Women’s rights at the Center of University Activities in April

March is National Women’s History Month. However, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signs off on bills that attack sexual health programs, abortion laws, and threatens women’s rights in the workforce, it seems appropriate that the Women’s and Gender Studies Programs offer “Events for and about Women” throughout the month of April.

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside kicked off these events with a rendition of Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” by several students on Thursday 5 April at the Rita. Focusing on the female anatomy, the dramatic reading was given to artfully empower the individualism of the female body by deconstructing stereotypes of the fragility of women. In light of the political environment, Dr. Kate Gillogly, Evelyn Zepp, and Anna Lee Sepanski have added a panel titled “Attacks on Women’s Health & Reproductive Rights, to be given this Wednesday 11 April, for a discussion and political update. Being time sensitive, a proper time and location will be available this week; please check the UW-Parkside web calendar at http://www.uwp.edu for the time and location.

“This panel couldn’t have come at better timing,” remarked student Melissa Strutters, who is a psychology major at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. “The political environment for women is becoming increasingly negative in favor of extremist pro-lifers.” Strutters commented  on the news that Wisconsin GOP Scott Walker just signed bills on Friday, 6 April that permits the repeal of a law allowing workers to sue employers over discrimination, set major limits on abortion, and requires public schools to teach abstinence-only programs for sex education.

Democratic Representative Peter Barca criticized several of the bills as “attacks on women’s health.” Even the bill regarding discrimination lawsuits aims to minimize the progress of women’s equal pay campaigns. According to the Institution of Women’s Policy Research, “Status of Women in the States” reports show that on average women’s pay still lags as much as 30 percent in some sectors and hire ability is lowered for women in their late twenties that pose the possibility of needing maternity leave. According to the report, “At the current rate of progress it will take 100 years for women to achieve parity in political representation in Congress and 50 years to achieve equal pay.” This legislation could halt workforce progress even further. By adding this to legislation that prohibits sexual education and minimizes state abortions, it is clear that Wisconsinites have to take a look at the state’s progress.

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside will continue discussions throughout the month including “Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and Masculinity” this Thursday at 12:30-1:45 p.m. in the Student Center Cinema for a DVD viewing and discussion led by Dr. Jonathan Shailor, Bernard Covelli, and Marilyn Vazquez. Also look for panels on education of Roe Versus Wade legislation, and other educational commitments.

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