Archive for the ‘events’ Category

DC event: The Unfair Construction of beauty for the (Market) Beast

Monday, August 25th, 2014
Capture“Whiter Skin in 1 Week: The Unfair Construction of Beauty for the (Market) Beast,” presented by Dr. Gitiara Nasreen, Visiting Fulbright Scholar from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. We will serve light refreshments.  Free and open to public.
When: September 10, 2014, 2:00-4:00 pm
Where: Howard University, The Founders Library, 500 Howard Place NW, Washington, DC, 20059
The Founders Library is on the main quad of the campus and is easy to recognize by its tall clock tower that rises above all other buildings. The closest intersection is 4th Street NW, and College Street. There is 4-hour parking along 4th Street NW.  Come through the big iron gates and the Library is directly in front of you.

Women, Peace and Security: Practical Guidance on Using Law to Empower Women in Post-Conflict Systems

Monday, August 25th, 2014

When: August 27, 2014 | 10:00 – 11:30 am

Where: Women in International Security, 1111 19th St. NW, 12th floor | Washington, DC 20036

United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and international human rights and humanitarian law provide a powerful international framework for advancing gender equality and women’s rights. The key is to know and understand these principles and use them strategically.

In our recently released toolkit, Women, Peace and Security:  Practical Guidance on Using Law to Empower Women in Post-Conflict Systems, two international human rights lawyers examine practical measures on how to integrate international principles on gender equality and women’s rights into post-conflict legal systems. Learn more about the toolkit in an interview with Julie Arostegui, toolkit author.

Please join Women In International Security, Women’s Action for New Directions, and the U.S. Institute of Peace for a discussion of the toolkit and specific ways that all practitioners – both at the policy and grassroots levels – can use law to promote gender equality and empower women.


  • Julie L. Arostegui, J.D. – Toolkit Author; Women, Peace and Security Policy Director, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
  • Stephenie Foster – Senior Advisor, Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State
  • Susan Markham – Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, USAID
  • Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini – Executive Director and Co-Founder, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

Moderator: Kathleen Kuehnast – Director, Center for Gender and Peacebuilding, U.S. Institute of Peace

Speaking women’s rights to power

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Alison Brysk, Mellichamp professor of Global Governance in the Global and International Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In April, she spoke at the Elliott School on “Stopping Violence against Women.” Her talk covered a wide range of topics from honor killings to sex-selective abortion and sex trafficking of girls and women. Her presentation drew from her 2013 book, Speaking Rights to Power.

Speaking Rights to Power cover. Source: Oxford University Press.

Speaking Rights to Power cover. Source: Oxford University Press.

A foundation of her argument is that women’s rights are a category of human rights and must therefore be given similar attention. She presented basic facts and figures documenting the problem of unequal rights for girls and women around the world. She argued that girls and women live in a “climate of insecurity” that includes life in militarized contexts, refugee camps, and poverty. A new area of research is to highlight how urbanization, male youth unemployment, and political corruption are leading to high and rising rates of violence against girls and women in cities.

Beyond documenting the problems and their local dimensions, Brysk also discussed what various countries, global organizations, and civil society are doing to address violence against women. She talked about “information politics” which promotes women’s voices and self-determination by putting a human face on violence against women – “framing the claim” — and creating awareness and mobilizing support.

In conclusion, she noted that constructing political will to support women’s rights as human rights is key as well as engaging men in the campaign moving forward to change rape culture to gender justice.

Professor Brysk’s talk was sponsored by the Elliott School’s Global Gender Program through its Global Gender Forum Series. The Elliott School’s Web Video Initiative provides a taped version of the presentation.

Event Recap: A roadmap for promoting women’s economic development

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

By student contributor Andrew Elliott

When the Exxon Mobil Foundation asked Mayra Buvinic, senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation, what can bring women out of poverty, and if regional differences exist when confronting this problem, it inspired her to create the roadmap for promoting women’s economic development. This study, primarily conducted by Mayra Buvinic with help from co-author Markus Goldstein, sought to find the answers. Although seemingly ambitious and vague, the study’s methodological approach looked at 18 research commissions within the World Bank Group and reviewed empirical evaluations of 136 economic interventions worldwide tasked with bringing economic development to women.

Recently, it has become increasingly popular for large private corporations to show a philanthropic side. Exxon Mobil is no stranger to this, as company that invested around $60 million to development agendas.

WorldBank2.jpgMost research in the roadmap was conducted in nations with high fertility rates and large agrarian sectors. Before beginning her presentation, Buvinic prefaced the discussion by stating several hypotheses about what can bring women out of poverty. First, the very poor need more than what they have received to ensure that they truly break beyond the point of subsistence production. Second, adjustments need to be made to allow women to have more autonomy and alleviate socially-based gender roles. Autonomy has proven to be an income earner, and finding these proxies to grant women autonomy is linked to economic development. Last, when foreign governments or NGOs work abroad, the competent implementation of grants and loans is a necessity. This can be done by working with cultural norms and traditions.

