Students Honor International Women’s Day

Women around the world suffer from chronic poverty, illiteracy, political discrimination, religious oppression, gender violence, human trafficking, and they continue to be among the most marginalized members in societies. They are also among some of the most celebrated members of society: from award-winning scientists to distinguished jurists, academics, filmmakers and mothers.

International Women's Day panelists talk at Stetson Law

International Women's Day panelists talk at Stetson Law on March 7. Click for high-resolution image.

On March 7, Stetson Law students attended a special program marking the 100-year anniversary of International Women’s Day. The International Law Society  sponsored the program. Second-year law student Silvia Manzanero, president of Stetson’s International Law Society, convened a panel of highly accomplished women from diverse professional backgrounds.  Professor Luz Nagle, an international human rights advocate, moderated the panel discussion about how women can make a difference in the United States and around the world.

“It is important to celebrate the strength, courage, and determination of many women who through great effort have bettered the world,” Nagle said. Professor Nagle, a former judge who fled her home in Colombia in the 1980s to escape death threats from the drug cartel, talked about the importance of men and women working together as mentors. “We need education,” Nagle told the audience. “Education is empowerment.”

Students gather for International Women's Day Panel

Students gather in the Great Hall March 7 to hear inspiring stories about the struggle against oppression. Click for high-resolution image.

Professor Nagle started from scratch after coming to the U.S., completing law degrees at the College of William and Mary and UCLA and clerking for the Supreme Court of Virginia. In 2004, Nagle became Stetson Law’s first Hispanic full professor.

The distinguished panel of speakers included journalist and documentary filmmaker Chelo Alvarez-Stehle joining the program via Skype; University of South Florida professor Meena Chary; USF Dean of International Affairs Maria Crummet; retired U.S. Army JAG attorney Robin Johnson; and Tampa Bay immigration/international law attorney Neelofer Syed.

Syed described representing women in Pakistan who had been abused, beaten and disfigured by their husbands or boyfriends. She talked about winning a case to help women in Pakistan get married without parental permission. She described how girls schools today are being bombed in Pakistan, threatening their lives and robbing them of their rights to an education.

“My actual involvement in women’s issues began after graduation from law school,” said Syed, who began practicing law in Pakistan before coming to the U.S. in 2001. “I wanted to pick a profession where I can fight,” said Syed, who went back to law school in the United States and graduated with her LL.M. in international law from Stetson in 2005.

Crummet urged the audience not to characterize women as victims, or to view the plight of oppression as simply a women’s issue. To do so, she said, would marginalize the reality of oppression as a broader social human rights issue impacting people all over the world.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated on March 8 since the early 1900s, when women campaigned against discrimination for the right to work, vote, be trained and hold public office.

Contact Brandi Palmer
Manager of Media Relations