Archive for the ‘events’ Category

Save the Date!

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Empowering Women through Political Participation and Empowering Politics through Women’s Participation  

July 30, 2015


1957 E Street NW, 6th Floor, Lindner Family Commons


The Global Gender Program & The Institute for Global and International Affairs  

The Elliott School of International Affairs

The George Washington University

Washington, DC  20052

8:30-9:00am Continental breakfast

9:00am: Welcome

Barbara Miller

Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, and

Director, Global Gender Program, George Washington University


9:15am: Keynote Address

Homa Hoodfar

Professor of Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

Accommodating Protest: Women Re-Mapping Electoral Politics


10:00am-1:30pm: Three Panels and Discussion

Presenters from Ireland, England, Pakistan, and the U.S. discuss findings about women’s political engagement around the world including the U.S.


1:00pm Closing Comments

Susan Markham

Senior Gender Advisor, United States Agency for International Development


1:30-2:30pm Buffet Lunch

RSVP required

This event is funded through a grant from the U.S. State Department to the Global Gender Program (GGP) to support the development of a long-term partnership between the GGP and the Gender and Development Studies Department of Lahore College Women’s University (LCWU) in Lahore, Pakistan. We are especially pleased that several faculty and graduate students from LCWU will be participating in the conference. Supplementary funding and support for this event is provided by the Global Gender Program.

Informational Lunch brings together Cultures and Conversation

Monday, July 27th, 2015

by student contributor Lesli Davis

On Tuesday, the Global Gender Program hosted an informational lunch meeting titled “Global Norms about Gender Equality and Local Responses.” The meeting aimed to bring together GGP affiliates and local organizations to discuss gender standards amongst cultures worldwide.

super sixFeatured prominently in the lunch meeting were six visiting students and scholars from Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) in Pakistan. The six visitors are here in the U.S. as part of a three-year partnership between GW and LCWU through the State Department. While visiting, they will take gender courses at GW and learn about American culture.

Also present at the lunch were representatives from a number of local organizations and institutions, including Women Thrive Worldwide, American Association of University Women, United States Agency for International Development, and International Food Policy Research Institute. Various area universities were also represented, such as George Mason and American University.

Participants discussed various topics relating to gender equality in Pakistan, the United States and globally. Extensive conversation revolved around the participation of women in religion, politics, and in other public spheres. Everyone left with a full belly and increased cultural understanding.

Where are the Women?

Monday, July 20th, 2015

by student contributor Laura Kilbury


carolyn-maloney-3Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney entered the room at the Wilson Center’s event,  Restoring Hope and Dignity: New Developments and Best Practices in Addressing Maternal Morbidities, just coming off the house floor on July 14th.

She spoke with such fervor about women’s rights in the United States, using her coin phrase, “Where are the women?”


Where are the women?

The event was centralized on the practices of female genitalia mutilation (FGM) and how organizations such as Johnson and Johnson are partnering with UNFPA and USAID to tackle this issue with smart and creative strategies, such as kits and training specialized doctors through fellowship programs.

Maternal morbidities – illnesses and injuries that do not kill but nevertheless seriously affect a woman’s health – are a critical, yet frequently neglected, dimension of safe motherhood. For every woman who dies, many more are affected acutely or chronically by morbidities, said Karen Hardee, president of Hardee Associates at the Global Health Initiative.Hardee was joined by Karen Beattie, project director for fistula care at EngenderHealth, and Marge Koblinsky, senior technical advisor at John Snow, Inc., for a discussion moderated by Ann Blanc, director of EngenderHealth’s Maternal Health Task Force.

Maternal Illnesses Cost $7 Billion a Year

Maternal morbidities include anemia, fistula, uterine rupture, genital or uterine prolapse, and maternal mental health. These conditions not only affect the patient but also their families, communities, and society at large, said Hardee, who estimated the global cost of these conditions to be around $6.8 billion annually.

Obstetric fistula – a hole or tear that connects the vagina to either the bladder or rectum – is caused by prolonged, obstructed labor without timely medical intervention. Although solid prevalence data is lacking, Karen Beattie estimated that there are two million cases worldwide and 50,000 to 100,000 new cases each year.

Obstetric fistula is a question of equity, Beattie said, and a “clear example of a health system’s failure to support women’s needs in childbirth. …Women with fistula are most often the most impoverished and vulnerable members of society.” EngenderHealth found, for example, that delays in care in Tanzania were due not so much to geography but rather lack of money for services and lack of transportation.

