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In Praise of Their Talents : Celebration: March is Women's History Month, and throughout the city the spotlight is on art, accomplishments and aspirations.


Women's groups throughout the city plan celebrations of women's art, music, poetry and work in honor of Women's History Month.

Events range from a grass-roots artistic happening in East Los Angeles to a political symposium Downtown. The groups are also striving to give voice to people who have few opportunities for self-expression. Many of the organizations have designed their celebrations to educate the public about the value of women's work and expression.

In a society where women earn 30% less than men on average, such events can seem frivolous in relation to problems of poverty, violence and sexual harassment. But it is also important to showcase women's talents, said Barrie Thorne, director of the USC Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society.

"There's a celebratory point to Women's History Month as well as a somber reminder of the status of women in our society," Thorne said. "(Society must) recognize women as victims of oppression but also as creative agents who have a part in enhancing the status of women in culture."

HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality) formed its Education and Leadership Fund out of frustration with the recent confirmation hearings of President Clinton's Cabinet and the inequality still facing women, said HOPE President Maria Contreras-Sweet. The group's second annual symposium on Latina issues will take place Friday at the Biltmore Hotel.

"Minorities, specifically women, are still being measured by a different yardstick," Contreras-Sweet said. "Did they ask Warren Christopher or Robert Reich how much time they spent with their families or how they paid their gardeners?"

The symposium, titled "A Proud Past, a Powerful Tomorrow," will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Biltmore, 506 S. Grand Ave. Registration is $75 for a full day; half-day and student registration is available. Information: (818) 568-0902.

The 9th Annual Women's Conference for Women of Color who are county employees will take place March 26 at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Information: (213) 974-7611.

The National Latina Alliance, formed last summer out of a frustration with existing Latina organizations, plans an all-day music and poetry festival and art exhibit at Plaza de la Raza on March 14. Participants include feminist musicians Las Tres, poets Naomi Quinones and Gloria Alvarez, author Elena Maria Viramontes and comedian Ana Maria Williams.

The free program is from 2 to 5 p.m. with a reception to follow at the plaza in Lincoln Park, 3501 Valley Blvd. Information: (213) 666-6080.

Comision Femenil de Los Angeles will honor Latina athletes and outstanding women at a fund-raiser March 17, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel. Proceeds will benefit the group's programs and activities. Tickets are $150; tables are available. Information: (213) 848-9922.

The commission also will sponsor a free reception March 30 at the City Hall rotunda to honor women workers. The 6:30 p.m. event is open to the public.

At USC, several events are scheduled, including an exhibit by photographer Irene Fertik, films by students and Los Angeles women, and performance art, comedy and dance. Information: (213) 740-4742.

Other area events include a free exhibit of art about women at Cal State Los Angeles until Saturday at the University Student Union Exhibit Center, second floor. The center is open from noon to 6 p.m.

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