|International Activist to Speak at Coalition Conference|
The Saint Rose Chronicle, February 27, 2008
by Geoff Arbuckle
The second annual Women's Studies Regional Conference will be held on March 15, 2008 in Saint Joseph's auditorium.
Writers, scholars, and activists from all over the world will gather to address conflicts and challenges women face worldwide.
"The conference is designed to showcase women's studies scholarship on a common topic and make Saint Rose a regional center for interdisciplinary research and activism concerning women and gender issues," coordinator Bridgett Williams-Searle said. "The conference steering committee selected the topic 'Globalization, Gender, and the Challenge of Transnational Feminisms' because we wanted to show off the breadth of work on women and gender around the world and have some comparative transnational conversations."
The college will also welcome Supriya Pillai, the International Women's Health Coalition program officer for Asia to give the keynote address. Pillai currently works overseas promoting activism and working with others around the globe to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for women.
"I will talk about how far we've come and will focus on some of the issues that the young people, women and men that inspire me work on, particularly in Asia," Pillai said. "I hope to touch on the need to work with young people, reaching out to other movements in order to sustain our own."
In her speech Pillai hopes to focus on the work of global activists working on sexual reproductive health and rights.
Pillai has done a lot of work in Asia. She has also attacked the HIV/AIDS issue with her work in West Africa. After two years there, she also worked more closely with those issues among sex workers and young people in Cambodia for another two years.
"Ms. Pillai exemplifies the next generation in international feminist leadership," Williams-Searle said. "Her interdisciplinary makes her a great role model for liberal arts students who are wondering how to fit all their interests together to do something personally meaningful."
Pillai has been a member of the coalition for two years, and has worked with groups all over Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to develop health campaigns.
The conference itself is drawing in people from all over. Some presenters are coming as far away as Nigeria, Taiwan, Brazil, and India.
Undergraduate groups from regional campuses are also expected to attend. Coordinators are hoping for a big turnout.
"I spoke at it last year and the turnout was in the hundreds, as I recall," speaker Jennifer Baumgardner said. "[It's] a great edifying conference with lots of men as well as women, participants young and old."
Saint Rose undergraduates are also getting involved.
The conference is free to Saint Rose students, who are welcome to stop by for Pillai's address.
For more information on the conference those interested can go to www.strose.edu/wmsconference.
"We are eager to reach out to Saint Rose students, some of whom have never heard of our program, or its activities," Williams-Searle said. "We hope to build a network so that students know about what we are doing, so that they can plan activities that they want to see happen on campus."