GCC celebrates International Women’s Day
Professor Jacqueline Castledine of the University Without Walls at the University of Massachusetts talks about women's rights at Greenfield Community College on Thursday.
Professor Jacqueline Castledine of the University Without Walls at the University of Massachusetts speaks about women's rights in recognition of International Women's Day.
GREENFIELD — Women have a long-standing tradition of bringing about social justice by organizing movements that touch their, and other women’s, daily lives, and a lot of it happens at the community level, a local author and educator told a group of about 15 women and men on Thursday.
Jacqueline Castledine, a member of the University Without Walls at the University of Massachusetts, attempted to show how local and global movements often, if not always, intersect, and how their roots often start in smaller communities and branch out to become of worldwide interest.
The author of “Cold War Progressives: Women’s Interracial Organizing for Peace and Justice,” spoke to the group in Greenfield Community College’s Sloan Theater on Thursday as part of the school’s celebration of International Women’s Day.
Castledine first went back in time with her audience to the early 1900s to discuss some of the movements women have organized throughout the world over more than 100 years, as well as some of the positive results that have come from those movements.
Castledine talked about how women, and many generations of them, have fought for peace, community welfare, and bodily integrity over many years.
She said that women tend to look for “positive peace,” which means they want the presence of social justice and the absence of physical violence at the same time.
While she said most people, women and men, want peace, women most often fight for community welfare because they have typically through history been the ones deeply rooted in their communities. Therefore, they understand their communities’ needs best.
She said women have also fought for bodily integrity throughout the years: “freedom of movement, security of person, and reproductive and health rights,” and have won many victories, but still have some to go.
Castledine said women today should use history for the encouragement and inspiration they might need to mobilize. She said small acts can make big differences.
She said that women of all ages should work together on issues. She said radical women, over the years, have changed laws and helped end wars.
“Woman Power” is what it is all about, she told people.
“Many times you find generations of activists working together,” said Castledine, though she said sometimes it can lead to problems.
“Some of the older, more traditional activists believe you aren’t being an activist if you aren’t marching and holding signs,” she said. “They don’t understand that you can be an activist by blogging. The challenge is for all of us to catch up with technology.”
Castledine said the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition is a perfect example of a handful of women getting together around a kitchen table almost four decades ago to discuss women’s issues, and “changing the world,” at least the Franklin County world, for many of them.
She said the women got together in the early days to discuss and find solutions to the immediate and pressing problems of domestic abuse at a time when people looked the other way and didn’t want to discuss them.
Castledine said they did it using traditional facades to get radical ideas across to others, just like the women activists before and after them.
“There are a lot of great women here in the valley doing some great things,” she said. “