Another factor that prompted Buvinic and Goldstein to conduct the study was that a huge knowledge gap exists. Despite NGOs and foreign governments working with humanitarian programs for decades, until now there has not been a comprehensive study that documents what factors contribute to women’s transitions from subsistence to high income earning lifestyles.


DC event: Women’s leadership and political participation: Politics and diplomacy in post-conflict countries

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Hon.When: Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Reception and Program
Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina
2109 E Street, NW
Washington, DC

Cost: WFPG Members — $30 Non-Members — $50
Space is limited. Advance registration is required.
Event proceeds support WFPG mentoring activities and programs.

Hon. Ana Trišić-Babić was appointed as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2007. In this position, she represents Bosnia and Herzegovina on diplomatic activities as well as a broad range of bilateral and multilateral issues, with special focus on gender issues (including UN Resolutions 1325 and 2122) and education. She also serves as a member of national governmental coordinating bodies for conflict resolution, peace building, security issues, and women participation. Since 2010, Ms. Trišić-Babić has also served as President of the Commission for NATO-integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Previously, Ms. Trišić-Babić served Assistant Minister for Bilateral Affairs, Head of the Cabinet of the President of the Republika Srpska, Advisor for International Affairs in the Office of the UN High Representative, and Head of the Project for Media and NGO Sector Development for USAID–OTI. Early in her career she worked as a lawyer and later as a journalist at Radio of Free Europe.

She studied law at Schiller University in London, national and international security at the Harvard Kennedy School, and has also taken a course for senior-level officials at the NATO Defense College. Ms. Trišić-Babić frequently speaks on foreign policy, international security and role of the gender issues, women’s participation in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and peace sustainability.

Click here to register!

Law, negotiation and armed conflict: What role for gender equality?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Guest Contributor: Dr. Aisling Swaine

I recently participated in a conference organized by Durham University Law School in the United Kingdom on Law and Negotiation in Conflict:  Theory, Policy and Practice which took place from March 20th and 21st. The aim of the conference was to explore the relationship between law and negotiation processes that take place in relation to situations of armed conflict.

Key issues arise when examining the role of law during mediation and negotiation processes.  The relationship between law and politics is a key consideration, particularly in ensuring the adoption of a peace agreement that holds legitimacy and which in the longer term post-conflict terrain, adequately addresses the diverse concerns and needs of the affected population.

(L-R) Aisling Swaine, ESIA; Dr. Sari Kuovo, Afghanistan Analysis Network; Dr. Anashri Pillay, Durham Law School (moderator); Ms. Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women

(L-R) Aisling Swaine, ESIA; Dr. Sari Kuovo, Afghanistan Analysis Network; Dr. Anashri Pillay, Durham Law School (moderator); Ms. Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women

A specific theme addressed by the conference was the status of women in conflict and post-conflict environments, and how considerations of gender are relevant to the role of law in negotiations.  I was privileged to share a panel with Ms. Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and Dr. Sari Kuovo, Afghanistan Analysis Network.  Ms. Manjoo provided a wonderful overview of the key international legal frameworks that provide for women’s rights and equality in the context of peace negotiations, and evolving norms such as those provided by the UN Security Council women peace and security resolutions.  Dr. Kuovo talked about the realities of the situations faced by women in such contexts as Afghanistan, and the barriers that present to women’s participation in negotiation processes, not just by national actors, but the failure on the part of international interlocutors such as the UN and international governments to take actions regarding women’s rights.  My contribution focused on the potential that the transitional moment offers to advancing women’s rights, and the relevance of the concept of ‘transformation’ which underpins gender equality policy norms, to considering whether negotiation processes work for women.  Key considerations are how issues such as ‘security’ are framed and conceived in negotiations, and whether both those broad negotiations at macro levels, as well as those that play out at micro (community) levels, take transformative approaches, and ensure that key factors affecting men and women are considered and addressed.  For example, ensuring that such processes capture and are based on gendered concepts of security in important, particularly in addressing the relevance of the constancy of gendered violence in women’s lives, both during and after conflict.

A really interesting angle tackled by the conference was the relationship between theory and practice.  A range of academic scholars and practitioners in the field of international law and conflict resolution were present.  Debate revolved around how the differing standpoints and experiences of scholars and practitioners contribute to advancing approaches to utilizing law in negotiation processes.  Evident was a set of differences as well as much complementarity that each set of actors brings to both understanding as well as practically advancing the relevance and application of legal norms in negotiation processes. A key point for me was considering how women’s rights norms can secure enhanced legitimacy in negotiation processes globally, and how scholarship and practice can work in tandem to concurrently critically examine as well as tackle the barriers that continue to exist.

