Penn Association for Gender Equity transitioned to a new board this semester, welcoming seven new board members and affirming the club’s commitment to intersectionality amid concern about discrimination under President Donald Trump.
The organization’s new board intends to stress its dedication to inclusivity. College sophomore Jamie Ye, one of two returning board members, said that the board’s plans preceded the Women’s March movement.
“We had a general board direction we wanted to take before the Women’s March happened,” Ye said. “We knew that Trump was going to be inaugurated. We knew we wanted to make our space more inclusive and intersectional. So I think that it wasn’t that the Women’s March galvanized us — we were already galvanized.”
Freshmen now comprise a majority on the PAGE board, which Ye said adds a new energy to the group. “They bring a lot of new ideas that we never even talked about when I joined the board,” she said.
Notably, the club hopes to partner with several cultural groups as well as the Civic House to best promote inclusivity, solidarity, diversity and social, economic and racial justice within PAGE and in the Penn community.
“We have, in the past few years, been trying to redirect the focus on women of color, LGBTQ, cis/transgender, all those elements of feminism that is left behind in most conversations,” board member and College freshman Tanya Jain said.
“We have, this year, a board that is very dedicated to that, and also, represents those aspects a lot more, which is really, really exciting,” PAGE Chair and College junior Meghana Nallajerla-Yellapragada added.
After the Women’s March, PAGE held and generate discussion on the successes and shortcomings of the marches, which have been criticized for lacking inclusivity and focusing on the experiences of white cisgender women.
“We had different perspectives on how the march was perhaps centered on one type of feminism,” Nallajerla-Yellapragada said. “Our goal, I think, this year especially more than ever, is to focus on intersectionality, and move away from some of the white feminist, cisgender feminist aspects that PCUW...used to have.” PAGE was previously called the Penn Consortium for Undergraduate Women.
Board member and Engineering freshman Curie Shim said one cannot justly distinguish one issue as the most pressing threat to women from the Trump administration. “They’re attacking everyone,” she said. “And to focus on one issue would be really diminutive of the struggles that everyone is going through right now.”
“Pretty much every group is being targeted under this administration, and we can’t reduce that to one overarching thing that’s supposed to encompass all women, because all women aren’t the same,” Shim said.
PAGE leaders emphasized the importance of respecting the diversity of womanhood and said they hope to provide a space for marginalized voices.
“We are super committed, all nine of us, to centering people whose narratives typically haven’t been heard and making sure to serve those groups before others,” Shim said.
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