Elon students join in solidarity for gender equality

On Wednesday, many Elon University students, faculty and staff participated in A Day Without a Woman, a national strike to show value of women in the U.S. socio-economic system. To participate in the strike, women were encouraged to take the day off from work, avoid shopping except for at minority- or locally-owned businesses and wear red in solidarity.

A Day Without a Woman coincides with the International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the world. The organizers of A Day Without a Woman are the same activists who organized the Women’s March on Washington in January.

Members of the Elon community participated in the strike in a number of ways. Some simply wore red in support while others canceled class.

Senior Danielle Dulchinos initially wanted to participate by not going to class, but decided to attend class out of respect for those without access to an education.

“I ended up going to class because being able to go to college is such a privilege,” Dulchinos said. “It’s such a privilege as a woman for a lot of reasons and a lot of women don’t have that privilege, a lot of women don’t get to go to school at all and so for me, while I totally, 100 percent agree with the strike and agree with the point of the strike, I feel like personally I decided to go to class because this is an opportunity afforded [to] me that’s not given to many others.”

While many students participated in the event, the movement was not supported by all students. Senior Josh Weintraub said that while he supports the general cause, he does not support the organizers behind the event.

“The woman who was the main person in putting all of this together is a known Palestinian terrorist who killed multiple Israelis in a bombing and tried to plan to bomb the British Embassy in Israel in the past,” Weintraub said. “So I feel like we can support international women’s movements without allowing these people to have their views normalized by running the events.”

Weintraub said that while he does consider himself to be a supporter of women’s rights, his position as a Jewish man makes it difficult for him to support the event considering the actions of one of its organizers against Israelis.

“I felt like it puts me in an odd situation of, do I support women’s rights, and even though I do it’s frowned upon because I don’t support the events that are happening today,” Weintraub said. “So I’m put in the middle situation of not being able to identify with the people who are protesting today but identifying with what they’re trying to say at the same time.”

Regardless of personal opinion on the need or effectiveness of the event, International Women’s Day and A Day Without a Woman served as ways to spark conversations about gender inequality on campus. For Dulchinos, the event should be motivation for people to learn more about the feelings and stories of others.

“It should be a day for us to take a step back and really get to know our fellows citizens,” Dulchinos said. “I think that there is so much that can be solved if you sat down with somebody who is very different from you and just said, ‘Why do you feel that way? What makes you scared?’”

Students had the opportunity to learn more about and further discuss issues of gender inequality at Elon’s International Women’s Day Forum, an event co-sponsored by 12 different academic departments and student organizations across campus.

The forum, hosted by sophomore Lucia Jervis, included presentations from Elon faculty, students and alumni. The presenters included Rissa Trachman, associate professor of anthropology; Alexa Sykes ’13; Carmen Monico, assistant professor of human service studies; Nina Namaste, associate professor of Spanish; Sumeyye Pakdil Kesgin, adjunct assistant professor of religious studies; and sophomore Amy Belfer. The forum concluded with a performance by some members of the cast of The Vagina Monologues.

The speakers presented on a number of topics, ranging from gender issues in archaeology to global gender-based violence.

Freshman Julia Dick who attended the forum said that the speakers and their focus on women in leadership were inspirational and uplifting.

“To me, it was just extremely empowering just to hear people’s stories and hear the things that they’ve had to go through to kind of get to where they are now,” Dick said. “You know, facing adversity obviously did not stop them from pushing through and doing what they loved.”

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