Congratulations to the 2022 Winter SWS Social Actions Initiative Award Winners

In 2016, SWS Council approved the Social Action Committee’s (SAC) proposal to support more direct social action of SWS members. The Social Actions Initiative Awards 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. Special thanks go to the Social Actions Initiative Award Subcommittee: Kris De Welde (Chair), Rebecca P., Kira Escovar, Natascia Boeri, Rosalind Kichler and Kristy Kelly.

Center for Equity Education K-12 Title IX Basics Course proposed by Colleen Schoenfeld.

Colleen Schoenfeld (she/her) is a PhD student at the California Institute of Integral Studies where she studies sexual violence in the educational and military environments, and she is the founder and President of the Board of the Center for Equity Education. The Center for Equity Education (CFEE) is a 501c3 nonprofit, with a mission to address a need in K-12 educational environments for quality and affordable Title IX education and training for administrators, faculty, and staff as well as students. Many K-12 institutions are still actively working to come into compliance with the August 2020 Final Rule of Title IX.

The award will be used to fund a series of trainings hosted by CFEE for school staff on their Title IX requirements as mandatory reporters. During these sessions, the CFEE trainers will provide comprehensive Title IX training covering legal and policy requirements, definitions of sexual harassment under Title IX, rights of the parties, reporting requirements, confidentiality, and roles of the Title IX administrators.  The format of the training will be to provide scenario-based exercises to help engage the audience and provide opportunities to gain experience.

The training that CFEE provides is based on trauma informed best practices which provide for an environment that strives to create no further harm to survivors of sex or gender-based misconduct that considers current and past traumas and that honors that some students have multiple intersecting identities that they may have experienced harm through and/or may increase their response to a current incident. This work strives to dismantle forms of oppression by ensuring that prevention is the cornerstone of addressing inclusive environments that are free from sex and gender-based discrimination and harassment. Lastly, CFEE is furthering research this important area by conducting a survey of institutions to determine what their supportive measures for survivors of Title IX violations are and generating a list of best practices to disseminate to institutions.

Funds for Language Translation of Outreach Materials to Promote Maternal Environmental Health proposed by Dr. Adelle Dora Monteblanco

Adelle is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University. She studies inequality at the critical nexus of health, gender, and environment. Based on previous successes in El Paso Texas, Adelle’s project focuses on translation of outreach materials that communicate health risks of heat exposure among pregnant people to encourage precautions and diminish risk of adverse birth outcomes.

The increased risk of adverse birth outcomes indicates a need for outreach materials that communicate these health issues and encourage precautions among pregnant people. In 2016, an interdisciplinary team of scholars (including Adelle), in collaboration with maternal health workers, designed a variety of evidence-based English and Spanish outreach materials and piloted them in El Paso, Texas. The original materials were a “be prepared” rack card, a urine chart, and a passive cooling brochure. After the pilot project, the team also developed a quick tips and FAQ handout. Briefly, most of the materials focus on pregnant people, with attention to hydration and reducing home temperatures.

While materials are currently available in English and Spanish, there is a need for translation to additional languages (e.g., Arabic), so that they can be more accessible as a counter to the structural inequalities that influence pregnant people’s risk from exposure, which may be higher in ESL populations’ paid work and housing situations and also exacerbated by less access to medical care. While broader policies and investments are needed to protect those most vulnerable to extreme heat, it is also necessary to communicate such risks to pregnant people directly. This funding will support free, accessible, and editable materials published and disseminated on Adelle’s website.

Colors of Soil, Friendships, and Resilience: A Winter School proposed by Swati Birla.

Swati is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at UMass Amherst with a Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies from Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UMass Amherst and a Master’s in Public Health. Her primary research interests include political sociology, ethnographies of violence, critical geography, and global histories of empire and imperialism.

As a feminist activist she works with grassroots groups in India and elsewhere to document and resist the precarity and abandonment produced by exclusionary logics of neoliberalism, and the state-social violence that facilitate it. Since 2012, Swati has been part of the Sanhati collective which was founded in 2006 to document the violent dispossession of agrarian communities and landless farmers in Bengal. The collective works actively to create a repository of human rights documentation and movement documents from across India. This work has fostered her intimacy with the political and cultural resistance in Bengal. Her kinship with the Bengal region also comes from her family who live in and belong to that region.

Swati’s project will help to fund a winter school for climate refugee youth in Baishnabghata Patuli Township in the eastern state of W. Bengal of India. The winter school aims to offer a 10-day science fair and writing camp and a workshop on Joyful Learning, Cohabitation and Climate Change led by a team of local soil scientists, climatologists, and ecofeminists. The science fair and writing camp is intended to equip children with the skill set to counter superstition and discuss scientific concepts through engaged learning. It will culminate in the publication of a children’s magazine, which will be their first publication.

The Winter camp on Joyful Learning, Cohabitation and Climate Change Awareness was designed with three components: a) classes about regional environmental histories; b) gender sensitization for understanding urban ecosystems/habitats from a feminist frame, and c) skill-training sessions wherein the children will learn upcycling, recycling, and composting. In partnership with the Rokeya Shiksha (education) Center, these efforts intervene to prevent school dropouts, offer health care, political education, dry food rations, books, saris, and sanitary products.

Voices, Visions, and Advocacy (VVA) Series at International Association of Maternal Action and Scholarship proposed by Dr. Katie Garner.

Katie researches and writes on motherhood issues, including labor inequality, the wage gap, childcare, and the relationship between mothers and care providers. She is the executive director of the International Association for Maternal Action and Scholarship (IAMAS) and leads seminars at local colleges and via public workshops.

Katie’s project financially supports the participation of historically under-represented mother-scholars in the VVA series, which promotes empowered mothering, particularly for mother-scholars facing structural inequities. The VVA series is intended to help mothers become better self-advocates, connect folks outside of academia with maternal scholars and their public scholarship, amplify diverse voices, and serve as a bridge between activist organizations who often provide more direct community support and those doing scholarship.

Support from this Social Actions Initiative Award will contribute to efforts to improve participation among historically under-represented mother-scholars. In 2021-2022, the VVA series aims to offer at least two full panels that exclusively center the voices of under-represented mother-scholars and activists. One will be an interview with women who have benefitted from Magnolia Mother’s Trust (a universal basic income initiative under Springboard to Opportunities) and the other will interview leaders of reproductive justice organizations.

We celebrated the awardees at our February 7, 2022, Awards Ceremony. We will make a recording available in our Virtual Meeting Platform soon. Please stay tuned.