Women’s week explores gender issues

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After the election of the first-ever female Student Government president and vice president, a week-long campaign to promote women’s issues on campus kicked off in Gregory Plaza on Monday. Orange Jackets, an all-female organization dedicated to community service in Austin, is sponsoring the week’s events, which highlights women’s achievements at a local and national level. Week of Women committee chair Carissa Huq said Orange Jackets wants UT’s female population to know about the resources available to them, such as the Gender and Sexuality Center. “We think it’s a fantastic idea to encourage women to really achieve and persevere in their goals, [and] be aware of not-so-talked about issues like domestic violence, body image and eating disorders,” Huq said. “It is just a way of celebrating who we are.” The group Women in Politics, which helps college women explore bids for public office and find related internships, also participated in Monday’s kickoff rally. Plan II sophomore Alyssa Davis, who is in the group, said it tries to pair young women with mentors who are active in politics. “We try to get more young women involved in the political process so that one day we can change the gender disparity in government to encourage women to start off from an early age,” Davis said. Davis said while gender disparity still exists in the workforce, especially in politics and business, she hopes the event’s focus on social stigmas surrounding issues of sexual harassment and rape will change attitudes. Representatives from the Gender and Sexuality Center promoted services for female students, including the Women’s Resource Agency, a group housed in Student Government which sponsors the on-campus productions of The Vagina Monologues. “It’s not just about women,” said psychology senior Geraldo Ramirez. “I think it’s necessary not only to target women, but men as well, because it’s part of equality. If men are aware of women’s difficulties, maybe it can lead to change.”