the most rewarding part of being the women’s history month coordinator is “watching students exposed to the presentations.”

“There are different groups of students who are attracted to different events,” Renner said. “They will walk up and say, ‘Oh, that was really interesting’ and start to comment on it. And I just love that . to see that what we do here has a meaning for our students.”

The next event is “Women’s Status and Global Population Growth” on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at Kreider Hall.

For a list of upcoming Women’s History Month events, please visit http://glendale.edu/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=9859 or the GCC homepage.

For more information about the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women, visit http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/women/default.asp.
To join the Women’s Health and Awareness Club, contact Marie at [email protected] or go to the Women’s Health & Awareness page on Facebook.