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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Women’s Center: Here to Stay

Students+interacting+in+the+Womens+Center
Students interacting in the Women’s Center

 

 

Upon hearing that the Women’s Center was to be shut down in the 2013 spring semester, members were not about to go down without a fight.

The Women’s Center provides a source of empowerment. It serves as a platform for students, male and female alike, to partake in gender issues. It is a place where simple conversations evolve into discussions involving numerous centers and a plethora of students. The promotion of unity and equality, not only for women, but for all students on campus, is one of the lasting hallmarks of the center.

The Women’s Center has flourished in the past year, gaining more members and associating itself with other centers, collaborating in order to let the UMass community know that we are indeed alive. The resources that the Women’s Center provides for women who need information or simply a comfortable, accepting atmosphere is more than indispensable.

Bridget Mutebu, adviser and liason of the Women’s Center, believes that the center is a place for empowerment. “I see the Women’s Center as a place for women to convene and empower each other as a gender group, drink from each other’s ideas and experiences, as well as learn from them to gain better knowledge and strength of what it is to be a woman.”

Olivia Lunardo, a strong and passionate advocate for the center, said, “I love women and myself. By de facto, I hate seeing women being judged, losing out on opportunities, being denied their rights, subjugated to rape culture, etc.

“The Women’s Center gives us (as in people, not just women) a place to talk and combat some of these issues. It also lets us know we are not alone, and to love ourselves and the genders that we are, not what society wants us to be.”

When ruminating on women’s rights, the uplifting story of Mukhtar Mai always comes to mind. Mai was 28 years old when she was the victim of a gang rape in Pakistan, as punishment for a crime which her 12-year-old brother was wrongly accused of. Initially, as expected, they stayed holed up in her home, wallowing in shame and despair, fearful because of the numerous death threats she had received. She found hope, however, in her family and community at large.

Mai bounced back from her painful experience and is now an activist against violence against women in Pakistan. She even set up her own NPO, and the Mukhtar Mai Women’s Organization opened up a school for girls, as she believes that education is the best way to combat the ignorance which promotes violence against women.

Mai’s organization works to rescue women and young girls who have been affected by rape, domestic violence, the trading of females to settle disputes, and forced child marriages.

She is still fighting for the rights of women in Pakistan and around the world. Members of  the Women’s Center at UMass Boston have been greatly inspired by her story.

Bearing this in mind, the Women’s Center closing was not an option. So, just as Mai rose from her traumatic experience with the help of her family and community, the women of the Women’s Center found strength in our supporters and student community. We united and fought for our center by attending focus meetings, signing petitions, occupying the center space, and collaborating with other centers and clubs to hold events.

Our next mission is to not only reach out to the students of UMass Boston, but to the Women’s Centers at other Massachusetts universities, just as Mai transitioned from advocating for women of Pakistan, to representing women around the world.

The members of the organization want to make it clear that the Women’s Center is here to stay.