AislingAisling Swaine is Associate Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, GW.  Aisling has spent over 14 years working on issues of violence against women, women, peace and security and transitional justice at programming and policy levels internationally.  She teaches on gender and conflict and on global gender policy. 

Event recap: re-thinking gender in peacekeeping

Friday, April 11th, 2014

By student contributor Andrew Elliott

Dr. Henri Myrttinen and Dr. Aisling Swaine discussing violence in post conflict societies.

Dr. Aisling Swaine (left) and Dr. Henri Myrttinen (right) discussing violence in post conflict societies.

Henri Myrttinen approaches post-conflict societies from a perspective that is gaining traction: peace building through a gender lens inclusive of the roles both women and men play in society. Traditionally, when working in post-conflict environments, governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) equate gender issues with women. Myrttinen’s organization, International Alert, seeks to broaden the approach to gender in peacekeeping by including men. He believes that to understand the persecution and violence women and other socially marginalized groups face in post-conflict societies, we must include men in the dialogue and understand the role of masculinity and how it contributes to violence.

Myrttinen began his presentation by describing his work as a Senior Research Officer at International Alert, an organization that conducts peace building in regions in post-conflict transition. Currently, the organization focuses primarily on Colombia, West Africa, the Great Lakes region in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia and the South Caucasus. The organization’s work ranges from consultation for the United Nations to economic development in small villages in the Caucasus.

Next, Myrttinen described three methods used to examine the connection between gender and violence in regards to peace building; 1) gender blind peacekeeping, 2) women based security, and 3) gender-relational peacekeeping. Myrttinen’s research capitalizes on the third approach, focusing equally on men and women when studying societal based perceptions of peace building and violence. His most recent work looks at case studies in four states: Burundi, Colombia, Nepal and Uganda. His research explores how gender relational peace building can be practiced and whether it is effective. He found that violence perpetrated by females is often overlooked, and that males are vulnerable in many cases as well.

Myrttinen also highlighted four organizations that follow gender relational peacekeeping in post-conflict societies. In Uganda, an organization works with refugee groups to increase awareness of violence among men and boys. In Burundi, the Association des Femmes Repatriées (AFRABU) works to increase women’s economic empowerment and involvement in political issues while simultaneously bringing men into the discussion. In Nepal, SSKP was created – a radio talk show that discusses gender differences and violence. And lastly, in Colombia, Amore raises women’s social and political awareness and seeks male input.

During the concluding Q&A session, students asked Myrttinen about his previous experiences in East Timor and his success with gender-relational peacekeeping in comparison to female centric or gender blind security. Ultimately, he concluded, reducing societal violence, requires a gender-relational approach when engaging with different stakeholders in society. Combating violence towards women requires both genders to reconcile and progress towards equality.

Andrew Elliott is an Elliott School undergraduate student seeking a major in international affairs with concentrations in international development and a regional concentration in Asia. With interests in Southeast Asia and most of the developing world, he aspires to someday work and conduct research in these regions.

GW event: Girls’ Education and School-related Gender-based Violence

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Rescheduled Panel Discussion

Who: FHI 360 and the Global Gender Program
When: Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 5:00-7:00 pm
Light reception to begin at 4:30 and continue after panel
Where: Room 602, Lindner Family Commons, 1957 E Street NW
Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Washington, DC 20052
To RSVP: click here

To celebrate International Women’s Day FHI 360 and the Global Gender Program present a panel discussion: Girls’ Education and School-related Gender -based Violence.

Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children experience violence every year, many within and around the school community. School-related gender based violence (SRGBV) is a global phenomenon that is a barrier to girls’ and boys’ educational achievements, is correlated with lower academic achievement, higher economic insecurity, and greater long-term health risks. SRGBV is related to other forms of violence in the community, particularly for girls, and reinforces harmful gender norms.

What is the development community doing to address SRGBV and its impact on girls’ education worldwide? This interactive panel discussion will examine the connections between SRGBV and girls’ access to, retention in, and completion of school. Panelists will explore challenges to preventing SRGBV, approaches for changing norms, opportunities for empowering girls, and will offer solutions for fostering safe learning environments to improve educational outcomes for girls and boys alike.

GW event: Re-thinking Gender in Peacebuilding

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

When: April 1 | 1-2pm
Who: Global Gender Program
Where: Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E St NW
Suite 501 Conference Room

In this seminar, Henri Myrttinen will present “Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding”, which is based on a 3 year research project in Burundi, Colombia, Nepal and Uganda with the thematic focal areas of access to justice, economic recovery, inter-generational conflict and continuums of violence. It explores how the gender, peace and security agenda could better engage with men and boys, as well as sexual and gender minorities, while remaining engaged with improving the lives of women and girls. As a part of this, the project is also looking at how to meaningfully work with a more nuanced approach to gender, i.e. how age, social class, marital status, urban/rural setting, etc. inter-act with gender identities.

