Thursday, October 15, 2015

Madelaine's Blog #1

For my WomenNC policy brief topic, I am thinking of addressing the fact that many women who are immigrants to the United States do not feel secure in contacting the police in the incident of a domestic violence incident due to threat of deportation. However, several areas in North Carolina, including Chatham county and Chapel Hill, have instituted “Safe Haven” legislation, that allow a police investigation to occur without inquiry into the victim’s citizenship status. This particular area of work, surrounding women and immigration along, with health and domestic violence, particularly interested me because of the inherent and gendered power imbalances at play. In my previous work with health and gender, I observed how the delicate and crucial balance of agency, health, and power is manipulated in a situation where one’s status of a women automatically places you in a high-risk situation.

For the past two summers, I have worked with and NGO called WISER (Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research), a social empowerment program for underprivileged girls in rural Kenya. The structural violence that these young women experience, surrounding abusive schooling systems and predatory adults, is an immense burden to face. The WISER program and the work I did there taught me about the power of opportunity, and deeply instilled in me the critical relationship between gender-safe education, enhanced social autonomy, and improved health outcomes for girls. Every day I found a different reason to be astounded by the dedication and resourcefulness with which young women pursued their education. My work with WISER centered around supporting health initiatives that tap into the inherent strength of communities, and allowing narratives of what girls can accomplish to be changed by the actions and dreams of the women themselves. This experience solidified my determination to pursue a career understanding and reducing gender inequalities in health and education with a lens of equity and valued community participation. I see this opportunity to construct a policy brief that calls for the installation of more widespread and nuanced “Safe Haven” legislation in North Carolina as an opportunity to place the agency and social autonomy that is removed in the circumstance of domestic violence while being labeled as an illegal citizen. There is an opportunity here for North Carolina to stand up for women who face injustices in their lives, and to provide them the basic human right of safety and protection from harm.

- Madelaine Katz


  1. Your work experience with WISE has given you the right lens to see the problems that immigrant women are facing in the NC better. Marzie Nowroozi one of fellows form Afghanistan has done some work on the similar topic: Violence Against Immigrant Women in NC. Her paper is posted on WomenNC website. Good luck

  2. I like how you've drawn the link between your work with WISER and the legislation you're researching. Like Beth, said, previous fellow work has scratched the surface regarding violence against immigrant women, and may be a great asset to developing your policy proposal. Also, if you wanted to ponder the large-scale application of your proposal (fulfilling the global aspect of the fellowship), that would be a good head start. Good luck in your show tomorrow!

  3. Madelaine - While I'm not sure what your final research is narrowing down to, I'm so glad to learn about WISER and all of the issues you raise are so important. I am continually shocked about the violence that is imposed on girls in educational settings and other places of supposed safety. Over the years I have represented as Guardian ad Litem many young schoolgirls (and boys) who have been neglected and abused in their own foster homes and often schools and other resource places still turn a blind eye - one of our best local resources is a pretty new nonprofit called The Hope Center at Pullen, which advocates for teens "aging out" of foster care and provides them such a needed safe setting have you ever heard of them? A friend of mine, Stacy Bluth, is their Executive Director if you think it could be a useful contact let me know. Great topic, really looking forward to your research, whichever direction you decide to take!