WASHINGTON (WDVM) — It was Associate Professor of Political Science J. Jarpa Dawuni’s grandmother who inspired her to go into women’s studies. Dawuni says her grandmother’s strong-mindedness taught her she “had power as a woman.”
When she started at Howard University in 2015, she wanted to find a community of faculty that was doing similar research. When she didn’t find one, she made one of her own. For the last five years, the interdisciplinary Gender and Sexuality Collective has been collaborating on research opportunities and coordinating its signature, annual event on the International Day of the Woman.
Dawuni says the Howard administration caught wind of her organization’s work, and when a trustee expressed interest in making a donation, University President Wayne Frederick suggested she write a proposal.
For the first time in its 150-year history, Howard University will have a Women’s Center: a dedicated space for active research about minority women across the globe with broader institutional support. Dawuni says it will also be a place for student internship, job, and networking opportunities.
The university made the announcement about a week after the United States elected a Howard University alumna as its vice president. Dawuni says the timing couldn’t be better. “To have this come after the election…it’s just amazing,” she said. “We’re hoping to build up or showcase what Howard can do and what Howard has done in the past, which is the fact that we’ve produced the first woman Vice President of the United States, and to also build up on this and say, ‘There’s so much more we can do in the future.’”
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