In a stirring celebration of girl power, the fourth annual OWN IT Summit hosted more than 500 attendees and 100 speakers during a daylong event Saturday geared toward encouraging the next generation of female leaders.
The summit was only one of several events celebrating female empowerment as part of Georgetown’s Women’s History Month programming. Women in the armed forces were recognized by the university Thursday in a panel discussion, and this weekend the BRAVE Summit will honor the accomplishments of black womanhood with influential speakers ranging from Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to Google analyst Aerica Banks.
If there is one overarching message to extract from these events, it is the fact that there is no singular experience that defines womanhood, nor should the term “feminism” be ascribed to any one particular set of beliefs. In advocating for women, the university should continue to showcase intersectionality in race, gender, sexual identity and ability within their programming, and also recognize that success looks different to each woman.
In programming events aimed at college-age women, much of the discussion is centered on women’s professional development and mobility. These conversations broach the indispensable topics of salary negotiation and work-life balance, but a factor often neglected in these conversations is that women who opt to be stay-at-home moms are just as valid within the feminist movement. A truly inclusive feminism recognizes that women are empowered through their choices, no matter which path they choose to pursue.
Additionally, feminism is not exclusively a liberal movement. The desire for women to achieve equality and a fulfilling life on their own terms need not be considered binary, which unequivocally embraces some beliefs and roundly rejects others. Being a feminist is not irreconcilable with assuming an anti-abortion rights stance, and organizations would do well to include female speakers with different political and ideological leanings in their events.
The university already represents an array of different perspectives within its programming through the joint efforts of students and administration, but it can continue to empower women by providing balanced dialogues that can unify historically divided perspectives. Creating panels that bring both conservative and liberal women, pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion rights activists, and CEOs and stay-at-home moms can allow students to expand their understanding of feminism and advocate for a form of inclusivity that taps into a more nuanced conversation about what it means to be a woman.
By exploring these nuances and helping students feel empowered about the choices they make in their lives, the Georgetown community can demonstrate that it embodies feminism in every sense of the word. Georgetown has already demonstrated it is willing to welcome all women to the conversation — now it can turn its sights toward ensuring they are all represented.