Archive for the ‘development’ Category

Elliott students in the field

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Nanda Ruiz
MA Candidate, International Development Studies, Gender concentration


Nanda Ruiz [Center]

I never imagined I would spend a summer in the bustling capital of Bangladesh but I admit there is something appealing about Dhaka and the absolute jolt she offers your senses. Taking an internship with iDE-Bangladesh has been a very rewarding experience. My role with iDE-B is as an internship position as Programs Associate – Gender and Market Development. As soon as I arrived I was given an opportunity to apply my past experience in a way that supported the organization and left room for me to be creative.

iDE is a development NGO focused on market based approaches to poverty alleviation. iDE uses a Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P)approach to ensure inclusive development outcomes. My job was to identify spaces where gender equality could be better addressed through project interventions. My first few weeks I spent in the field speaking with beneficiaries. Working directly with people I learned so much and was able to take my insights back to the Dhaka office to add to a more robust and inclusive gender equality policy for iDE projects. (more…)

DC event recap: Scaling the Mountain

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Scaling the Mountain: Women, Health, and the Environment in Nepal

scaling_mountains by staff contributor Camry Haskins

On Wednesday, January 7, the Wilson Center hosted the event “Scaling the Mountain: Women, Health, and the Environment in Nepal”. Speakers included Rishi Bastakoti, Vanier Scholar, University of Calgary; Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of Population, Environmental Security and Resilience, Wilson Center; Judy Oglethorpe, Chief of Party, Hariyo Ban Program, World Wildlife Fund, and A. Tianna Scozzaro, Population and Climate Associate, Population Action International. The room was filled with gender and climate professionals, as well as, Nepalese citizens.

The room was briefed on a USAID sponsored project that combined women’s reproductive choices with environmental sustainability. The project worked at a local level to look at what changes could be made by the communities of Nepal in order to combat climate change. There are many aspects of climate change that local Nepalese farmers have no control over, but that doesn’t make them helpless over their day-to-day lives. In fact it is often this title of victim that often frustrates those who have been adapting to environmental changes their entire lives. Rather than fall into victimization, this project has worked with communities in order to tackle the problems they do have control over. This has been done through reduced deforestation and increased use of family planning measures.

Deforestation creates much vulnerability including increased landslides during rainy seasons. A significant reason for high deforestation has to do with wood burning cooking methods and the high demand for wood because of large family sizes. By increasing education in climate dangers and contraceptive use, the implementers have seen a gradual change in cultural norms surrounding gender values. Where once, families would continue to grow until a son or even two were born, more families are now valuing having no more than two children even when both are daughters.

Population control coupled with implementation of non-wood burning cook stoves and changing farming methods combine to reduce the environmental degradation in Nepal. This project has not been without obstacles, but overall it has shown much success.  The coordinated group of actors anticipates continued progress moving forward.


To learn more about this project click here or watch the video.

Org Spotlight: PRADET

Friday, November 7th, 2014


PRADET (Psychosocial Recovery & Development in East Timor) is an NGO that provides assistance to people who are undergoing issues with trauma and other social problems. The mission of PRADET is to provide psychosocial support to men, women, children and families who suffer from trauma, violence, and mental illness.

The organization also focuses on delivering psycho-social service to the community via counselors positioned locally that have had experience in trauma related to health. The information administered is centralized on enabling the community to be better educated on illness and abuse, while also rehabilitating those in the community who have suffered from trauma induced health issues.  Along with counselling, PRADET is also dedicated to creating an atmosphere that enables people to feel encouraged to reach their potential. PRADET works with its various working partners to create community development programs as well as policy development at both local and national levels. PRADET is the singular organization in East Timor that focuses on delivery training as well as education on the topics of abuse in the larger context of the community.

PRADET views the process of overcoming mental health issues as a “journey of healing and transformation”.   The overall goal that PRADET seeks to accomplish is to empower any person who suffers from a trauma related mental health problem to have the ability to have livelihood and fulfillment in their lives, while also improving the community life of East Timor. The value that PRADET utilizes in its mission is hope.  In its mission, PRADET utilizes hope as an instrument that has the ability to be the facilitator of the rehabilitation process and ultimately change the community.

The process of recovering from trauma and other mental health issues offers individuals the opportunity to participate in the community, while also enhancing community life. By strengthening relationships with their partners, PRADET strives to generate increased initiatives and programs that will be able to alleviate trauma, improve treatment, and enable services that will assist the community of East Timor.

