I’m very excited to be participating with In Women’s Hands. During the next two days, we will bring together women activists and organizers from Srebrenica and Sarajevo – the Women of Srebrenica Association and the Dosta! Movement. Joining us will be Iltezam Morrar of Budrus, a Palestinian village in the West Bank featured in a documentary film by Just Vision. I’ll be blogging this week on these women’s courageous work and the impact they’ve made in their societies.
But first let me tell you a little bit about myself. I believe justice in all of areas of women’s rights can be achieved through the strategic use of nonviolent action. It wasn’t until my first women’s studies class in college that I understood how much there is to do before women in America, and around the world, are treated as equals.
I was never told that women should be quiet or not have opinions; just the opposite – everyone in my family has always encouraged intellectual development and outspokenness. And despite being loud and opinionated myself, my family helped me develop my diplomatic skills.
I live in Turkey with my feminist partner and his liberal family. I am learning Turkish so that I can participate in the women’s movement here. Until then I teach English and keep up with my blog, Feminist Activism.
Language is extremely important to me, partly because I love to talk to people, but mostly because I think it gives a huge insight into how we view the world around us. From studying Spanish for seven years I have come to learn that there are ideas and concepts in every language that simply cannot be translated. My favorite example of this is the Turkish word “direniş.” It’s something akin to boycott, resistance, noncooperation, civil disobedience, struggle, uprising, etc. One word encompasses the entire spectrum of possible strategic nonviolent action, (SNVA), and yet there is no exact word in Turkish that means nonviolence.
My activism began during my teenage years. I participated in the Day of Respect to stop bullying, and the Day of Silence to honor the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual and Intersex (LGBTQAI) students who have been silenced. With inspiration from a wonderful teacher, a classmate and I founded the first Gay-Straight Alliance on our high school campus.
While studying Spanish, Linguistics and Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, I dedicated most of my free time to the National Organization for Women (NOW) and VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood. With NOW and VOX I participated in dozens of campaigns to raise awareness of and address women’s issues including Take Back the Night, Love Your Body, I Heart Consensual Sex, and most influentially, “No on Proposition 85″, a parental notification of abortion initiative in California.
I view every issue as a gender issue, so everything from the safety and living conditions of women in refugee camps and the rights of transgender sex workers to the disabled finding suitable employment and the educational and health repercussions of imprisonment concern me.
My graduate program in Gender & Peacebuilding at the University for Peace in Costa Rica led me to its “Peace and Nonviolent Transformation of Conflict” course. My professor, Dr. Mary Elizabeth King, exuded passion, commitment and dedication, and it was during this course that I discovered the need for strategically using nonviolent action to challenge the world’s injustices. I want to continue to expand my understanding of SNVA so I can educate others and share my knowledge toward struggles to overcome oppression.
We have the power to change the world. Let’s get to it!