Obstetric Complications Affect 20 Million Women

A study on maternal morbidity in Bangladesh, carried out by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), determined that seven percent of women who delivered in a facility suffered a severe obstetric complication. More than 60 percent of these complications were due to dystocia, or severe obstructed labor, according to Marge Koblinsky. Furthermore, approximately 40% of all women suffered some kind of postpartum problem.

Maternal mortality is just the “tip of the iceberg,” according to Koblinsky. The study found that for every maternal death, approximately 38 women suffer obstetric complications – equivalent to an estimated 20 million women worldwide. Furthermore, the level of neonatal deaths was five times higher among women who had suffered a complication, even up to two years post-delivery.

The economic cost for the families of women who had suffered an obstetric complication was very high. The poorest quintile of the study sample spent as much as 35 percent of their annual income to pay for treatment, said Koblinsky. Obstetric complications and their consequences also resulted in negative social outcomes for the women and their families, including stigma, verbal abuse, domestic violence, divorce, and isolation.

Prevention, Follow-Up Are Key

In order to adequately address maternal morbidities, health experts need to know where programs that reduce mortality will also reduce morbidity, and where additional programs are needed, said Hardee. However, this analysis requires more accurate estimates of incidence, prevalence, and cost data.

In the case of obstetric fistula, the focus should be on prevention, said Beattie. Other key interventions include providing access to family planning, using a partograph correctly and consistently, catheterizing the mother immediately after prolonged or obstructed labor, and increasing access to emergency obstetric care. More resources for training and service provision are also critical.

The Bangladesh study recommended postpartum follow-up for up to a year, financial protection for the poorest women, and family counseling, particularly in the case of a child’s death. “Perinatal death has a huge impact on the woman,” said Koblinsky. However, “it’s not just the woman; it’s the family that needs the counseling, for her postpartum depression, but also to alleviate the domestic violence that can ensue, as well as the social impact.”

Furthermore, programs should “address the antecedents of poor maternal health,” said Hardee, including nutrition, sanitation, education, and gender-based violence, as well as the silence surrounding women’s birth experiences. We must “shatter that gender norm and have women actually talk about these things,” Hardee concluded.

So back to Maloney, “Where are the women?” and more importantly what can and should be done?


The Hidden World of Cambodia’s Sex Workers

Monday, July 13th, 2015

by student contributor Laura Kilbury

screen-shot-2015-06-05-at-6.27.20-pm-3On Thursday, July 9, for a Talk at Pulitzer Center, Steve Sapienza, a video journalist, showed his project, “The Hidden World Of Cambodia’s Sex Workers: New Risks, New Hope” which focuses on the impact of anti-trafficking laws on the health and safety of sex workers.

In 2008, Cambodia passed a law that closed its brothels. The goal was to prevent human trafficking. Instead, it upended a government program designed to distribute condoms and screen for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV at brothels. When the sex workers scattered, there was no easy way to reach them. Out of the shadows emerged a volunteer organization called SMARTgirl, comprised of active and former sex workers, that has been working to fill the void.

Sapienza, the Pulitzer Center’s senior producer, wanted to see how the outreach and prevention efforts were faring. In February 2014, he traveled to Phnom Penh to produce a short film, which premiered on

This Talk Pulitzer also featured Sebastian Kohn, a program officer with the Open Society Foundations Public Health Program who studies sex work decriminalization issues, and Antigone Barton, the writer and editor of Science Speaks and a former Pulitzer Center grantee. In 2007, Sapienza and Barton collaborated on a series of Pulitzer Center-supported stories related to HIV and sex work in the Dominican Republic.

With 40,000 women reportedly working as sex workers underground has room for more risk and concern. This has disrupted violence health services. As Sapienza reiterated, the most important thing is to “reach the unreachable”.

In this Talk, the speakers discussed the new realities of the sex workers and the futures of the laws. Is this good? Is this bad?

While some countries are making prostitution legal in order to give the women more agency and control over their environment, what happens when it is completely outlawed? Or should it be that protective measures are placed at these types of venues?

Sapienza seems to believe that it has caused more harm than good. Citing that the women are now off the grid to a degree and cannot have their health checked, which is the greatest concern of all. However, Sapienza is hopeful that something good will come out of this. Organizations like SMART girls are training women with skills and programs. Sapienza believes that this a positive thing and provides for a new hope.

This conversation comes back to a long held debate over the role and legality of brothels and prostitution. What is the best way? Is there a best way?

