The 2021 Boston College Women’s Summit will feature two keynote speakers—Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and sexual violence awareness advocate Chanel Miller—as the annual event, which takes place this year on Feb. 6, transitions to a virtual format.
“We wanted to focus on healing and telling stories, especially in the wake of COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, [and] #Metoo,” John Gehman, a member of this year’s summit planning team and MCAS ’21, said. “… We intersected the movements of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo with Patrisse Cullors and Chanel Miller respectively, to talk about these societal issues that plague women.”
Miller is best known for her viral victim statement that she delivered after her rapist, a Stanford University student named Brock Turner, was sentenced to six months in jail by later-recalled California Judge Aaron Persky in 2016. Miller is now a sexual violence awareness advocate and the author of the New York Times bestselling autobiography Know my Name.
Cullors is the co-founder and executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and the author of New York Times bestseller When They Call You a Terrorist. She also founded the Los Angeles-based grassroots organization Dignity and Power Now, which advocates for incarcerated people, according to its website.
The summit, which normally begins in Robsham Theater before breaking into workshops in classrooms across campus, is designed to provide attendees with a forum to discuss women’s issues in the world. Gehman said that the members of the summit planning team worked closely with BC Information Technology Services (ITS) to be able to put the conference together this year.
The new digital format will allow attendees to tune into the keynote addresses via Zoom, and the workshops will be held in virtual breakout rooms instead of classrooms. The workshops focus on eight different topics, including women’s leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic, the power of self-compassion, and how to build a mission-driven business.
Though an online format presents its challenges, according to Gehman, there are some potential upsides. Gehman said that ensuring easy accessibility for participants was a key focus when planning this summit, and Zoom provides access to students far and wide, not just students on campus.
Gehman also said that a main focus of the event is intersectional womanhood and social progress.
“I would say that these are really important conversations to have to learn about womanhood, and not just cis womanhood or white womanhood, it’s to learn about intersectional womanhood,” Gehman said. “… This conference in my opinion is about healing, and it’s about healing everyone in this process and moving forward together so that we see each other as a part of this collective.”
Featured Image by Vikrum Singh / Heights Editor