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Fem Dems leaders from left to right: Engineering sophomore Allison Schwartz, College freshman Zoe Colbert and College sophomore Jana Korn.

Credit: Julio Sosa

Fem Dems may be a young group on campus, but it has big plans for the future. A new branch of Penn Democrats, the group hopes to raise awareness on and increase advocacy for women’s issues.

Fem Dems originally began last year as a social group for women, initially launched by Undergraduate Assembly President and Penn Dems Vice President Jane Meyer. This year, Engineering sophomore Allison Schwartz, College sophomore Jana Korn and College freshman Zoe Colbert hope to bring an educational theme to the group by focusing more on policy and advocacy.

“We want to create a space for women first on campus ... to talk about women’s issues, how they relate to us and how they relate to the U.S. at large,” Schwartz said.

One of the ways they hope to achieve this is by organizing monthly discussions about women’s issues and related policies. Possible topics range from campus sexual assault to women’s reproductive rights. Apart from discussing theory, Fem Dems hopes to differentiate itself by also examining these issues in terms of current U.S. policy, Schwartz said. The first discussion this Saturday, open to Penn Dems members, will explore the media’s portrayal of women in power.

Fem Dems also hopes to involve students in feminist advocacy events. Recently, they used social media to show their support for Planned Parenthood funding. Students took photos with a #IStandWithPP picture frame on Locust Walk, changed their Facebook profile pictures to pink and shared the hashtag across social media. Events such as these advance the club’s goal of destigmatizing feminism and making students aware of women’s issues on campus and in the world, Colbert said.

Another upcoming Fem Dems advocacy event is a bake sale that will raise awareness about income inequality. It will be held on Oct. 26 outside or in Huntsman Hall. The catch: Men will be charged one dollar, while women will pay 75 cents, paralleling the wage gap that women experience in the workforce.

In the future, Fem Dems hopes to organize an event in partnership with the Society of Women Engineers and Wharton Women. “I think that there is a problem at Penn — and nationally — where politics are almost 100 percent controlled by white men,” Korn said. “If you think about it, politics, business and engineering are the three fields where women don’t have a strong footing,” Schwartz added. Fem Dems hopes to change this by inviting speakers to advise students about ways to combat sexism and how to enter the workforce.

Through all of these events, Fem Dems’ primary goal remains the same. “I want a place where liberal women can talk about the issues they care about, a place where they feel comfortable and not embarrassed by any ambition they have,” Korn said. “At the most basic level, it will bring a lot of motivated girls together to support one another.”

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