Winona State Women’s History Month to address ‘reproductive justice,’ missing Native women

Womens Hist Wsu 2
(Winona State University)

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) — An activist who has helped shape the national women’s movement for 40 years will speak virtually during Winona State University’s public celebration of Women’s History Month at 7 p.m. March 30.
Loretta Ross, who helped establish the country’s first rape crisis center, also coined the phrase “reproductive justice,” and dedicated the last 40 years to transforming human rights.
In addition to Ross’s presentation, WSU’s Women’s History Month celebration will feature a presentation from Ojibwe award-winning author Linda Legarde Grover on March 16 and the traditional Take Back the Night awareness walk on April 15.
Ross will talk about how new voices in the women’s movement are using reproductive justice for black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) women as a framework to push beyond polarizing debates such as abortion.
The reproductive justice framework has three primary principles: the right not to have a child, the right to have a child and the right to parent children in safe and healthy environments.
Ross’s efforts for reproductive justice for indigenous and women of color has had a direct impact on WSU’s campus. Her activism inspired a group of students to start a Reproductive Justice Club.
Club members will meet virtually with Ross before her Zoom presentation.
The events, which have been created intentionally as platforms for marginalized feminists are intended not only to educate the community but also to inspire action, said Tamara Berg, the Director of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at WSU.
“It’s really about engaging community, students and colleagues,” Berg said. “I hope they walk away with some encouragement toward activism for a movement they connected with.”
During a Zoom event March 16, Grover will discuss her new book, “In the Night of Memory: A Novel,” the story of two young Native girls whose mother disappears in Indian Country, continuing a long string of missing Native women in an area with a long devastating history of loss.
In February, Grover and Angela Two Stars made a virtual presentation for WSU to discuss the epidemic of murdered and missing indigenous women.
Grover, an American Indian Studies professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth and member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, also will talk about creative narratives of Ojibwe women’s lives.
On April 15, WSU in partnership with the Advocacy Center of Winona, will host the annual “Take Back the Night” event in Central Park. The event, intended to raise awareness of sexual violence, will begin at 4:45 p.m. with a short informational session on gender-based violence. The 25year tradition will end with a march starting at 5:30 p.m.
Also this month, WSU hosted a film screening of “Warrior Women,” an hour-long documentary about Native American activist Madonna Thunder Hawk, who has fought for Native rights for more than 50 years.
Registration can be done at Winona State University’s events calendar.