Inside McLaren Complex, Global Women’s Rights Forum joined the world in celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. The forum included a series of panels to gain awareness for international women’s rights issues, promote education of intersectional women’s issues and discuss the future of women’s rights. These panels included topics such as: “Publishing Freedom: Feminism of Color and the Politics of Print” and “Writing the Walls Down,” both focusing on women’s power in print. The panels took place on Tuesday, March 7 and continued the following day with a reception and live performance from Fauxnique, a multi-genre performing artist.
The panel on March 7 was titled “Hookup Culture, Sexual Politics, and Campus Rape” and included a discussion with writer and public speaker Leah Fessler, as well as participants from the USF Cultural Center. Fessler discussed young women’s idea of what it means to be a feminist compared to older generations, and how hookup culture shapes young women’s experience as college students.
The forum also included a panel titled “Contesting the Transformation: Gender, Sexuality, and the Latin American Left” which explored the “lefting” of Latin America, or an overall inclination toward liberalism in certain Latin American countries. The panel discussed the direction of Latin American governments, the globalization of women’s rights movements and Latin American women’s sexual and reproductive health. USF student Ali Manzli said, “It was interesting to learn about that, maybe I can find a way to help, do my own research, or find my own part in helping [the Latin American women’s rights movement].”
Constanca Taboush, professor at Universidad de Buenos Aries and author of the book “LGBT Rights Yes, Abortion No: Explaining Uneven Trajectories in Argentina Under Kirchnerism,” presented during the panel and examined the tension between the Catholic church and women’s rights movements. She was hopeful that the “lefting” of Argentina would lead to fewer conflicts between women’s rights groups and right-wing religious groups. “We see decreasing conflicts within [the national Argentinian women’s rights conference] because of the polarization in Argentina,” said Taboush.
Professors Dorothy J. Kidd and Elizabeth Friedman have been organizing the forum every year for the past 16 years. “I think the forum has provided our community with wonderful, meaningful, challenging examples of the multidimensionality of women’s human rights around the world and gender- and sexuality-based struggles for autonomy, recognition, and inclusion,” said Professor Friedman. Professor Inna Arzumanova was also key in organizing this year’s forum. “Two things stand out about this year’s event: (1) this year’s forum coincided with the women’s strikes happening all over the world and the forum co-founders designated the forum as a space of solidarity with the strikes, and (2) there was an event that was designed and led by several talented, brilliant USF students, with one great guest speaker,” said Professor Arzumanova.
This year on International Women’s Day, women’s rights leaders organized a women’s march on Washington called “A Day Without a Woman,” a movement created in response to Donald Trump’s election to presidential office. Women around the world participated in the strike, taking Women’s Day as a day of action to bring awareness to women’s rights issues and influence politicians to act in accordance with women’s rights initiatives. Having this massive movement of women’s activism occurring on the same day as the forum influenced the discussions toward the future of women’s rights as the movement gains more traction.
Photo by Ali Defazio, Foghorn