UN Initiative Sparks HoyasForShe Initiative On Campus

As one of the ten IMPACT partner universities with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women’s gender equality initiative, HeForShe, Georgetown launched the first phase of a campaign for gender equality on campus this week.

HeForShe is an international movement that aims to engage people of all genders to advocate for gender equality. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. Women Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson launched the campaign in 2014, and identified partner universities, heads of state and corporations to encourage activism at an institutional level. Georgetown announced its partnership with the campaign in February.

The launch this week followed the Tuesday release of a study conducted on the partner universities goals and progress on achieving gender parity.

The HeForShe 10x10x10 IMPACT University Parity Report outlines three areas in which universities can work on to empower women. These include highlighting the ratio of men to women represented in faculty and administration, the fields of study chosen by female students compared to males as well as the number of female students at universities and their access to academic and professional tracks.

University President John J. DeGioia and other administrative and student representatives joined U.N. Women in announcing the results of the study at the 71st U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

Student ambassadors for HeForShe, partnered with the Georgetown University Student Association communications team, raised awareness of the campaign this week by tabling and setting up a photo booth in Red Square.

The university chose student ambassadors based upon previous experience in United Nations advocacy or leadership on campus in an effort to include student leaders in the university’s progress with the project. Georgetown is one of two American universities, along with Stony Brook University, invited to serve as an IMPACT partner in addition to eight other international schools.

When DeGioia announced the partnership in February, he outlined three specific goals for the university.

First, the university is committed to using its Institute for Women, Peace and Security to conduct research and analyze data about the role of women in peace-building, political activism and prevention and protection of women from sexual violence in conflict. The institute also consolidates key articles and studies as well as facilitates the work of academics studying female participation in politics.

According to Georgetown Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications Stacy Kerr, administration from the 10 IMPACT universities will convene during the next five years to evaluate the work all schools are doing on their respective campuses to address issues of sexual violence on campuses, closing the gender gap in pay at universities and improving the ability for women to attain leadership positions. These independent projects have not been previously announced.

“In addition to what each of us are doing on our individual campuses, we want to tackle [those] three areas together where we think that if we do some collective work together, we could have an impact,” Kerr said.

Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny said the commitments provide clear steps for the university to take.

“We are working to make our campus a safe and healthy environment where students, faculty and staff can do their very best work,” Kilkenny wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We are working to create new knowledge and research that advance women and contribute towards gender parity worldwide.”

Kilkenny also underscored the role of student participation.

“Our students have a significant role to play in this movement and we want to empower them to be aware of their power to bring gender parity not only to our campus, but to their lives beyond Georgetown,” Kilkenny wrote.

Georgetown pledged to build a campus that is safe for women by strengthening its response to sexual assault and sexual violence issues using information from last year’s campus climate survey, and to update its “RESPECT: Preventing Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct” training for faculty members, which is a university program focused on providing information to faculty and staff about their legal responsibilities and rights.

The university has also been using the

COURTESY GEORGETOWN Georgetown University partnered with the United Nations and nine other universities to promote gender parity.

COURTESY GEORGETOWN
Georgetown University partnered with the United Nations and nine other universities to promote gender parity.

, which was founded in 2015 by university administration, to consolidate the work done by the Women’s Center, Georgetown Women in Medicine and the Women’s Leadership Initiative.

Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Communications Manager Sarah Rutherford said student partners have already planned future campaigns, including a video campaign and extending invitations to HeForShe advocates Emma Watson and Trevor Noah to speak on campus.

“As a follow-on to this week’s call for personal commitments to gender equality, we plan to invite student clubs to make commitments to gender equality — such as a pledge to reach gender equity in club leadership or an agreement to offer programming that supports women’s voices, rights or opportunities,” Rutherford wrote in an email to The Hoya. “GIWPS and other university staff will continue to support the #HoyasForShe student movement.”

DeGioia said HeForShe’s goals overlap with the priorities of the university as an institution.

“As universities, we are animated by a shared mission: the formation of our students, the creation of new knowledge, and to act on behalf of the common good,” DeGioia wrote in a statement to The Hoya. “These roles shape the ways in which we can impact gender parity efforts — providing us with tools, resources, and opportunities to make a positive difference.”

Georgetown University Student Association Director of Communications Natalia Peña (COL ’17) said although HeForShe’s commitments to gender parity are being organized and measured solely by university administrators since the partnership was announced in February, student partners have taken the lead in raising awareness about gender equality on campus beginning this week through tabling and a photo booth campaign in Red Square.

“Starting with that visibility — we are working from that point,” Peña said. “This is the start of the student initiative. It is really led by the administration, but it’s not a club.”

DeGioia also said this student activism is a crucial part of ensuring gender equality at a grassroots level.

“We are especially grateful to our students, who are also deeply engaged in this work, just this week actively inviting their peers to make their own personal commitments to ending gender discrimination and advocating on behalf of women across our campus,” DeGioia wrote.

According to Peña, from Monday to Wednesday, more than 100 students signed a pledge to empower female peers and took photos with their promises written on cards. While U.N. Women’s international movement is formally known as #HeForShe, student partners have decided to rebrand it “#HoyasForShe” on campus.

“We want HoyasForShe to encapsulate all genders, which doesn’t necessarily limit it to women,” Peña said.

HeForShe student ambassador Axel Khayat (SFS ’19) said the student-led initiative was launched to inform the university community about how students can become a part of the HeForShe movement by raising awareness and taking a pledge for gender equality.

“Last year we decided to launch a student campaign to spread the word because we thought not enough students knew about the campaign,” Khayat said. “I think in that case of gender equality, which is especially aimed at targeting men to get them involved, it’s especially important to have noise around the campaign and to make sure people know about it.”

Khayat said the HeForShe initiative is unique since it calls on males in positions of power to take part in achieving gender equality by raising awareness.

“Usually there’s a lot of women’s rights initiatives on campus, but most of them are almost completely led by women, which I think is normal but sad as men don’t want to get involved in that fight, which I think is their role too,” Khayat said.

GUSA Vice President Chris Fisk (COL ’17) said he appreciated the HeForShe cause because it petitions men to join the cause for gender parity.

“It’s so valuable to talk about gender equality in a way that includes and calls on all men to be involved,” Fisk wrote in an email to The Hoya. “After all, feminism isn’t an attack on men, it’s just the promotion of the not-so-radical idea that men and women are equal.”

 

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