GCSW College of Social Work
A Note from the Dean

At our recent commencement ceremony, I referenced the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Maya Angelou and challenged our graduates to think about all the ways so many of us in society are still not free. In recent weeks, this has become painfully clear as women and birthing people are no longer free to make decisions about their health or their bodies because their constitutional right to privacy and their right to a safe abortion are being taken away from them. Within the next couple months, we could be living in a country where women and birthing people will be forced to give birth, regardless of the circumstances or the outcomes that result.

This month’s update features two stories that demonstrate all that is at stake in this new reality. First, GCSW alumna Stephanie Gomez (MSW/MPP '20) shares her personal abortion story on MSNBC News and talks about how important it was for her to be able to make this choice for herself.

Then our Fulbright Scholar, Nicole Bromfield, provides an update in the Notes from Namibia | Global Social Work series, which focuses on Namibia’s gender equality efforts. In Namibia, abortion is illegal except in cases of rape, incest, or a threat to life of the mother or baby. As a result, an estimated 7,000 unsafe “back alley” abortions occur each year, exposing women to severe risks and possibly death. Knowing what happens in countries where abortion is illegal is something we should all be thinking about deeply as we consider our next steps.

Finally, we have an update from our HEAR Lab, which launched last month with a #WalkNListen self guided study activity featuring podcasts highlighting the intersectional experiences from women of color whose work has had an impact in society. By engaging in these important conversations, we hope to ground ourselves in the importance of these experiences as we work to achieve our vision of social, racial, economic, and political justice for all.

Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit more about us this month! I’d love to hear your feedback.

Alan J. Dettlaff
Dean, UH Graduate College of Social Work
Maconda Brown O’Connor Endowed Dean’s Chair

"What we're going to be seeing in Texas is restriction on abortion access and all health care generally. It's going to really harm people and put them into positions where they will have to navigate misinformation and a lot of cultural stigma simply because they need the same access to resources we all should have."
                                                               –Stephanie Gómez (MSW/MPP '20) on MSNBC

VIEW here.


*In the Notes from Namibia | Global Social Work series, GCSW Associate Professor Nicole Bromfield will document her experiences and share her work as a 2022 Fulbright Research and Teaching Scholar at the University of Namibia. READ more.

Pictured (with permission): !Gaidi and Moeter are Damara women who work as clerks at the Damara Living Museum.

"Namibia is complex, both in its history of colonialism and oppression and the tremendous diversity among women in the country. Women are divided by race, tribe and ethnicity, language, class, an immense rural-urban divide, education, political affiliation, and so forth. Likewise, many of the women leading much of the gender equality efforts and organizations are highly educated Black elite women living in Windhoek. As such, some have argued publicly that these women leaders are unable to identify with the poor, marginalized, rural, women who live in areas with no electricity or cell service and limited educational opportunities.

My students have discussed and written about several ongoing issues in our policy class that primarily impact women in Namibia. Some of these issues include: child marriage, abortion rights, HIV/AIDS and sexual and gender based violence."
                                    –Nicole Bromfield

"The #WalkNListen activity and others that the HEAR Lab takes on will allow diverse leaders to connect, challenge, and better the research process.

These activities aim to enable the HEAR Lab to host trainings, foster community-driven conversations, and focus on creating anti-racist research through connection and amplification of every individual's thoughts."

READ more:

Anil Anora, GCSW doctoral student and HEAR Lab team member