DC Event: Careers in Gender and Development

Monday, October 27th, 2014



RSVP here

Women, Peace, Security, and Development Bibliography update

Friday, March 28th, 2014
Image source: United Nations Development Fund for Women

Image source: United Nations Development Fund for Women

By student intern Lena Krikorian

In March, the Global Gender Program’s Women, Peace, Security, and Development Bibliography grew to nearly 2,340 sources.

We continue to improve the quality of listing on the database by adding more relevant descriptors and identifying whether sources are open access (OA) or not open access (NOA.)

Please feel free to suggest additional sources by sending an email to:

Soap and Wheels: Sustainably improving hygiene, reducing the spread of disease, and lessening the burden of water-carrying is not rocket science

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

By guest contributor Julia Collins

Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants on how to effectively wash hands.

Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants on how to effectively wash hands.

In the age of instantaneous communication, limitless data storage in the virtual cloud, and cloning entire organisms, advancements in technology seem to hold the key to unlocking better longer lives. But when it comes to managing water, improving livelihoods can be as simple as a hand-washing station or a device to lighten the heavy load of carrying water.

The U.S. State Department-funded Women and Water in South and Central Asia Project serves as a platform for women working on community water issues to learn from each other by sharing ideas and best practices. At our first annual conference in Bishkek, Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and the United States, on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) techniques, and presented an award-winning video about a wonderful invention: the Tippy Tap. The Tippy Tap is a “hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water”. Using a foot lever resting on the ground to tip a bucket and produce a small stream of water, the tippy tap reduces the chance of bacteria spreading from hand-to-hand because the only thing anyone touches is the hanging bar of soap. Not only is the tippy tap a fun and enticing way to incentivize hand-washing, but it also conserves water, utilizing only 40 milliliters of water to wash your hands versus the 500 milliliters it takes if you use a mug of water to do so. The Tippy Tap website has an entire section on the importance of this hand-washing station, but drives home this important takeaway: no matter where you are from or how old you are, washing your hands is a simple, effective way of stopping the spread of infection and dramatically reducing the number of deaths from diarrhea. Learn how to build your own by clicking here.

Conference participants from Afghanistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, and India have fun trying out newly learned hand-washing techniques.

Conference participants from Afghanistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, and India have fun trying out newly learned hand-washing techniques.

Another innovative, yet simple, invention is improving lives by lightening the burden of household water supply. Barbara Miller, the director of GW’s Global Gender Program, and a partner of the Women and Water project, recently shared a Guardian article about the WaterWheel. The 50-liter rollable water container is made from durable plastic and boasts numerous benefits over the previous method of transporting the life-sustaining liquid. Instead of carrying water on the head as many girls and women often do, the WaterWheel saves the neck and back from physical strain, is convenient, and hygienic. Every day women around the world spend over 25% of their time collecting water. With the WaterWheel, users can move 50 liters of water at once, “which is between 3 and 5 times the amount of water possible as compared to traditional methods: this means MORE water in less time!” The website also notes that the WaterWheel is constructed to decrease the frequency of contamination at the point of use through its ‘cap-in-cap’ design. This helps to prevent diarrheal disease “which is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 5, according to the WHO.”

Innovations in water management like the WaterWheel also help to balance the household workload across gender lines. Columnist Penny Haw cheekily sums up the WaterWheels impact in her recent article entitled, “Men discover the wheel … at last”. The Guardian article also comments on this phenomenon reporting that, “One of most exciting things is that men love using it, they see it as a tool. Men take on the primary role so the women are freed up to do other things…It has reduced the burden on women. A nurse told me she is not late for work anymore because the husband collects the water.”

When it comes to improving water management and access to the vital resource, it looks like reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary; simply using the wheel will do the trick.

This article has been reposted with permission from the WWCASA project. The original article can be found here.

Julia-Collins-Capitol1Julia Collins is a Program Officer and Researcher for the ‘Women and Water in South and Central Asia’ Project at the Elliott School and a full-time 2nd year Master’s Candidate studying Energy, Security Policy, and Conflict Resolution. Particular areas of interest include the water-energy nexus, the U.S. natural gas revolution, memory politics and dealing with the past, and promoting good governance in transitional democracies – Myanmar in particular. 

She graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a BA in Political Science, and minors in Environmental Geography and German. Julia has worked on Guam, studied in Germany and Hungary, taught along the Thailand-Myanmar border, advocated for refugees at a Californian refugee resettlement agency, and conducted economic and social development research at a think-tank in Myanmar.


