Point Park Hosts Pittsburgh Gender Equity Commission Panel

Last month, as part of their Women’s History celebration, Department of Community Engaged invited members of Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission to speak on campus. The panel, which comprised of Anu Jain, the Executive Director of the Commission, Amanda Neatrour, the Vice-Chair, and Sarah Schulz, an assistant professor at Point Park and fellow Commissioner, all spoke to the work the Commission does to help not only women, but all who identify as female or non-binary in the City of Pittsburgh.

 

Jain, outside of her work with Inclusant, a diversity and inclusion firm she founded, also researches communities and how others define their communities, which is how she’s come to learn that policy is often created based on bad information and lack of stories. As Executive Director to the Gender Equity Commission, she works to reclaim the concept of what it means to be a feminist and to be inclusive to all.

 

“We need to not bow down to those who would make our feminism or belief in gender equity feel radical or exclusionary” she said.

 

Pulling topics of discussion from a fish bowl, the first issue posed to the panel was that of police brutality. The panel did make clear they can only speak from their own experiences, but their thoughts on police brutality was clear—there is a relationship between the police brutality that is reported in the news against young black men and the violence that is not reported against young black women, trans women, and other people of color. It’s all related.

 

“We need more people to be that voice in the room that is speaking up to policy makers…Government and society only changes when we all decide it’s urgent enough.” Schulz said.

 

The next topic of discussion was child care.

 

The commissioners urged the audience members to support women in positions of power and those who support platforms for womens’ issues. In the City of Pittsburgh, there are lactation rooms and pregnancy is its own separate category of legislation, none of which could have been accomplished had there not been women in positions of power within city government to make those issues a priority. 

 

It’s also important to the Commission in their work as advisors to city government that all communities are included in the conversation, which includes those who identify as non-binary, trans citizens, working mothers, and everyone who is underrepresented in the current wording of legislation.

 

When it was asked of the panel why the wording of the mission statement on their website wasn’t written in non-binary terminology, the panelists were given an opportunity to listen and demonstrate their commitment to learning and growing.

 

Jain explained that the wording is still binary because policy still operates in a binary system, and did say that the Commission should not make the assumption that visitors to the site will read further to understand the specifics of their mission.

 

Neatrour thanked the audience member for their question, adding, “We do what we can to be inclusive, but we need you to bring up comments like this.”

 

The Gender Equity Commission is working hard for all the women of Pittsburgh, but these are just volunteers doing what they can to help fight a larger systemic issue. They need all of us to be kind and patient with one another as we continue to fight for what should be basic human rights. 

 

For more about Pittsburgh Gender Equity Commission, visit http://pittsburghpa.gov/gec/about-gec

 

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