SAN DIEGO — During Women's Opportunities Week, starting Sunday and ending Oct. 24, close to 240,000 people will participate. Whether the topic is marriage and the family or personal development, women and men can attend lectures, seminars, art exhibitions and a film series discussing women's issues and recognizing their accomplishments.
Established by the San Diego Advisory Board on Women in 1979, WOW has grown to 400 events throughout the county--not including more than 30 presentations held at San Diego State University, and Friday and Saturday lectures at UC San Diego--costing participants a maximum of $5 per event.
Calendars of events can be found at all city and county libraries and at the City and County administration buildings. SDSU calendars are placed around campus.
This year's theme, "Life Is Not a Spectator Sport," supports the idea that women are beyond relying on others for their own direction. With this in mind, talks are scheduled on such topics as "What to Do With an Unbalanced Checkbook," "Avoid Paying Taxes With a Home-Based Business," "The Truth About Rape and What You Can Do About it," "Healing After Divorce" and "You Can Protect Yourself Against AIDS."
Cultural events include a guided historical and gallery tour through the Gaslamp Quarter and vicinity; "Struggle to Be Borne," a photography and poetry exhibit, and a symposium called "Women in the Visual Arts."
More and More People Volunteering
"The first year we did Women's Opportunities Week, it was very small with just a couple of events," said Valeri Anders, director of the executive committee. "But every year we got more and more people volunteering, and it just evolved into this large event."
Anders said that just about anyone can give a lecture as long as there is not more than a minimal fee charged, the speaker provides her own facilities and the event is noncommercial.
"At first we discussed the types of qualifications we wanted the lecturers to have," she said. "However, we came to the conclusion that who were we to judge whether someone was qualified or not. We figured if they were willing to volunteer their time and efforts, we were thankful to have them.
"We don't have as many programs as we would like for older women and ethnic outreach. We just haven't had time to concentrate on them."
In conjunction with WOW, Disabled Women's Opportunities Week is co-sponsoring 22 programs, which are included in the WOW calendar. Lisa Rini, director of disabled services for the San Diego Park and Recreation Department, said the entire community is welcome.
One program is the third annual fashion show on Saturday, in which 30 women will model clothing designed for disabled women.
"This is a mainstream event," Rini said. "It is held out in the open where many people are walking by. This way disabled people and people who are not disabled can mix. We feel that this is a good way of teaching disabled awareness.
"We also try to make the disabled women realize that they should also attend the other programs. It's a rule that all the programs have to be wheelchair accessible."
According to Anders, this is the last year that the mayor's City Advisory Board on Women will act as coordinator for the program.
"It's time that it was off on its own," said Anders, who is on the board. "We feel it is time for the board to do something else for women and that the WOW Executive Committee can handle it on their own. It has really grown into a wonderful program."