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The Ninth Annual Women’s History Month Symposium

Thursday, March 23
5:00 – 6:30 pm
Friday, March 24
8:45 am – 4:00 pm ET
Check in begins at 8:00 am ET

John D. O’Bryant African American Institute
Cabral Center, Northeastern University
40 Leon Street, Boston

Presented by the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program and the Northeastern Humanities Center

Co-Sponsored by the Northeastern University School of Law, School of Journalism, Snell Library, the Programs in Human Services and Africana Studies, and the Departments of Cultures, Societies, & Global Studies; English; Health Sciences; International Affairs; Philosophy; Political Science; and Sociology & Anthropology

The annual Women’s and Gender Studies (WGSS) Symposium at Northeastern University brings together feminist thought leaders—scholars, journalists, activists, and public intellectuals—to address an urgent concern of the moment from varieties of feminist perspectives. 

This year’s symposium, “Feminists on the Politics of Crisis,” recognizes a confluence of life-threatening emergencies, including accelerated environmental degradation, with disproportionate impact on women and the poor, the persecution and policing of women who exercise autonomy over their own bodies, and heightened censorship, the banning of books in America’s schools, books that, for example, teach children about the history of race in America and acknowledge gay and trans identities. Feminist history is dotted with moments of effective galvanization around these kinds of struggles in the past: eco-feminism was an early response to the need for environmental justice; the fight on our streets for reproductive freedom resulted in Roe v. Wade’s legalization of abortion; feminist research and teaching opened avenues for gay and trans young people to imagine lives free from despair, and public history projects (like the NYT’s 1619) began fruitful conversations about racial reckonings.

With shocking impunity, safeguards to the environment and efforts to reverse climate change are being rolled back; Roe has been overturned, and women have been stripped of basic rights and bodily autonomy, books are banned (misnamed “CRT” may not be taught in some schools); speech is curtailed (“don’t say gay”). Misogyny informs—is perhaps at the heart of—these unwelcome developments. 

This year’s WGSS Symposium is gathering leading feminist experts to address the broad question of the politics of crisis in relation to the specific concerns of our environment, reproductive justice, and censorship. World renowned scholars and activists will first “survey the wreckage” in a keynote conversation, followed by a day of panels on the new eco-feminism; the revived Jane Collective and fight for abortion rights; and the renewed efforts to secure free speech, especially in education. What are the salient lessons learned from feminist successes in our history and what are best strategies moving forward? We will ask panelists to consider how to productively channel our collective rage, address these perilous developments, protect people, and create and implement policy and social change.

This year, we are spreading our events across the span of two days: an opening plenary/comedy set on Thursday, March 23 from 5:00-6:30 and a day of panels addressing three major crises facing feminists on Friday, March 24 from 8:45 am – 4:00 pm. All events will be held in the Cabral Session. Free registration is required for all events.

We kick things off Thursday night with “Activism IS Self Care“, a comedy set from Lizz Winstead (founder, Abortion Access Front and co-Creator, The Daily Show). The comedy set will be followed by a robust audience Q&A period moderated by Suzanna Walters.

On Friday, we continue with events addressing three major crises. Check-in begins at 8:00 am ET. A welcome into the space from program director Suzanna Walters will start at 8:45 am with our first panel “Fueled by Misogyny: Gender and the Climate Crisis” starting at 9:00 am. After a break, our next panel, “Don’t Say…: On Censorship and Organizing for Progressive/Feminist Speech”, will begin at 11:00 am. We will break for lunch and return at 2:00 for our final panel of the day, “Feminist Rage and Resistance: Lessons Learned for Post-Roe Activism.” A full schedule of events can be found here.

Panelists include: Paula Ávila-Guillen (Women’s Equality Center), Paisley Currah (Brooklyn College, The Graduate Center/CUNY), Cara Dagget (Virginia Tech), Chelsea Mikael Frazier (Cornell University), Rebecca Hart-Holder (Reproductive Equity Now), Martha Hickson (North Hunterdon High School Library), Robin Marty (West Alabama Women’s Center), Adenike Oladosu (iLeadClimate), Karsonya Wise Whitehead (Loyola University Maryland, National Women’s Studies Association), and keynote comedian Lizz Winstead (founder, Abortion Access Front, co-creator, The Daily Show). Panelist bios and talk descriptions can be found here.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.