New GGP Working Paper by student intern Asthaa Chaturvedi

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014


The Global Gender Program’s seventh Working Paper, “Empowering Women Collectively and Individually from Her Perspective: A Case Study of SEWA Delhi” is now available. This paper is authored by Asthaa Chaturvedi, a senior at GW and GGP student intern. Funded by GW’s Undergraduate Research Award, Asthaa undertook two months of fieldwork in New Delhi to gather qualitative data on women’s perceptions of the impact of participation in an empowerment organization called SEWA. The paper’s abstract is included below.


“Most of the existing literature on women’s empowerment and self-help groups in South Asia emphasizes quantitative indicators about their results, ignoring the voices of the women participating in the organizations. This study examines the changes in the members of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in New Delhi as an effect of being part of SEWA. I use qualitative data collected from interviews and focus groups during the summer of 2013. The research traces the process of increasing confidence and expanding the capabilities of members by highlighting the voices of the women of SEWA Delhi, using their words instead of an abstract measure of empowerment. The women emphasized the importance of sisterhood and an increase in knowledge about opportunities, particularly in the realm of work and government schemes. Qualitative data provides a more complete picture of how development programs, in this case a women’s self-help group, can improve women’s lives.”

10 Takeaways from Why It Matters

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

By student contributor Asthaa Chaturvedi

During 2013, the global.gender.current carried my interview series “Why It Matters” on why gender equality and empowerment are important in the 21st century. When I began the project in March, I did not anticipate that I would be able to cover so many issues of both domestic and international relevance, touching on topics like the rights of women workers in India to farmers in Africa to increasing the political participation of women in the US.

As 2013 comes to a close with listicles popping everywhere on the web, here is mine: the top ten takeaways from the “Why It Matters” series of 2013.

1. The series began with Susannah Welford Shakow, founder and President of Running Start, an organization dedicated to supporting young girls as they think about careers in politics. Shakow’s biggest challenge: “We have all these capable and ambitious young women who are content to stand on the sidelines, who want somebody else to be a leader. It’s not that they don’t want women to lead; they do want women to lead. They just don’t want to be that woman.”

Saba Ismail of Aware Girls. Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi.

Saba Ismail of Aware Girls. Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi.

2. Still on the topic of building women’s capacities in political participation, the next interview shifted to Pakistan. Saba Ismail is the founder of Aware Girls, based in Peshawar, Pakistan. She focused on dealing with extremism and trying to carve out a role for women in the political sphere of the country.

3. Christina Fink, GW professor of international development studies and the founder of the Foreign Affairs Training Program on the border between Thailand and Myanmar, discussed the difference it made for activists to work together to gain equal political representation of women in a country undergoing transition.

4. Sally Nuamah, a PhD student in political science at Northwestern University and GW alumna, talked about the difference that education for girls has made in Ghana. In 1980 only two percent of women were educated at the university level, and in 2012 the rate was 35 percent. Today new challenges of appropriate infrastructure and more women in the field of teaching are coming up in Ghana.

5. While doing fieldwork in New Delhi this summer, I had the opportunity to interview Sanjay Kumar, Director of SEWA Bharat, or the Self Employed Women’s Association. He emphasized the power of recognizing the work of women who are not protected by the government and work on their own, and how helping women understand government welfare schemes can increase their confidence.

6. While in Delhi, I also had an extended conversation with Shreyasi Jha, monitoring and evaluation specialist for UN Women South Asia. We focused on gender-based violence and how better data have helped the UN understand and communicate the need for more concrete steps for women’s protection and empowerment by local governments.

7. This fall I interviewed Aruna Rao, Practitioner in Residence with the GGP and Cofounder and Executive Director of Gender at Work. Rao also said, “People don’t oppose women’s rights and equalities directly – it’s just not politically correct. The resistance is more invisible, subtle – it’s seen in how agendas are set,” discussing the value of making organizations aware of internal biases.

8. Marlene Stearns, founder of 3PSourcing and Elliott School MIPP alumna, highlighted the successes of women who are leaders in promoting improved agricultural practices and product marketing in their communities. Her work includes collecting the stories of successful women agricultural entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa.

Maryam Abolfazli (center) at a GGP event. Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi.

Maryam Abolfazli (center) at a GGP event. Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi.

