At last month’s Women’s March on Washington, millions of women marched through Washington, D.C., around the country and across the globe to show their commitment to a better future. From the biggest cities to the smallest towns, women and their allies — including many Georgetown students — stood together, created a space for themselves and made their voices heard.
Now, in the weeks after, we ask: Where do we go from here? How can we learn from experiences that are different from our own, and how can we share our own unique stories?
Two groups of women on campus are seeking an answer. With a challenging and unpredictable future ahead, the teams of the OWN IT Summit and BRAVE — Black, Resilient, Artistic, Vigilant, Enough — Summit work to initiate conversations at Georgetown around the role women play in our society and how the intersection of ethnicities affects this role.
The OWN IT Summit was founded in 2014, and seeks to connect college-age women with inspiring female leaders, striving to represent leadership, accessibility, diversity and feminism through dynamic conversation. Shortly after, in the fall of 2015, a group of Georgetown’s black female students came together to create the BRAVE Summit.
BRAVE’s inception came from the lack of a much-needed environment, both on campus and beyond the front gates, in which black women could have their voices and desires realized.
Even though the National Center for Education Statistics found there is a higher percentage of black women enrolled in college than any other group, black women face stark inequality; according to Pew Research, for every $1 a white man earns, a white woman earns 82 cents and a black woman earns only 65 cents.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics for Higher Heights Leadership Fund, black women were the largest group to vote in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, and this power has been prominent in social movements like Black Lives Matter and the feminist movement. However, black women have had to shout louder to make their presence known through the Say Her Name campaign and the introduction of #blackgirlmagic.
The black woman has been the quiet strength of her community, but BRAVE hopes to push her to the forefront and recognize that she will no longer be silenced by either the patriarchy or other women. As we have planned our summits, the OWN IT and BRAVE teams have built on each other’s triumphs and challenges and supported each other’s messages.
We have worked together to build spaces for inclusive and intersectional feminism. Most importantly, though, we have listened to each other, and this year more than ever, it is critical that we stand with one another. We ask you to join us.
Although the OWN IT team has worked tirelessly for the March 18 fourth annual summit, its true success is due to the women who attend, hear their idols, find new mentors and take away new skills, tools and viewpoints. The BRAVE Summit will feature speakers including D.C. Black Lives Matter co-founder Erika Totten and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) on March 25.
Both events emphasize that the future is still female, and although the feminist movement has not always been inclusive to all women, they will work to overcome this history to create a space for all. The movement cannot endure without everyone’s presence.
More than anything, the Women’s March showed that, when faced with subjugation by the patriarchy, all women have the powerful potential to unite despite institutional limits — whether it is on Capitol Hill or the Hilltop. As the mission of the march states: “We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society.”
Paige Taylor is a sophomore in the College. Kathryn Threatt is a junior in the School of Foreign Service.