Hillary Clinton talks gender at George Mason University

Monday, July 6th, 2015

by student contributor Laura Kilbury

Obama Announces Appointments Of Clinton, Gates, Nat'l Security Team“I’m on the side of everyone who’s ever been knocked down but refused to be knocked out,” she said. “I’m not running for some Americans, but for all Americans.”

The 2016 presidential race came to Virginia on Friday June, 26, ushered in by the roaring voice of Gov. Terry McAuliffe introducing Hillary Clinton. In her campaign stop in the state, the Democratic front-runner called for the protection of gay and abortion rights.

Clinton headlined the state Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson event, previously a formal dinner but this year held as a campaign event at George Mason University’s Patriot Center. The rally was billed as a “people’s event” and felt like a mix of high school pep rally and political convention; teleprompters and large projection screens adorned the stage while crowds ate popcorn in an arena where people usually watch basketball and concerts.

Clinton also touched on women’s equality in her speech, emphasizing women’s reproductive choices.

“Well, one thing’s for certain, we don’t need any more leaders who shame and blame women rather than respect our right to make our own reproductive health decisions.”

Snowballing off the release of the new book, The Hillary Doctrine, by Valerie Hudson and Patricia Liedl, one wonders how women’s equality- domestic and international- would be structured on Clinton’s agenda should she be elected as President.

The Hillary Doctrine:Sex and American Foreign Policy, To the day that the Hillary Doctrine becomes “unremarkable”

Monday, June 29th, 2015

by student contributor Laura Kilbury


On the 24th at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Valerie Hudon and Patricia Leidl discussed their new book, The Hillary Doctrine: Sex & American Foreign Policy, and its paramount importance for the United States in junction with national security priorities.

During her confirmation hearing to become secretary of state, Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in no uncertain terms, “I want to pledge to you that as secretary of state I view women’s issues as central to our foreign policy, not as adjunct or auxiliary or in any way lesser than all of the other issues that we have to confront.”

The “doctrine” comes from a proposition that Clinton made at the TEDWomen Conference in December 2010: “The subjugation of women is, therefore, a threat to the common security of our world and to the national security of our country.” In countries where women are chronically mistreated, or systematically excluded from leadership roles, there tends to be far greater state fragility, outbreaks and reoccurrences of conflict, and environments where extremists can flourish, including even terrorist organizations.

Research for the book began in 2010, and the content was largely written in 2013, after Hudson’s co- author Patricia Leidl completed fieldwork in several countries. Hudson emphasized the role that qualitative data played in their research. Data on cultural norms, customs, practices and laws were missing from the current research, so Hudson and Leidl created a massive database to fill this niche. One might wonder why the idea that women’s security affects national security is called the Hillary Doctrine. Hudson explained that though Clinton was the third female Secretary of State, she was the first woman in that role who made women’s issue priorities for the Department. The book, though not about Secretary Clinton herself, explores the effects that her belief in this idea has had on American foreign policy.

The first part of the book—based on interviews with government officials like Swanee Hunt, Andrew Natsios, Paula Dobriansky, and Melanne Verveer—consists of a helpful history of how women’s issues became prominent in U.S. foreign policymaking during the 1990s. This included milestones like UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the first resolution to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women, as well as the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution; the publication of the first U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security; and the difficulties and haphazard manner that the military and USAID have experienced in incorporating women’s issues into foreign operations.

The second section focuses on the theory and cases that explore whether the Hillary Doctrine is justified. Hudson discussed that her past research reveals the doctrine is in fact based on a solid premise. She presented the theoretical argument for what she and Leidl termed fempolitik, arguing that the realization that women’s security is closely linked to national security is a pillar of clear- eyed realpolitik. This then provides an argument that contends that that male-female relationships are a foundational issue, while poverty, explosive violence, ill health and other widespread problems are the macro consequences of women’s insecurity.

The third and last section of the book focuses on the implementation of the Hillary Doctrine from 2009-2013. Jen Klein, advisor to Secretary Clinton on global women’s issues, explained in an interview for the book that the State Department adopted four initial principles to guide their work on women. These principles stated that their work (1) would be non-partisan, (2) would not impose U.S. views or laws on others (indeed, the policies focused on the agenda enshrined in CEDAW, which the U.S. has not ratified), (3) must be based in evidence, even though the Department also thought it was the right thing to do, and (4) must demonstrate that the benefits created by such policies also apply to national security, not just women’s security. Though these principles were paired with strategic frameworks from major government organizations, Leidl explained that the disconnect between high-level policy and the actual work on the ground manifested itself in a fairly predictable fashion, citing some terribly ineffective initiatives.

