Feminism Awareness Project Helps Women and Gender Studies Students Find Voice

Dec. 12, 2017

Feminism awareness project posters

Students in the Introduction to Women and Gender Studies course took part in the annual Feminism Awareness Project on Dec. 7 at the home campus, learning a valuable lesson on feminist activism.
This semester, in particular, has been especially interesting for the Introduction to Women and Gender Studies class because some of the key topics, like sexual harassment in the workplace and sexual assault, have been all over the news.

From 10-11 a.m., students gathered on campus, carrying their hand-crafted signs creatively portraying ideas of what feminism meant to them. Bystanders saw their feminist messages such as, “Teach Girls to Love Their Bodies Without Shame,” "Stop Harassing Us," "Why Would We Stay Silent?” and "Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.”

The vision for the project is, “that by participating in my Feminism Awareness Project while also simultaneously seeing that women's stories about sexism are finally receiving public attention, that my students can be more prepared to speak up in the face of injustice,” said Christiana Chekoudjian, professor and creator of the course. She believes it is important for students to participate in activism projects like this one so they are aware of their voice within society.

feminism awareness project posters

Chekoudjian developed the activity because she wanted to see how students would feel about “publicly voicing the feminism they had been learning and becoming passionate about in the classroom.” This experiential learning opportunity allows students to focus and express their thoughts and opinions on a matter that is important to them in preparation for not only public activism but in smaller conversations with coworkers, families, and friends.

But it's not just about women. “We need men who are willing to speak up too," she says. "The entire culture needs to change when it comes to sexism, but in the meantime speaking up is going to play an important role in changing the way our society treats women.”

Introduction to Women and Gender Studies

The project began in the Fall semester of 2012 with the creation of the first Introduction to Women and Gender Studies course taught at Webster. While the University has had a long history of courses that focus on gender, this was the first addition of a strictly women and gender studies class within a brand new major. Not only is it a required course for the major, but is part of the Global Citizenship Project (GCP) and counts towards the social systems and human behavior knowledge and oral communications areas. The course is interdisciplinary, which allows students and faculty from around campus to interact while bringing varying viewpoints to discussions.

Women and Gender Studies Program at Webster

Integrating first-hand research and scholarship related to issues of gender, the women and gender studies program is based on the principles of social justice established by the founding organization of Webster University, the Sisters of Loretto. Through a student-centered approach, faculty inspire students to engage with local, national, and international communities to effect social justice. Students can earn a major or minor in WGST, or a minor in LGBTQ studies.

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