Mercer senior champions reproductive and gender equality

Emily Cuarenta

Mercer University senior Emily Cuarenta was recently named Georgia State Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equality (URGE) organizer for the South Georgia region. 

Cuarenta, a women’s and gender studies major with a minor in global health studies and a certificate in applied social justice, will work closely with young leaders, guiding them in programming events and organizing around issues that affect individuals at local and state levels.

“I am grateful to be chosen as URGE’s second Georgia State Organizer,” she said. “This is my dream job. It feels amazing to be part of a movement that better represents me and my friends than mainstream or white feminism.”

At Mercer, she co-founded the feminist organization Fighting for Our Rights and Gender Equity (FORGE), which is a chapter of URGE. She is a member of Common Ground, Rainbow Connection and the Young Democrats and previously served as a resident assistant. 

Cuarenta was new to feminism when she came to Mercer. Her time in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department and participation in campus organizations have been very impactful on the development of her desire to be an activist, she said.

“Through my women’s and gender studies classes, I began to look at social issues through the lens of intersectionality. Through URGE training workshops and Common Ground meetings, I began to realize that gender equity had to include trans and non-binary folks. I’ve seen myself grow beyond the predominately white Women’s March movement to truly intersectional feminism that can support folks of all backgrounds,” Cuarenta said. 

She credits Dr. Natalie Bourdon, associate professor and chair of women’s and gender studies, and Dr. Amy Nichols-Belo, associate professor of global health studies, with inspiring her to become an activist. 

“The way they talk about social issues resonated with me,” Cuarenta said. “That began my passion for social justice.”

Dr. Bourdon said Cuarenta is the perfect candidate for the role.

“I feel so fortunate to have known Emily since her freshman year and to have been able to witness her growth as a person and as a student,” she said. “Emily has had to work diligently to overcome many challenges, and yet she has always set her sights on making the world a more just place for everyone. She will go on changing the worlds she moves through in significant ways.”

Cuarenta’s passion for gender and reproductive rights have granted her many opportunities to use her platform. In 2017, she served in the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps Intern Cohort, an experience that led her to get involved with URGE. 

In her new position, Cuarenta hopes to create a space of inclusivity and equality, as well as help inspire others to be leaders of reproductive and gender equality rights. 

“I look forward to passing the baton to new leaders who fight for liberation and justice,” she said.


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