Umoja hosts week of women’s empowerment

Brianna Stone

A non-greek UT sisterhood organization, Umoja, is hosting Umoja Week to promote unity and female empowerment.

The word umoja means unity in Swahili, and Umoja President Nicolette Sulaiman said this word embodies the main purpose of the organization and this event. 

Sulaiman said the week includes an open meeting to discuss campus climate, a fashion show on Thursday which will feature black fashion throughout history and a scholarship banquet on Sunday to show appreciation of UT’s black male students.

“This week is a showcase of the Umoja executive board’s talents, coordination skills and passions about different issues we’d like to bring to light in the community,” Sulaiman said. 

Sulaiman said the purpose of the week is for the members and the community to become more active with the organization, get a more robust experience of what Umoja is about outside of their formal meetings and to serve as the fall premier showcase of the organization. 

“Our mission is to foster a safe environment for women of color, promote social and political awareness within our membership and resolute in empowering all women,” Sulaiman said. 

Other events throughout the week include a discussion partnered with Voices Against Violence, called Signs, a ladies’ mixer Friday and a volunteer event at Imagine Art on Saturday.

“The Signs event Wednesday will elaborate on signs that are experienced through interpersonal violence,” business sophomore Dayjah Harris said.

Harris said this week will show women of color they matter and cater to their personal experiences. It is comforting for minority women to surround themselves with others who share similar experiences and to be able to discuss their experiences with each other, Harris said.

While the week is aimed at promoting empowerment for minority women, Umoja publicity chair Wande Isola said men and women of all colors are welcome at each event, except for the
mixer Friday held exclusively for women.

“Umoja week is about giving back to community by informing them who we are and what we stand for, through hosting events that cater to our purpose for serving women,” Isola said. “It’s a week of women empowerment for minorities, that inspire others to embrace who they are.”

The final event of the week, Shades of Mahogany, is geared toward UT men of color. Isola said the scholarship reception at this event will consist of three awards of $200, $100 and $50. In the past, a pageant was held, but this year there was an essay competition to determine the scholarship winners. All of the 2016 Shades of Mahogany Essay Scholarship money comes from donations, Isola said.

“We look for men who show a willingness to serve, show leadership, diversity and something special, as well as post-graduate ambitions and the type of legacy they want to leave on this campus,” Isola said.