May 15, 2018
Hillary Hempstead
image of Sophia Pekowsky
Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Sophia Pekowsky '18, a gender, sexuality, and feminist studies major, has been awarded a Fulbright to research the implementation of the anti-obstetric violence law in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
 
Pekowsky first started to consider applying for a Fulbright while studying abroad in the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Buenos Aires Liberal Arts program . Her personal interaction with researchers in the CIEE program spurred her to take the leap to apply.

“I had the incredible luck to have two feminist researchers working for the program, Andrea Rizzotti, the program director, and Karina Felitti, a gender studies professor, who both pushed me to think about research as a possibility based on my interest in gender, public health, and reproductive justice.”

During her fellowship, Pekowsky will study how public maternity clinics and hospitals in Buenos Aires’ urban center have implemented the anti-obstetric violence law—a law that makes illegal any humiliating and denigrating treatment by obstetricians, abuse of medicalization, and unnecessary pathologization—passed in Argentina during 2004. Her research will focus on one public maternity clinic that explicitly integrates the law into their practice. By doing this, she hopes to to gain insight on the effect the law has had on the the lived experiences of pregnant people. Additionally, Pekowsky will take classes related to public health, and she plans to attend events and meetups to learn how Argentine activists organize.

“I hope to spend my nine months in Argentina doing thorough, intentional, and socially conscious research with the guidance of scholars and mentors who are experts in this field,” says Pekowsky. “I still have so much to learn and am in no way expecting to go about this on my own.”

While at Oberlin, Pekowsky was a Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct (PRSM) trainer. She also was a member of the Resource Conservation Team, a teaching assistant for the English as a Second Language Course, and a volunteer at El Centro de Servicios Sociales in Lorain.  

Upon her return to the United States, she is considering several careers related to public health, social justice, and sex education. “I hope to pursue a career in public health and social justice, but I am still not sure what my specific path will be,” says Pekowsky.

“I’m considering pursuing a nurse midwifery degree, but I’m also passionate about sex education and working with children and young adults. I’d also love to write and publish a children’s book one day.”

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