BTQ Presents: Women Empowered


Danica Nolton ('22) - Photo Bureau

Fezile Mnisi (’20) performs ‘Powerful’ from television series ‘Power.’

Powerful women, talented performers, and the smiles of the guests who came together at the end of the show to dance the macarena, were just some of the highlights of the BTQ talent show. As we approach the celebration of International Women’s Day, BTQ brought their annual talent show to the Luther community on Feb. 29 in Marty’s with the theme “Women Empowered”.

According to BTQ’s president Hawi Nyiera (‘20), the “Women Empowered” theme was chosen to match with the BTQ’s values.

“We wanted something that helps portray what our organization is about and all about women in different ways; learning how to be leaders, doing community service, and helping other women,” Nyiera said. “We are encouraging more women to feel more confident, more empowered in everything they do.”

This year’s BTQ Talent Show began with an announcement by BTQ’s Secretary Rida Naz (‘21), addressing the destination of this year’s proceeds. The proceeds from this year’s shows went to the Edhi foundation in Pakistan, Naz’s home country.

The organization was established in 1951 by Abdul Sattar Edhi with the assistance
of his wife Bilquis Edhi. The organization provides several types of social welfare programs, including support for victims of acid attacks and domestic violence.

The evening featured performances such as Atul Chandra Sarkar’s poem “Stand Up Acid Girls” by BTQ members followed by performances including Gilgiti dance, singing, ballroom and swing dancing, spoken word, hip hop dance, storytelling, and poetry.

The distinguished winners of the night were K-Project (second runner up) with their K-Pop dance, Viola Niyizigama (‘20) with her spoken word entitled “Alternate Universe”, a piece dedicated to women who have or are suffering from domestic violence; and, in first place, Faye Lee (‘20) with her poem “Less of a Woman.”

For Lee, her friends’ comments and encouragement were important for her participation.

“I wasn’t planning on participating in this talent show because I had no experience in poetry recital, but my best friend, Warsan, convinced me to,” said Lee.

“I was extremely shocked when they announced my name as the first place, but it made me feel empowered and encouraged to recite my poetry more in other events now.”

Niyizigama wrote her empowering piece in the fall semester 2018 and started preparing for the performance about three weeks before the talent show.Her inspiration comes from life.

“There are intersections here and there but a lot of the times the root inspirations are unique,” said Niyizigama. “However, what I can say is that my writing derives from a desire to make a change through advocacy and education via spoken word.”

BTQ member Peilla Ishimwe (‘21) believes this year’s theme is important.

“In this 21st century, where women are put into labels you have to fit in, you have to be a certain way to be accepted,” Ishimwe said. “We want to challenge that. No labels.”

For Tala Nengola (‘23) who hosted the BTQ talent show for the first time the experience was rewarding.

“I think it was such an exciting event to be a part of, just because I got to spend a lot of time with the BTQ sisters,” said Nengola. “It is such a great organization because it
is so clear that they have such a real bond with each other, and they make an effort to talk about real issues, and that is great.” Since its official recognition as a student organization in 2001, Beta Theta Omega (BTQ), has been a diverse women’s leadership organization, aiming to equip its members with the tools they need to talk about women’s issues, be part of a sisterhood, and work on their leadership skills. Throughout the year, BTQ organizes several activities to support a cause worldwide, the talent show their most notable event.

The BTQ Talent Show not only empowered women and created opportunities for intercultural exchange but also caused male attendees to think about their role in empowering women.

“I think we need to do more because there is nothing like women empowerment minus us, men,” said Alain Nishimwe (‘22). “The only reason why women are trying
to be empowered is that men are in power, and only men are in power. So of course if you want to empower women, men have to be involved and see the wrong system that we created as human beings and try to adjust it.”

Danica Nolton (’22) – Photo Bureau
Faye Lee (’20) won first prize in the show.
Danica Nolton (’22) – Chips
Charmaine Neumbo (’22), Maddie Flom-Staab (’20), Tala Nengola (’23), and Josie LaVoi (’22) hosted the BTQ talent show.
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