OWN IT Summit

by emma woodruff

When Izzy Groenewegen and I sat down to discuss our vision for our brainchild, the second annual OWN IT x Bossier art gallery, we knew from the get-go that it would benefit GirlForward. The OWN IT Summit’s philanthropy team and I chose GirlForward, a nonprofit based in Chicago and Austin that creates and enhances opportunities for girls displaced by conflict and persecution through mentorship, as the main partner for our upcoming summit. Throughout this school year, we have sought to raise attention and money for the organization, first via fundraisers and then through the art gallery. My team and I gathered zines featuring the art of the GirlForward mentees, their mission statement, and an assortment of profiles of several mentors and mentees to pair with Georgetown students’ artwork. Members of the Bossier community submitted visual pieces that illustrated what the concept of putting girls forward meant to them, which ranged from a portrait of an artist’s close friend to a collage of menstrual product packaging. The resulting exhibit, which stood in the ICC galleria March 18-22, was a beautiful melange of feminist self-expression.

I’m constantly astounded by the power of female-identifying individuals, especially here at Georgetown, and the GirlForward showcase was yet another reminder of the strength of women and their creative minds. Of course, there is a long way to go until barriers to equity between genders, races, sexualities, etc. are dismantled; it is imperative that we put girls forward in order to realize a perfectly feminist world. To me, this somewhat lofty notion entails recognizing the potential of young women and encouraging it, despite what societal norms may decree. Whether they dream of spending their days in a lab, pursuing a creative career, playing football, or anything in between, they deserve the support and access necessary to follow their arrow wherever it points, in the wise words of Kacey Musgraves. In order to foster a world in which girls are put forward, we must celebrate the wide diversity of experiences of womanhood that exist, for we are as multi-faceted and distinctive as the diamonds about which Rihanna famously sings (can you tell that I’ve been listening to my favorite divas in preparation for the 2019 OWN IT Summit?).

At the summit on Saturday, the culmination of almost two-semesters’ worth of preparation, I am most excited to witness conversations between women in a variety of different fields who are just as bold as my favorite chanteuses. During my freshman year, I walked away from the big day with a lasting sense of inspiration--so many powerful females have gone before me, and so many will come after me. It is our job to support each other as we go down our individual paths, all the while drawing strength from our connections to those wonderful women around us.

Michele Dale