with Carrie Baker, Study of Women and Gender
Is there a "war on women" in
the United States today?
That question is a starting
point for a
symposium Saturday, Oct. 27, featuring a keynote lecture
by Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to
End Domestic Violence.
Plenary sessions will follow; . Gandy also serves
as the 2012 Five College Social Justice Practioner-in-Residence,
and is giving lectures and visiting classes among the Five
Colleges in October
and November ().
Baker, assistant professor of the study of women and gender,
and coordinator of "Making Connections," responded
to questions for the Gate about the symposium.
is this the right time for a forum like "Making Connections?"
Carrie Baker: In
2011, state legislators passed more restrictions on access
to abortion than in any previous year. So far in 2012, Arizona
banned abortion after 18 weeks, Virginia legislators proposed
to require women seeking abortions to submit to invasive ultrasounds,
Title X family planning funding is under attack, North Carolina
legislators refused to compensate women whom the state had
subjected to forced sterilzation, and many states still shackle
incarcerated women during childbirth. Meanwhile, reports of
rampant violence against women abound—sexual violence in the
military and on college campuses, intimate partner violence
in the home, sex trafficking of women and girls, and the systemic
violence of poverty and the prison industrial complex. Native
American, immigrant and GLBT women experience some of the highest
rates of sexual assault, yet Congress has so far refused to
extend the protections of the Violence Against Women Act to
cover these groups..
On the 35th anniversary of the
death of Rosie Jimenez—the first women to die as a result of
the Hyde Amendment restricting public funding for abortion—this
symposium brings together Smith alumnae working on violence
against women and reproductive justice with longtime feminist
activist Kim Gandy to discuss connections between interpersonal
and systemic violence against women and increasing restrictions
on women's reproductive lives.
makes Smith the ideal place for hosting a conference such as
CB: The Five
Colleges has the highest concentration of feminist scholars
in the country, and an abundance of smart, ambitious students
who will be tomorrow's leaders. This conference will bring
these folks together with scholars and activists from around
the country to discuss these important issues.
do you hope to accomplish with this conference? What kind of
follow-up might it inspire?
primary goal is to inform students and community members on
the latest research and public policy on violence against women
and reproductive justice, but the symposium also provides an
opportunity for students to network with Alumnae working in
public policy and public health. In addition, the conference
will enable people working in a diverse range of areas to share
information and strategize about future directions.
your perspective, have we stepped backward from the gains made
by women during the past 40 years?
CB: In some respects
we have and in others we've made progress. The recent onslaught
of restrictions on women's reproductive rights and cuts in
reproductive health care for low-income women are taking us
backward. On the other hand, the Affordable Care Act, which
expands health care to many more women, and President Obama's
inclusion of contraception without co-pays as part of the Act,
are steps forward. But the high rate of violence against women
persists despite decades of work to combat it.
should attend "Making Connections?"
interested in women's health and lives should attend the conference.
The symposium is open to all students, faculty and staff at
the Five Colleges, as well as community members.