Women Who Lead: Activism Through an Intersectional Lens – Panelist Jasmine Ward

Tune into the “Women Who Lead” Panel Discussion for an invigorating conversation with a panel consisting of a diverse group of local women leaders, Thursday November 5, 2020 6:00-7:30pm

Use the link below to register

https://umsystem.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJElf-GtrjsuE9LhA5KFTTUrsV7LnbyIiRxM

The “Women Who Lead” panel discussion is this Thursday! Continuing our introduction of the panelists and all the amazing things they do, we would like you to meet our second panelist, Jasmine Ward! Jasmine is a third-year law student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law, and a KC native studying education law, and criminal defense. She is currently a Rule 719 Legal Intern for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, president of the Black Law Students’ Association, and vice-president of the Board of Barristers. As with our previous blog on the topic, we asked Jasmine some questions about her community involvement and advice to future leaders, the following is that interview.

What motivates you to keep working towards justice in a time where the country is so divided, and many people choose to reject the realities of social issues and/or scientific fact?

Very long story short, I always think about my ancestors and my elders (including those who are still alive), who were fighting for things they weren’t sure would ever be realized, and who were doing so in much more dangerous situations (not to downplay the true dangers Black women and men face today). If they could do what they did, then I feel we can do anything.

How does your intersectional identity as a woman impact your outlook on the world and certain issues?

I think having identities that intersect as mine do – being a Black woman – it makes you think about all the little things that mainstream media or politicians don’t consider, all the things that “fall through the cracks” per se. And thinking about those things as they relate to Black women has made me hyper-cognizant that issues and realities fall through the cracks for millions of people with intersectional identities – so I’m always striving to look between the lines when I consider a person or a community and their needs. More than that, I find ways to just ask communities about their “between the cracks” needs, because it’s preposterous to think I could know things about communities to which I don’t belong.

What would you say to young female leaders who are just starting on their path to leadership?

First and foremost, don’t doubt yourself. If you’re in a room, you belong there, and you can stand with the best of them. And don’t take on a role, just be yourself – I don’t think anyone who is considered a “leader” thinks of themselves that way; you don’t have to assume some personality or way of being, who you are is already effective enough!

Are there any programs/projects you are currently working on that you would like to mention?

My main focus right now is graduating and passing the bar, but I am working with the Diverse Student Coalition and UMKC to try to make some necessary additions to our discrimination policies. Further, the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) at UMKC Law is currently planning our Fall session of Street Law, a program where BLSA students, Black law professors, and Black attorneys teach diverse high school students, basic legal concepts. This year, we’ll be teaching those classes via Zoom, instead of in the law school, but we think high school students will still get the same learning experience and ability to see Black academic and professional success modeled.

Where can people go to learn more about the work you do?

LinkedIn would be the best place!

Be sure to register to see Jasmine in the Women Who Lead Panel and keep checking in to learn about the other panelists!

COVID-19’s Impact on Women

By Jordan Tunks

COVID-19 is impacting everyone, but it is impacting women in a different way than men. When the shutdown began in March of 2020, things like restaurants, shopping centers, and movie theaters were being shut down one after another. These industries are employed mostly by women causing the unemployment rate of women to increase dramatically. According to Forbes.com, women accounted for 55% of workers that became unemployed in April compared to men at 13%.

When the shutdown first began, childcare was not deemed as an essential service. This left many mothers in a predicament many men were not put in. This created a burden on women to figure out what to do with their children while they went to work, forcing some women to have to take off work and stay at home. This could lead to more problems at work if they were having to call off multiple times in a row. Fortunately, childcare was deemed essential after a month or so into the pandemic so these mothers and childcare workers could resume their schedule.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted women’s mental health more than men. According to Forbes.com, 52% of COVID-related stress has had a negative impact on women compared to 37% of men. This pandemic has been hard on women in multiple ways, from figuring out childcare to losing a job and having to find another source of income. Men did not have as much of a setback as women, especially when it comes to employment. Many male dominated occupations were deemed a necessity, allowing them to continue working though the months of shut down. Men also typically hold higher positions at work, presenting them with the opportunity to work from home, which many women did not get. Due to these situations, women were and are being affected in very different ways than men during this pandemic. Do you feel like Covid-19 disproportionately affected you?

Empowering Women Through Friendship Bridge

By  Adriana Suarez

Friendship Bridge is a nonprofit that “creates opportunities that empower woman in Guatemala.” I can see the great impact they have made because they show very cultured information in their reports and include many photos and stories of the woman that they have helped. Their 2018 Annual Report shows the impact they have made throughout the Guatemalan community, which includes a client continuum that places women in three categories: leaders, entrepreneurs, or dreamers. They also assist in loan products, plus services, and holding program around artisan, agriculture, health, and family planning.

