Wyoming Hall commemorated the end of National Women’s History Month by celebrating and honoring women’s rights with “Her Story, Her Voice.”
Wyoming Hall Resident Assistant junior Shekiqua Reid and Erie Hall Resident Assistant sophomore Karina Cornier organized the presentation and discussion, which took place on Friday March 30.
“We wanted to have a conversation about what it means to be a woman today, and do they feel as if their rights are being infringed upon,” Reid said.
“One quote that I really stick by is ‘education is being put into an uncomfortable zone,’” Cornier said. “With us really expressing our positions and experiences as women, it makes us more empathetic toward each other in understanding what really consists of being a woman.”
The presentation opened with pictures from demonstrations and protests about womanhood, including the Women’s Marches. These images showed a diverse group of people of all genders, ages, religions and races coming together to celebrate womanhood and to protest against government policies that infringe upon women’s rights.
“It’s not just women fighting for women’s rights. It’s about learning at a young age here during college and throughout your life— don’t look at a [person] and assume he’s against you,” Reid said. “Even in that moment, even if he or she is close minded, take the opportunity to listen and try to open their mind … Sometimes, you have to meet people halfway and be willing to listen.”
Cornier stressed the importance of taking a stand by telling the story of The Three Butterflies, a fable from the Dominican Republic, which is part of her heritage. The Three Butterflies are the Mirabel sisters who took a stand against the dictator Rafael Trujillo. All three were assassinated by Trujillo, but they inspired a larger movement against his regime—both locally and internationally.
The event then opened up to a general discussion about what it means to be a woman today and current social movements regarding it. One topic that came up was domestic abuse laws and the misconceptions as to why women stay in abusive relationships.
International relations major junior Teresa Cappiello spent time in Peru and spoke about her experience with battered women’s shelters there.
“There’s a law in Peru that says unmarried women cannot go to school. So, a lot of women are staying in abusive relationships so that their children can get a proper education,” Cappiello said. “People ask the question ‘why don’t they leave these kind of relationships,’ but sometimes they are not in the position to do so, financially or for their children.”
The discussion then turned to tactics on how to achieve a feminist agenda. Intersectionality was presented as being important, as each movement has to support each other, though there is dissent within movements with regard to tactics. Participants were hopeful, however, and believed in the future success of the women’s rights movement.
“On a realistic note, there’s still hope,” communication major junior Luc Turnier said. “Realistically, we will get there.”
“I feel like there’s no way they can continue to deny us. You can’t keep denying half your population basic rights,” Reid said.
The discussion ended on an optimistic note, with each person walking away with a renewed sense of determination to succeed. The Resident Assistants ended National Women’s History Month with a positive and constructive discussion, giving students hope until the next celebration of women’s rights.