'Sex and Sustainability' Event Mixes Art and Development

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Eddie Rosenbaum/Photo
The "Sex and Sustainability" event showcased the connection between development and reproductive health.

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Hundreds of onlookers packed into the Alphonse Berber Gallery on Bancroft Way Tuesday night to learn about how unmitigated population growth hampers development in Third World countries.

The graduate student group Bixby Youth in Action, along with the Sierra Club, sponsored "Sex and Sustainability," an event that examined the connection between population, poverty and women's empowerment through a series of art pieces by UC Berkeley students.

The group is sponsored by the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, the Sierra Club and Americans for Informed Democracy.

One of the art pieces featured a faceless pregnant woman standing alone in a pool of water.

"It's about being trapped," said the artist, senior Jasmine Vazquez.

The woman is caged and isolated, denied an education and innumerable opportunities because of an undesired pregnancy, she said.

"This (event) is about a very basic human freedom-the freedom of women to control their own fertility," said public health professor Malcolm Potts, chair of the Bixby Center.

Potts, who wore a tie patterned with smiling condoms, has educated women all over the world about family planning.

When women do not have access to family planning, the result is overpopulation, which makes it impossible to alleviate poverty, distribute resources and ensure environmental sustainability, said Sirina Keesara, a recent graduate and an organizer of the event who is currently working for the Bixby Center.

In fall 2009, Keesara said she and her co-organizers plan to facilitate a DE-Cal and create a group for undergraduates that will further examine the connection between women's health and sustainability.

Eight of the 14 art pieces at the event interpreted Millennium Development Goals that 192 member states of the United Nations agreed to achieve by 2015-illustrating how overpopulation handicaps each of those goals.

Vazquez's piece addressed the third Millennium Development Goal, to promote gender equality and empower women.

The six remaining pieces of art highlighted problems women face in the developing world.

One of the pieces, "Women who Have Many Children," was captioned with a quote from a woman in rural Pakistan.

It read, "Let's see who dies this time, me or my baby."

Junior Kristina Skalskaya, an economics major, said she thought the problems touched upon at the exhibit should be addressed in everyday life.

"These issues should be talked about a lot more," she said. "It's something people don't think about much."


Contact Leah Greenbaum at [email protected]

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