Women supported in these programs aren’t just single women, but single mothers who do not have access to the correct resources. Their stories not only speak on how the programs have helped them individually, but also how the program’s support impacted their families and communities. Many of the women are artisans, and contribute to the community with businesses or by selling hand-woven products. It’s important these women are educated about loans so they aren’t tricked into any unwanted dent later on.

I support the organization because they help Hispanic cultured woman in Guatemala who are in need. I feel it’s very important that women’s organizations in other countries exist. According to their website, “59 percent of the population in Guatemala live in poverty and over 60 percent of indigenous Guatemalan women are illiterate.” The Friendship Bridge organization works primarily in the rural areas where the rate of poverty is highest and work to create a change with the women they work with. Friendship Bridge is supported by many organizations and sponsors such as Power Trust, The Green Fund, and Women’s Worldwide Web. Many more are listed on their website.

If you’re interested, you can find a way to give back to those women of need in Guatemala by visiting their page!

Girls In KC STEM

By Adriana Suarez

According to KC Stem Alliance and a government report, “in 2015 women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs but occupied only 24 percent of STEM jobs.” In a world where males dominate in STEM fields, women can often feel of less importance and wouldn’t want to compete with that. KC STEM Alliance is a not-for-profit network of organizations working to inspire interest in STEM fields within the greater Kansas City region. It was created in 2011 through funding from Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

One of the many projects they hold to promote their mission is Girls in Tech. Girls in Tech was created to motivate and encourage women to engage in Science, Tech, Engineering and Mathematical career fields. The Stem Alliance states how they’re encouraging this through hands-on experience, connection with mentors, and social media awareness. The Girls in Tech event truly inspires students to code and get involved in the technology field. The program took off in 2015 with the help of sponsorships by organizations such as, Skillbuilders Fund, the Women’s Foundation, and Cerner!

The partners of KC STEM Alliance also encourage girls through other programs in the month of December such as the Hour of Code. In fact, there is actually a need for volunteers for the Girls in Tech KC Hour of code this year on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. It will run from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 4825 Troost Ave., Suite 108 Kansas City, MO 64110.

Any UMKC students, alumni and SCE friends & supporters are welcome to volunteer.

Period. The Movement

By Adriana Suarez

Period. The Movement is an organization founded in 2014, by two 16-year old high school students with a passion for periods. Their mission is to end period poverty and stigma through service, education, and advocacy. The organization is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a nationwide network of over 400 chapters serving local communities. The organization provides service through 3 subcategories: Pads & Tampons, Period Packs, and Menstrual Cups. The organization partners with companies such as TAMPAX Cup, AUNT flow, L’ORÉAL, and Nike to name a few.

The first time I had my period was in the fifth grade, in elementary school. This is a shocking fact because that is when most girls begin. Therefore, the bathrooms are not stocked with the products needed. My first period was thankfully in the privacy of my own home. Yet, the days I begin a new cycle are unexpected and can sneak up on me. Sometimes I would have to leave the bathroom to embarrassingly whisper to my friends (girls) asking them if they had anything in their bookbags for two reasons. The first being there would not be any kind of pad/tampon dispenser in the restrooms, or secondly, because there was a dispenser but it was either empty, or you had to pay a quarter which would not have just been laying around in my pocket.

I personally feel like it would be great to start a chapter here on campus to provide support for all women. It is important for young generations to continue being involved in this movement. It shows a passion for what we believe in. If they can do it, it is possible to start a campus wide movement. If it gains successes, there can be possibilities for other chapters to open up in the community, other universities and in middle and high schools in the area.

How a 19nth Century Invention helped Liberate Women

By Maggie Pool

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling,” Susan B. Anthony told a reporter in 1896. “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

In 1897, protests lined the streets at the University of Cambridge to object to a vote that would allow women to attend the all-male university. The crowd launched rockets, threw eggs, and hung a stuffed representation of the “New Woman” from a building, later mutilating it in the streets. The feature acutely defining this “New Woman” was her bicycle.

Globally, the bicycle was a hot commodity in the 1890s. Bikes were cheaper and easier to use than a horse, buggy, or car. For someone making around $10 a week, buying a bicycle was an affordable and easy way to get around. So, how did this affect women?