At the end of the event, Leidl and Hudson noted some of the top priorities moving forward in a “to do list” fashion. These included using the bully pulpit to discuss women’s issues, developing hard targets and performance benchmarks on women’s inclusion, focusing on male accountability, and adding a jus ex bello element to the just war theory, one that focuses on the harms after war has ended that disproportionately affect women.

The authors then (with a confirming laugh in the room) eminently said that that the most important and elusive ingredient for implementing the Hillary Doctrine “can only come from the White House itself.” If a President Hillary Clinton is sworn into office on January 20, 2017, then there will be no more bureaucratic hurdles preventing the fuller implementation of the Hillary Doctrine. Would we learn if it isindeed a rhetoric, or the basis upon which U.S. foreign policy is developed and implemented?

At the end of the event, Hudson made a final and provoking note, “Here’s to the day the Hillary Doctrine becomes unremarkable.”

What will it mean in the future when it is the norm to look at our national security through a genderedlens? When placing women at the forefront of a national security agenda is the way to look at things that is when the Hillary Doctrine will persist.


Smart Women, Smart Power: Townsend

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

by student contributor Laura Kilbury


A common face on CNN, Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush, spoke candidly Thursday evening at CSIS’s Smart Women, Smart Power conversations series.

Townsend’s rise is particularly shiny when one looks into her childhood. She was the first person in her family to graduate high school. Her mother was a bookkeeper and her father was a roofer. When Townsend graduated from law school, her mother received her GED. Townsend had no knowledge up to that point that her mother hadn’t graduated from high school.

Townsend came to the White House from the U. S. Coast Guard, where she had served as the first Assistant Commandant for Intelligence. Prior to that, Townsend spent 13 years at the U. S. Department of Justice under the administrations of President H.W. Bush, President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.  She served in a variety of senior positions including as Counsel to the Attorney General for Intelligence Policy. Townsend began her prosecutorial career in 1985, serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York.

Being the first woman to be the director of Homeland Security, Nina Easton, the moderator, asked Townsend if she “felt the burden?”

“I had to be right every day”, Townsend responded.

The post 9/11 era of counterterrorism has given Townsend a unique and valuable perspective in the field of international and national security. A perspective that she admits as, “provocative”. She believes that we need to take the situation with ISIS “more seriously” and that we need a “strategy”. Noting that the thing that makes ISIS “dangerous” is their ability to mobilize and recruit others, including women, to their cause.

As Townsend discussed the victories and shortcomings of the U.S.’s policies regarding terrorism and security, there was one vital point missing from the conversation. The subjugation of women is a threat to general security of the world and to our own national security. When one looks at the countries that our nation deems a security threat, there is a common theme: the systematic oppression of women.

The ultimate purpose of the Smart Women, Smart Power series is to shed light on prominent and inspiring women and the achievements they have garnered. These women are successful and bright, and more importantly, they give hope that more women can share in these roles.

Until we put women and the forefront of our national security agenda, instability in states will perpetuate. The moment that we realize that the security of women equals the security of the world, we will see no progress in the fight against terror.

Melinda Gates: Smart Women, Smart Power

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

It’s Good to be Uncomfortable

by student contributor Laura Kilbury


Melinda GatesOn May 20, The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) welcomed Melinda Gates to the center’s ongoing discussion series, “Smart Women, Smart Power”. CSIS started this program on December 8, 2014 as an initiative to intensify the voices of leading women in the realms of foreign policy, national security, and international business.

Melinda Gates appeared on stage for a 90-minute interview Tuesday May 20, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as part of the CSIS-Fortune, “Smart Women Smart Power” series. Gates revealed steps the Gates Foundation, of which she is Co-Chair of, is currently taking to realign its vast resources to make investment in women and girls a top priority. “We are making strides for women and girls, but not on a global scale,” she said.

While Melinda Gates working in tandem with the Gates Foundation is making major strides for women in countries around the world, it is necessary to look at the strides Gates has made in the United States as a woman in technology.

Melinda French Gates grew up in Dallas—one of four children—with a homemaker mother who regretted never going to college and an aerospace engineer father. Gates’ father was progressive for the time. Her father valued having women on his teams, saying that his team “did better” when women were playing an integral part. She joined a computer science club at her Catholic girls school. “I love logic,” she says. “Computer science to me was like a puzzle. I like the logic of it and working your way through.”

