To kick off the week, invited panellists will name and take on the various systems of oppression that persist as cycles around the world. On issues ranging from colonialism to patriarchy to capitalism, each of these women will share perspectives borne of personal experiences and professional expertise. This is not a series of speeches, but rather, an engaging dialogue among panellists about the systemic forces that support cycles of oppression, and the courageous ways in which women around the world are breaking them. Congress participants will be provoked and inspired to continue conversing under this theme throughout the day.
Monica Chuji Gualinga – Ecuador
ROLE MODEL. As a Kichwa child in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Monica learned the Indigenous understanding of nature as a living force with its own rights. She was a youth activist during the 1990 uprising that thrust Indigenous rights onto Ecuador's national stage. After studying environmental and Indigenous issues, Monica worked for the United Nations before President Rafael Correa asked her in 2006 to serve as his press secretary. She successfully ran for a seat on the Constituent Assembly that wrote Ecuador's new constitution in 2008. She currently presides as Chair of the Constituent Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Biodiversity.
Devaki Jain – India
BRIDGER. A feminist economist and activist, Devaki is internationally known for her innovative work on development. She has spent a career connecting academic and policy work and frequently contributes to governmental forums and civil society initiatives in the areas of equity, development, self-government, and population. She has contributed to the design of numerous policy and program task forces, and of working groups established by the Government of India with special reference to women's economic empowerment.
Andrea Smith – USA
PROVOKER. A feminist thinker and anti-violence activist from the Cherokee nation, Andrea has garnered international respect for her advocacy on violence against women of colour, specifically Native American women. Co-founder of "INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence", Andrea currently teaches in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Prior to that, she was assistant professor of American Culture and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.