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Women’s History Month events celebrate contributions of those past and present
Marilyn Chin and Haben Girma

Guest speakers for Women’s History Month include acclaimed poet Marilyn Chin, reading March 13, and Haben Girma, the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, who gives the keynote address March 17.

Women have been essential to Emory from the beginning. Since the university’s founding, they worked on campus as secretaries, cooks and custodians. A few took classes in the early days, including Eléonore Raoul, a suffragette and the daughter of a railroad magnate who became the first woman to enroll at Emory University School of Law in 1917. Still, the Emory College Board of Trustees did not agree to admit women without exception until 1953. It would be another decade before the first African American women graduated.

As the Emory community celebrates Women’s History Month, the focus of events across campus is to acknowledge the past, present and future contributions of those who are leading the way to advance women’s rights at Emory and beyond.

“We can’t talk about Emory without talking about the women who have made this place,” says Chanel Craft Tanner, director of the Center for Women. “We count our years from March to March.”

The Center for Women, which turns 30 this year, is focused on creating a greater sense of belonging for women across campus and combating sexism online. Tanner says that as the metaverse and the universe become more intertwined, finding ways to practice feminism in digital spaces is necessary to protect women from bullying and harassment. This is why the center has developed a student working group, Praxis, with the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, as well as a podcast.

In addition to programs from the Center for Women, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion  is hosting the Women’s History Month keynote with Haben Girma, the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School. Girma is a human rights lawyer advancing disability justice; and she was recognized by President Barack Obama as a White House Champion of Change. She also received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and TIME100 Talks.

Girma will deliver a lecture at Emory on March 17 at noon about the importance of choosing inclusion and seeing disability as an opportunity for innovation. Ahead of the lecture, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion virtual book club will read her biography “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law.” In the book, she details efforts to remove barriers globally for people living with disabilities. Girma lends her voice to several issues, including taking ableism out of artificial intelligence and increasing access to space exploration.

Nicole Ingram, director of programs and special initiatives in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, says Girma was selected for the Women’s History Month keynote because her work aligns with Emory’s DEI principles: professional development, education and awareness; climate and culture; and accountability.

“Haben is a leader who stands at the forefront of advocacy while educating and building opportunities for inclusion,” says Ingram. “As a disability law expert, she advocates for historically marginalized individuals beyond the spectrum of race. This keynote will further educate our community and support continued efforts for an accessible and inclusive campus.”

Upcoming events

Here are highlights of upcoming Women’s History Month events.

Selfhood/Nationhood: A Portrait in Poetry with Guest Poet Marilyn Chin 

3 p.m. online

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Women’s Climb Night 

6:30 p.m. in Woodruff PE Center 

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Black Girls Film Camp Screening 

7 p.m. in White Hall, Room 112

The Center for Women at Emory hosts a screening of the Black Girls Film Camp, a series of short films made by high school girls around the country

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Haben Girma: The Deafblind Woman that Conquered Harvard Law 

12 p.m. online

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Women in the Wilderness: Full Moon Night Hike 

6:30 p.m. at Arabia Mountain

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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Merian Ensemble: Works by Women 2022 

8 p.m. at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts

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Pride Awards and Lavender Graduation 

7 p.m. at The Hatchery

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