When Georgetown closes out its celebration of Women’s History Month on Tuesday with an event featuring ballet prodigy Misty Copeland, hundreds of students will have attended its 15 events, which featured discussions on gender, race, politics and disability.
For the first time, the month-long series of programming received funding from an initiative launched by the Office of the President in October 2014 that funds cultural and advocacy groups with official months designated to their causes. Women’s History Month received $1,500 in funding from the Office of the President and is the sixth of seven heritage months this academic year, preceded by Black History Month in February and followed by Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in May.
Women’s Center undergraduate assistant Mary Rogers (COL ’16) said that the money helped fund resources for disabled students.
“The extra money was really helpful in being able to secure ASL interpreters for students who may have needed them,” Rogers said. “It helped make some of the events a little bit more inclusive.”
The aim of the month is not only to celebrate women but also to reflect on female achievements and setbacks in the past and in the future, according to a campus-wide email sent in mid-March.
The Georgetown University Student Association, the Women’s Center, Georgetown University Women of Color, Take Back The Night, Catholic Daughters, Women in Politics, Women’s Veteran Panel, Georgetown University Veteran’s Association and the Female Empowerment Magis Row House participated in and organized the events, creating a series of discussions on women in society, the church and the workplace. Events included movie screenings, guest speakers and roundtables on sexual assault and feminism.
Women’s Center undergraduate assistant Mary Rogers (COL ’16) said she believes the heritage month and its events are extremely important in the effort to empower women on campus.
“I think Georgetown has really been an old boys club for a while,” Rogers said. “We didn’t fully become co-ed until 1969 and even now we still struggle with getting more women in the upper levels of leadership on campus. Having a women’s history month that is recognized by the university is really important in letting all students on campus know that women are not only recognized, but valued here.”
The month-long celebration of women began March 6 with a kickoff coffee hour in the Female Empowerment Magis Row House. Other major events included a women’s veteran panel, a networking event and a feminism roundtable.
Rogers said that she especially enjoyed the Women and Disability Roundtable that featured disability rights advocate Lydia Brown (COL ’15) and National Council on Disability Executive Director Rebecca Cokely.
“In my opinion the best feminism is an intersectional one that includes gender, race, ethnicity and disability, so it was really great to explore that,” Rogers said.
Women’s Center volunteer Sylvia Levy (SFS ’18) also helped to organize some of the programming for Women’s History Month.
“The event that I organized, and was very excited for, was a panel discussion about women’s careers and activism,” Levy said. “The panel discussion was, I thought, very important and successful. Topics that were covered ranged from the importance of intersectionality in the work place and in activism efforts to tips on networking and operating in male-dominating fields.”
Levy said she was extremely happy with the response that the event received from fellow students.
“Afterwards, many students who attended came to me and told me how helpful the insights the panelists gave about women’s activism in tech, global rights and local activism were,” Levy said. “I am so thankful for all the help that I got and how much excitement for the event all of the students … I came into contact with had.”
New South Chaplain-in-Residence Jessie Lowry said that she used Women’s History Month as an opportunity to host conversations with students, which further celebrated women at Georgetown.
“I have noticed all the wonderful events on campus taking place in honor of Women’s History Month,” Lowry wrote in an email. “One of the things that I have always wanted to do is gather some wonderful women at Georgetown and simply talk openly and informally about what it is like to be a woman here. What are the unique challenges? What is like to make friends, join clubs, date, make your mark?”
Madeline Westrick (SFS ’18), who attended the month’s events, said that initiatives such as Women’s History Month are of vital importance to the Georgetown community.
“Women deserve to be celebrated and there are so many issues out there which need to be candidly discussed,” Westrick said. “As a society, we have come a long way, but there is still so many things that we need to work on in order to ensure that women have every single door possible open to them. I feel proud to be part of an institution that celebrates and empowers women.”