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MSU Gender Equity Caucus hosting panel on women’s health

A gender equity organization at Murray State University is marking National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on Wednesday with a panel on women’s healthcare.

Murray State’s Gender Equity Caucus – previously the Women’s Faculty Caucus – is devoted to promoting gender equity and inclusivity for faculty, students and staff at the university. In addition to organizing campus events, the group has also advocated for multiple changes on campus – including the creation of lactation rooms on campus, fixing inequalities in student course evaluations, university salaries and other areas that can be affected by gender-bias.

Gender Equity Caucus president Sara Cooper hopes those who attend will feel motivated to take part in discussing topics that some consider too controversial to discuss in public.

“We wanted to think of the multiple ways that individuals need to have agency, and say, and choice over their own bodies … as opposed to having that gut response of ‘Oh no, that's not for me,’” Cooper said. “I hope folks can see that this is something that impacts all of us.”

Cooper said discussing topics such as women’s bodily autonomy can be a hot button issue for many, especially as legal battles continue over abortion rights at the state level. Cooper said that's why panels like these are important.

“Anytime you're talking about reproductive rights that kind of ignites strong feelings in multiple directions,” she said. “I think that sometimes the response to that is to shut down … the solution to that is to engage in dialogue and to engage in conversation.”

Panelists at the event will include former state representative Attica Scott, Planned Parenthood community organizer Charlotte Goddard and host of WKMS’ Middle of Everywhere podcast Ariel Lavery. The trio will lead a conversation on topics like reproductive rights, bodily autonomy and women’s health literacy, among others.

Cooper hopes both community members on and off Murray State’s campus will participate in the discussion and leave the event feeling more educated than before on the issues women face with controlling their bodily autonomy. The Gender Equity Caucus leader said building a sense of community is a key step in dealing with issues in women’s healthcare.

“I want folks to feel that in coming together: one, they see others who are doing this important work and, two, they get a sense of what action might look like and a sense of solidarity and camaraderie with others,” Cooper said. “They can think about ways to support one another. I just don't think that this is work that we can do alone.”

The panel discussion is free to the public and will start at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Murray State’s New Fine Arts Building.

Zacharie Lamb is a music major at Murray State University and is a Graves County native.
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