Political Science Student Brings Women Together for Change
Aubrey Dvorak is igniting change on campus by putting women’s issues in the spotlight. The political science student started The Women’s Project at Loyola this semester as a way of uniting women to discuss and create solutions to pressing social issues.
The Women’s Project just finished its first semester, in which 12 members held weekly 2 hour meetings to discuss different topics such as women in politics or religion, or social issues such as the street harassment of women. Dvorak and fellow founders Nicole Klepke and Taylor Tefft served as “scholars” who facilitated the conversation.
But while the first semester of the project was based on discussion, the second semester will give members a chance to apply what they’ve learned by creating initiatives.
This semester, the group is running the We for She Campaign, which seeks to dispel myths about feminism and encourage all students to join the movement.
According to Dvorak, the group will also distribute “Cards against Harassment.” The cards are part of a viral trend in which women give street harassers business cards explaining why harassment is wrong.
“They’ve given a lot of women the courage to stand up to street harassment,” Dvorak said of the cards.
Dvorak began brainstorming the idea for the organization last spring with Klepke and Tefft. The three were inspired by the LUC Men’s Project, an initiative from the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs that seeks to bring men together to redefine masculinity.
“There were really no strong women’s organizations at the time,” Dvorak said. “We wanted to bring women together in a similar way as the Men’s Project did.”
The group is sponsored by the Women and Gender Studies program and consists of 12 members chosen from applications. Dvorak said the application process was enacted to ensure the group had a consistent membership, and a cohesive “community of change.”
“Our main focus was to find women with enthusiasm for the task at hand; we ended up with a very diverse group of people,” Dvorak said, adding that the women chosen were well informed and brought interesting perspectives, coming from a variety of majors and ethnic backgrounds.
Dvorak herself has the unique experience of having visited Tunisia this previous summer as part of a summer course with political science professor Peter Schraeder.
“It was an enlightening experience,” Dvorak said. “It was so interesting talking to intelligent Tunisian women who chosen to wear hijabs. It helped me figure out my own view of Middle Eastern women and spread it to others.”