9. I next looked past the headlines to the story of women entrepreneurs in Iran and the ways that they are overcoming cultural and governed norms that circumscribe their role to the home. Maryam Abolfazli, MENA director at Eurasia Foundation, pointed out that a need to work was changing the dynamics of families.

10. As the director of gender and development at the World Bank, Jeni Klugman integrates gender into the work of the Bank. In her interview, she pointed out global successes and challenges, but emphasized that even within countries there is a spectrum of achievements and gaps when it comes to disparities in gender equality.

The 10-part interview series provides many rich insights about women’s empowerment challenges and efforts around the world. The future looks bright as we move into a time of increased awareness, better data, and more widespread and effective government-civil society collaboration. As Jeni Klugman said during her interview, beyond asking Why It Matters, “I think the more interesting question is now what do you do.”

new_asthaa_headshotAsthaa Chaturvedi is a senior at the George Washington University and will begin her internship with Meet the Press in January 2014. She has been a student intern with the Global Gender Program of IGIS since January 2013. She was our social media anchor, writing and posting many entries on both the global.gender.current and anthropologyworks. In the summer of 2013, through funding from GW’s Undergraduate Research Award, Asthaa undertook two months of fieldwork in New Delhi to gather qualitative data on women’s perceptions of the impact of participation in an empowerment organization called SEWA. This research formed the basis for her honor’s thesis as well as a Global Gender Program Working Paper.

Special issue of Gender and Development on conflict and violence

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

The articles in this issue of G&D focus on the complicated and context-specific relationship between gender inequality and violence and conflict, and debate ways to end gender-based violence (GBV) in its many pernicious forms. Formally ending conflict is not enough to end GBV. Long term, transformative change is necessary in order to advance women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict contexts. The Global Gender Program is especially pleased to note that one of the articles is by GGP pre-doctoral fellow in political science, Kerry Crawford: From spoils to weapons: framing wartime sexual violence.

Why it matters: Targeting Gender and Development through the World Bank

Monday, December 16th, 2013

By student contributor Asthaa Chaturvedi

Dr. Jeni Klugman, photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi

Dr. Jeni Klugman, photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi

We bring our series, “Why it Matters,” to a close with a discussion with Dr. Jeni Klugman, director of Gender and Development at the World Bank Group. The work of her team involves integrating gender into the work of the World Bank and guiding the staff in the realm of gender and development. Dr. Klugman says that Gender and Development division also plays a role in monitoring side. “We monitor how the bank is doing on gender and report on that to the board,” she said.

Gender and development is a vast arena to address even with the resources of a body like the World Bank. There are a number of challenges. “Some countries are still struggling on the basics,” Dr. Klugman said, citing high maternal mortality rates in developing countries, child and early marriage, female genital mutilation, and regions where girls are not even finishing primary school.

When I asked her what was on top of the list, Dr. Klugman said that “violence is way to pervasive.” According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women globally affected by some type of physical or sexual violence.

“I think the second [challenge] which is harder to quantify is around discrimination,” she said. This not only includes laws that exclude women from working in particular sectors or prevent women from acquiring a loan independently, but also relates to self perceptions and aspirations of women and girls, like their expectations about their future, which are often circumscribed.

“Violence is kind of the pointy end but I think discrimination is the underlying driver, ” Dr. Klugman said.

There’s plenty of variation between countries and regions. Dr. Klugman said, “Education is one where there’s been enormous gains over time – in terms of schooling – primary and secondary. The number of tertiary graduates globally is larger for women than for men.”

Dr. Klugman also mentioned the spectrum of issues. From a reverse gender gap of boys dropping out, as seen in the Caribbean, and an increase in women’s labor force participation in Latin America.

Last year the World Bank released it’s 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development. “This is the first time that the bank had picked up gender as the central issue to be addressed in their flagship report,” Dr. Klugman said.

From the substantive point of view, the report outlines many of the gains and advances, and just how persistent gaps can be in gender and development. Incorporating gender and development into the agenda of the World Bank is particularly important when considering project effectiveness, says Dr. Klugman. More than half the farmers in developing countries are women. If a project is not tailored to women’s needs, then it’s missing most of its target group. It also is important as international institutions and governments plan for growth and build financial structures and services, which should serve the whole population. The World Bank can be effective in addressing financing gaps and raising the prominence and profile of gender and development because of its close relationship with finance ministers and heads of state, Dr. Klugman said.

Listen to the clip below to hear Dr. Klugman’s thoughts on what the biggest questions are in gender and development.