This is one in a series of testimonials from Political Science and International Relations graduates and how they've put their degrees to work.
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Heather Lynds (BA, 2010 and MA, 2012) recently started working for a Hamilton-based AIDS service organization, serving as the Women's Community Development Worker as part of the Ontario provincial government’s Women & HIV/AIDS Initiative. In her position, Heather produces and provides educational resources for service providers and the community on the challenges faced by HIV-positive women and women at risk of transmission in Ontario. Specifically, she provides a gendered analysis of HIV and the social determinants of health that affect women, including domestic and sexual violence, social stigmas that prevent women from taking control of their sex lives, cultural barriers to condom use, the power dynamics in heterosexual relationships that leave women vulnerable, and caregiving roles that direct the focus of women on others and not on their own health needs. While educating is a big part of her job, another important component of her role involves networking in the women's services sector and participating in large-scale women-focused events, such as International Women's Day, VDAY, and Take Back the Night.
Heather says the research she did for her MA degree "translates into my current position because it gives me insight into the social barriers faced by marginalized women. I examined the power prostitutes had in relation to the state and the courts in my MA and I see it in action regularly at work. I also have a distinct compassion for the survival sex workers that use our harm reduction program (needle exchange) and am also able to empower those who work in the industry by choice." Heather has also been invited to present her work as part of the Annual Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference in Toledo, Ohio, and is now involved in a wide range of political activist organizations and initiatives.