Archive for the ‘adolescents’ Category

DVD and digital release of “Crossing Lines”

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015


A powerful film on the Indian American Experience.

“Crossing Lines” is about an Indian American woman’s struggle to stay connected to India after the loss of her father.  Like most second-generation ethnic Americans, Indira Somani has struggled with identity issues, since her parents migrated to the U.S. in the 1960s.  Being born and brought up in the U.S. Indira led an American life, but at home, her world was Indian because of her father’s immense love for India and Indian culture.   This film takes you on a journey to India, where Indira visits her father’s extended family for the first time after his death.  The film explores how Indira tries to stay connected to Indian culture and her extended family, despite the loss of her father.  It is the story of how one daughter pays tribute to her father in all that he’s taught her about India, Indian culture and family.  awards

“Watch this documentary and give your kid a hug, especially if she is a girl.”
Ashfaque Swapan, India-West

To find out more about the documentary and its creators click here.

Event in New York City: Adolescent girls — The MDGs’ missing link

Friday, March 7th, 2014

When: March 10 | 02:30pm - 04:30pm
Who: The International Center For Research on Women
Where: Hardin Room, Church Center United Nations (CCUN),
777 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY

The 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women priority theme focuses on the “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.” Drawing from recent research under this theme, ICRW and its partners will bring attention to the gaps within the MDGs that failed to adequately address the needs and rights of adolescent girls, even under the banner of MDG 3, on gender equality.

The panel discussion will reflect on progress against the only mention of girls in the MDGs; draw attention to key areas of need for the 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty today; question the dearth of progressive policymaking in this space and pose concrete recommendations for the future, post-2015 framework.

Recent advocacy tools and research will be showcased, including the Girl Declaration and companion report I Know. I Want. I Dream. Girls’ Insights for Building a Better World as well as new research on child marriage. As we anticipate the world’s next development framework, this event will underscore the importance of addressing the needs of adolescent girls, both as an affirmation of girls’ human rights and an indication of their centrality to the achievement of other development goals.


  • Shelby Quast,  Senior Policy Advisor, Equality Now
  • Nina Besser, Program Officer for U.S. Foreign Policy, International Women’s Health Coalition
  • Mazelle Etessami, 17 year-old student activist, CSW delegate and Member, Girls Learn, a project of the Feminist Majority Foundation

Opening Remarks and Moderated By: Lyric Thompson, Senior Policy Manager, International Center for Research on Women

GW senior to give TEDx talk

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

GW senior and former America’s Miss District of Columbia, Sarah Hillware will give a talk as a part of TEDx UN Plaza on September 16th. Her presentation entitled, “Harnessing the Power of Girls,” can be streamed live starting at 9am from here.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is expected to speak at the event, among other innovators, philanthropists, and scholars. Hillware is the founder of Girls Health Ed, an organization that promotes and educates young students on healthcare and nutrition in underserved communities in D.C.

Addressing child marriage

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

By staff contributor Milad Pournik

Child marriage in Darfur/ UNAMID, Flickr Creative Commons

Young brides in Darfur/ UNAMID, Flickr Creative Commons

On June 17 the Wilson Center hosted an event titled “Vision, Innovation, and Action to Address Child Marriage.” The event featured two panels and closing remarks. Many policy-level and cultural points and perspectives were raised during the forum.

The first group of panelists (listed below) focused on the bigger picture of child marriage, speaking of broader policy initiatives to address child marriage, whereas the second panel focused on specific interventions.

Carla Koppell – Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, USAID

Jennifer Redner – Senior Program Officer, U.S. Foreign Policy at International Women’s Health Coalition; Co-Chair, Girls Not Brides US Coalition

Anju Malhotra – Principal Adviser, Gender and Rights, UNICEF

Koppell identified three main components of a successful strategy to address child marriage:

1) Need to build partnerships with community, religious, and business leaders given that child marriage is a complex phenomenon, requiring commitment from a broad range of stakeholders as well as deep resolve to act upon convictions.

2) Need to mobilize communities given that changing widespread attitudes and behaviors requires grassroots change.

3) Need to develop a strategy of “integration” to ensure that child marriage is covered in various aspects of international development efforts, from education to health, from economic to political empowerment. (more…)

Age 10 and Divorced

Monday, February 25th, 2013

By Milad Pournik

Nujood Ali's autobiography

Nujood Ali’s autobiography

The heading of this blog post is taken from the title of an autobiography of Nujood Ali from Yemen, who was Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year in 2008. Imagining a married, let alone divorced ten year old, is hard in most countries, yet still child marriage is a reality in much of the world.

