Labor activist urges gender equality

By Julia Aizuss

Labor rights activist Dolores Huerta and school club Girls Learn International emphasized empowering women in presentations they gave for the annual Women’s History Assembly Monday in Taper Gym.

Humanities teacher Malina Mamigonian’s Gender Studies class introduced Huerta with a biographical video about her activism, from founding the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization to the various honors she has received for her work, including her 1993 induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Huerta briefly explained her role in labor activism as co-founder with labor leader Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers of America, which improved working conditions for farmworkers.

“Often we really don’t think about the people that put food on our table every day,” Huerta said.

Huerta encouraged braving to be different. When she quit teaching to take up activism, everyone around her told her she was crazy, Huerta said, but she remembered her mother’s lesson that “you have to be true to yourself” despite the outside influences of society.

“We cannot be dominated,” Huerta said. “We cannot be manipulated.”

After discussing the lack of female representation in politics, Huerta stressed the importance of being a feminist. Anyone can be a feminist, Huerta said, emphasizing that men and women must work together to change society.

Huerta concluded by leading the audience in several chants for change including the labor union chant “Si se puede,” which is Spanish for “Yes, we can.”

Girls Learn International followed Huerta’s speech with a presentation on body image in the media.

GLI members showed advertisements throughout their presentation that perpetuate an unrealistic body image.

“Do we have to look like celebrities to be happy?” GLI member Katie Golden ’13 asked.

The presentation also discussed how men are urged to be as muscular and masculine as possible and the media’s heteronormative, hypersexual conception of society.

A video called “The Girl Effect” that advocated the education and value of all girls ended the assembly.