The University of Arizona's first Conference on Gender-Based Violence will focus on survivorship.
The conference will address the complex issues surrounding the epidemic of gender-based violence and marginalized populations. Workshops, keynotes, performances and panel discussions will focus on how to build activism and programs aimed at providing the best possible care to survivors while uprooting the social and cultural attitudes that re-create cycles of violence.
The conference, to be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Student Union Memorial Center on the UA campus, is free and open to the public. It is designed for UA faculty, staff and students; Tucson community leaders and activists; and health and legal advocates.
"This is a vital topic that affects everyone," said Monica J. Casper, professor of gender and women's studies and associate dean for faculty affairs and inclusion in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "Whether we are discussing campus sexual assault, domestic violence, unique vulnerabilities of girls, murders of trans women of color, rape as a weapon of war, federal rollbacks of Title IX protections, or any of the myriad issues connected to gender-based violence, the time is now to direct our significant institutional resources toward social change. The UA has been and will continue to be a leader in this area, and this conference is an important step."
The Friday evening program will begin with a performance by the Tucson Girls Chorus Advanced Choir. Melissa Vito, senior vice president for UA Student Affairs, Enrollment Management and Strategic Initiatives, will deliver the welcome address.
"Sadly, it's clear from recent headlines that gender-based violence and its many dimensions continue to be timely ones," Vito said. "With this conference and the launch of the UA's Consortium on Gender-Based Violence, we seek to create nothing less than a new national and international model for addressing and rooting out gender-based violence in all its forms."
The keynote address will be given by Brooke Axtell, a writer, speaker, performing artist and activist. Axtell is the founder and director of She Is Rising, a healing community for women and girls overcoming rape, abuse and sex trafficking. She performed at the 2015 Grammy Awards and has spoken at the United Nations and the U.S. Institute for Peace.
Saturday's discussion topics include institutional responses to gender-based violence; cycles of violence and harm; the politics of disclosure and intersectionality; and building grassroots movements. There also will be workshops on feminist social justice activism for young women and girls and on masculinity for young men and boys.
Research experts include Kiera Ladner, currently a Fulbright fellow in the UA Department of American Indian Studies and an associate professor in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba. Ladner studies gender-based violence and genocide of indigenous women. She is collaborating with Casper to create a network of scholars from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. whose work focuses on gender-based violence.
The conference includes guest speakers from YWCA Southern Arizona, Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse, Black Lives Matter, American Friends Service Committee, Sex Worker Outreach Project and Southern Arizona Gender Alliance.
This conference marks the soft launch of the newly developed Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. As a hub of innovative research, education, outreach and service for the UA and the community, the consortium will be the first of its kind on any U.S. campus with the goal of leveraging campus strengths and expertise for social and institutional change.
The conference is sponsored by the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; UA Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Academic Initiatives and Student Success; UA Dean of Students Office; College of Humanities; College of Education; and College of Fine Arts. A pre-conference workshop for survivors is co-sponsored also by the Department of Gender and Women's Studies.