HerStory Screening is a Success
On Wednesday, October 15, GGP hosted Sally Nuamah, PhD candidate at Northwestern University and GW alumnus, to present her documentary, HerStory: Educate a Woman, Educate a Nation. Sally became inspired after her first trip to Ghana, as an undergrad at GW. The film is a response to her connection with the Ghanaian girls.
One individual highlighted in the documentary is Queen, the headmistress of a public school; the first female head of the school in 60 years. She turned the school around, putting girls on the front line of leadership.
Many of the challenges the girls face are making it through high school and getting into one of 3 of the best university’s of Ghana: University of Ghana, Legon; Cape Coast University; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Cost of education for 1 girl is about USD$500 a year (tuition, boarding, and books).
One individual at the event described the documentary as “super interesting, and very touching too”.
The forty minute documentary was followed by a question and answer session with the director. Many guests stayed later to continue conversations with Ms. Nuamah.
New U-TOUCH Women’s Empowerment (WE) program inUganda
U-TOUCH stands for Universal Technology Outreach Community Hubs. The organization aims to help people create opportunity for themselves and their communities with marketable skills for the workforce, beyond completing school. U-TOUCH stemmed from the idea that “Brilliance is equally distributed….Opportunity is not.” With this in mind, U-TOUCH hired its first woman trainer at the Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) and completed its first program targeted at women’s empowerment.
“U-TOUCH did something in Gulu that had never been done before. It provided a safe space for women to share their issues and struggles and ultimately a space that welcomed self-expression, growth and understanding. As a class we tackled issues of self-esteem, building a positive body image, ways to over-come gender based violence and learned leaderships skills as well as how to start and manage a small business. Through the three week training, twenty women embarked on a journey that inspired them to push past their circumstances and insecurities and dared them to be fearless. At the end of the training twenty women received their certificates of completion with confidence, pride, knowledge and a fearless attitude ready to take on the world.”
The need for a program like WE became apparent from the first day U-TOUCH opened its doors. Executive Director, Deb Plotkin recalls her surprise when 75 men and only one woman came to the first day of class. She recalls, “I told the men that if they wanted to come back tomorrow, they had better bring a woman. And I said to the woman, come back tomorrow with all of your friends.” And from that point on, U-TOUCH classes have been gender balanced.
Now, men and women of the communities are engaged in constructive conversations about the roles and rights of women.
A Muslim Women’s Organization in Sweden, Sisters’ Shelter Somaya focuses on helping women who have been affected by violence. They have an anonymous hotline that allows women to call in anytime to request physical help and emotional support.
Sisters’ Shelter Somaya also operates shelters for women and girls who have been victims of violence. It is a safe space for Muslim women and girls to come if they have been physically or verbally abused, harassed, or threatened. In addition to their personal accommodations, the shelter will also offer advice on what rights these women have and where to go for further legal advice in cases where the women wish to take further action.
Everyone who works at this center has vowed to uphold confidentiality so that the women who call or come in can feel safe in the knowledge that they will not be targeted for their choice to seek help. In operation for over a decade, this non profit organization prides itself on the compassionate and nonjudgmental services it offers.
The Dream Foundation Trust is a Pakistan based organization focused on enriching the community through development, relief, education, awareness and mentoring.
Humaira Bachal, founder of The Dream Foundation Trust, started out as one of the few girls attending school in her community. At twelve years old, she recognized the injustice, of how few girls had the oppportunity to achieve and education, and wanted to combat it. She began finding time to share her lessons with the girls within her community, using any space she could find.
Eventually her hard work was noticed by ARM Youth Welfare Society and they helped her receive outside support. With the financial help she was able to open the Dream Model Street School and launch the Dream Foundation Trust.
The Women’s Collective is a DC based community health and human service agency that focuses on women and girls. It is community and family centered in its aim to provide care and support for HIV/AIDs testing, education and comfort. Their mission is to empower women and girls in understanding and accessing quality healthcare.
The Women’s Collective was founded by Patricia Nalls, a woman who lost her husband and daughter to AIDs and who was also HIV positive. She desired a space for women when she discovered that the majority of support was catered to gay men. In 1990 she started a secret phone line for women (secret because of the stigmas attached to HIV/AIDS). The Women’s Collective may have started as a single woman’s mission, but it has grown into a collective of women working together to empower themselves and enrich the lives of others.
WISER is a Kenyan NGO in partnership with Duke University. Formed in 2007, WISER got its start when Dr. Sherryl Broverman of Duke University was invited to a rural community in Muhuru Bay to research obstacles to girls’ education. WISER was developed as a means to combat the barriers that many rural Kenyan girls face in achieving secondary education.
The mission of WISER is to improve educational, economic and health outcomes for girls, particularly those orphaned by AIDS, while promoting communitywide enhancements in health and development.
The first graduating class received their KCSE, exam results in February of 2014. in the last 20 years, no girl had continued onto university from Muhuru Bay, but with a 100% pass rating on Kenya’s national examination the girls exceeded all expectations. 61% of WISER girls (17)qualified for university with 13 receiving full scholarships. After the release of the academic results, WISER is now ranked among the Top 100 Private Secondary Schools (for girls and boys) in all of Kenya, ranking No. 1 in Migori County.
“HerStory: Educate a Woman, Educate a Nation”, directed by Sally Nuamah, is a documentary short film on breaking the glass ceiling of education for girls in Ghana.
