Feminist playwright Eve Ensler urges OU to fund Women's and Gender Studies program
NORMAN — Feminist playwright and activist Eve Ensler is urging the University of Oklahoma not to cut funding for one of its programs.
In a letter dated Wednesday, Ensler asks OU officials to restore funding for the Women's and Gender Studies program. The budget has been slashed by 52 percent over the past two years.
Ensler is founder and artistic director of the New York-based group V-Day, which seeks to end violence against women and girls. In 1996, Ensler wrote “The Vagina Monologues,” a collection of vignettes based on interviews with women about sexuality.
In the letter, Ensler notes the program is the only one of its kind in Oklahoma, and says funding cuts would be detrimental to students and to the state at large. She calls women's and gender studies “a first-line defense for women's rights.”
“We must do everything in our power to keep them not only open, but thriving,” she says.
In an interview, Ensler said OU had been involved with the V-Day movement for more than 10 years.
She became aware of cuts through discussions with the program's organizers, she said.
Oklahoma has the highest rate of female incarceration in the country.
Typically, Ensler said, that means a high percentage of women being denied education, coming from violent homes and lacking support.
The state also ranks poorly in terms of overall health. America's Health Rankings for 2011 places Oklahoma at No. 48, two spots lower than the previous year. Among other factors, the ranking cites a low use of prenatal care.
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