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Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities 2022-23: Reproductive Justice Event and Readings

Reproductive Justice Event Description

Reproductive Justice: Global Perspectives
Conversations inspired by Barbara Smith, 2023 Hess Scholar-in-Residence

Monday September 19, 1-2:30pm (Online *and* In-Person Live Streaming Event; see details below)

In light of this summer’s US Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization decision on abortion rights, we bring together activists from Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the United States to discuss ongoing struggles for reproductive justice around the globe.

For over four decades, the work of Barbara Smith has addressed the issues of reproductive justice and drawn on a vision of international solidarity among feminists of color across the Global South and North. African American, Asian American, Latina, and immigrant women know that feminists in the Global South have much to teach their Northern sisters and this continues to be powerfully true in the current moment, as the US faces a resurgent Far Right committed to the destruction of bodily autonomy for all but a privileged few. This panel opens a year-long engagement with the work of Barbara Smith, this year’s Hess Scholar-in-Residence, by bringing together feminists from Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the US in a shared conversation about ongoing struggles for reproductive justice.

This event is cosponsored with Africana Studies; American Studies Program; Anthropology Department; Brooklyn College Clinic; Caribbean Studies Program; the Shirley Chisholm Project; Communication Arts, Sciences and Disorders Department; English Department; History Department; the LGBTQ+ Center; Modern Language and Literatures Department; Philosophy Department; Political Science Department; Puerto Rican and Latinx Studies Department; Sociology Department; the Women and Gender Studies Program; the Women’s Center.

Veronica Cruz Sanchez, Las Libres, Mexico
Olabukunola Williams, Akina Mama Wa Afrika, Uganda
Dora Barrancos, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Erin Matson, ReproAction, US
Moderator: Naomi Braine, Sociology, Brooklyn College, US

Verónica Cruz Sánchez is the Founder of El Centro Las Libres de Información en Salud Sexual Región Centro AC. She is a feminist and a social worker by profession. She has specialized in the construction of access to the right to a safe and free abortion. Through Las Libres, she has built “accompaniment processes” for women and girls who are victims of rape so that they can access a legal abortion and justice. Las Libres draws on women’s local networks to build models for access to safe medical abortions as well as to assist women with the investigation, documentation, defense and litigation of cases of those criminalized for abortion and related crimes. Sanchez Cruz’s work focuses on the social decriminalization of abortion, the criminal decriminalization of abortion, the elimination of the stigma associated with abortion, and social support for women who decide to interrupt an unwanted pregnancy so that they experience abortion as a human right.

Olabukunola (Buky) Williams is the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Lead at Akina Mama Wa Afrika, a feminist Pan-African leadership development organization headquartered in Uganda and former Executive Director of Education as a Vaccine, an organization that works to advance young people’s right to health and protection from all forms of violence. Previously she worked as the Program Coordinator for Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research for Development, NiWARD. Buky is a feminist who is committed to dismantling patriarchal structures that reinforce and contribute to discrimination and violence against women and girls and vulnerable persons in all their diversities. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Global Policy Studies at Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA. She also holds a Master’s in International Peace Studies with a focus in Development and Peace from the University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. She was named a Malala Education Champion in 2020 pushed for the implementation of the Children Rights Acts and the free education policy to ensure girls’ education is free and accessible.

Dora Barrancos is a sociologist with an MA in Education from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil and a PhD in History from the University of Campinas, Brazil. She is a Professor at the University of Buenos Aires and Principal Investigator of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas yTécnicas, CONICET, which she directed from 2010-2019. Among her books are Inclusión/exclusión. Historia con Mujeres (Inclusion/Exclusion, History with Women, 2000), Mujeres en la sociedad argentina. Una historia de cinco siglos (Women in Argentine Society. A Five Century History, 2007), Mujeres, entre la casa y la plaza (Women. Between the Home and Plaza, 2008). Her latest book is titled Los feminismos en América Latina (Feminisms in Latin America, 2020). In 2012 she was awarded Ciencia y Mujeres: 12 nombres para cambiar el mundo, (Science and Women: 12 Names to Change the World) from the National Research Center on Human Evolution (Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre Evolución Humana – CENIEH) from Burgos, Spain. 

