Despite Majority, Women Still Need Women’s Center
September 30, 2010 – Women are better off now than 20 years ago, says Georgetown Women’s Center director Laura Kovach, but problems persist at universities all over the country.
Women now make up the majority of the student body at Georgetown.
“We are still dealing with sexual assault and relationship violence, the lack of leadership opportunities and mentoring,” notes Kovach, “and students still need a safe space to talk about what it means to be a woman in the classroom, in internships and the workplace.”
These are some of the issues being addressed by the center, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
“Twenty years ago there were no resources for sexual assault, and there were no resources for women to come in and talk about women’s issues,” Kovach notes.
Now the center provides walk-in support and referrals for on- and off-campus services involving sexual assault, intimate partner violence, health and wellness and sexual orientation and identity, as well as academic support.
During the 2009-2010 school year, the center sponsored or co-sponsored 95 events, which include workshops and talks by prominent women.
Last year brought to campus Lilly Ledbetter, whose lawsuit against her employer was the basis for Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
Working with Men
Kovach says the center also works with men on campus.
“We have really good groups here, such as GU Men Creating Change, which works to prevent sexual assault against women,” she notes.
The group is a chapter of the national Men Can Stop Rape organization.
Kovach also holds sessions in Georgetown residence halls with the LGBTQ Resource Center and with many students groups on sexism and homophobia.
The center also has a WAGE Fellows program. Each year 12 undergraduate Fellows are selected to receive education about gender equity, leadership development and other issues. The juniors and seniors then paired with an alumna mentor.
WAGE holds an annual networking brunch and has programs for the Fellows on a weekly basis.
Claire Charamnac (F’11), an international politics major, is one of this year’s WAGE Fellows. Her mentor is Miki Wilkins (C’01, G’09), a Middle East program analyst at USAID.
“It’s really perfect because I want to work in the nonprofit world, so I talk with her about my career options and what it’s like to work in the field,” Charamnac says. “She’s been really helpful. And she’s also just been a mentor for my life in general.”