Sally, a George Washington alumna, is currently pursuing a PhD in political science from Northwestern University. The idea for “HerStory” developed while Sally was spending a semester abroad in Ghana researching the disparities among female high school students. As a first-generation Ghanaian-American, Sally felt a strong connection to the girls she met who were striving to become the first in their families to go to college in Ghana. “This work has become central to my efforts around disadvantaged youth and sparked my interest in determining how education can be used as a mechanism for improving life chances”. –Sally Nuamah
Please join us in screening her completed film, followed by a question and answer session with the director and light refreshments. To RSVP click here.
Conference Report: Sharing Insights between Pakistan and the U.S. — Social Research Through a Gender LenseSeptember 24th, 2014
On September 10, the third video conference connecting the George Washington University (GW) with Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) in Pakistan provided an opportunity for a live discussion between faculty and students at both universities. The event was part of the Global Gender Forum speaker series, sponsored by the Elliott School’s Global Gender Program and funded through a grant from the U.S. State Department. The funding supports a three-year partnership between GW’s Global Gender Program and LCWU’s Gender and Development Studies Department.
The moderators were Shaista E. Khilji, Professor of Human and Organizational Learning and International Affairs Professor, George Washington University, and Uzma Ashiq Khan, Assistant Professor, Gender and Development Studies, Lahore College for Women University. After a brief welcoming note, six speakers presented brief notes on their research.
Mehr Agha: Assistant professor, Gender and Development Studies, and Manager, Career Counselling and Job Placement.
Mirpuri Marriage Practices among Women Living in Bradford, U.K.: Generations, Gender Roles, and Transformations
My dissertation study was a comparative analysis of marriage practices (arranged, early arranged, and consanguineous arranged) across generations amongst Mirpuri women (British born and immigrants), living in Bradford, U.K. My objective was as to illuminate how marriage practices are internalized, contested, negotiated and passed on between generations. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with members of both groups. Despite unconscious internalization of traditional marriage practices within the immigrant Mripuri women, a slow shift in practices is occurring among British-born Mirpuri women toward delaying marriage with the rationale being the importance of women gaining higher education.
Farah Adil: Lecturer, Gender and Development Studies.
Gender Role Strain Experienced by Men in Pakistani Society
Pakistan is a patriarchal society which on one end provides supremacy or superiority of men over women and on the other end also imposes many responsibilities on men. Gender role strain is caused due to strict adherence of society made roles. I collected survey data about the intensity of gender role strain among working men of Lahore, Pakistan. Results show that Pakistani men experience severe gender role strain related to their roles as head of the family, sole breadwinner, and decision maker at home. Because of severe gender role strain, many men experience anger, anxiety, fatigue, and confusing thoughts. Findings suggest that reducing gender role strain may reduce aggression and violence in society.
Zille Zahra, Assistant manager, Women Institute of Leadership and Learning (WILL)
Impact of Conflict on Women and Role of Women in Peace Building
My research explores the factors behind on-going intrastate conflicts in Pakistan, which are affecting the life of women and also highlights women’s role in conflict resolution and peace making. The study was qualitative; based on case studies of 4 women peace activists from conflict sensitive areas of all provinces of Pakistan. The results showed that Pakistan is caught in number of conflicts which are interlinked with each other and have multilayered and multifaceted impacts on women. Findings indicate that the women’s voices at the peace table and in peace negotiation improve the chances of sustainable peace.
Malikah Alturki, Doctoral student, Human and Organizational Learning, Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Women’s Leadership in Saudi Arabia
The purpose of my research is self-empowerment for women in Saudi Arabia and the consequential development of the country’s economy. As Ahmad (2011) concluded in his study, women’s entrepreneurial activities in Saudi Arabia are important to economic and social development. These women may hold the key to Saudi economic transformation. Thus, this study will examine the critical learning experiences of female Saudi Arabian entrepreneurs, which enable them to lead successfully.
Brian Keilson, Doctoral student, Human and Organizational Learning, Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Identity Development in Hyper Masculine Organizations in the U.S.
Hypermasculinity was has been described by a) a callous sexual attitude towards women; b) a belief that violence is manly; and c) the experience of danger as exciting. It has since been used to describe organizational culture as well. While cultures may be described as hypermasculine, such as the military, law enforcement, gangs, etc., there is also a need to understand the individuals in these organizations and how their personal identity developments. My proposed research seeks to understand the personal identity development of males within these hypermasculine cultures. I will focus on how male identity develops in these organizations and how do these males negotiate their identity within their social relationships.
Andrea Scott, Doctoral student, Human and Organizational Learning, Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Women’s Entrepreneurship and Learning in the U.S.
As of 2013, there are over 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States that generate over US$ 1.8 trillion in revenue and employ nearly 7.8 million people. My research focuses upon women entrepreneurs’ and their learning with the purpose of answering the following question: How do women entrepreneurs learn the skills require to grow from self-employed business owners to small and medium size enterprises?
Following these presentations, a lively discussion took place involving attendees from both universities. Questions probed the researchers’ methods and findings as well as exploring any challenges the researchers faced while doing their studies, particularly reactions from men. In all, it appears that men and women participants in the research projects welcome the studies.
Our thanks again to the U.S. State Department for supporting the partnership and this event, and thanks also to faculty, students, and staff in Washington and Lahore for making this event possible.