Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Laura's Blog #2

My topic is to reformulate education in hyper-masculine cultures to deter incidents of sexual assault and rape. While I will be focusing my research on the United States Military, I believe that what I create will be applicable to fraternities, Varsity Collegiate sports teams and many other hyper-masculine cultures. 

Currently the military’s education is a mandated checklist made by politicians and those high up in the military system. Certain commanders have more power to apply their own ideas to their troops training than others. I recently met with the Fayetteville Rape Crisis Center. She has a self-proclaimed aggressive “not pretty” presentation on rape, because she said rape isn’t pretty so why should it be taught pretty. 

When asked how she handles these soldiers that sit in her classes and she feels they are ignoring her she says she brings up topics that are in your face, that you can’t ignore. Why are rape educators so scared to talk about these topics? They shouldn’t be.

I plan to use her model as my best practice model within the United States military and plan to finalize this next week. I will be attending her class on Fort Bragg December 7th and December 8th and will be sitting on the stage observing her process and how everyone reacts to it.

After that I plan to interview a group of male military members who never served with women due to their job and their feelings on sexual assault. Many in passing have mentioned to me that it cannot be completely irradiated. 

Once this data is compiled I will begin to draft the policy brief. When I do this I will be proposing the revamping of the military with this more aggressive style. I believe that it will be better received within these hyper-masculine cultures.

Maya Blog #2

Hello all,

The past few weeks have been spent further narrowing down my topic and identifying resources to aid in my research process. For the Fellowship, I have decided to focus on improving pipelines to political leadership for minority women. The gender imbalance present in local politics, specifically when it comes to minority women, really stood out to me during my initial research process and I felt compelled to examine this issue further. 

The numbers speak for themselves: of the roughly 5000 elected positions in the state of North Carolina, only 27% are held by women, and only 2.2% are held by women of color. My goals for the next month are to connect with local elected officials and community organizations that can give me insight into the political climate of NC, and potential expansions for the recommendations I currently have in mind.

For example, this past week I was able to speak to Representatives Grier Martin and Paul Stam regarding my research topic and potential avenues to pursue. I am hoping these initial connections will yield information about nonpartisan, achievable methods for policy implementation regarding this issue. One avenue I am currently exploring is the NCGA internship program, and potentially adapting that to better recruit minority women into it's program. 

Additionally, I am in the process of connecting with local minority women who are either currently serving, in the campaign process, or have previously served in elected office. Through their personal accounts and lived experiences, I am hoping to gain more insight into the reality of the issue and ways to reduce barriers to entry for minority women. I am also working on establishing a connection with the organization Lillian's List to further understand the political process for women in politics. 

I am excited about the direction my research is heading in, and so grateful for the incredible opportunities I've had thus far to connect with individuals in my community. The support I've received helps me feel empowered to begin, and hopefully to continue, a dialogue about this issue. 

Maddie Blog #2

It’s hard to believe that we have already completed our fellowship meetings for the year 2015! It is going to be a busy holiday season however, as I finalize and begin to work with my partner organization, meet up with Anna to work on my policy brief draft, and prepare for the big year ahead!

My narrowed down topic for my policy brief is the creation of “Safe Haven” legislation for areas of North Carolina where high immigration populations reside in order for non citizen women to feel safer contacting law enforcement in the event of a domestic violence incident and/or sexual assault. This will certainly be informed by recent events, considering Governor Pat McCrory’s recent signing of a bill that made immigrants much more vulnerable in NC by outlawing sanctuary cities. This will shift my overall policy brief positioning to go from advocating for more “Safe Haven” or “Sanctuary Cities” in NC to specifically advocating for them for the purposes of preventing domestic violence and sexual assault among non-citizen women. I have a few steps going forward to finalize my policy brief work:

 Finalize and establish volunteering schedule with NCCASA and with the criminal court to observe domestic violence cases. I have reached out to NCCASA and have not yet received a response, but they are aware of our fellowship program and I am confident we will be able to partner together.

 Collect research on areas of NC with highest concentration of noncitizen populations

 Consult with Anna over weekend coffee meetings over the next two months to ensure I am headed in the right direction.

