Photo by Isaac Miller.
Photo by Isaac Miller.

April 3 marked the third annual HOPE event at UC Santa Cruz. This year’s theme advocated the abolition of violence against women.

The HOPE organization serves to entertain and educate the public, focusing specifically on global issues and ways to turn them into solutions.

Hosted by College Nine Cocurricular Programs, this year’s event was paid for with grant money from nongovernmental organization Amnesty International (AI).

Third-year Rebecca Wage, College Nine Cocurricular member, helped organize and promote the event.

“There’s a lot of laws that protect women’s rights, but when it comes down to it nothing happens,” Wage said. “It’s not just about women as victims — it’s about empowering women to make the change.”

Several organizations besides AI were present at the event, including Oxfam America, Global Information Internship Program (GIIP) and the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center. 

These groups tabled at HOPE and answered any questions students had about violence against women.

Third-year politics major Morgan Harris tabled for AI and plans to create an AI club on campus.

“This event was coordinated by Amnesty International and College Nine Cocurricular Programs to propose our solutions,” Harris said. 

AI works to protect human rights around the world, and ending violence against women was the inspiration for this year’s event.

Along with an array of educational booths, College Nine Cocurricular Programs organized a concert featuring Zion I and up-and-coming music artist K.Flay.

MC Zumbi of Zion I explained the importance of combining music with a cause.

“You’re basically knocking out two things with one stone,” Zumbi said. “It’s not always about women’s rights, but it’s always a general tone of positivity.”

Wage explained that the grant money received from AI helped pay for Zion I, staging, lighting and sound. 

“I think that this shows that you can engage in current issues and still have fun,” Wage said. “It’s less threatening for a lot of people when Zion I teaches you about violence against women, as opposed to a teacher or authority figure.” 

K.Flay also discussed the importance of addressing human rights issues with the public, especially college students.

“It’s so important to connect with college students,” she said. “It’s about reducing the stigma.”

Zumbi suggested ways to decrease violence against women by focusing on the perpetrators. 

“They’d probably need some counseling, or to see what it would be like on the flip side of abuse,” Zumbi said. “We all have mothers and we all come from women, so we have to respect them.”

K.Flay explained that events like HOPE give women the confidence to speak out and stand up for themselves.

“There’s a lot of shame that goes along with it,” she said. “Women are discouraged from voicing this shame.” 

Wage hopes that through events like this, students and community members can work together to address both local and international issues and how to solve them.

“As women of the First World, we have the responsibility to help women in other nations,” Wage said, “but they need to help us too. Women need to support and empower each other.”