Congratulations to Iblin Edelweiss Murillo Lafuente, Ophra Leyser-Whalen, Nabila Islam, Andrea Roman Alfaro and Özlem Altıok, the 2023 SAIA Award Winners!

Congratulations to Iblin Edelweiss Murillo Lafuente, Ophra Leyser-Whalen, Nabila Islam, Andrea Roman Alfaro and Özlem Altıok, the 2023 SAIA Award Winners!

In 2016, the SWS Council approved the Social Action Committee’s (SAC) proposal to support more direct social action of SWS members. The Social Actions Initiative Awards (SAIA) provide a way for the SAC to directly support and encourage the social activism of SWS members. Awards are given out twice per year on a competitive basis until funds run out. The social actions represented by this initiative are central to advancing the mission of SWS. Current SWS members can apply for funding up to $1,000 to support broadly defined social action initiatives (e.g., advocacy, public education, organizing, movement-building) that also support the mission of SWS. Special thanks go to the Social Actions Initiative Award Subcommittee: Evonnia Woods and Heather Hlavka (Co-Chairs of the Social Action Committee), Pedrom Nasiri, J’Mauri Jackson, and Sara Tyberg.

Photo of Iblin Edelweiss Murillo Lafuente

Edelweiss is an early-stage sociology researcher and instructor. She is a transnational feminist and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Florida, U.S.A. She was born in what is officially called La Paz, Bolivia.  Her most recent research focuses on anti-ableist feminist movements in the global south. She believes in kindness and social change.

With the SAIA award, Edelweiss plans to organize an in-person meeting with Las FemiDiskas: An encounter of Bolivian activist women with disabilities. Las FemiDiskas is an anti-ableist feminist collective formed by women with disabilities and allies. It is a grassroots organization founded in 2021. Edelweiss is an active member of this collective. During this meeting, Edelweiss will lead an activity based on communitarian feminist knowledge to establish a collective positionality statement. 





Photo of Ophra Leyser-Whalen

Dr. Ophra Leyser-Whalen is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her work focuses on reproductive justice broadly. In the past few years she has been engaging in community-based work, including working with Texas abortion funds. Her current research is focusing on the national abortion fund landscape post-Dobbs.

With the SAIA award, Ophra plans on bringing a traveling photography exhibit  on abortion to the Centennial Museum  on the UTEP campus. This exhibit includes photos of people who have had abortions, accompanied by their stories. One mission of the museum is to work with UTEP students, staff and faculty, so they would like to accompany the traveling exhibit with highlights of some of the work done by campus student groups, staff and faculty. 



Photo of Nabila Islam

Nabila Islam is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Brown University. Her dissertation explores the emergence of detention as a major policy response to migration and the seeking of refuge across the globe. She also serves as the co-Principal Investigator, alongside colleagues at the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network (BIJAN), at the Northeast hub of the Pursuit of Dignity project. Funded by Migrantes Unidos and the Henry Luce Foundation, the Pursuit of Dignity project investigates the impact of electronic detention on migrants and asylum-seekers in the United States and amplifies impacted communities’ capacity to challenge and resist detention. As a scholar-activist, Nabila is broadly interested in understanding the role of colonialism and racial capitalism in creating carceral technologies and imagining abolitionist alternatives.

With the SAIA award, Nabila plans to advance intersectional and language justice in the Pursuit of Dignity project. The assembled group speaks a mixture of English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, and Haitian Creole. The funds will be used to pay for interpretation in Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish in order to enable equitable participation for everyone in the group.



Photo of Andrea Román Alfaro

Andrea Román Alfaro (she/ella) is a Peruvian mestiza Ph.D. candidate in sociology, a Vanier CGS scholar, a Connaught Public Impact Fellow, a Mary H. Beatty Fellow and a graduate fellow at the School of Cities at the University of Toronto. Her research agenda examines the relationship between social inequality, violence, and resistance from an intersectional perspective. Her dissertation titled, Interconnected Violence: Life and Death at the Urban Margins of Peru, examines how women from marginalized urban neighbourhoods make sense of and respond to the interconnection of different forms of violence. She connects women’s everyday experiences of violence to government policies that shape violence at the urban margins. Her research has been published in Gender & Society, Social Justice, and Curriculum Inquiry. Andrea is a scholar and activist who combines research with community work and advocacy. She works with community to address social justice issues and create new alternatives for a more just future. She is currently working with a group of young people from Puerto Nuevo, an marginalized urban neighbourhood in Callao (Peru), to create Puerto Nuevo’s first young people-led community house.

With the SAIA award, the funds will support the activities of the Puerto Nuevo Children’s Photo Club. Puerto Nuevo is a marginalized urban community located in Callao district, the second deadliest district in Peru. The award will support the collective curation process (May 2023), three exhibits (in Puerto Nuevo, Callao/Lima, and Toronto), and the design of a web page where we will be uploading the photos taken by club members and those collected for the Puerto Nuevo Community Archive (an ongoing project that is collecting pictures from neighbors). The Club will print the pictures, set them up in an exhibit, and take the photo club members to present their photographs and the work of the club to people inside and outside the community.


Photo of Özlem Altıok

Özlem Altıok is a feminist sociologist who teaches Women’s & Gender Studies, and International Studies, at the University of North Texas. Prior to UNT, she taught at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she received her Ph.D. in sociology. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Texas A&M, and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Istanbul Bilgi University. 

Dr. Altıok teaches courses on globalization, international development, migration, global politics and human security, employing community-engaged and participatory action research in her classes. Some of her community partners in Texas include the Refugee Support Network, Opening Doors International Services, and Denton County Friends of the Family. 

She is also a women’s rights, peace, and environmental activist and a dedicated member of Equality Watch Women’s Group (EŞİTİZ) and Women’s Platform for Equality, Turkey (EŞİK). 

Dr. Altıok studies social movements, public policy, and the entanglements of politics, religion, and gender across borders. A long-time member of Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), she is active in the International Committee, and has served as an SWS delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women meetings. She is also a member of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). 

Her work has been published in Contexts, ZMagazine, openDemocracy, Gender & Society, Agriculture and Human Values, Films for the Feminist Classroom, and Transforming Society, as well as in Bianet, BirArtiBir and Alevilerin Sesi in Turkish. Her most recent peer-reviewed publication, “From the streets to social policy: how to end gender-based violence against women,” was published as a chapter in Global Agenda for Social Justice 2 (Policy Press, 2022). 

Dr. Altıok is the 2023 recipient of UNT’s President’s Council Teaching Award and SWS’ Social Action Initiative Award.

With the SAIA award, the funds will be used to sponsor thirteen university students directly impacted by the earthquake that hit southeastern Turkey (for the coming academic year). The SAIA award funds will be used to sponsor university students directly impacted by the earthquake that hit southeastern Turkey. The scholarships will be distributed in collaboration with the Turkish Association of University Women during the 2023-2024 academic year.


We hope you will join us in congratulating Iblin Edelweiss Murillo Lafuente, Ophra Leyser-Whalen, Nabila Islam, Andrea Roman Alfaro and Özlem Altıok and that you will make plans to join us for the 2023 Summer Meeting SWS Awards Reception that will take place on August 20, 2023, in Philadelphia, PA starting at 6:00 pm at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. 

SWS Meeting Registration Form is now open:! SWS Summer Meeting attendees must register for the SWS Meeting and must also be registered for the ASA 2023 Annual Meeting.




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