From Orange County to the Women's March: one student's path to activism

Emma Giles has been a pro-choice advocate since coming to ASU

When Emma Giles was growing up in Orange County, California, a place she calls "lovely but very much a bubble," she never thought she would end up marching in the streets in support of women's rights.

When Giles, a management and Spanish junior, moved from the O.C. to Tempe to attend ASU, she realized the world was more complicated and more troubled than she had grown up believing. She had spent high school involved in her school's theater program. She figured she would work in entertainment, and her focus rested solely on that.

When she started college, she met friends who exposed her to different point of views and became active in clubs across campus including Honors Devils, the Young Democrats and the Sun Devil Support Network.

In 2017, she worked with her friend Pashmi Mehta, a business management and sustainability junior, to launch The Period Project. The project provided feminine hygiene products to students in the Barrett restrooms. 

“I came to her with the idea for The Period Project," Mehta said. "She was super willing to help out.” 

Mehta and Giles met freshman year in their dorm. Mehta watched as Giles developed her beliefs and became increasingly passionate.

“When I first met her – she’s from Orange County, California where everyone is kinda the same,” Mehta said. “Then, she joined Young Dems and became really involved in a leadership role, so I’ve really seen growth in that aspect.”

Giles joined Young Democrats during her sophomore year and became the recruitment and events coordinator on the executive board. Young Democrats president and political science junior Jesse Avalos said Giles is an asset to the organization.

"I really appreciate her being active with us because she is a true example of what it means to make sure that we have intersectional and diverse voices on the board," Avalos said.

One of the main tenets of the Young Democrats is their support for the pro-choice movement.

"Pro-choice to me means that women have the right to their bodies," Giles said.

As part of Giles's pro-choice activism, she attended the Arizona Women's March with other members of the Young Democrats. She called the experience "amazing" and "empowering." 

Giles and her friends hoisted "FEMINIST" and "EMPOWHERMENT" signs. They marched in support of women's rights and the pro-choice fight.

"Pro-choice is not about wanting abortions to happen," Giles said. "It's about letting it be legal so that there aren't women out there doing it illegally and harming their own bodies because they can't handle having a kid."

In her political activism, Giles is focused on the availability of birth control, the safety of abortions and women's health.

Her message is simple.

"You shouldn't have a rule over my body," Giles said. "The government should not have regulations over my body. They don't have regulations over men's bodies."

This profile is a part of a series of stories featuring activists on campus.

Read more:

From Supreme Court to campus tabling, ASU activist promotes "pro-life feminism"

From D.C. to Arizona, DACA activist fights for her dream


Reach the reporter at cmgiulia@asu.edu or follow @tinamaria_4 on Twitter.

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