MSU Gender Equity Caucus Celebrates International Women's Day with Bodily Autonomy Panel
The Murray State University Gender Equity Caucus (previously the Women's Faculty Caucus) presents a women's health panel this afternoon titled "Bodily Autonomy: Women, Resilience, and Resistance in the Bluegrass State." Asia Burnett speaks to caucus president Sara Cooper and International Women sub-committee member Cintia Segovia Figueroa ahead of the event.
The Gender Equity Caucus, which recently changed its name to include and address issues affecting the community and non-binary individuals, was mindful of its choice of both the date and topic of this event. Not only does the panel take place on International Women's Day. But the topic of discussion is particularly relevant now, Figueroa explains.
"In terms of legislation, we are in a very difficult spot right now. That's why it was important for us to give visibly to [bodily autonomy]. We wanted to focus not on the macro picture but on intimate stories told by women and how these big issues about bodily autonomy affect us in a rural area. The stories we're going to hear about are going to be a combination of activism, works of love, and how we can change from our own little trench."
"We wanted to think about the idea that everyone should have agency over their own bodies and should be able to make decisions about their own bodies," Cooper adds. "The other piece is that it can be easy to lose hope in this environment we're currently in. So, we wanted to focus on this idea of resilience, advocacy, and how we do good work when things feel challenging."
The panel includes WKMS' Ariel Lavery, producer of the Middle of Everywhere podcast, Charlotte Goddard, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Kentucky community organizer, and Attica Scott, former Kentucky state representative (2017-2022). "Charlotte Goddard is the person who is going to and knocking on doors and really aiding that work of fighting for reproductive justice. With the recent amendment, she was organizing and keeping that momentum going. She's out in the trenches doing that work," Cooper says.
"Ariel Lavery is someone who hosts a podcast that's focused on rural communities through WKMS. Her focus of this season is on women's health care. We thought that was a really nice focus on the region," she continues. "Attica Scott is doing all this amazing work at the state level and not only as a former state representative but also as an activist. She's out in the streets working for Black Lives Matter movements and reproductive rights and really marries that work of doing work in the legal sphere and communities. We love the idea of bringing these folks together who can talk about our immediate local situation, our region, our state, and even kind of broaden out to a national level."
"One of the questions we will be asking today to our panelists, and that's why you should come today to see the event, is how we as members of the community protect ourselves when we see that the community work is so draining," Figueroa adds. "How do we traverse these very difficult waters where we put ourselves on the line emotionally or maybe physically? That is one of the tools that I think we'll take away today."
"This panel is a way for folks to come together and find community and see that others are doing this work—that doing this work is possible and doing work in communities like ours is possible. It's easy to think, 'oh, I live in Murray, what can I really do? I'm so distant from all this stuff happening in the Capitol.' But there are folks doing this work. So, I'm really looking forward to that opportunity to create community and gather folks who have this interest and to allow folks to learn more about issues that they may not be aware of," Cooper concludes.
"Bodily Autonomy: Women, Resilience, and Resistance in the Bluegrass State" is free and open to the public. It begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8th, in room 623 of the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building on Murray's main campus. Price Doyle Fine Arts is located just on the other side of Murray's main campus gate at 15th and Olive.