Connecting women globally, effecting change locally

The Justice for Women Lecture Series

The Justice for Women Lecture Series prompts conversations about social justice for women and girls in the developing world. Created in 2011 by Catherine Lee, who grew up in Lewiston and worked around the world as a climate change lawyer, the series invites women activists, organizers, scholars and leaders from around the globe to Maine to highlight connections between issues facing both Maine and the world. So far, six women have given lectures to growing audiences as part of the series.

“Whatever stereotype or image people might have of immigrant women,” Lee says, “is only a stereotype.” Through her international  travels as a lawyer, Lee realized that there were women all around the world—women who most Mainers would never get to meet—who could help link issues like food insecurity, human rights and women’s rights to issues going on right here in Maine. Lee collaborates with the University of Maine Law School on the series. “I wanted to open up conversations about our own issues,” she says, “and also about our changing demographics here in Maine.”

In 2015, Ruchira Gupta, an Indian sex trafficking abolitionist, journalist and activist who has been honored globally for her work, delivered a lecture called “Ending Sex Trafficking by Putting the Last Girl First.” The idea, says Lee, was to “connect women leaders to the same issues we have here in Maine” and to give people the opportunity to learn about sex trafficking, make it less invisible and take steps to stop it. While in Maine, Gupta interacted with law enforcement, corrections, local high schools and colleges and used the opportunity to meet with different communities that could help prevent sex trafficking.

For Lee, the Justice for Women Lecture Series is about recognizing brave and courageous women around the world and providing Mainers an opportunity to learn from them. The idea, says Lee, “ … is to make more people aware and to start these kinds of conversations right here.”

The first Justice for Women Lecture of 2017 is March 23 at 7 p.m. at the University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Community Education Center and features Zainah Anwar, former executive director of Sisters in Islam, a nongovernmental organization working to secure the rights of Muslim women. FMI:

Caroline Losneck is a Maine-based documentarian, radio producer, and experimental installation artist. Her work is featured on Maine Public Radio, NPR, Marketplace and WMPG Community Radio. Her documentary film work has appeared in the New York Times and at film festivals around the country.

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