February 17, 2006
Here’s a more interesting take on “Ithaca is Gorges” – how about “Vaginas are Gorges”?
The Cornell Women’s Resource Center sold shirts with a provocative twist on the classic slogan at yesterday’s annual Vagina Carnival, held at the Robert Purcell Community Center on North Campus. The annual event featured games, prizes and education for those who attended.
The Women’s Resource Center educates students about women’s advocacy issues.
“We do education, outreach and research resources in addition to programs like this,” said Barbara Wold ’06, a Women’s Resource Center volunteer.
Wold also described the organization’s ties to the V-Day movement. V-Day, or “Victory Day,” is a global movement that stems from playwright Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Each year, the play, based on Ensler’s interviews with over 200 women, is performed on college campuses around the world.
V-Day supports anti-violence organizations around the world and helps draw attention to problems of worldwide violence against women. The movement has raised over $30 million over the past seven years and was named one of Worth magazine’s “100 Best Charities.”
Each year, the movement focuses on a different group of women who are experiencing violence. The goal of the movement is to raise awareness – and money – to stop it.
This year, in acknowledgement of the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II, V-day is calling attention to the plight of “comfort women” survivors.
“Comfort women” is a euphemism that was used during WWII to denote women forced into having sex with Japanese troops between 1932 and 1945. The estimated number of “comfort women” survivors ranges from 50,000 to 200,000.
V-Day is working with these women to help raise awareness about their plight. The movement is also working to raise public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking, drawing a parallel between the “comfort women” of WWII and modern-day trafficking and abuse.
While the carnival was meant to be a fun event for students and volunteers alike, Wold insisted that “everything [the group does] has a goal of education.”
The carnival’s goal, she said, was to help students celebrate womanhood while educating women in hopes of decreasing violence against them.
The event also reminded students about the upcoming performance of The Vagina Monologues, noted Grace Pusavat ’08, another Women’s Resource Center volunteer.
The performance will feature members of the Cornell community, including director Kimberly Rice ’06. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Ithaca Advocacy Center.
The Vagina Carnival was sponsored by the Cornell Women’s Resource Center.
Archived article by Christine Ryu Sun Staff Writer
February 17, 2006
“My grand hope would be to make a real difference in the lives of girls and women and to see them better off,” said Anju Malhotra ’80, director of the Population and Social Transitions team at the International Center for Research on Women.
Malhotra, who also oversees the Social and Economic Development group at ICRW, lectured yesterday on intervention research in South Asia. She said that one of the ICRW’s goals is to make its research meaningful. Malhotra focused on two programs headed by the organization, one in Nepal and another in impoverished areas of India.
The studies were designed to collect data on reproductive health and use it to implement effective programs to improve reproductive health services, primarily for young women, and to promote awareness.
Malhotra explained that ICRW’s work has the power to be effective on both macro and micro levels. On the macro level, ICRW hopes to influence organizations such as the UN and the World Bank by using their research to gain support.
“I think that their work is incredibly important because it is research based. It is exciting to see a Cornell [alumna] comeback and share that with us. Their methods for quantifying the impact of their work are going to mean that they are able to lobby for funding,” said Prof. Amy Villarejo, director of the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.
On the micro level, ICRW hopes to be effective by working with local groups to implement effective programs for young women.
The programs in India and Nepal helped to set up youth organizations and train peer educators and teachers to inform others on topics related to reproductive health. The programs also collected reproductive histories and other data on community members.
Malhotra stressed the importance of local support.
“You have to mobilize the community. If the community doesn’t accept [the program] you’re not going to be successful and you’re not going to be there very long,” Malhotra said.
Researches focused on problems such as girls marrying at early ages – on average between 15 and 16 – and most having their first birth within one year after marriage. They also addressed the lack of access to temporary contraception and, in India, the pressure toward sterilization.
Malhotra said that one of the most interesting things that researchers in India found was how closely aligned economic control is to female empowerment. She said that many women in India defined reproductive health as delaying the age of marriage and gaining economic options.
She cautioned against the instinct to rely on microcredit organizations, groups that make very small loans to poor women and families in developing areas to start small businesses, as an easy solution to give women economic power.
“We are trying to push for microcredit, plus you have to do it with skill building, you have to teach women what running a business means. You have to have financial literacy courses because if you can’t manage your money then you can’t do anything,” Malhotra said.
There is hope that these studies will have effects that reach beyond the communities in which they took place.
Ashish Bajracharya grad said that he was interested in Malhotra’s work because of its broader implications and the ways in which it could be applied to his own work.
He explained that ICRW’s programs “offer an interesting way of doing a social experiment and seeing how results can be translated into policy.”
ICRW’s work can be related to high income countries like the United States as well as be an important model for developing programs in other areas, according to Malhotra.
“Young people everywhere are in a very exciting period of life; they have hopes and aspirations