Embracing Equality // Gender discrimination and human rights abuses persist in our society. Sexual assault, domestic violence, reproductive rights violations and economic discrimination remain prevalent in our state. Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women reported in their 2000 Femicide Report that over forty women were murdered by their partners in Minnesota in one year. So far MPIRG has raised more than $120,000 for area women’s shelters and advocacy programs through its annual productions of Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues."
In 1999, MPIRG updated a 1989 survey of sexual harassment and violence on Minnesota college campuses, showing some improvement since the survey was first conducted. However, the data overwhelmingly pointed to the need for more work in policy change, education and support in eliminating sexual violence. This year, MPIRG will be conducting this study on over 10 campuses statewide. This study will continue to track progression (or digression) of perceptions and experiences regarding sexual/gender violence and discrimination on college campuses throughout the state. The original study was an eye-opening one which fostered a sexual violence program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities as well as numerous recommendations set forth for participating colleges and universities.
MPIRG's work will be to expand the breadth, depth, and diversity of involvement by students and the community. We will use research and analysis, education and awareness raising, and a connection to the broader advocacy community through our partners, to build community awareness and involvement in creating safe environments to speak out against the issues of sexual violence and the demand for equality. An analysis of how far we have come over the last 25 years in combating these issues, coupled with the unique educational and empowering opportunities that the Vagina Monologues and Take Back the Night present, are an amazing platform from which we can reinvigorate awareness, engagement, and involvement to ending a societal problem that has gone on too long.
Each year, MPIRG builds on its past work in women and gender equality, particularly on Minnesota college campuses.
Take Back the Night / TBTN // Take Back the Night is an annual event held in many cities around the world. Women and men are often afraid to walk alone at night because of the fear of violence. Victim-survivors are often blamed for making "bad choices." Many more people are attacked within their own homes. TBTN is a powerful event where the community can march together in solidarity, enjoy music, listen to moving speakers, and create a safe space for victim-survivors to share their stories, often for the first time. April 2011 will mark the 14th annual TBTN event in Minneapolis organized by MPIRG.
Stay tuned for this year's Take Back the Night event details and location.
"The Vagina Monologues" / V-DAY // After a long and difficult series of discussions, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group has decided to take a brief hiatus from our annual metro-wide production of the Vagina Monologues. We recognize that this is still an important and relevant work that must continue to be present on campuses and in the community, and we plan on reevaluating our organizing role now that the proverbial torch has been passed to other local organizations so that we may continue to serve in the most efficacious way possible. Because there are other productions of the Vagina Mologues being staged in the metro area (at Minnneapolis Community and Technical College and at Augsburg College), we feel this is a responsible time to reorganize our input. That said, Macalester College's campus MPIRG chapter has also decided to stage a more localized, campus-wide performance.
We recognize the significance of the Vagina Monologues, but, after over a decade of very successful annual productions, we feel that this is the right time to examine how we may better utilize our strength and vision to bring about greater freedom and empowerment for women, whether it be through more legislative initiatives or the Take Back the Night march, while also continuing to incorporate the Vagina Monologues and the V-Day organization.
We welcome your feedback about this decision and will certainly take your opinions into consideration as we move forward on this issue.
Thanks for your continued support!
Links and Resources