While I am intimidated by the amount of work there is left to do, I am overall feeling excited, hopeful, and motivated. My mentor, Anna, has been incredible in regards to taking the time to meet with me and make sure I am supported. This cause is one that I am very passionate about, and while the governor’s recent actions have made the road all the more difficult, I argue that it actually increases the importance of the work I am doing on my policy brief. I am hoping my partnership with NCCASA is able to begin soon so that I may include their best practice model and collect information of a more humanistic nature of the experience of survivors of domestic assault and violence to make my policy brief all the more effective.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Olivia Blog #2

I have been learning so much through my research with WomenNC! Once I decided to do my research on women's mental health, I began to research which groups of women were really in need of more mental healthcare services. I learned that, because of lack of availability, stigma and accessibility, many women in rural areas were increasingly unable to receive help when they need it. Through a lot of research and with the help of others in the program, I was able to concretely decide to focus my policy brief on women's mental health in rural areas.

However, shortly after making this decision, I realized that this topic was still incredibly broad. What type of mental health problems would I focus on? Would I focus on stigma, accessibility or access in rural areas? What actual policy would I recommend? All of these questions have been of great importance in my research as of late.  

According to the World Health Organization, gender is a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness. Women tend to experience common mental health problems, specifically anxiety and depression, at higher rates than men. Women experience generalized anxiety at much higher rates and much research shows that women experience depression at almost double the rate of men. A lot of data and research I have read suggests that not only are anxiety and depression significantly higher in women, but they are also more disabling in women. Because anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health disorders among women and tend to affect women at significantly more than men, I have decided to focus my policy brief on anxiety and depression.

I had a really hard time choosing between focusing on stigma and accessibility as a theme for my policy brief. I have personally experienced a lot of stigma associated with mental illness in rural areas, so it is where a lot of my passions are in this subject. However, stigma is so engrained in much of society, not just rural areas, that addressing this issue would be extremely hard. Before working on the stigma associated with mental heath, I think it is important to offer everyone access to mental healthcare. Through this, I think we can then begin to talk about mental heath and make it less taboo of a subject. 

With my topic narrowed down to accessibility of mental health care services for women with anxiety and depression, I now have decide what my best practice model will be! I have looked at many models including a bus that drives out to rural areas providing services, the training of locals to address mental healthcare, among other models...however I have found one model that really sticks out to me; telepsychiatry/epsychiatry. Much of the research I have done if this suggests that it is just as effective as in person therapy. Some research even suggests that it is more effective!

I have reached out to Dr. Saeed from ECU's telepsychiatry department in order to potentially establish a connection with his program. Dr. Saeed seems to be a leading researcher in telepsychiatry and I am excited to talk to him more about his work! He said he would love to meet this coming week, so I am hopeful that this will work out.

After I talk to him, my next step is research more about telepsychiatry, specifically related to women. I have yet to find studies completely focused on women, but I have found a lot focused on anxiety and depression. I am a little bit worried about making my policy brief completely focused on women without a bunch of data to back it up. I am hoping Dr. Saeed can help me with this!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Leah Blog #2

At the end of our last workshop, I was feeling overwhelmed and slightly flustered, but I was confident that with guidance, I would eventually come to a refined topic.  Fortunately, a day into my research, I came to something: mobility programs.  My approach is simple - It starts with housing vouchers for low-income women. The result, a mobility program that allows these low-income women and their families to move into better neighborhoods.  Modeled after a 10-year research demonstration done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development called Moving to Opportunity, the mobility program I have in mind, will create more sustainable environments for women and their families, improving health and overall well-being.
I knew I wanted to focus my research on the built environment in disadvantaged neighborhoods and the health and wellbeing of the women and children living in such communities; but I found the task of narrowing down my topic challenging.  As easy as it sounds, I didn’t feel right to focus on one factor of the built environment because I’m well aware that it’s more than just one single factor contributing to low-income women’s negative health outcomes and wellbeing in these communities.  More research on the Moving to Opportunity demonstration lead me to believe I wouldn’t have to choose between a number of  factors.  In fact, this study confirmed mobility opportunities and neighborhood characteristics matter for family outcomes.  It was found that housing mobility programs can improve the quality of immediate environment and mental and physical health for women.  
Similar to Moving to Opportunity and other mobility programs implemented in Baltimore, New York, and California, my program will allow eligible families (households with children, who qualify for subsidized government housing) to move into neighborhoods with better resources, neighborhood conditions and social networks.  I want the program to include mobility counseling services to provide guidance for these families moving into new communities.  The goal is better overall wellbeing for women of color and their children who are disproportionately represented in disadvantaged neighborhoods here in urban North Carolina and around the country.
Through collaborations between chosen my nonprofit, Passage Home, my research will focus on correct implementation of mobility programs.  I will continue to do more in depth research about the outcomes of mobility programs and how it will be useful to communities in urban North Carolina.