Child marriage has received heightened attention in recent years (ICRW 2011) but continues to be a problem in Yemen and worldwide. A study on early marriage carried out in 2008 by the Gender Development Research and Studies Centre at Sana’a University in Yemen found that 52.1 percent of girls are under 18 when they were married, compared with 6.7 percent of boys. As a 2011 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report points out, this phenomenon is not unique to Yemen. Worldwide, more than 51 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are married. A 2012 report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides evidence that nearly one in every four girls aged 15 to 19 years in the developing world (excluding China) is currently married or in union.

Child marriage brings with it many problems but the most acute is perhaps childbearing. During pregnancy, a young mother competes with her baby for essential nutrients. Malnutrition is a common problem in Yemen and child pregnancy exacerbates the situation, ultimately depriving both the mother and child. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death worldwide for women ages 15 to 19, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW).


Assessing global policies to eliminate child marriage in West Africa

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Caitlin Masters, M.A. student in the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, presented her findings from a social science literature review in fall 2012 for a seminar on Global Gender Policy taught by Professor Barbara Miller. She summarizes key findings from her paper in a presentation on YouTube.


Org Spotlight: Pennies for Peace

Monday, May 7th, 2012

By student contributor Delaney Allan

Pennies for Peace

Pennies for Peace is a service-learning program that focuses on education. The organization provides essential tools to individuals who wish to initiate their own education projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The organization provides K-12 curriculum along with other learning tools to campaigners who then build learning initiates that focus on community-based education of children, particularly girls, in rural areas. Pennies for Peace guides individuals through the implementation process, helping to establish project timelines, manage philanthropic outreach, and incorporate cultural education into curriculum. Pennies for Peace hopes to achieve 5th grade level education for these children, while at the same time supporting students of developed countries to realize their potential as philanthropists.

Female genital mutilation/cutting: Progress made in abandoning the practice but still much to be done

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Guest post by Ariana Rabindranath

On February 16, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted and delivered remarks at an event commemorating the Ninth Anniversary of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)at the U.S. Department of State. It is estimated that 100 to 140 million women have undergone this procedure, and three million girls are at risk of being cut every year.

No FGM/C symbol

According to the State Department, cutting is often performed by untrained practitioners, employing no anesthesia and often using such instruments as broken glass, tin lids, scissors, or unsterilized razors. In addition to causing intense pain and psychological trauma, the procedure carries with it severe short and long-term health risks including hemorrhaging, infection, increased risk of HIV transmission, birth complications, and even death.

While recognizing that progress has been made through education, outreach, and advocacy, the Secretary stressed that the policy community must be “unrelenting” in our push to abandon the practice yet “understanding” of the deeply entrenched social mores perpetuating the practice. This practice should not be seen as a “women’s issue” only because it affects everyone in the community. She insisted that it deserves more attention from U.S. Congress and global leaders.

Representative Joe Crowley (NY-07) delivered remarks relating his personal commitment to eradicating FGM/C on behalf of his constituents. He had met with girls from immigrant families in New York who had felt pressure to go to their native country to be cut and Crowley felt a responsibility to protect their rights. He co-introduced the “Girls Protection Act 2011,” which prohibits transporting minors overseas to be cut. He urged the U.S. to support a U.N. resolution banning the practice and called on everyone to discuss the issue openly to push for change.

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer moderated a panel discussion with leading experts and activists dedicated to the global effort to eradicate FGM/C and to raising awareness of its negative consequences on women, girls, families, and societies. The discussion highlighted the importance of fostering community-based approaches and engaging religious leaders and the diaspora community to encourage abandonment of this practice.

According to Molly Melching, Founder and Executive Director of Tostan, the key to abandoning FGM/C is “education, education, education, education.” Tostan began its work educating villagers in Senegal about reproductive health and rights. That activity sparked discussions about the harmful effects of FGM/C which prompted the villagers to decide on their own to abandon the practice. Through this model, 5,002 villages in Senegal have pledged to abandon FGM/C. (more…)

All children reading: Where are the girls?

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Guest post by Joanna Laursen Brucker

Friday November 18, many of the key players in international educational development gathered in Washington DC to usher in the Grand Challenge for Development: All Children Reading. The multi-year initiative led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision and the Austrian Agency for International Development (AusAID) partnership is intended to draw attention to issues of childhood literacy internationally, working to provide solutions to getting the world’s over 67 million out-of-school children in school by committing over $20 million dollars towards innovation in the next several years.

