The Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar has launched its branch of the Women’s Centre under the guidance of Brendan Hill and Elena Lopez-Khoury.
The launching coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Georgetown University’s Women’s Centre (GUWC), dedicated to educating, and empowering women of all cultures, races, identities, spiritualities, and ages.
Yesterday, Georgetown Qatar held a mother-daughter tea through the Women’s Centre in the new Georgetown building.
The event allowed mothers to familiarise themselves with the university, visit the new campus, and network with other mothers of SFS-Qatar students.
The new centre recently linked up with the GUWC using tele-presence technology for a discussion on sexual assault awareness, focusing on rape as a weapon of war. The GUWC has also held a variety of events on topics ranging from what it means to be a woman in different cultures to challenges facing women in academia.
With a new state-of-the-art facility on the horizon, the Women’s Centre will have a specially designated space within Georgetown’s new building in Qatar to facilitate such events.
As a student wellness counsellor, Lopez-Khoury noticed that many female students were voicing similar concerns and felt it was important they have a space to discuss such matters and support each other. “The Women’s Centre is a safe place for women to come and discuss issues that are relevant to them in their lives,” she explained.
GUWC director Laura Kovach believed that extending the mission to the Qatar campus was an important step for the female community. “The GU Women’s Centre in Washington, DC has spent the last 20 years serving the Georgetown community in a variety of ways. We are thrilled to have a Women’s Centre at the SFS-Qatar to continue the work of supporting students, faculty and staff,” Kovach said.
With the number of female students on the rise at Georgetown’s Qatar campus, the initiative has been met with enthusiasm and appreciation.
SFS ’14 Aminah Kandar said: “As female students continue to strive for excellence in their lives, I believe that it is essential to provide an environment in which they can exchange ideas, receive support and, of course, simply have a place to which they can retreat.”
Despite the growing numbers of female students in the Middle East, and particularly in the Gulf region, women remain underrepresented in professional fields.
“In general women have still not achieved the same status as men, and this is especially true within the region. This leaves our students without many role models or avenues to discuss the challenges that many women face, such as finding that balance between work and family,” Lopez-Khoury explained.
Beyond dealing with academic pressures is grappling with the social expectations of living in a conservative society.
Zarqa Parvez SFS ’13 said: “I am always under pressure of so much responsibility, and making sure I do not do anything that upsets my family or gives people a reason to talk about me. Having a woman’s centre provides us with an opportunity to come together, discuss, express and embrace the challenges of being a woman.”
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