By Martha G. Arrizon, Spanish Instructor, Salem County Vocational and Technical School and a representative from Salem County, NJEA Women in Education Committee

How many women have taken a different route each day to and from home, school, and/or work to avoid a pattern? How many women have had to be hypervigilant of their surroundings at all times to avoid being harassed while getting to where they were going? How many women have had to think of ways to escape or defend themselves should someone accost them? What consequences do women face when these scenarios occur? How do women simultaneously focus on survival and self-actualization? How do BIPOC women cope with racial discrimination as well as the myriad of aforementioned questionable issues? How do BIPOC transgender women strive for success whilst on survival mode? In order for all women to shatter glass ceilings, they first have to break the cycle of violence towards them. But how?

In Lak’ech Ala K’in is the Mayan moral code meaning “You are my other me. What I do onto you, I do onto myself.” As such, each positive action we take to safeguard all facets of womanhood is reflected back on society in kind. Organizations like the National Education Association (NEA), the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and GLSEN have positioned themselves to create positive changes to propel all women forward in their present and future educational and professional endeavors. 

The NEA spotlights inspirational articles about women making strides towards dismantling the “structural barriers that threaten their success in school and beyond.”  One of the articles is about how the student body in an Oakland, CA district made one person accountable for handling sexual harassment issues as well as making sure that it eradicated language that “suggested that a victim may be penalized for reporting sexual harassment” from their policy.

A couple of featured articles highlight the strides made by the NWLC towards “facilitating dialogues with teachers at the NEA Conference on Racial and Social Justice in Boston” as well as being part of a “Facebook Live panel” regarding sexual harassment and the #metoo movement.

As part of the NEA effort to encourage women to vociferously oppose the status quo on gender issues, they include a piece on “Standing Up for Gender Equity” which lists several resources by the NWLC. However, with the poignant nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine as the first out transgender woman for the office of US Assistant Health Secretary, it would be a disservice not to mention the invaluable efforts GLSEN makes towards this very issue through their National School Climate Survey as well as their Safe Space Kits.

The NJEA Women in Education Committee invites you to learn more about these and other issues, as well as the positive steps you can take to create a safer place for the female population, by representing your county at our meetings. For more information, please visit here.

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