Columbus – Assistant Democratic Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D - Columbus) served as a featured speaker for the opening session of the 2014 Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) National Conference. Held March 6-9 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Columbus, the theme of the conference was “The Personal is Political: The Lived Experience of Disability”. Conference attendees explored how disability interfaces with multiple identities and impacts issues that many women navigate.

“We have a responsibility to advocate for ourselves and those who are marginalized,” said Senator Tavares. “We are not the minority and are not less than our male counterparts. We must take our rightful seats at the table of power to stand up, speak up and take action to address the issues that assist those who have disabilities, are discriminated against or who are unjustly treated.”

Senator Tavares’ comments focused on the personal aspect of this theme, sharing her personal family story of misdiagnosed mental illness and suicide of her brother, pregnancy spacing and developmental disabilities and cultural competence.

Tavares also challenged the women to run and support others seeking public office to maintain a seat at the table where decisions about policies, funding and treatment occur. Women are severely underrepresented in the Ohio legislature and the negative ramifications of this are evident in matters such as reproductive rights, aging, dating violence, and mental health.

AWP is an incorporated, not-for-profit scientific and educational organization devoted to reevaluating the role psychology plays in the lives of women. It seeks to challenge unquestioned assumptions, research traditions, theoretical commitments, professional practices, and institutional and societal constructs that limit the understanding, treatment, professional attainment, and responsible self-determination of women. AWP also targets elements that contribute to unwelcome divisions between women based on race, ethnicity, age, social class, sexual orientation or religious affiliation.

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