Sunday, April 26, 2015
Ever since coming back from the 2015 United Nations Commission on the Status on Women in New York, I have been reflecting a lot on how I want to continue the work I’ve started during my research project. In addition to finishing up an independent study where I continued to study the US prison system and the alternatives to our prison system, I am also about to start an even bigger research project, starting this summer with my advisor, that will culminate in my senior thesis that I hope will incorporate what I’ve learned during my fellowship, independent study, future independent studies, and other interests I have in the field of not only gender studies, human rights, and activism, but also in how these things intersect with race, nationalism, globalization, economic and political systems, and concepts surrounding citizenship and subjectivity.
While I am really excited about how my academic work can intersect with my activist interests, I am still trying to understand how I can be more plugged into social change work in the community. There are many local organizations that work on these issues, including the organization I worked with, InStepp, and others like Benevolence Farm, a community farm for recently released women and their children, and Growing Change, an organization that flips closed prisons, turning them into farms and community centers particularly for returned veterans and troubled youth. Hopefully, since I will be Durham for a good portion of the summer, I can reach out to these different orgs and find more ways to get involved.
On Thursday, I attended a meeting held by the WomenNC Advocacy Board to map out the first steps of the Cities for CEDAW campaign they’re planning to launch in Wake Countyand Wake County cities. In attendance were members from other nonprofit women’s advocacy organizations, two university professors, and two councilwomen, one representing Wake County and another representing the town of Cary. For over two hours, we discusseed the course of action we would have to take in order for Cities for CEDAW to be successful in this area. It was interesting to hear the perspectives of the politicians in the room and how they had to navigate their spheres of influence in order to support this campaign; however, strategizing together and knowing they were on our side made the project seem not as impossible, especially when I learned that the precedent for much of our effort has already been set in place by a few different factors, including an already existing and funded women’s commission board in Wake County. By the end of the meeting, everyone had assigned roles for moving the campaign forward and a next meeting was set.
It was cool for me to see that type of organizing start to take place. I could see that organizing requires engaging each stakeholder in the room and in the larger conversation and addressing the different contributions each of us can make, from the NGO’s, who can garner public support and attention to an issue, to the council-people, who must navigate politics and establish the viability of a campaign. I definitely learned a lot in just one meeting, and I am excited to see the process of this project carried out.