Campus News

Student groups use International Women’s Day to advocate for underrepresented populations

UW-Madison students and community members used International Women’s Day to advocate for underrepresented populations.

Image By: Morgan Winston

UW-Madison students and community members gathered outside Union South Thursday afternoon, using International Women’s Day as a chance to speak out against ideas they claim are harmful to women and historically underrepresented groups.

Rally leaders spoke to just over 30 people about the mobilization of populations ranging from cisgender, bisexual, lesbian and transgender people to poor, low-wage workers and unpaid caregivers and migrant workers.

Micah Dombroe — a member of the International Socialist Organization at UW-Madison who helped organize the event — said the rally was meant to provide an alternative to the commercialization of International Women’s Day, honor the history of politically active women and recognize the intersectional oppression that is “apparent in society.”

“Today we held true to the history of this day, which involved radical women workers, who were largely migrant women and women of color, standing up for their rights and demanding better working conditions,” Dombroe said.

According to Dombroe, being an intersectional feminist means understanding interlocking oppressions and how those oppressions depend upon one another.

“If you’re going to be a feminist, it’s also important to be an anti-fascist, an anti-racist and to be against oppression of any kind,” Dombroe said.

Other rally leaders spoke about a “school-to-prison pipeline” that unequally incarcerates disadvantaged minors and suggested potential solutions to this problem.

Olyvia Jaxyn, a UW-Madison graduate, said that to combat this problem there needs to be more mental health resources, accessible transportation and affordable housing and food in the Madison area.

UW-Madison student and MeChA member Patricia Castillo addressed police brutality and sexual assault, two things she said are major issues today. Castillo requested that UW-Madison make additional efforts to ensure the campus is a more safe and inclusive space for all.

“We want police presence on campus to actually protect its women, trans and nonbinary and disabled students,” Castillo said. “We also demand that the university hold known abusers accountable, whether that be faculty or students.”

Castillo also demanded UW-Madison expel known racist and white supremacist students, saying there should be repercussions for hate speech against marginalized students.

Dombroe said these changes — if implemented — would benefit the educational and social environment of the UW-Madison campus.

Dombroe added that they would like to see UW-Madison make more of an effort to create an inclusive classroom environment for underrepresented students on campus, saying that many students feel “an invisibility” in STEM classes dominated by white men.

“The university highly favors cisgender men and has no space for transgender people, no space for people of color and no space for queer people,” Dombroe said.

Following the rally, leaders of the event held a panel in the Educational Sciences building to continue the conversation of feminism and women's rights on the UW-Madison campus.

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