The International Women’s Festival begins today at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, highlighting current issues facing women across the world.

The festival, which will run through Saturday, is a celebration of National Women’s Day on March 8 and features a fashion show, as well as exhibitions from 75 businesses and 25 leading nonprofit organizations. The UCSB Women’s Center is offering free registration vouchers for students interested in attending.

According to Patty DeDominic, the founder of the International Women’s Festival, the main goal of the event is to commemorate and empower women.

“We want to celebrate the accomplishments of women,” DeDominic said. “We want to give role models and examples for those younger women who are trying to make decisions about their careers and get them connections and contacts.”

The festival will emphasize common issues women encounter in the workplace through a series of lectures and roundtable discussions hosted by prominent businesswomen. Author Mimi Donaldson will issue the keynote address on Saturday.

DeDominic said that a number of UCSB and SBCC students helped plan and organize the event.

“Some great students that come from across disciplines have come together to plan the programming and marketing,” she said.

Fourth-year global studies major Robin Miller, who worked alongside the Women’s Center staff on the exposition, said the festival will provide valuable opportunities for students of all genders.

“Anyone is welcome to come,” Miller said. “It’s probably more relevant to female students, but guys are welcome to come.”

Noting that the economy has some people down, DeDominic said the festival will work to heighten spirits.

“We’re integrating all of this so there’s really great synergy,” she said. “We really are literally bringing men, women, technology, spirituality, philanthropy and business together. If you’re feeling a little bummed about the economy, you should definitely come because you’ll get your batteries recharged.”