By Kristen Johanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a day to honor and celebrate women all over the world – International Women’s Day.

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Thursday was the first day of the second annual Philadelphia Women in Public Safety Conference at the University of Pennsylvania.

The two-day event focuses on how women can succeed and progress in their public service field. Mayor Jim Kenney opened the event, and says he remembers a time when there were no female firefighters or police officers.

“A lot of what police do is interact with people in their worst times, and sometimes women approach things different than men,” he said.

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Following the mayor was Maureen Rush, a pioneer for women in public service.

“At 22 years old, I was in a male-dominated world, where I wasn’t welcome. And there were no ‘let’s help you succeed,'” she said.

Rush is vice president of public safety for the University of Pennsylvania, and was one of the first women to graduate the Philadelphia Police Academy.

“All of us who have survived that era, and have risen through the ranks, want to step back and we want to take hands and pull the women back up,” said Rush.

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The two-day event is sponsored by the fire department, but invites all women of public service.