Remembering Mountain Women – Danielle Butler


We are deeply saddened to report the loss of Danielle Butler who passed away on 7 March 2019, one day before the International Women’s Day. She was the last among those great cohort of Mountain Women who started to host the international Women of the Mountains conferences (WOMCs) at Utah Valley University in Utah in 2007. This was a remarkable group: The Honorary Chairperson Elena Bonner, a prominent human-rights activist and a widow of the Andrey Sakharov, Nobel laureate; Dr. Jane Pratt, executive director of the Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C.; the Honorable Judy Martz, governor of the State of Montana (2001-2005); the Honorable Olene Walker, governor of the State of Utah (2003-2005) and Dr. Danielle Butler. They pioneered the idea to host the Women of the Mountains conferences (WOMCs) in the State of Utah to advocate for the mountain communities, families, women and girls, who are very often forgotten and marginalized both at the national and international levels. It was also their effort to sustain the tradition, established by the Celebrating the Mountain Women conference 2002 in Thimpu, Bhutan under the umbrella of the United Nations International Year of Mountains. The first two WOMCs in 2007 and 2011 took place in March to commemorate also the International Women’s Days and it became a tradition for organizers then to present red roses to all women and girls in the audience.                   

Dr. Danielle Butler was a key-note speaker at the last WOMC conference in October 2015, when she spoke before the participants. Her husband, Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU (1992-2016), served as a focal point of the Mountain Partnership at UVU during the last 10 years, and currently the main focal point of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences at the United Nations.

Dr. Danielle Butler was one of the examples of the Mountain Women, as a mother of seven children and more than forty grandchildren and active contributor to many activities locally and elsewhere including the WOMCs. The main reason why UVU decided to host WOMCs was the effort to demonstrate the role of communities, families and women in sustainable development in Utah and among other mountain communities globally. She was recognized for her contribution to the advocacy of the mountain women and building close ties with the mountain communities in other parts of the world by Honorary Degre from the International University in the Kyrgyz Republic.        

During the 2015 conference both Dr. Danielle Butler and her husband were happy to see UVU students were able to be the hosts of the conference, and for the first time to do that on our own through the student engaged learning, when students learn new skill as a group though hands-on activities and faculty serve them as a mentor.

Dr. Danielle Butler left a great and visible legacy: UVU students now go regularly to the United Nations to advocate for the mountain women during the sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women. 11 students will speak on 19 March 2019 at the Church Center of the United Nations how they empower mountain women and girls through student engaged learning. They will dedicate their presentations to the memory of Dr. Danielle Butler.

It became a tradition now at the Utah Valley University every March 8th to celebrate the International Women’s Day. This year there were two major events at UVU: a panel “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change,”  hosted by the UVU office of Global Engagement and the Conference Women of Mormondom,  hosted by the UVU Center for the Study of Ethics.

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News by Yanko Dzhukev

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