Dean Litt brings spirit of 'Women in Public Service' Colloquium back to Douglass
Inaugural Washington, D.C. event includes breakfast with keynote Hillary Clinton and women leaders from across the globe
"It was an experience that continues to reverberate for me—as I expect it will for a long time to come," says Dr. Jacquelyn Litt, Dean of Douglass Residential College, of her participation in last month's Women in Public Service Project colloquium. "Every part of it was awe-inspiring, thought-provoking, exciting – and so relevant to what we do here at Douglass."
Meeting Hillary Clinton in person was, says Dean Litt, "a highlight of my life to date."
Certainly, few experiences can compare to breakfasting with the day's event keynote Hillary Rodham Clinton, as Dean Litt, Presidents of women's colleges, and other program participants did on December 15. (Of her interaction with the U.S. Secretary of State, Dean Litt said afterward, "She was tremendously gracious, thoughtful and articulate. I think every woman present felt personally welcomed by her.")
But on that wintry December Thursday in Washington D.C., meeting one of the premier women leaders of the world was just the first highlight of a day packed with many others. Between 10 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Dean Litt attended the colloquium with hundreds of national and international leaders on women's status.
"Women have to be part of the future," declared Secretary of State Clinton in her keynote address. "And it's imperative that as constitutions are created, as political parties are organized, as elections are waged and won, nobody can claim a democratic future if half the population is marginalized or even prevented from participating.
"We must support the rise of women leaders because frankly, they are more likely to have first-hand knowledge and understanding of the challenges women face. This is going to require legal change, it's going to require political will, and it's going to require cultural and behavioral changes," said Secretary Clinton.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed in her keynote address, “We must support the rise of women leaders."
Following the keynote address, other notable features of the program included remarks by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.S. congresswoman Jane Harman, IMF President Christine Legerde, U.S. author and activist Gloria Steinem, and the coordinated participation of 40 elected officials, leaders of governmental and non-governmental organizations, activists, researchers, scholars and educators, including those representing the Seven Sisters, from 37 countries around the world. As stated in a release by the U.S. State Department, the purpose of the colloquium was to provide opportunities for collaboration on ways to "bridge barriers facing women in public service, and empower a new generation of young women."
Though the colloquium was just a one-day event in this, its inaugural year, participants afterward expressed the hope that it will expand in future years, extending its reach to include even more women and the organizations and governments they lead.
"As the instructors in our own 'Knowledge and Power' course teach, women leaders are still not represented equally in leadership positions in the U.S. or around the globe," says Dr. Litt. "Indeed, the U.S. is behind many nations in the representation of women in public and private leadership positions."
Though she's been back on campus for several weeks now, Dean Litt says that experiencing the colloquium expanded her awareness as a leader and educator: "I see the connection between what we do at Douglass – creating women's leaders and women's success – and the global movement of creating more women leaders around the world. I look forward to continued involvement in this State Department initiative and in bringing its benefits to our students here at Douglass."
Dean Litt joined leaders from all over the globe on Dec. 15 to share their visions of gender equity and social justice at the first-ever Women in Public Service colloquium.
Such is what highlights are made of.
"Not just meeting a world leader and pioneer like Hillary Clinton, someone who has helped shape the course of history, but also sharing ideas with so many inspiring women leaders from all over the globe: now that's unforgettable," she says.
To learn more about Women in Public Service Colloquium on December 15, visit https://statedept.connectsolutions.com/wps or http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/12/178394.htm on the U.S. To view the full text of Secretary Clinton's keynote address, go to: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/12/178901.htm
Women in Public Service project can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WPSProject or on Twitter @WPSProject.
All photos courtesy of Sarah King, U.S. State Department