Meghan standing in front of wooden doorway

Winter 2016 —  Across international boundaries and vastly different cultures, women face the threat of sexual violence and issues of gender equality and empowerment. Meghan Fitzgerald has seen it firsthand. More importantly, she is doing something about it.

On campus, Fitzgerald is a sexual violence prevention graduate assistant for Student Health Services (SHS). And through her master’s degree and current Ph.D. program in health policy, she’s worked with women in Jordan for the United Nations.

Recent nationwide initiatives like It’s On Us have highlighted the need for sexual violence education and prevention on college campuses. Fitzgerald and her colleagues in SHS are already seeing results as they increase awareness and expand programming at Oregon State.

Last spring, for example, about 500 students attended the annual Take Back the Night event, an international rally and march that aims to end all forms of sexual violence. In past years, only 50 or so straggling students attended. Fitzgerald expects the 2016 event next April to be even bigger.

She’s looking forward to leveraging the momentum from last year and “designing a curriculum that will have sustainable, long-lasting effects.”

As rewarding as her work on campus has been, Fitzgerald’s passion for women’s health issues is global. It was sparked by the disparity between the wealthy and poor she saw while working and traveling in Asia after earning her undergraduate degree from St. Michael’s College, a small liberal arts college in Vermont.

“I understand that these divisions exist everywhere, but the people who seemed to suffer most from this sort of injustice were women,” Fitzgerald says. “As a privileged white woman growing up in the U.S., I felt I had a responsibility to use my privilege to do something to lessen the plight of other women in the world.”

Read more at OSU Stories