Rahders dove into higher education with the intention of establishing a career in social justice.
When she joins Advocates for Youth in Washington, D.C. this fall, she’ll be working on federal policy matters for the organization, which champions initiatives that help young people make educated decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. “I focused on HIV awareness, youth and LGBTQ issues during my undergrad years at UCLA. It wasn’t until law school that I learned about the reproductive justice framework, which gave a name to the intersectional way that I understood these subjects. I’m excited to work on expanding access to health care and sexual health education for young people,” said Rahders.
“Reproductive justice isn’t just a synonym for reproductive rights. It’s a specific movement coined by and for women of color in 1994 that looks at issues of access and community need beyond just having a ‘right’ to reproductive health,” explained Rahders.
Arneta Rogers spent her childhood witnessing her young African-American mother face many obstacles to accessing health care. “I was drawn into the world of reproductive justice policy and advocacy because there are entire communities made of women like my mother who are unjustly asked to navigate a system of deeply entrenched barriers in order to have their most basic needs addressed.”
Rogers had her eyes on the LSRJ Fellowship before she started law school; she heard about it through her professional network of reproductive justice advocates. She’ll be joining the Positive Women’s Network–USA in Oakland. PWN–USA is a national membership organization for women living with HIV and their allies. “I’ll be working on different intersectional issues that impact women living with HIV, which include the full spectrum of advocating for their legal and reproductive rights,” explained Rogers. One of her projects will involve campaigning to end the criminalization of HIV transmission and exposure.
Both Rahders and Rogers devoted a significant amount of time during law school to exploring race, gender and reproductive health issues. Rahders served as president of LSRJ’s UC Hastings chapter and editor-in-chief of the Hastings Women’s Law Journal. Rogers served on the executive boards of UC Hastings’ Black Law Students Association and OutLaw. “Sonya has an incredible passion for reproductive justice work and has a deep desire to create social change,” said Professor Jennifer Dunn ’98. “Arneta has been part of the Bay Area women’s rights and reproductive justice community for years.”
For those interested in studying reproductive justice, Dunn remarked that UC Hastings boasts several prominent faculty members who teach classes on race, gender and reproductive health. In addition, the Center for Gender & Refugee Law and the Center for WorkLife Law conduct groundbreaking research and advocacy on gender issues. The school also offers a concentration in social justice lawyering, a program in which Rahders and Rogers participated. “UC Hastings has a very engaged group of students and faculty dedicated to women’s rights and reproductive justice,” said Dunn, who teaches Women’s Health & the Law and Global Health.
Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) is an organization that trains and mobilizes law students and new lawyers across the country to foster legal expertise and support for the realization of reproductive justice. LSRJ’s active UC Hastings chapter hosts various events throughout the year. To learn more about the Reproductive Justice Fellowship Program, click here.