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Our Bodies, Our Future: Advancing Health and Human Rights for Women and Girls

A Global Symposium and Reception Celebrating 40 Years of Our Bodies Ourselves

October 1, 2011, Tsai Performance Center at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

Symposium Program

MC: Jaclyn Friedman (Executive Director, Women, Action and the Media; Writer, Performer, Activist, and Editor of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape)

Morning Session (9.00 am – 10.30 am)

  • Welcome address: The Honorable Deval Patrick, Governor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Bob Meenan, Dean, Boston University School of Public Health
  • OBOS welcome and official launch of the 40th anniversary edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves: Judy Norsigian, Executive Director, Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS) and Zobeida Bonilla, Our Bodies Ourselves
  • Testimonial – On the impact of Our Bodies Ourselves in shifting personal and collective consciousness: Byllye Avery, Founder, Black Women’s Health Imperative
  • Keynote – On global gains and losses in women’s health and rights over 4 decades and strategies for the future: Adrienne Germain, President Emerita, International Women’s Health Coalition
  • Answering the Call: An introduction to the Our Bodies Ourselves family, past and present, and the organization’s response to the global “report card.”

Panel 1: Around the Kitchen Table (10.45 am – 12.15 pm)

Painting a parallel between OBOS’s narrative and the journeys of our global partners – illustrating how women come together around Our Bodies, Ourselves to share stories, reclaim voice and language, build consensus on issues that affect women and girls in their communities, and create culturally unique resources based on the book as tools for information, social action, and change.

  • Moderators: Kathy Davis, senior researcher at Utrecht University in The Netherlands; and Bonnie Shepard, senior planning and evaluation specialist at Social Sectors Development Strategies, Inc.
  • Panelists: A representative from the editorial team for the forthcoming U.S. edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves and global partners from Tanzania, Japan, Nigeria, and Turkey.   

Panel 2: Fire in the Belly - Meeting Challenges to Autonomy and Activism (1.45 pm – 3.15 pm)

Focusing on challenges to individual and social activism – ranging from direct, systemic and overt forms of violence to practices that are more insidious, illustrating ways our global partners and domestic allies respond to the issues and the cultural, social and political context within which the issues operate. 

  • Moderator: Anne Firth Murray, Founding President, Global Fund for Women 
  • Panelists: Global partners from Serbia, Bulgaria, India, and Israel (a collaboration of Palestinian and Jewish Israelis), along with a representative from OBOS’ domestic network. 

Panel 3: Building Power, Brokering Change (3.30 pm – 5.00 pm)

Identifying power-brokers that influence the status of women and girls – ranging from men and matriarchs in the family to religious leaders, elders and institutional heads, demonstrating the grassroots and institutional activism of our global partners and domestic allies towards ensuring human rights inside and outside the home.

  • Moderators: George Annas, Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights; and Catherine Annas, Director of the Eastern Massachusetts Healthcare Initiative
  • Panelists: Global partners from Nepal, Armenia, Senegal, and Israel (a collaboration of Palestinian and Jewish Israelis), along with a representative from OBOS’ earlier partnership with Latina activists in the Americas.  

Closing Keynote (5.00 pm – 5.30 pm)

Recapturing themes; reiterating the central role played by OBOS and its global partners in advancing the health and human rights of women and girls; and identifying strategies on the way forward.

  • Speaker: Loretta Ross, Founder and National Coordinator of SisterSong

Reception (5.30 pm – 7.30 pm) Tsai Center Lobby

Return to overview of the symposium.



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