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Gender’s Role in Political Activism. How Do I Get Involved?

Former Vermont Governor, Women's Rights Activist Are Participants
March 2, 2010
Press Release #10-038


The 11th St. Mary's College of Maryland Women, Gender, and Sexual Studies Colloquium will focus on political activism at a three-day seminar Tuesday-Thursday, March 23-25, 2010, in Cole Cinema at the college's Campus Center.  "We chose this theme because it is important to be reminded that women - and men - seek out political change for gendered reasons," said Kathryn Norlock, associate professor of philosophy. "Sex and sexuality are not irrelevant to our reasons for political action." The colloquium, "(En)Gendering Political Change," is free and open to the public. For more information: visit

This year's colloquium will include presentations from Feminist Majority Foundation grassroots organizers, a former state governor, a representative of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and a scholar of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) political movements. Women, said Norlock, have always been part of the political and civil rights movements in this country and around the world.  What have women faced when trying to make change through politics? And what are practical ways to get involved?

Each year, the colloquium brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars, activists, and artists to discuss a topic critical to the lives of women. Supported by the Alice McLellan Birney Women Studies Fund, as well as community and college members, the colloquium has previously covered subjects as diverse as women in the workforce (2009), marriage in America (2007), and women and technology (2002).  Well known participants from the past include the subRosa Art Collective, author/artist Kate Bornstein, and activist Eleanor Smeal.

The Schedule (all in Cole Cinema):

8:15 p.m., Tuesday, March 23: Danielle Geong and Alice Cohan from the Feminist Majority Foundation, on grassroots organizing and activism in the technological age.

4:45 p.m.,Wednesday, March 24: Madeleine M. Kunin, former governor of Vermont and President Clinton's ambassador to Switzerland, will discuss her new book  Pearls, Politics, and Power:  How Women Can Win and Lead.

8 p.m., Wednesday, March 24:  Caroline Slobodzian, president of the D.C. chapter of the U.S. National Committee for United Nations Development Fund for Women will screen and discuss "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," a film about the women's movement in Liberia which ended with the election of Africa's first female head-of-state. The film was recommended by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at this year's National Prayer Breakfast.

4:15 p.m. Thursday, March 25: Marc Stein, a historian from York University, will talk about "Queering the History of U.S. LGBT Activism" and his work as editor of the Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered History in America.

8:15 p.m., Thursday, March 25: Colloquium Roundtable. Discussion with Kunin, Slobodzian, and Stein, moderated by Sahar Shafqat, associate professor of political science, St. Mary's College of Maryland.

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities, and an SAT average for student admissions of 1848. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.