The Second Annual Women’s Conference
Timing couldn’t have been better for the second annual Women’s Conference on Saturday, November 12th, hosted by the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin through the Ministry of Mexicans Living Abroad and Migrant Clinicians Network. Simultaneously presented in English and Spanish, the themes of the conference -- violence prevention, economic self-sufficiency, and community leadership -- seemed to pull the community out of the election rubble. The speakers for the diverse workshops were a rich mix of professionals focused on the needs of migrants in the US, migrants in Mexico, and, in particular, the binational migrant, as those associated with the consulate and the beneficiaries of many MCN programs often move between the two countries themselves. About 100 participants in total attended, including professionals and community members interested in honing skills having brought them this far in life, and ready to gain more.
Set in the Mexican-American Cultural Center on the banks of the Colorado River in downtown Austin, Texas, the conference began with a look from the inside of the system of the Consulate’s protection department by Blanca Gavino and Roxanne Ortega Hart of the Office of Victims Services of the Austin Police Department. The speakers presented options for women who are experiencing violence in the workplace and home, which assisted in helping the community understand just how a referral to their agency is handled. Participants were eager to have their questions on qualifying for particular visas or programs answered by experts. This was then followed by the first workshop by SAFE training specialist Maisha Barrett. The main points of her presentation were keen insights into the psyche of survivors of violence and how professionals are guided to work with these individuals.
Breaks during the conference allowed for participants to directly interact with a variety of agencies and groups. Tablers came from nonprofits that work with survivors such as Capital Area Counseling as well as programs that can assist a person in enrolling in medical care such as Project Access, Foundation Communities, and Planned Parenthood. Entrepreneurs and member-based groups like the Longhorn LULACs, Amhiga Hispana, and Mama Sana Vibrant Women were able to provide fine examples of women's leadership in the community.
Pantomimic art by Héctor MacFarland provided a great juxtaposition to the working keynote lunch by Maricela Guerrero and Andriana Gonzalez Mateos. These two women who publically demonstrate and command respect through their collective works, led the audience through their method of challenging stereotypes.
The final workshops focused on strategic planning of one’s life with Ana Castelana and Elias Hermida of the Hispanic Alliance, and Anjannet Gautier and Liliana Beverido of Amhiga Hispana, speaking to feminine strength. All social artists in their own right, the speakers of the day provided an abundance of resources and modeled incredible ways of dealing with the undeniable restraints in the everyday lives of women.
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