FIU’s 100 Women: Women and Social Justice

Written by: Andria Rivero

The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies proudly hosted its annual event, FIU’s 100 Women: Women and Social Justice, on April 2. The event aims to acknowledge several women from various fields to champion their stories and achievements, and to create an inspiring culture of diversity, collectivism and collegiality. This year, the Center brought together a panel of women scholars, students, advocates and community leaders to celebrate the roles they’ve played in social justice activism.

The 2019 panel included:

  • Michelle Alvarez Romera, assistant director of Business Career Management, faculty fellow in the Honors College
  • Grisel D’Elena, International Relations student and Honors College academic advisor
  • Victoria Nelson, resident of Resident of Stonewall Pride Alliance (FIU chapter), political/pop culture commentator and LGBTQA ambassador at FIU’s Multicultural Programs and Services Office
  • Jasmen Rogers-Shaw, community organizer of Miami Workers Center

The panelists spoke to the audience about their experiences, as well as how to create new ways to bring empowerment and awareness to underrepresented issues and demographics.

Alvarez Romera focused on marketing, professional development and business law and ethics. She re-collected the hostile workplaces at her first firm. Her female boss scrutinized, humiliated and devalued Alvarez Romera. They morphed the workspace to be toxic and stressful. After Alvares Romera documented and reported the abuse to the general counsel and human resources, her case was dismissed. She then relocated and changed careers.

“The workplace is a gray area, where no formal policy exists to protect the many employees who underwent similar experiences.”

Michelle Alvarez Romera

D’Elena talked about her experience with helping locally at FIU and internationally in Southeast Asia. During her undergraduate studies, she spoke with the director of National Voices of Education, Equality, and Enlightenment (NVEEE), Jowharah Sanders. They discussed how cities like Liberty City and Havana have among the highest rates of bullying. This developed into the Peace Ambassador Leadership Summit (PALS), a two week program where high-school students stay on FIU’s campus and attend empowerment workshops. One of her biggest projects is dedicated to the violence against Rohingya children, men and women in Myanmar.

Nelson explored the difficulties for women of color when their abortion access is limited in the health care system. Over 250 bills were introduced in 2019 across 50 states that limited abortion access – such as fetal heartbeat bills – which indicate that as soon as a fetus’ pulse is registered, the abortion will be considered illegal. These restrictions, along with shutting down clinics, limits access to prenatal care and increases the chances of illegal abortions. Nelson created the Flower Garden back in 2015, a platform created to inform and create conversation for black women about the latest issues and concerns, including reproductive rights.

Rogers-Shaw is uplifting the political power of black women through storytelling, healing and political education. She helped create the Femme Agenda, an intersectional lens that looks at poverty through the eyes of indigenous women and black women. The femme gender framework is meant to reverse the assumption that female-associated jobs would lead to higher chances of poverty. Rogers-Shaw’s efforts are state-wide including the Women’s Circle, a space where black gender-nonconforming and women learn and use political colloquium to label difficulties that they’ve faced their entire lives; Black Girls at the Capitol, a restorative circle where black women and girls meet with Florida legislatures to discuss and learn how laws are made and impacts them; and BYOB (Bring Your Own Ballot), a 2018 effort that explained policies on ballots that would affect black women and brought them to the polls.