Children reading under bednet in Kenya, 2009. Flickr/Vestergaard Frandsen

Each Grand Challenge identifies one development problem, which has not been solved using traditional approaches to development. By shining a spotlight on the issue, the hope is to engage new ideas, actors and innovation to move towards a solution. This Grand Challenge identifies the problem as:

  • Today, over 67 million children do not have access to school and millions of children leave school without being able to read.
  • 793 million adults cannot read this sentence.
  • As a result, the futures of millions of people and the economic outlooks for scores of countries are in jeopardy.

Among the speakers at the launch, it was Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council, who alone drew real attention to the issue of girls’ education. Internationally, attainment of basic literacy is a problem; however, of those 67 million children out of school more than half are girls. When one digs deeper into the numbers, it becomes even bleaker as retention, matriculation and graduation rates for girls fall far behind boys on an international level. As of 2007, only 53 of 171 countries had achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education. It is further estimated that at least 113 countries will fail to reach the Millennium Development Goals on gender equality in education.

Yet, futures of millions of people and the economic outlooks of scores of countries need not be in jeopardy. Female education is one of, if not the most, important indicator and influential force behind future child development, child literacy and child health. Women with a basic education are more likely to delay childbearing and have fewer, healthier children. Additionally, women with basic education can contribute to the world developing around them as healthier, active and even economically productive citizens.

Therefore, I would propose adding this positively phrased statistic to the problem defined above. Let’s start to solve the problem in defining it:

  • A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5.
  • A woman with post-primary education is 5 times more likely to be education on the perils of HIV/AIDS than an illiterate woman.
  • In Africa’s poorest states, 1.8 million children’s lives could have been saved if their mothers had at least a secondary education.

Girls education must be an integral part of the Grand Challenge.

Joanna Laursen Brucker currently researches for the Global Gender Initiative and consults for the Millenium Cities Initiative and Hands On Greater DC Cares. Previously, Joanna worked in Kosovo as Educational Coordinator directing the Learning Center Network: a series of 4 community-based educational centers for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian women and youth. She also worked as a public high school teacher in the Czech Republic. Joanna holds an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education in International Educational Policy B.A. from the George Washington University in Anthropology.

Cargo: from shock to action

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Student post by Katy Stewart

Over 17,500 women are trafficked into the United States every year. Around the world, the number is more like 27 million.

The film, Cargo, is a fictionalized story of Natasha, a young Russian woman who is smuggled into the U.S. She is driven to New York City by Sayid, an Egyptian transporter. Her story portrays the harrowing journey taken by millions of women around the world when they are sold into sex trafficking rings.

Many GW students, faculty, and professionals from the Washington, DC area gained a glimpse into this dark reality when they viewed the anti-sex trafficking film Cargo on September 26. The event was a pre-screening sponsored by the Elliott School’s Global Gender Initiative in collaboration with FAIR Fund.

from left: Chris Cooper and Andrea Powell. Photo courtesy of Xenia Grubstein, Persona Films, Inc

As a student at GW, I’ve tried to imagine those numbers. What if the entire GW undergraduate student population (around 10,000), the entire graduate school population (around 7,000), the faculty and the administration were all trafficked? That’s a lot of people. A lot of faces I recognize. Not nameless statistics. My friends, my teachers, my dean, my university president.

Many of the scenes in Cargo were difficult to watch. Yet it’s vital that we do watch. It’s vital that we are witness to the inequalities around us. Raising awareness of the extent of sex trafficking was a major objective of the film. I think it’s safe to say that everyone left with more knowledge about this inhumane trade.

After the film ended, Chris Cooper, an executive producer of the film, and Andrea Powell, Founder and CEO of FAIR Fund, were available for discussion with the audience. During the question and answer period, questions were raised about preconceived notions of prostitution and sex trafficking in the mainstream U.S. Powell recounted the conversation she had with a Washington, D.C. cop that ended when he said, “well, there are girls who are victims and there are child prostitutes.”  Uncovering how this man, and many others, interpret the difference between those two categories is an essential step in stopping trafficking.

Both Cargo and the panel discussion reinforce how we all need to work to redefine our notions of sex trafficking and prostitution. Moreover, like Andrea Powell and FAIR Fund, we need to move beyond shock and awe at the statistics and the stories to get involved to stop the problem.

The premier of Cargo will be on October 21 in New York City. To learn more about this event or to donate on behalf of Cargo, visit here.

For another GW student perspective: see comment here by Peggy Briton, an MIPP student at the Elliott School.

Katy Stewart is a third year undergraduate student at the George Washington University. She is studying International Affairs and Global Public Health, and minoring in public health. She works as an assistant for the Global Gender Initiative and the Culture in Global Affairs Research and Policy Program.