Former National Organization of Women President and current Institute of Politics Fellow Kim Gandy encouraged students in Quincy House yesterday to work together across divisions in the feminist movement to achieve larger goals like reproductive and equal marriage rights.
Addressing the intimate group of around 20 undergraduate students, Gandy discussed her own years of experience working with the different facets of the feminist movement. “I’ve been involved with the feminist movement since 1973, and one of the things that has been important from the beginning is building bridges across progressive movements,” she said.
“We’ve had success in small ways, but it continues to be a challenge,” she added.
Gandy’s talk was sponsored by Girlspot, the Queer Students and Allies, and the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) in the hope of fostering a dialogue about a wide range of feminist issues, including economic justice, same sex marriage rights, access to contraception, violence against women, and transgender advocacy.
“I think historically in the broader community there’s been difficulties in overcoming these divisions,” said QSA co-chair Marco Chan ’11.
Gandy opened the forum up for students to share their concerns. Students raised the issues of contraception access, the Stupak Amendment, and gay rights. Gandy stressed that all of these issues are inter-related and dependent on each other for success.
“If we had more cross-pollination, it would make a huge difference,” she said. “Until we start working across the issues and doubling our strength, we won’t make progress.”
Using the co-sponsors of the event as an example, Gandy told QSA and Girlspot how important it was for them to help rally against the Stupak amendment and for RUS to advocate for equal marriage rights.
“You need allies from outside your group because it helps lift you up,” she said. “You are all allies outside a cause that you can join and help.”
For many students in attendance, Gandy’s discussion filled a void in the Harvard community. “Multi-issue advocacy is sparse on this campus,” said Ridhi Kashyap ’10. “It’s through dialogues such as these that plural advocacy can be fostered.”
Gandy encouraged students to work together and take advantage of, not diminish, their diversity.
“There are so many issues for modern feminism to deal with. It’s unavoidable that there will be clashes of interest,” she said. “The good news is that there’s so much work to do [and] there doesn’t have to be competition. We need to work on all of them.”
An earlier version of the Nov. 17 news article "Gandy Speaks on Feminism" gave an incorrect name for the student group Queer Students and Allies. The group is not the Queer Students Association.