Georgetown SFS Hosts Gender and Development Forum

by Robert Brothers, Communications Assistant

On November 11, Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service hosted an event aimed to help push the world closer towards gender equality. At the event, titled “Gender and Development Forum: A Series of Short, Powerful Talks,” students had the opportunity to hear from leading development practitioners from public, private, and nonprofit sectors about their experiences and expertise on gender issues in development. Keynote speakers included Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues; Sudhir Shetty, Chief Economist of East Asia and Pacific for The World Bank; and Elizabeth A. Vazquez, President of WEConnect International.

The forum consisted of expert practitioners in the development field and included discussion of new and exciting methods to further gender equality. Elizabeth Vazquez, President of WEConnect International, was a key figure in this discussion. Vazquez developed a company which uniquely connects female suppliers and women-owned businesses to global markets. Her aim, Vazquez noted, is “to get more money into the hands of women, as this will ensure that it will be a better world for everyone.”

Building upon many of the development initiatives created by members of the panel, Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, reminded the audience that women have the power to promote change. “In fact,” Verveer said, “women are on the frontlines of change now, all over the world.”

Many themes regarding gender equality and global development were explored. Sudhir Shetty made the important distinction that “it is far more important to target the determinants of gender equality rather than the symptoms.” Development measures by the World Bank, he emphasized, importantly focus on helping to create opportunities for women in critical STEM sectors of the economy.

The forum was a collaborative effort among student-led and university affiliated organizations within SFS, led by the Georgetown Anti-Poverty Society (GAPS) and Georgetown Women in International Affairs (GWIA), with contributing support from the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS). The event served as a powerful reminder that continued efforts toward gender equality is crucial in the international development community.