Honoring International Women's Day

Posted by Natasha Martin, JD, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 at 5:15 PM PST

Dear Seattle University Community,

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we honor the numerous expressions of women’s leadership on our campus and acknowledge the ongoing challenges to full empowerment for women and girls worldwide. We salute the undeniable legacy of women in history whose contributions have laid the foundation for a more just and equitable society. And we celebrate the uncommon impact of women at Seattle University, including our students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumnae. We are a stronger institution because of your leadership.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, a call to action to work together to imagine and create a gender equal world. But in asking for more, we must honor the persistent resilience and creativity of women who are the foundation and strength of communities around the world. So many women who work tirelessly to #BreakTheBias do so at great risk to themselves and their families. The human cost is palpable and constant. We mourn the loss of Native Women who have supported their communities but have been left unprotected; we witness women on the front lines in Ukraine to save its democracy; we understand the ongoing impact of the pandemic on women who disproportionately shouldered “care” work; and we see the sacrifice women make to support a sustainable environment. There are so many examples of women putting their communities before themselves. But to truly #BreakTheBias, we must all recommit to elevating women’s voices, stories, excellence, and wholeness.  

Women’s excellence abounds and is reflected by a range of intersectional backgrounds, identities, and experiences. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team fought for and won pay equity, Ugandan young women advocating for the environment and our common home. In our own Seattle University community, we celebrate the work of our Wismer Professorship for Gender and Diversity, the many female scholars recognized for their incredible scholarship, and the consistent grassroots work to create community for one another through student clubs, faculty scholarly support networks, and staff leadership. 

Notwithstanding all this excellence, we see mounting resistance to equality. State legislatures are adopting anti-LGBTQIA legislation, school boards and parents are actively opposing an honest teaching our nation’s anti-racist past and present, and state leaders are pursuing anti-transgender legislation, especially aimed at the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society. There is much work to be done, but it cannot be borne only by those who are most impacted. Women in our local, national, and worldwide community cannot be asked to carry the burden of breaking the bias on their own. Our strength comes from our collective will and action.

Aligned with the spirit of LIFT SU and our campus wide RStrategic Directions 2022 - 2027 work, let us recommit to the thriving of women on our campus and beyond. As you reflect on this day and what it means to you and our community, we hope that you find the grace to care for yourself and for others while also making the space to commit to breaking down the biases that prevent us from living in a gender equal world. This work is long but not impossible, and we are honored to be in partnership with this incomparable community.  

In solidarity,

Eduardo Peñalver, President

Natasha Martin, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion