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Allies in activism

Women’s Week

March 2-6, 2020

Women’s Week is an annual, weeklong event focused on the issues and challenges faced by those who identify as female or women. Topics are relevant to today’s socioeconomic and political climate, intersectionality and cultural movements. This year’s Women’s Week theme, “Allies in Activism,” focuses on the power of indigenous women activists in and beyond the United States.

All are welcome to attend these free and open events.

The year 2020 is the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in the United States. And yet, the World Economic Forum 2020 Global Gender Gap Report notes the United States falls in the third quartile of political empowerment. What can be done to change this?

In order to gain momentum and shorten the United States projected timeline for gender parity, the inequalities within and intersecting with gender must also be addressed. Each March, Women’s Week events lead dialogues with the campus community by exploring the varying aspects of injustice affecting those who identify as female and/or women. Topics are relevant to today’s socioeconomic and political climate, intersectionality and cultural movements. This year’s Women’s Week theme of “Allies in activism” will focus on the power of indigenous women activists, their work and legacy and the influence of indigenous knowledge.

Attendees of the Women’s Week events will hear the stories of women from indigenous peoples who showcase unapologetic activism and build institutions and cultural spaces where people might flourish.

As a featured guest and keynote speaker, Madonna Thunder Hawk (she/her) will be present at two screenings of “Warrior Women,” a recently released documentary on her life and legacy. Thunder Hawk, an Oohenumpa Lakota, is best known for her creation of multiple advocacy and activism organizations, involvement as a leader in the American Indian Movement, and participation in modern native occupations from the Alcatraz Occupation through the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

"Madonna Thunder Hawk has a wealth of experience to share with us, from her role in the occupation of Alcatraz Island to her recent leadership in protesting the Dakota pipeline,” shared Susie Porter (she/her), chair of the Women’s Week Committee. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to learn from her."

The March 2 screening of “Warrior Women” will be followed by a Q&A with Thunder Hawk, while the March 3 screening will be followed by a panel of prominent indigenous leaders and experts on indigenous women’s activism, including Thunder Hawk.

How can one be an ally in activism?

Here is how the Anti-Defamation League defines key roles in activism:

Ally: Someone who speaks out on behalf of someone else or takes actions that are supportive of someone else.

Advocate: Someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

Activist: Someone who gets involved in activities that are meant to achieve political or social change; including being a member of an organization which is working on change.

While all three terms are often used interchangeably—at moments, one can be all simultaneously—each often requires different actions in order to create alliance, advocacy and activism. To be an “ally in activism,” one must be consciously aware of the needed support for others within one’s activism work and disrupt and educate on their behalf. Use the Women’s Week events to begin your “ally in activism” journey and celebrate the power of indigenous knowledge.

Media Contacts

Morgan Aguilarcommunications specialist, University of Utah Communications