Ninth annual Women’s History Month symposium examines life-threatening political emergencies through a feminist lens


Elizabeth Scholl

Ávila-Guillen speaks alongside Holder, Marty and Swanson at the ninth annual Women’s History Month symposium. The event took place at the Cabral Center in the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute March 24.

Elizabeth Scholl, photo staff

The Northeastern Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program, or WGSS, hosted their ninth annual Women’s History Month Symposium March 23 and 24. This year’s theme, “Feminists on the Politics of Crisis,” was chosen to invite conversation and examine feminist perspectives surrounding the climate crisis, LGBTQ+ rights, censorship and abortion rights. 

The two-day event kicked off with a comedy set titled “Activism IS Self Care” by Lizz Winstead, founder of Abortion Access Front and co-creator of the Daily Show. 

WGSS featured three panels on the climate crisis, censorship and LQBTQ+ rights and bodily autonomy March 24.

Dr. Régine Jean-Charles applauds after the conclusion of the first panel, “Fueled by Misogyny: Gender and the Climate Crisis.” Jean-Charles moderated the conversation, guiding the discussion from speaker to speaker and overseeing the ending Q&A portion. (Elizabeth Scholl)
Daggett presents during the first panel beside a sign language interpreter. Daggett discussed what she called “petro-masculinity,” or the association of energy with masculine ideals within popular culture and the energy sector. (Elizabeth Scholl)
Frazier references her notes while speaking to the audience during the first panel. She spoke about Black feminism and its connection to ecology through discussion of the book “The Salt Eaters” by Toni Cade Bambara. (Elizabeth Scholl)
Oladosu emphatically addresses the audience. Oladosu discussed ecofeminism and how women are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. (Elizabeth Scholl)


The second panel was moderated by Dr. Carla Kaplan, a Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature, and professor for Northeastern’s WGSS; English; and Cultures, Societies and Global Studies programs.

Kaplan speaks before the start of the second panel, “Don’t Say…:On Censorship and Organizing for Progressive/Feminist Speech.” Kaplan moderated the panel, guiding the discussion and audience Q&A portion. (Elizabeth Scholl)


The panel discussed LGBTQ+ rights, censorship and organizing for feminist speech, with panelists Dr. Paisley Currah, professor of political science and women’s and gender studies at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY; Martha Hickson, a librarian at North Hunterdon High School and Dr. Karsona “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, a professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland and founder and executive director of the Karson Institute for Race, Peace, and Social Justice. Discussion topics included the rise of mainstream anti-trans rhetoric, increased censorship attempts in schools and how history can inform what our collective responsibility is to change the system amidst national conversations about gender and racial justice.

Hickson speaks at the podium during the second panel. Hickson discussed literary censorship and her own experience as a school librarian while dealing with attempted book bans. (Elizabeth Scholl)
Whitehead and Currah (left to right) prepare for the start of the second panel. Whitehead discussed how history can inform the responsibility to enact social change and Currah spoke about the rise of anti-trans rhetoric from political leaders and its impacts. (Elizabeth Scholl)


The third panel, on abortion and bodily autonomy, was moderated by Dr. Kara Swanson, a Northeastern professor of law and history and the associate dean for research and interdisciplinary education. The panelists were Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of Reproductive Equity Now, Paula Ávila-Guillen, executive director of the Women’s Equality Center and Robin Marty, operations director of the West Alabama’s Women’s Center. Discussion topics included the role of blue states in the protection of abortion rights, how the “green wave” movement’s successes in Latin America could inform abortion movement strategies in the United States and the current reality of many southeastern states following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as well as how current strategies are leaving behind people in those communities.

Swanson listens to the speakers during the third panel of the symposium, “Feminist Rage and Resistance: Lessons Learned for Post-Roe Activism.” Swanson moderated the panel, orchestrated the Q&A and asked participants guiding questions. (Elizabeth Scholl)
Ávila-Guillen speaks alongside Holder and Marty (left to right). She spoke about how groups successfully decriminalized abortion in Latin America and how those strategies could inform current strategies in the United States following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. (Elizabeth Scholl)
Marty speaks during the third panel. She spoke about the issues facing the Southeastern United States following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and how her clinic’s operations were restructured in the following months. (Elizabeth Scholl)