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Sunday, June 21, 2009

What I Did This Weekend

This past weekend (June 19-21) I attended the National NOW Conference in Indianapolis, IN. It was an amazing conference filled with intelligent and passionate women. I felt right at home in the room of over 400 fellow feminists. In case any of you are interested, this is what I was up to there. I went to four workshops and saw some brilliant speakers.

The first workshop I attended was "Don't Be a Bystander: Own Your Sexual Health." This workshop covered various resources that are available about reproductive and sexual health led by a woman from SisterSong and two women from the National Library of Medicine.. I'm amazed at all of the valuable information that is out there and the work that is being done by organizations to make the information even better. Here are some of the websites that I especially liked:
Mapping Our Rights - Developed by SisterSong, this website has tons on information of the laws and policies in each state that relate to reproductive rights. Right now, it doesn't have everything, but it is still really comprehensive and you can request that they add information.
Medline Plus - Put out by the National Library of Medicine, this is a comprehensive health website, but has some great sections of Teen Sexual Health, Reproductive Health, Women's Sexual Health, etc.
Sex Etc. - a webiste geared toward LGBT teens who are questioning their sexual identity.
Women's Health - this website is pretty much what the name says, but it has some great info!

The next workshop I went to was "Square Butts, Date Rape, and Wicked Witches: Confronting Dangerous Media Messages." This was about the dangerous effect that the media has on women, from the self-esteem of girls and women to how men view women. This was an amazing workshop that was really comprehensive about the different types of advertising strageties and how the media portrays women. It also talked about things you can do to fight back. You can check out NOW's Media Hall of Shame. If you see an advertisement or news report that offends you, contact the company. If you decide to boycott a company based on their advertising campaign, make sure you let them know why. So many offensive ads have been taken out of magazines, off TV and down from billboards because people have written to the companies because of offensive material.

On Saturday, I went to "Feminist Blogging: Connecting Women Around the World." This workshop was pretty straight forward, but gave some valuable information on how to get started, what to post, and how to manage a blog.

Finally, I went to "Feminist Activism on Global Issues: CEDAW, Trafficking, Violence, Poverty, and Women's Health." This was such a jam-packed workshop and I arrived late because some other speakers ran over. But it was so comprehensive. The main focus was human and sex trafficking. You may not think that it's that big of a problem, but oh yes it is. It was kind of overwhelming to sit there and listen to all these horrible things that happen not only to women in other countries, but to women right here in the United States. The biggest problem in working against the trafficking of women is that there are no services for the women after they escape from their traffickers. I don't know what else to say because there was just so much information and it was so overwhelming.

The speakers at the conference included Lulu Flores, president of the National Women's Political Caucus; Donna Smith, health care advocate who was featured in Sicko; Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed and activist for women's and working class rights; Hon. Jennifer Brunner, first female Sec. of State of Ohio and Senate candidate to be the first female senator from Ohio; Hon. Gwen Moore, representative from Wisconsin; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennet College for Women; and Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale, the first openly lesbian or gay president and dean of the Episcopal Divinity School.

Overall, amazing conference, amazing people, amazing time!


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