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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Experts talk women, peace and security at Bush School event

The+Health+as+a+Security+Priority+for+Women+and+Nations+panel+included+speakers+Kathleen+O%26%238217%3BReilly+from+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+department+of+geography%2C+Sarah+Evans%2C+the+founder+and+executive+director%26%23160%3Bof+Well+Aware+and+Jacob+Allen+who+serves+on+Mary%26%238217%3Bs+Meals+Board+of+Directors.+They+all+presented+information+on+the+projects+they+have+seen+benefit+women+and+consequently+benefiting+the+community+as+a+whole.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo by Savannah Mehrtens

The Health as a Security Priority for Women and Nations panel included speakers Kathleen O’Reilly from Texas A&M department of geography, Sarah Evans, the founder and executive director of Well Aware and Jacob Allen who serves on Mary’s Meals Board of Directors. They all presented information on the projects they have seen benefit women and consequently benefiting the community as a whole. 

The Bush School of Government, in conjunction with the George W. Bush Center, hosted the third annual Texas Symposium on Women, Peace and Security. The symposium was created to focus on women’s issues specifically in matters such as national security both abroad and at home, and peacebuilding and post conflict resolution.
Panelists began the symposium with discussions on women as peacebuilders in Afghanistan, and health as a security priority for women and nations. The symposium then focused on the Texas Perspectives on Women, Peace and Security panel, which highlighted how to address women’s security issues locally.
The Texas Perspectives on Women, Peace, and Security included speakers Anita Marcos, President of Marcos Productions, Justine Cherutich, Chairwoman of the Women’s Federation for World Peace, Bianca Jackson, Senior Director of funding and community development for Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, and Rena Menard, President of US National Community for UN Women. Amanda Schnetzer, the Director of Global Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, was the event’s moderator.
The panel began by discussing their inspirations and highlighting the importance of women in leadership roles, specifically in Texas. Marcos, who runs a business that provides bilingual seminars and training to women, said that her inspiration to combat sexism and racism stemmed from her six children, four of which are daughters.
“When I had my children, I decided that they were going to have a better world,” Marcos said. “Instead of going back to Ecuador, where my life would be easier rather than being a single, Hispanic mother, I knew I wanted to change things here in the US, and make my children’s life better here.”
Menard said that it was important to her that any policy that is created to help women and children should reflect their needs accurately.
“Policy and access to resources is so important,” Menard said. “A lot of the time we see that the agenda is not always reflective of underserved communities, especially those of minorities. My hope is that young girls see us as examples and we pave the way for them.”
The panel then discussed the importance of women’s voices in legislative positions and what local communities can do to help improve the lives of women.
Marcos proposed examples of local solutions, including IGNITE Texas, a program that helps train young women in policy issues, develop political skills and broaden their social network for civic and political issues. Genesis HeROs, a group of male volunteers who serve as a positive male presence for women and children at domestic violence shelters, was also proposed.
Domestic violence can impact the entire community and not just families, Jackson said.
“You cannot have safe communities without safe homes,” Jackson said. “It used to be that domestic violence was a private thing, and we were taught to mind our own business. But now we see that domestic violence is coming to school, church, work. It impacts everyone.”
Jackson said that in order to properly address domestic violence, every aspect of a victim’s local community – her church, work, or justice system – must have the same reaction and answer.
“These women need to get the same response no matter where they go,” Jackson said. “They need to hear that it is unacceptable and that it is not their fault no matter what.”
Ashley Alley, a Bush School graduate student, said that what drew her to the symposium was the focus on how local communities can help to improve the safety of women.
“As a sexual assault advocate for the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Bryan, I’ve seen firsthand how domestic violence can change women,” Alley said. “Issues like this are often seen as disconnected from local communities. Instead we see national campaigns. The discussion of how we can change the tone of domestic violence and how we can help on a more local level was important to me because in the end, when women do well, communities thrive.”

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