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Empower women: Students host Feminist Week

Next week, the women’s studies program is coordinating a series of events aimed at cultivating discussions on gender identity, safety and personal wellness issues at UNH.

The week will begin with an event put on by the Health Services department called the Body Project Sessions on Friday, Feb. 26 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. The event will use discussions and activities to explore body image issues and to help with decreasing body negativity and increasing body confidence.

Faina Bukher, the assistant coordinator for the women’s studies program says this week is important because without a women’s center on campus, discussion on gender identity and body positivity still needs to happen.

“I think a decade ago if you asked different offices on campus ‘Hey do you do feminist work?’ they wouldn’t make that connection” said Bukher.

Bukher remarked that other groups are starting to see the how they can relate to and work with the feminist community. Bukher said that the panel on student disabilities happening Tuesday, March 1 relates to feminism in that it focuses on social identities and how students with varying identities experience the university.

“Feminism has grown to talk about social justice as an umbrella idea and social identity as more than just gender,” says Bukher stressing that feminism is not just about men and women but incorporates all forms of social identity.

With recent legislation like Title IX beginning to address rape culture on college campuses, Bukher says it is important for UNH to be smart and up to date on the topic. To address this topic, a celebration of historical figures Marilla Ricker and Harriet Wilson will be held at the women’s studies office in Huddelston 203 on Thursday, March 3 from 10am-12pm. Ricker and Wilson are historical staples of the New Hampshire feminist movement, with Ricker being the first female lawyer in New Hampshire and Wilson who is considered the first female African American novelist. The event will also educate students on bystander intervention strategies.

Bukher says that the women’s studies program works with SHARPP and the Prevention Innovation Research Center to teach students, faculty and the community about how to make the campus less violent.

“When you see something s***** happening how do you step in… in a way that doesn’t put yourself in danger but allows you to feel like you have something of value to add to this situation that is happening?” said Bukher adding, “If there are rapes happening on campus there is something missing right? There is a problem. Who’s being protected?”

Clear, Loud and Hella Proud is a new event this year happening on March 4, from 2:30-3:30p.m. where a public speaking consultant will teach students about how to speak up in public or in their social lives with the topic of social injustices in mind.

Bukher uses an example of two drunken young people who are surrounded by their friends at the bar, but may not be in an appropriate state of mind to make decisions: “It’s not a black and white issue necessarily but how do we at least educate ourselves in that empathy piece? If I were in his shoes or if I were in her shoes what would I want my friends to say to me?” says Bukher.

Audrey Johnson, a program assistant and student of the women’s studies program explains how the week is organized.

“We sort of go with the flow of what other groups and offices want to or are doing, and add in a few of our own events,” said Johnson.

Johnson worked on organizing the Queer Black Feminism event happening Thursday, March 3 at 12:40 to 2:00 p.m. in the MUB.

“Often feminism, like any other movement, is dominated by the voices of people who are in the dominant social groups, in this case, cisgender, straight, white women. We wanted to highlight the work that has been done by queer black feminists,” said Johnson.

The week will include many other events like the Vagina Monologues and yoga classes.  For a full list of the weeks, event visit the women’s studies website.

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