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On 20th anniversary, WID takes new name to better reflect purpose

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The former Office of Women in Development at the University of Illinois is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a three-day symposium Oct. 20-22 -- and a name change.

The new name -- Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program -- took effect at the beginning of the fall 2000 semester, according to program director Gale Summerfield, who explained the rationale behind the change: " 'Program' is a more accurate reflection of our research, teaching and outreach activities than 'office,' which sounds solely administrative," Summerfield said.

"The inclusion of 'gender' stresses the focus of work on relative opportunities and costs for women and men as socioeconomic policies change. At the same time, we maintain 'women' in the title to stress that women as a group most often face bias and that women's organizations around the world are actively promoting greater agency for girls and women. 'Global perspectives' emphasizes that we need to discuss and debate the critical issues that push the boundaries of the field."

While moving in new directions, the newly named UI unit also is pausing to consider its past at the appropriately titled, upcoming event: "WGGP Symposium 2000: Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary and Exploring Forward-Looking Themes."

The event, which will take place in 314 Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana, is structured around two themes: "Risks and Rights in the 21st Century" and "Acting for Change: Chinese Women in Media and Politics."

A third component of the event is an anniversary luncheon, from noon to 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 21. Past directors and other guests will be featured and recognized at the luncheon.

Highlights of the symposium will include panel discussions and a Center for Advanced Study/MillerComm presentation by Lourdes Beneria, professor of city and regional planning, and of women's studies, and director of Cornell University's Gender and Global Change Program. Beneria will speak on "Changing Employment Structures and Economic Insecurity: A Global Gender Perspective" at 4 p.m. Oct. 20 in 314 Illini Union.

Also featured will be film and video presentations from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, including the U.S. premiere of "Ren Gui Qing" ("Woman, Demon, Human"). The film, with English subtitles, was produced by the Shanghai Film Studio of China and directed by Huang Shuqin. One of China's leading female directors, Shuqin will visit the UI campus to participate in the symposium. Her film will be shown at 3 p.m. Oct. 21 in 66 Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana. The screening is free and open to the public.

The symposium also is open to the public, as is the anniversary luncheon. The cost of the luncheon is $10 and requires registration by Oct. 16. A complete symposium schedule and registration information is available on the WGGP Web site at