UNC Charlotte student listens to speaker at International Women’s Day. Photo by Chris Crews.

On the third floor of the Student Union March 28, students and staff gathered to attend the Annual International Women’s Day Celebration, the biggest cohort in its twelve-year history.

The audience was treated to refreshments as well as two songs from women’s ensemble The UNC Charlotte Charlotteans.

The purpose of the celebration is to honor women’s accomplishments at UNC Charlotte.

Opening speaker and Associate Director of International Programs Christina Sanchez mentioned how this celebration is also meant as a platform to speak on women’s issues in need of current attention.

After a brief telling of the history of International Women’s Day and its roots in the labor movements of the early 20th century in New York City as well as the European World, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia Dr. Eylem Atakav was presented as the keynote speaker of this year’s event.

Atakav shared with the audience the trailer to her new documentary “Growing Up Married” after speaking about women’s voice and visibility in media.

One example she gave was that only 3 percent of film makers are women, which allows men to influence the majority of the cultural narrative of issues and of life.

She made it a point to let the audience know that her documentary, which details the invisibility of child marriage in Turkey, is about a worldwide practice which exists even in some areas of the United States where it is legal to be married at 12 years old.

Atakav spoke about the making of her film and the way in which being able to highlight the voices of women whose stories are often unheard by the society they inhabit can have a rehabilitating effect on those women.

She told the story of one woman who cut her hair short because her husband took sexual pleasure in pulling it and who used to love singing at a young age but quit once she got married.

This same woman had been keeping in contact with Atakav after the documentary was finished and according to Atakav, was once again singing.