Women of color will come together to discuss diversity on campus during the sixth-annual Connecting Women of Color Conference on Friday, Feb. 21.

This year's conference theme is "Empowerment and Improvement: Self, Wealth, and Health." The Connecting Women of Color Conference fosters an open dialogue in which undergraduate women can think deeply and critically about the current issues they face, said Westhampton College Associate Dean Charm Bullard, the founder and coordinator of the conference.

Women of color are defined as any woman who is not Caucasian, Bullard said.

"Several women of color came to me with similar concerns wanting a support system," Bullard said. "They wanted to have a safe space to share and talk about their experiences."

Although the conference revolves around women of color, any student is welcome to attend as an ally to the women of color, Bullard said.

The conference will feature different speakers from the community, including a keynote speaker. This year's keynote speaker will be Judy Pryror-Ramirez, the director of civic engagement and social justice at the New School's Eugene Lang College. Students also have the opportunity to choose to attend two out of four breakout sessions, each dealing with different aspects of being a woman of color.

"Although University of Richmond is growing more diverse every year, this conference offers a fun and engaging way to network and relate with other women of color around campus," sophomore Julianne Gomez said.

The speakers at the conference will discuss various issues, such as how women of color are portrayed in the media, how they can pay off student loans and how they can become empowered.

"It's also good for these women to know that there are other women that feel the same way and women who aren't of color that want to be there to help support them and be allies for them," junior Melissa Munoz-Lopez said. "It's very easy to think that you're all alone dealing with an issue."

The Connecting Women of Color committee also collaborated with various other student organizations to screen the film "Dark Girls," which premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network last year. The film reflects issues such as how African-American women are portrayed in the media and how that portrayal can affect self-esteem.

"The most important thing about the conference is that women of color will have a safe space in which they can come together to have open discussions," Bullard said.

Contact reporter Olivia Simons at olivia.simons@richmond.edu