New Campus Organization: Dining for Women

by Nicole Rodriguez & Maria Thomas, Staff Writers

The Manhattan College Chapter of Dining for Women is a new campus organization with the purpose of bringing awareness to global women’s issues while engaging in a communal way on campus. Founded by junior biology major Shannon Forty and sophomore peace and religious studies major Ireland Twiggs, Manhattan College’s chapter of Dining for Women began this semester, holding their first monthly meeting in October.

Chapters of Dining for Women all over the country gather monthly for meals and reflection to share in education and solidarity with women worldwide. Every month there is a different theme highlighting organizations chosen by Dining for Women to be featured grantees. The theme for the month of October was Queens-based organization “Women for Afghan Women” that works to end violence against Afghan women and children in both New York and Afghanistan by providing them with services, education and advocacy.

For the month of November, the theme is “WISER International,” a Kenya-based organization that works with adolescent girls across rural Kenya to overcome poverty, HIV/AIDS, and violence.

Forty and Twiggs spoke of what inspired them to create a chapter of Dining for Women at Manhattan College.

“I attended a meeting of my mom’s chapter of Dining for Women in Westford, Mass., and I was so inspired. I felt like it was something that could be a great part of Manhattan’s message of ‘Concern for the Poor and Social Justice,’” said Forty.

Similarly Twiggs, upon the mention of this organization, knew it was something that she wanted to take part of.

“I love the idea of sharing food with a community on campus as we reflect and discuss issues that affect women around the world everyday,” said Twiggs.

Camryn Holly, a sophomore communication major who recently attended the chapter’s first meeting, believes that Dining for Women will expand her perspective and compassion for others.

“It’s important to be a part of Dining for Women because you’re actually making a difference in women’s lives across the world from you, who are going through completely different experiences” Holly said.

While this group is doing important and unifying work on the MC campus, the work is not always easy. By tackling issues like women’s rights, violence against women and equal education opportunities, members of this organization show true dedication and hope for a better future.

Twiggs said, “Sometimes the material gets heavy or uncomfortable, but I think the uncomfort and reflection help create a stronger knit community as well as enable you to grow as a person and inspire you to work with the communities and not for.”

Holly agreed with Twiggs, saying, “It might be challenging for some people to hear about the issues being discussed. At the first meeting we watched a pretty informative video on what women in other countries go through and it might be difficult for some people to see how bad those conditions can be.”

On Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m., Dining for Women held a screening of the film “Half the Sky”, which portrays gender-based violence in Sierra Leone and sex trafficking in Cambodia. More films of this nature will be shown throughout the year in hopes of inspiring change.

Forty and Twiggs believe the group will continue to gain momentum as the year progresses. Monthly meetings will act as the core of their presence on campus, and the group aspires to hold other activism events outside of their meetings. These activism events would include guest speakers relevant to women’s rights and trips to see organizations funded by Dining for Women.

The next Manhattan College Dining for Women meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m.