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The Huntington News

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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Hundreds gather for 26th annual Boston Area International Women’s Day Breakfast

Gitana Savage
Attendees pose for a photo at the 26th Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast. The breakfast’s theme was “breaking barriers and building bridges.”

On March 8, representatives from dozens of Boston-area feminist organizations and hundreds of attendees packed the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center at Simmons University to celebrate International Women’s Day at the 26th Annual Boston Area International Women’s Day, or IWD, Breakfast

The event, organized by MassNow, an organization“working to build intersectional feminism in the Commonwealth,” according to its website, featured tables from over 50 local feminist organizations, remarks from Mayor Michelle Wu and a panel of female leaders who have pioneered in their respective industries.

“The breakfast was a labor of love,” IWD Planning Committee Co-Chair Ayanna Polk said. “Of course, with the event itself, we have 60 plus partner organizations so we met months in advance and had conversations about everything from decorations down to panelists.” 

The three panelists featured at this year’s IWD Breakfast were Katrina Kincade, an Emmy-nominated reporter at WBZ/CBS Boston and former Miss Massachusetts; Celia Johnson Blue, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition; and Avery Covitz, a 16-year-old three-time nationally qualified powerlifter with USA Powerlifting.

The theme for this year’s breakfast was “breaking barriers and building bridges,” which emphasized the examination of the intersectionality of featured organizations’ work. March of Dimes was one of the organizations represented at the breakfast. 

Chloe Schwartz, director of maternal and infant health initiatives at March of Dimes, explained the wide range of work they do to improve maternal and infant health outcomes.

“We’re looking at the health inequities that exist and trying to close the health equity gap,” Schwartz said. “We do this by reducing maternal mortality rates and morbidity rates and really making sure that every family has the best possible start.”

Attendees help themselves to breakfast in the Linda K. Paresky Center. The event was split into a tabling portion and a panel. (Gitana Savage)

After the tabling portion of the morning, attendees were directed upstairs for the panel part of the event. They heard remarks from Simmons University President Lynn Perry Wooten and Wu, followed by the featured panelists.

Samuel Gebru, Tufts University professor and CEO of Black Lion Strategies, has attended the IWD Breakfast for over 10 years. As a long-time attendee, he’s observed the growth of the IWD Breakfast. 

“I come here every year,” Gebru said. “And there have been high school students as panelists, and at the same time, you have veterans of the women’s movement that have been doing this work for 67 years too, so the intergenerational learning and engagement that happens here is always exciting.” 

Wu described several new initiatives to improve gender equity in the Boston area, including a new partnership with MassNow to provide free menstrual products at six Boston Public Libraries, as well as in vending machines at City Hall.

This year’s breakfast also reached unprecedented levels of attendance with both the main room and the overflow room at capacity.

“This is a bigger turnout than I’ve ever seen in my time,” Wu said in her remarks. “I hear that there was almost as big or bigger a group on the waiting list for the sold-out event because of the interest and the importance now more than ever of our solidarity and sisterhood.”

After the panel, audience members had the option to participate in a question-and-answer portion of the event where they could submit questions for the three panelists. A recurring theme throughout the questions was identity and the role it played in each of the panelists’ work.

“When I was in the news I went ahead and purposely followed stories that talked about mental health and that was my focal point,” Kincade said. “So it’s about remembering that your background can influence what you do and is a part of you. Your passion and your story are essential to your work.”

Polk and Sasha Goodfriend, IWD planning committee co-chair, were two of the many people responsible for putting the breakfast together.

Ayanna Polk (left) and Sasha Goodfriend speak at the breakfast’s panel. Putting the breakfast together required the cooperation of over 60 partner organizations. (Gitana Savage)

“This is all volunteer work,” Polk said. “So it’s beautiful to see it all come together with our resources to create a great, safe space for women in the Boston area.”

Correction: This story was updated March 15 at 7:52 p.m. to correct the event title and spelling of Linda K. Paresky Conference Center.

About the Contributor
Gitana Savage, Deputy City Editor
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