Before the early 1900s, women’s roles didn’t extend beyond maintaining the domestic sphere. They cooked, cleaned, took care of the children, and generally only left the house when escorted by male, usually by a father or husband. This meant women had no involvement in things like business, politics, and education. However, the bicycle boom allowed women to be themselves without being ignored or easily segregated. With the taste of freedom fresh on their lips, women learned what life was really like outside the home. Thus, a new desire for women’s avocation was born.

Outside the home, the bicycle evolved more than women’s roles. It also revolutionized women’s fashion. Imagine trying to ride a bike outfitted in a corset, bustle, and multi-layer full-length skirts? It didn’t work out so well. Although viewed by many as highly scandalous, bloomers, baggy pants sewed into a big skirt, were the new fashion. For the first time, women were showing off their bare legs.

And, of course, the bicycle allowed quick mobilization for the suffragette movement. Alice Hawkins, a leading English suffragette among the city of Leicester went to prison five times for her acts in the Women’s Social and Political Union campaign. Women’s use of bicycles started with Hawkin’s use her own bicycle. She organized bike clubs that helped spread the word about female emancipation. Being able to travel gave her and other women the ability to do widespread canvassing to get their political point across.

Who would’ve thought that an invention as simple as two turning wheels could’ve liberated women more than anything else before?

Walk A Mile®Through Our Graduate Assistant’s Lens

By Indra Mursid

The first time I heard about Walk a Mile in Her Shoes© I was a senior student representative during my undergraduate studies. Student Senate was co-sponsoring the march with our own sexual assault and Title IX program so we weren’t the ones who were making the executive decisions on how to advertise or how to incorporate community outreach into the march. When I first found out about the Women’s Center involvement in hosting UMKC’s annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event – I was thrilled to be one of a handful of people making executive decisions on how to incorporate community resources within the march. Before Walk a Mile©, I assisted in curating the roaster of community organizations for the Resource Fair. Some organizations there were from previous Resource Fairs like MOSCA, League of Women Voters, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and some were new-and-upcoming organizations that I knew about in the Kansas City area through social media like Barrier Babes. To communicate with organizations about Walk a Mile ©, its cause, and how these organizations could help empower others was incredibly powerful to me because we were exposing survivors and advocates to communal resources they might not have even thought to look into. During the march, I got to witness my efforts through another lens – literally.

During the march, I was also in charge of taking photographs from various vantage points in many stages of the event from the Resource Fair tabling to men crossing the finish line. It was amazing to see students, faculty, Greek Letter societies, and UMKC sports teams unabashedly put on high heels and march in awareness of rape, sexual assault, and gender based violence. I could tell through my interactions with many men how passionate they were about the subject, especially in the speeches Dr. Martin, Justice Horn, and Humberto Gonzalez gave. They spoke about how they advocate for the women closest to them and women who cannot speak out due to the fear of retaliation or lack of support to do so. I want to emphasize how much we need men to use their voice as a vehicle for change, especially in women’s issues. Overall, the experience of planning, executing, and sprinting around the route with the participants taking photos was incredible. I hope to be involved in some way during my time at UMKC and beyond.

Perpetuating Gender Stereotypes or Empowering Strong Women?

By: Anonymous

The Netflix movie, Falling Inn Love released on August 29, 2019, follows a young woman who moves to New Zealand to renovate a rundown inn after losing her job and boyfriend. She ends up developing feelings for the contractor she employs. After reading a brief overview of the plot, I was curious if women would be represented in a positive, independent light. After watching the movie, I discovered the main character, Gabriella Diaz played by Christina Milan perpetuates many female stereotypes while breaking others.

After Gabriela experiences cliché post breakup devastation, she is presented as an ignorant, impulsive, superficial person. A perfect example takes place in the first scene. Gabriela ends up stranded on the side of the road, (keep in mind this takes place in a small town in New Zealand) and tries to trek through the mud in heels. She only cared about her cute clothes and refused to admit she needed help. This is incredibly problematic in regards to presenting women in a way that promotes equity. Once again, a female lead is portrayed as being clueless, helpless, and stubborn. While the male lead waits to rescue the incapable woman.

At the cost of women’s equity, this film also puts women against each other. Gabriella finds herself in a competitive power struggle with another female inn owner. The two women find themselves in a personal quest to become the most prominent woman in the town. Once again, women are portrayed as superficial, catty, and ignorant.

Overall, the movie comes off as initially cheesy and as a predictable romantic comedy. There is nothing wrong with that. The larger issue is even in a relatively basic movie, women are still made out to be conceited, stubborn, negative, ditzy, etc. Everyone knows media in all forms plays a significant role in influencing the way that we consider ourselves and others. It is crucial that media outlets are conscious of the messages they are sending to young people, especially young women.