AU Press Releases

Charlotte Bunch visits Alfred University for 2017 Riley Lecture

Charlotte Bunch, Pam Osborn and Patricia Riley join faculty and students at the Riley Lecture.

Charlotte Bunch, Pam Osborn and Patricia Riley join faculty and students at the Riley Lecture.

“I don’t think we should be pessimistic,” renowned women’s and human rights activist Charlotte Bunch said this week, as she delivered the 2017 Riley Lecture in Alfred University’s Nevins Theater.

Bunch, founding director and a senior scholar at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, reviewed 50 years of local, national and international feminist activism in her speech, beginning with her years as an undergraduate at Duke University. She has been a key participant in the effort to have women’s rights recognized internationally as human rights and continues to advocate for that “intersectional feminism.”

Bunch noted the times do not appear auspicious for further advancement. The United States recently announced it would cut by 50 percent its funding of the United Nations Population Fund, which supports UN efforts to improve women’s reproductive health internationally. And yet, she said, the past 20 years have seen steady growth in the international recognition that violent victimization occurs not only in public but in private, family-dominated spheres. This advance, she said “is transforming many women around the world.”

In January, she added, that gradual transformation was seen in the hundreds of women’s rights demonstrations organized in countries around the world. All that activity, she said, “stems from the vision of women’s rights as human rights.”

The 2017 Riley Lecture was attended by both Pamela Riley Osborn ’62 and Patricia Riley ’65, who founded the lecture series with their sister Melissa in 1996, in memory of their parents, Charles Riley ’35 and Elizabeth Hallenbeck Riley ’36. Bunch was introduce to the Riley Lecture audience by senior student Cheyenne Rainford, and Alfred University President Mark Zupan hosted a dinner for the Rileys, Bunch, and additional guests following Bunch’s lecture.

The 22nd speaker in the Riley Lecture series, Bunch called the advance of women’s rights “the dance of human rights and feminism….“It’s new kind of coming together,” she said. “Open your eyes. Figure out how to move forward. This is the breeding, the growing time.”