Seneca International is an organization dedicated to fighting for the rights of women in need. By shining a spotlight on the egregious violations of human rights, the denial of crucial economic rights, and the absence of civil rights endured by women throughout the world, we aim to help women in every region achieve their full potential. Through compelling advocacy and research, we strive to push women’s rights to the forefront of the public eye and the international agenda.
As an organization founded and run by university students, Seneca provides uniquely challenging opportunities for young leaders to work on behalf of the global community.
Seneca International was founded at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and Stanford University in the fall of 2012. Its mission is to bring international issues of violence, political marginalization, and economic hardship uniquely affecting women to U.S. universities, and to organize students on behalf of the rights of women worldwide.
In the summer of 1848, over three hundred men and women attended the first women’s rights assembly in U.S. history: the Seneca Falls Convention. Organized by social activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, it was held at their home in Seneca Falls, New York. The event is widely considered to mark the beginning of the American women’s rights movement, while the Declaration of Sentiments signed by the attendees has become a central document in its history.
Like its namesake, which was chaired by Lucretia Mott’s husband and attended by forty male delegates, it encourages the full involvement of men as partners in activism.
Its international focus is based on the civil, economic, and human rights delineated in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in many ways a modern counterpart to the Declaration of Sentiments. Accordingly, Seneca targets the unique contextual challenges women face in both the developed and the developing world.
The Seneca International symbol is an olive branch superimposed on a blue shield. The shield, a common symbol of academic institutions, conveys our academic origins and unique identity as a student-run organization. Its light blue color and accompanying olive branch speak to our mission of international peace and justice.
Statement of Values
Seneca has adopted the following Statement of Values, which guides all of our policies and work undertaken by board members, employees, and volunteers
We uphold the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals. All human lives deserve to be treated with respect, justice, and equity.
Accountability and Transparency.
We are accountable to our donors, supporters, and partners. We are mindful of the resources we use and maintain up-to-date records of our finances and work. Information on our research, events, and other projects are communicated with the public in a timely and accurate fashion. Core documents regarding our governance and programs are openly shared with the public.
We act always with honesty, openness and a sense of responsibility. We hold ourselves to the highest possible ethical standards and are committed to both the spirit and the letter of the law.
Leadership and Global Service.
We believe that public service and awareness of the wider world is critical to cultivating the next generation of leaders. As the first nationwide student organization to fight injustice in the form of gender inequity, we push students to tackle difficult international issues and take on new challenges of organizing, fundraising, and governance. We strive to provide unique leadership opportunities for talented and capable students.
We believe that the people we seek to help are best served when their many societies, cultures, and experiences are reflected in our own membership. We strive to promote gender, ethnic, and religious diversity in our officers, Board and national network.
Seneca’s operations are guided by four focus areas which we define as fundamental to the human, civil, and economic rights of women worldwide. These challenges are both unique and distinct to the advancement of women in the contemporary world. And while they have no defined geographic boundaries, they are often most severe in areas struggling with broader problems of development, poverty, and instability.
These focus areas serve as thematic guideposts for our monthly programming initiatives on every campus nationwide.
Sexual & Domestic Violence:
1 in 4 women experience sexual abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Sexual violence is a global problem, affecting every community, in every nation, in every part of the world. As defined by the World Health Organization, it entails any attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments, or advances made by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim in any setting. Data suggests that one in four women experience sexua lviolence by an intimate partner and a third of adolescent girls report their first sexual experience as being forced. If a woman refuses sex, she can expect physical violence ranging from beating to death.
In developed countries, girls are performing better in school than their male counterparts, more women are graduating from university than men, and females are filling up most new jobs. Arguably, women are the most powerful contemporary engine of global growth. And yet, women still make up the majority of the world’s poorest citizens, surviving on less than a dollar a day. Women constitute more than 60% of the world’s hungry, hold less than 20% of the world’s land, despite their dependence on agriculture, and are much more likely than men to be illiterate. Barriers to their participation in the economy–laws, customs, and practices that reinforce gender discrimination–remain.
A woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute – about 529,000 each year. 99% of these occur in developing countries. An estimated 1 in 12 women die of pregnancy-related causes in West Africa, compared with a 1 in 4,000 in Northern Europe. The asymmetric instances of poor maternal health are a result of laws and policies that undermine women’s access to basic education, adequate nutrition, economic resources, and appropriate health services in the developing world. Approximately 75 million pregnancies are unwanted each year. Nearly 123 million women want to stop having children or postpone their next pregnancy, but are not using contraception, either because contraception is prohibited or they have no access to it.