Erin Matson is co-founder and executive director of Reproaction, a national group using bold action to increase access to abortion and advance reproductive justice. A longtime feminist leader with expertise in creating and deploying unique, forceful national and state-level campaigns, Erin has appeared on MSNBC, CSPAN, Al-Jazeera English, ABC World News, BBC World News, and PBS’ To The Contrary. Erin served as action vice president for the National Organization for Women, and at age 23 she was elected to be the youngest NOW state president in the country. She also served as an editor at large for Rewire News Group. Her writings have appeared in a variety of publications, including Rolling Stone and three books. Erin serves on the board of directors of Catholics for Choice, the board of directors of the Windcall Institute, the steering committee of the American Society of Emergency Contraception. Erin is also an abortion and contraception panelist for Our Bodies Our Selves Today.

Naomi Braine is a Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College, CUNY. Prior to joining the faculty at Brooklyn, she worked in the non-profit research sector on issues of drug use and HIV and consulted for community-based organizations and the New York State Dept of Health. Her political and intellectual work addresses gender, sexuality, reproductive justice, wars on drugs and terror, and health and collective action, from an intersectional perspective. Her current work focuses on self-managed medication abortion as a social movement.

TO ATTEND ONLINE: Please pre-register for the event at:

TO ATTEND AN IN-PERSON LIVE STREAMING OF THE EVENT: The Brooklyn College Women’s Center will be hosting a live streaming of the event for students, staff and faculty who prefer to participate through an in-person setting on campus. Lights refreshments will be served courtesy of the Women’s Center. 227 Ingersoll Hall Extension. Same date and time as the event.

Readings and Resources on Reproductive Justice

Organizing for Reproductive Justice: An Interview with Barbara Smith by Joseph R. Fitzgerald
Black Perspectives, August 8, 2022


"Pañuelos Verdes, Acompañamiento, Solidaridad: The Global South Has Much to Teach the North in the Moment" by Naomi Braine

"Self Managed Abortion Services: It's Safe Effective and Done All Over the World" by Naomi Braine

"Women Themselves Are the Solution: Las Libres Has Been Helping Women Access Abortion and Human Rights in Mexico--and Now the United States--for Over Two Decades" by Veronica Cruz Sanches, interviewed by Elizabeth Navarro, translated by Elizabeth Navarro

"Self Managed Abortion Services: It's Safe, Effective, and Done All Over the World" by Naomi Braine

in We Organize To Change Everything: Fighting for Abortion Access and Reproductive Justice
edited by Natalie Adler, Marian Jones, Jesse Kindig, Elizabeth Navarro and Anne Rumberger
Verso Books, 2022

(Available as a free epub download from Verso Books via the above link.)

Erin Matson on C-Span
July 18, 2022 (and additional dates)

Erin Matson on PBS's To The Contrary
November 2, 2018

Devenir Feminista: Una Trajectoria Politico-Intelectual: Antologia Esencial
Dora Barrancos, Adriana Valobra, Maria Fernanda Pampin y Ana Laura Martin
Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO)



Latinplus Feminist Podcast: Sutton and Vacarezza on Abortion and Democracy Español
Editors Barbara Sutton and Nayla Luz Vacarezza discuss their book "Abortion and Democracy: Contentious Body Politics in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay" (Routledge, 2021) and reflect on taking a Latin+, transnational feminist sociological approach.

Combahee River Collective Statement

The Combahee River Collective Statement
“A Black Feminist Statement” (1977) was written by Barbara Smith, her twin sister Beverly Smith, and Demita Frazier, as the manifesto of the Combahee River Collective, and it serves as an early articulation of identity politics by demanding that African American women speak for themselves, and that they determine their own issues of concern. The statement marked a new era in feminism and other liberation movements by criticizing separatist movements and demanding a coalitional politics among groups of different identities.