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Students Attended International Women's Summit

SAGE Women World

Students from the University’s Students Advocating Girls Education (SAGE) attended the 10th Annual Women in the World Summit in New York City this month, on April 12.

The Summit brought together women and men from around the world who are working for gender equity and empowering businesses, communities, individuals, and governments through their advocacy, art, and activism.

Students, and others in attendance, learned the importance of women's equal and full participation for economic growth and development.

Among others, speakers included: former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who discussed about women in political leadership; Cindy McCain, who talked about the prevalence of human sex trafficking in the United States; Indra Nooiy, who talked about how women succeed in business; and Glenda Jackson, who discussed the role of women in British politics.

Other discussions included women's health issues, women and financial literacy, sexual harassment in the workplace, violence against women, and the spread of the #MeToo movement around the world.

The summit also highlighted several young women and their innovative inventions in a wide variety of subjects ranging from food shortage, climate change, and others.

“On the train ride back to campus, students could not stop talking about the panels, and the speakers. They could not wait for next year's summit,” said Rekha Datta, Ph.D., Monmouth’s Freed Endowed Chair in Social Science and a professor of political science, and SAGE’s faculty adviser. “They also talked about having events on campus covering the issues of gender inequality and gender violence.”

 

Kaitlin Allsopp, a senior political science student and President of SAGE, said, “I have been attending the WITW Summit with SAGE since my freshman year at Monmouth. This event showcases inspiring, intelligent women from all around the world, as well as fantastic feminist men that contribute to women's equality.”

Allsopp explained that her favorite portion of the event was one titled: “The Exiles.” This panel consisted of two women and a moderator: Moudi Aljohani, an activist exiled from her home in Saudi Arabia; Masih Alinejad, a women's rights activist and campaigner against compulsory hijab, she is currently exiled from her home in Iran; and the moderator is the Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post.

“The most important aspect of this panel was the resilience of these women. In the face of their government's tactics to shun them and break their spirits by forcing their families to denounce them, they are resilient and do not let this injustice and hatefulness break them down,” Allsopp recalled. “This was absolutely inspiring how they put their activism before their pain.”

Chyna Walker, a freshman sociology student and President-elect of SAGE next academic year, attended the Summit for this first time this month. “I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was almost breathtaking once we walked in to a filled audience and began listening to all of these powerful women,” she said.

“It was so inspiring to see women from various aspects of life, telling their empowering stories, offering their insight and knowledge, and inspiring everyone in the audience to work hard for what you believe in and be persistent, despite what others may think of you,” said Walker.

Like Allsopp, Walker noted that “The Exiles” panel stood out to her the most. “[They] told their stories of pain and suffering, and how it led them to continue their fight, even though they couldn’t physically be in their home countries,” she said.

Walker continued, “Despite their governments making great efforts to stop their progress, one going so far as to consult with her family members to disown her for what she was doing, they persisted and continued to fight for women, which speaks volumes in and of itself.”

“My biggest takeaway would be that women are strong and can do anything we put our minds to but together, we are unstoppable,” said Walker.

Datta explained that as a result of participation in the Summit in previous years, SAGE has become involved in literacy projects and working with community partners to promote girls' education. “Worldwide, close to 70 million girls are unable to get a formal education. Even if schools are available, resources and social customs sometimes stand in the way of adolescent girls completing school,” explained.

Child marriage is practiced in many countries including in the United States. “Forcible marriage is an instance of gender-based violence. When you consider data like that from the World Bank and the World Health Organization that 1 in 4 women worldwide face some sort of sexual violence in their lifetime, and from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence that 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner, and that on a typical day, and that the cost of intimate partner violence (on both genders) is more than $8.3 billion a year,” Datta noted.

Many of students expressed interest in helping and taking an active role at the Gender-Based Violence Symposium campus on this summer, from June 6 to June 7. “This is always a clear sign of the positive impact of the experience,” said Datta. The symposium in being organized by Datta and Johanna Foster, Ph.D., Monmouth’s Helen McMurray Bennett Endowed Chair in Social Ethics, Director of the Sociology Program, and an associate professor of sociology.

PHOTO COURTESY of Kaitlin Allsopp