Massiel Flores Mairena '21
Women’s Summit: Empowerment at BC and Beyond
Looking back to my four years at Boston College, being a part of the Planning Team of two Boston College Women Summits has undoubtedly been one of the highlights of my undergraduate career. During freshman year, I struggled with finding my interests, and once I thought I found them, I struggled with rejections from various clubs, which made me frustrated. However, one day near the end of my first year, I came across an email where volunteers were needed to plan a Conference, the BC Women’s Summit. Although I was unaware of all the effort that being part of this team entails, I decided to apply, I interviewed, and a few days later, I was given a spot on the team. When I left that interview, I knew that I had crushed it. I felt as if all of those previous rejections were pointless, since I was finally getting back on track to regain myself, an individual who wholeheartedly devotes herself to everything she does, a part of me that had been missing for much of that year. Tackling Summit logistics was certainly a challenge that year, but the conference went amazingly well, and I knew I wanted to come back to the team as a Senior.
This year, after months of hard work, the 7th Annual Women’s Summit took place this past Saturday, February the 6th. The Summit featured two remarkable keynote speakers, Chanel Miller and Patrisse Cullors, as well as another 11 workshop speakers. The event also provides, mainly, BC’s female-identifying community the chance to empower themselves.Through my involvement in the BCWS, I learned that the power that lies inside me is energized by working with other passionate individuals. Together, we use that strength to impact our communities positively.Personally, I learned the importance of good leadership, collaboration, and communication in a professional setting. Beyond that, I also learned about my deep passion for women’s empowerment, the importance of continuously educating myself about local, national, and international barriers to women reaching their full potential, and the possibility of bridging my personal and academic interests. Although extremely personally rewarding, the most critical part for me is that this conference is a platform to reflect, discuss, and learn about Intersectional issues pertinent to women’s experiences. At the BCWS, we are able to put the global situation of women into context. For example, when we refer to issues like migration, climate change, and armed conflict/ situations of conflict? conflict resolution, women are the ones who suffer the most while simultaneously being excluded from the decision-making table. Such suffering is exacerbated when observed through an intersectional lens. According to Amnesty International USA, women make up 80% of all refugees and displaced people, and they typically suffer from targeted sexual violence. Similarly, when looking at the issue of hunger and poverty, 60% of all chronically hungry people are women and girls, as reported by UN Women.
Remarkably, the BCWS represents a tiny and privileged microcosm of the world’s realities, but providing the BC community with the opportunity to reflect upon women’s issues is a starting point for positive change. BC’s privileged position only gives us an added layer of responsibility to continuously educate ourselves about women’s lived realities worldwide. We must act as agents of change by pushing these conversations forward, mainly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is through efforts like the Women’s Summit that I learn about the nuances of my personal empowerment as well as the empowerment of women across the world. I am deeply grateful for the experience that I had in organizing this incredible event, and hope that I can continue to do other things to advance women’s rights in the future!
Massiel Flores Mairena '21