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womens week 2

Panelists from the Title IX event, from left to right: Deborah Harley, Kelley Hodge, and Ginger Isenberg.

Credit: Giovanna Paz

For National Women’s History Month, students are holding the annual Penn Women’s Week March 24-31 — this year's theme is “Existing as Resistance."

“We’re hearing a lot now about the resistance in the age of Trump,” said College sophomore Jenna Liu, who is serving as the manager of Women's Week. “So we wanted to take that idea of resistance and extend it past political activism to include the very act of existing and continuing to live and thrive in this society and to highlight that as a form of resistance within itself.”

Penn Women's Week works closely with the board of Penn Association for Gender and Equity, which elects organizers for the week, according to Engineering sophomore and PAGE Chair Curie Shim.

She discussed the significance of narratives in planning the week-long celebration and the struggle to include all of them.

"I think it's always hard to do Women's Week because there's just an incredibly large number of of narratives that you want to focus on and can't always," Shim said. "Something good that we have achieved this year is having events that focus on people whose narratives may not always be centered." 

Liu said planning for the theme and various events began last November. Women's Week has gotten support from the LGBT Center and also Penn's Women Center, which provides a budget for the cultural week.

Credit: Giovanna Paz

The week kicked-off Monday night with a Quizzo-style event called "Remember the Ladies." From discussions to movie screenings, the board wanted to make sure the programming presented attendees with intersectional issues.

Women’s Week has partnered with a variety of organizations like Penn Dems, PAGE, TableTalk Penn, and Beyond Arrests: Rethinking Systemic Oppression to host events covering topics such as Title IX, criminal justice reform, and discrimination.

College junior Zoe Colbert, and member of the subset group FemDems in Penn Democrats, said she had attended past Women's Weeks and helped with programming for the Title IX panel event.

Colbert helped organize Penn Sexual Violence Investigative Officer Deborah Harley, former interim Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley Hodge, a representative from Woman Organized Against Rape, and Penn Violence Prevention graduate intern and master's student in the School of Social Policy and Practice Ginger Isenberg to attend and provide insight on the issue. 

"SVIO is not incredibly present in the undergraduate body to those of us who have not yet needed the resource," Colbert said. "We thought this was a good opportunity to make sure everyone knew what resources there are on campus."

Credit: Carson Kahoe

Janet Mock, Keynote speaker at Women's Week 2016, discussed nuances and complications of life as a trans woman in modern day society. 


Liu mentioned that this year’s Women’s Week will not include a traditional keynote speaker, which she attributed to the interest in local leaders and the desire to avoid the potentially high costs associated with bringing in a high-profile individual for the event. 

Last year, the annual event included a panel discussion about feminism and gender equity under the Trump administration. The year before featured a keynote speech from transgender rights activist Janet Mock.

The board wanted to highlight women who might not be directly engaged in political advocacy, and everyday women who “fight for themselves or fight against oppressive forces," according to Liu.

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