Henri Myrttinen is a senior research officer on gender in peacebuilding at International Alert, London. He has been working and publishing on issues of gender, peace and security with a special focus on masculinities and violence for the past decade and holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. His thesis examined masculinities and violence in the context of East Timorese militias, gangs and martial arts groups.

RSVP here

Women’s empowerment: Perspectives from near and far

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Guest post by doctoral student Brian Keilson

A second international videoconference was held on February 19, as part of the on-going partnership between the Global Gender Program at the George Washington University and the Gender and Development Studies Department at Lahore College for Women’s University. In Washington, DC, participants face an early morning, beginning at 8am, while, in Lahore, the get-together means a late evening with the event starting 10 hours later.

IMG_2867[1] (1)

Discussion between GW and LCWU students, staff, and faculty at the February 19 videoconference.

Each side was pleased to welcome a special guest. At GW, in attendance was Elliott School alumna, Ms. Arifa Khalid Parvez, a member of the Pakistani National Assembly (equivalent to a U.S. Senator). At LCWU, we were honored by the presence of Vice Chancellor, Sabiha Mansoor.

The one-hour meeting began with presentations from faculty and students at LCWU addressing aspects of women’s empowerment in Pakistan,

Key points from the four presenters were:

  • although higher education policies in Pakistan have promoted equal opportunity, there is still a significant gap between female graduates and employment, due to less opportunity because of religious or cultural biases toward different occupations.
  • for many females, teaching is the culturally preferred occupation.
  • however, there are females in every industry from politics to IT, to the army, judicial system and even taxi drivers.
  • Pakistani women have attained success in many areas, including:
    • Samira Baig- 1st Pakistani women and only 3rd Pakistani and youngest Muslim women to ascend Mt. Everest.
    • Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy- won an Oscar Award for best documentary.
    • women are truly agents of change in Pakistan from politics to philanthropy
    • there are more women in government in Pakistan than in Sri Lanka, Iran and India
    • there is a separate government ministry for women and there are many prohibitions against discrimination including in the country’s constitution
    • these protections, however, are not enforced evenly throughout the country

After hearing from our partners at LCWU, Candice Matthews, a doctoral candidate in Human & Organizational Learning at the Graduate School of Education & Human Development discussed her dissertation research on American female social entrepreneurs’ identities as an example of qualitative research. She highlighted her methods and findings from her in-depth interviews will 11 women entrepreneurs in the U.S. This presentation generated interest from the attendees at LCWU and GW, especially, about how these women succeeded and felt empowered in their roles. Key points were: a support network and having meaningfulness in their work, while still keeping in mind that stereotypes were still present regarding women.

Open discussion at the video conference also addressed U.S. laws regarding women’s empowerment, negative stereotypes about women and how women may overcome them, training opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and in what sectors women are succeeding.  At one point, a participant from LCWU asked the GW male audience to explain the male perspective of female empowerment. This question put the author of this post on the spot – the answer was a bit complicated but in essence shared that some men might feel threatened by the concept of female empowerment, but not all do.

The conference wrapped up by discussing how to integrate women’s empowerment opportunities into education. GW’s Shaista Khilji emphasized the importance of paying attention to words such as “empowerment” and what it means in different contexts. She reminded the participants that “women’s empowerment” is a cultural construction and needs to be explored in that sense, from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and with attention to studying the different meanings of empowerment. LCWU’s Sarah Shahed provided a very positive note by saying that this conference was even better than the first one that we had in December 2013.

PictureBrian Keilson is a doctoral student and graduate research assistant in the Department of Human & Organizational Learning in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at GW.  



The activity reported in this post is funded by a grant to the Global Gender Program (GGP) from the U.S. Department of State to support a three-year partnership (2014-2016) between GGP and Lahore College Women’s University (LCWU) in Pakistan. At GW, faculty leading the project are Barbara Miller, director of the Elliott School’s Global Gender Program and professor of anthropology and international affairs, and Shaista Khilji, professor of human and organizational learning in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and faculty member of the Elliott School and the GGP. Leading the partnership at LCWU is Sarah Shahed, chair of the Department of Gender and Development Studies. The two groups will work together to share knowledge and understanding about women’s status and empowerment in both Pakistan and the U.S. Another goal is to build capacity of faculty and students at LCWU, and during the first year, the partnership will focus on the curriculum of LCWU’s M.A. degree program. Each year, GW will host video conferences and provide webinars to facilitate intellectual exchange and cross-cultural understanding of shared challenges and solutions. Faculty and student exchanges will further contribute to the goals of the partnership. Every year, several LCWU MA students will attend classes at GW in the second summer session. LCWU faculty will visit GW to offer lectures and develop collaborative research projects, and GW faculty will spend time at LCWU delivering courses.