In the Field: 1st Annual Women's Conference
This weekend, Migrant Clinicians Network co-hosted the First Annual Women’s Conference, with the theme of “Gender, Migration, and Community Leadership,” here in our hometown of Austin, Texas. The conference aimed to increase social service providers' awareness of gender issues, including detection and response to gender-based violence, encouraging a gender-based perspective on migration and community leadership so as to better serve the Austin community. MCN co-hosted the conference with the Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin and the Mexican Consulate in Austin.
To acknowledge the historic occasion and honor the guest faculty from Mexico, a reception was held Friday, Nov. 13 at the MCN office, hosted by CEO Karen Mountain. Present were Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, His wife Alina Flores, State Representative Elliott Naishtat, and Drs. Melissa Smith, Pauline Strong, Emily Socolov and Melissa Biggs. Guest from Mexico included Guadalupe Gomez Maganda from the Secretary de Foreign Relations, Maria Cecilia Sanchez Sandoval from the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, Susana Atme of the National Women’s Institute and Maria Dolores Lopez Jara, a private consultant. Also present were Ana Carrasco, Consul for Community Affairs and Natalie Richardson of the Ventanilla de Salud and Itzel Erosa of the Mexican Consulate in Austin. MCN staff members Charlotte McCann and Del Garcia also attended.
The following day, 90 attendees gathered at The University of Texas Thompson Center, where guests were welcomed by Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez from the Mexican Consulate in Mexico, Pauline Strong PHD Director, Guadalupe Gomez Maganda Director of Gender Equality, and Karen Mountain of Migrant Clinicians Network.
Under the leadership of Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the conference provided an opportunity for 90 women engaged in varying degrees of community activism to discuss women’s empowerment, leadership development and community response to intimate partner violence and its prevention. Faculty for the conference represented a combination of Mexican governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as not-for-profit agencies in Central Texas and University of Texas at Austin. The day included six presenters: Maria Cecilia Sanchez Sandova. Blanca Gabriela Gavino Arvizu, Susana Atme, Maria Dolores Lopez Jara, Dr. Luis Zayas, Patricia S. Castillo.
A variety of organizations throughout Austin had tables set up providing information on the services they provide. A few of the organizations were Planned Parenthood, Circle of Health, Texas Star, MCNA Dental, Foundation Communities, and more.
For me, this conference gave me a better understanding of the barriers Latina women face here in the U.S. along with the variety of resources available for these women (and men). Being part of a conference with other like-minded women has provided the opportunity to build social connections among other organizations in hopes of gaining new knowledge I hope will be beneficial to my own Health Network patients at MCN.
I believe conferences like this are important for our community because they give organizations throughout Austin the ability to have a clearer understanding of the challenges their clients face, how to develop appropriate responses, and where to find relevant resources.
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