International Women’s Day, March 8, is a time of reflection on the hardships and accomplishments of women all over the world. USF celebrated women and advocates for women’s rights with the annual Global Women’s Rights Forum, which was specifically designed to create space for women around the world to come together and have important conversations around their shared struggles, whether that be in the home, the community, or the workplace. This year’s forum, hosted on International Women’s Day itself, had six panels conducted on Zoom, a hybrid modality workshop, and an in-person music and poetry performance. Although the Foghorn could not attend the forum prior to this week’s issue being sent to print, the paper got an inside look at the event’s organization and gained insight from those involved.
The Global Women’s Rights Forum is San Francisco’s longest running International Women’s Day event, according to politics professor Dr. Elisabeth Jay Friedman. Friedman began coordinating the event in 2005, just a few years after the forum’s origin at USF in 2001. This year she was also the moderator for USF’s Intersectional Feminist Activism in Argentina: Charting the Way(s) Forward. The panel was a global partnership between Friedman, Universidad Nacional de San Martín Professor Ana Laura Rodríguez Gustá, and her students who are involved in feminist activism in Argentina. Professors Friedman and Gustá are also research partners on a project that examines the new generation of feminist activists. “Our current research project is looking at the role that a new generation of feminist activists is having on the mass mobilization around gender violence in Latin America and Argentina in particular,” said Friedman.
Many of the panels examined the intersectionality between feminist activism and advocating for broader Indigenous Rights. The Global Women’s Rights Forum’s mission at USF is dedicated to highlighting underserved and unheard voices in feminism, according to Friedman. Alongside many other coordinators for this year’s forum, Friedman is passionate about lifting up an Indigenous perspective on feminism to promote the well being of Indigenous women, culture, and the environment. “[Indigenous Feminists] also bring a perspective that is informed by not seeing the fate of humans, whatever their gender, as seperate from the fate of the planet,” said Friedman. “That perspective is not just simply another valuable perspective to be taken into account… I think the fate of the world depends upon our learning from Indigenous people.”
The Global Women’s Rights Forum celebrated women in the arts with a music and spoken word performance. Poetry readings and a musical performance by two USF seniors in the media studies department were held in Privet Plaza. Bridgette Yang, a spoken word artist who has performed poetry across California, and Mac Cornish, who has been publishing music on Spotify since 2017, both performed.
“My music is a very raw and candid reflection of my life and experiences,” said Cornish, “Each song is a diary entry of sorts where I try my best to convey exactly what I was feeling when I wrote the song to my audience.”
Dr. Dorothy Kidd, a media studies professor, shared in an email to the Foghorn why promoting women in the arts is so important at this event. “Music and spoken word are some of the best ways to [build community and organize]; they have almost always been ways that women and gender non-conforming people have expressed themselves, connected with others, built community and challenged the negative images/rhetoric used against them.”
Cornish and Yang aren’t the only USF students who were involved in this year’s forum year. Gabriela Klemer De Lasse, Natalya Bomani, and Yasmeen Khan, all USF politics majors, led a hybrid panel and workshop titled Abolitionist Women’s Perspectives in Youth Organizing. All three students have been active in advocacy programs on campus during their time as students, like De Lasse, who helped organize the Oct. 7 survivor speakout event in protest of USF’s handling of sexual assault cases. The forum was an opportunity to look into the world of youth organizing from the perspective of youth activists on campus.
Published March 2022: Available online