UT’s Amnesty International chapter will place more precedence on women’s rights in education and legislation in conjunction with other Amnesty International chapters worldwide during the upcoming year.
At its state conference Saturday, Texas chapters of Amnesty International discussed making their women’s rights campaign a top priority, in addition to their long-standing fight against the death penalty.
Savannah Fox, a field organizer for Amnesty International, said after the media attention focused on women’s issues in November, the U.S. has fallen back into complacency, which is one of many reasons why campaigning for women’s rights is important right now.
“One of the ones that I feel really strongly about is [women’s rights]. We polled AI members about the issues they most wanted to work on and prisoners of conscience women’s rights were number one,” Fox said.
Kelsey White, the secretary for UT’s Amnesty International and an anthropology sophomore, said she is excited for the Amnesty International’s campaign “My Body, My Rights!” The UT chapter will be working in the fall to raise awareness about the issues surrounding women’s rights.
“Education is so important because a lot of times people don’t know what’s happening, and don’t know what’s going on,” White said. “We’d love to get people to understand and be involved so they can talk to their representatives.”
Brittany Yelverton, a community outreach specialist at Planned Parenthood who spoke at the conference, said legislation supporting women’s rights has been eviscerated in the past few Texas legislative sessions when Texas redistributed the budget and removed funds for women’s health clinics.
“Fiscally, investing in family planning is so helpful for the state,” Yelverton said.
Yelverton said with the passing of the abortion affiliate rule, which denies state and federal funds to organizations providing abortion services, the government pulled funding from the women’s health program because the abortion affiliate rule denies women their right to choose their health care provider. The women’s health program is now completely state funded.
“This is going to cost Texas taxpayers nearly $200 million in the next five years,” Yelverton said.
Kendrick Perkins, a Texas Student Activist Coordinator from Stephen F. Austin State University, said Amnesty International is based on “grassroots activism” and will take that approach with the campaign for women’s rights.
“We’ll do demonstrations [and] marches,” Perkins said. “Education is a really big thing for us.”