Yesterday’s news of the wage discrimination lawsuit filed by five U.S. Women’s National Team players has once again elevated the issue of women’s equality to the national stage. Georgetown University has frequently participated in this growing national and international conversation. Earlier this year, President John J. DeGioia announced the university’s collaboration with the UN Women campaign, HeForShe, which works to empower women and girls worldwide. Georgetown also boasts the Women’s Center, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and a women’s and gender studies academic program.
In addition to the presence of these centers and institutions, students have worked hard to highlight female empowerment on campus and raise awareness about women’s experiences in a way that is accessible to the whole student body. This spring, students have the opportunity to participate in both the third annual OWN IT Summit and the inaugural BRAVE Summit, both of which celebrate women.
The OWN IT Summit, started by Helen Brosnan (SFS ’16) and Kendall Ciesemier (COL ’15) in 2014, addresses the leadership gap, citing core values of leadership, accessibility, diversity and feminism. The event on April 9, which will bring notable speakers including soccer star Abby Wambach, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Melanne Verveer (SFS ’66 and GRD ’69) and journalist Norah O’Donnell, (COL ’95 and GRD ’03) among many others, aims to connect Georgetown students with successful female leaders. Through keynote speeches and breakout sessions over the course of the day, the diverse cohort of female leaders will share experiences and what they have learned with aspiring leaders in the Georgetown community.
BRAVE, an acronym for “Black. Resilient. Artistic. Vigilant. Enough.,” was started by Black Women at Georgetown in order to uplift and amplify black female voices and combat the negative presentation of black women in the media. The BRAVE Summit, taking place on April 23, will bring speakers representing the arts, public service and social justice, as well as founders of various institutions. While OWN IT hosts a large array of speakers who bring a diversity of experiences to the table — including LGBTQ issues, global issues, women in STEM and activism — there is also something to be said for BRAVE’s focus on the experiences of women of color. In the context of a year full of activism around #BlackLivesMatter, both nationally and on Georgetown’s campus, BRAVE focuses on #blackgirlmagic and female empowerment in a way that highlights the powerful intersection of race and feminism.
Every student at Georgetown, regardless of racial or gender identities, should take advantage of these two opportunities. The effort to build strong networks among female leaders, incorporate women’s voices into discussions of pressing issues, celebrate the achievements of women and unravel sexist and anti-LGBTQ oppression must not be treated as a niche or a sidebar, but as a fundamental task for those seeking the common good. Both events will provoke important conversations on Georgetown’s campus that, if fully integrated into the academic and social fabric of the university, have the potential to make meaningful change.
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