In the discussion Gates talked about how computer science has a way of making one feel “uncomfortable”. However, she quickly said, “It’s good to be uncomfortable”.

Her parents, determined to send all four kids away to college, ran a real estate company on the side so they could afford tuition. Melinda and her sister were assigned to keep the books on their Apple 3 computer and painted the company’s rental properties on weekends. “I learned the flows of money, profit and loss. I knew what my parents bought [the homes] for and hoped to get,” she recalled. When she attended Duke, she added an MBA to her computer science and economics degrees—and made a speedy climb up the Microsoft ladder for nine years.

Gates was originally tracked for a job at IBM, but a recruiter steered her elsewhere. “I had a standing offer with IBM in Dallas,” Gates recalled. “I had turned down all the other companies except one.” That company was Microsoft.

Gates says the IBM hiring manager “stopped me dead in my tracks and asked, ‘Do you want my advice? IBM has a fantastic career track, but you have to go up each ladder of the chain.” Microsoft, said the recruiter, is a young, rapidly growing company with the promise of faster advancement for women.

She took the Microsoft MSFT-1.10% job—and history was made. and now—a quarter century later—she is co-steering a $42.3 billion foundation widely recognized as a game-changer in global poverty.

That effort will include a renewed effort to disperse contraception, though the foundation will not fund abortion. “I believe in and use contraceptives,” said the devout Catholic, who called family planning “vital in developing countries.”

In the wide-ranging conversation, Gates defended genetically-modified crops—increasingly the target of protests here and in Europe—as critical to eradicating hunger in poor countries. She also criticized the anti-vaccine movement and offered this positive bit of news: “We are getting very close in polio eradication. This would be an amazing success in global health.”

Melinda Gates took her first trip to Africa when she became engaged to Bill Gates. The journey was meant to be a fun and adventurous safari with other couples, but ended up offering inspiration and a life lesson.

“We loved the animals and the savannah, but you couldn’t help but ask questions—like why whole towns were shut down,” she says. In a Maasai cooking tent, the group bonded with villagers so well that one young man asked: “Can you come back in a few weeks? We are going to have a cutting ceremony for my sister.”

“We were all devastated” by the reference to genital mutilation, Gates says. “It made me realize I knew nothing about that culture. It started Bill and me on a series of learning journeys and questions.”

Now, though, she plans to double down on the poverty-eradicating bet they made 15 years ago. They argue that over the next 15 years, the lives of people in poor countries will improve more than at any other time in history. “When I look at Africa, I don’t just see the destitute stories,” Melinda Gates says. “I focus on the ingenuity and change of the communities.”

Women’s Leadership in Pakistan: Beyond Stereotypes and Myths

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

by staff contributor Camry Haskins


“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed”. –Mark Twain (quoted by Shehla Ahmad Rathore)


Visiting faculty from LCWU: Shehla Ahmad Rathore (left), Asthma Seemi Malik (center), and Fareeha Anjum (right)

Visiting faculty from LCWU: Shehla Ahmad Rathore (left), Asma Seemi Malik (center), and Fareeha Anjum (right)

On Tuesday, April 7, faculty members from the Lahore College for Women’s University (LCWU) addressed an audience of around 50 individuals as part of a UNESCO Seminar series. This seminar was part of the GW-LCWU Partnership that has been led by Prof. Shaista E. Khilji and Prof. Barbara Miller in an effort to promote a meaningful exchange between Pakistani women scholars, and faculty and students at the George Washington University. This specific seminar was organized during the faculty members’ three-week visit to Washington, DC and its aim was to focus on breaking the stereotypes associated with Pakistan and the status of women within the country.

PhD scholar, lecturer, and MS program coordinator at LCWU, Shehla Ahmad Rathore opened up the seminar by asking the audience what their current impressions were of Pakistan. The very first comment was shock that there could be a women’s college in Pakistan. Rathore responded by informing the room that LCWU has 14,000 female students enrolled and is only one of several women’s only colleges throughout Pakistan. Another audience member stated that she imagined strict gender roles with women being restricted. There was only one member who spoke to diversity depending on region, class, and culture, which would mean a diverse Pakistan without any one overbearing stereotype.


Women’s Leadership Conference

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

by guest contributor Mikaela Romero


WLC panel

Panel Discussion “Take Charge of Your Destiny” with (left to right) moderator Sharon Hadar and panelists Emily Hewitt, Karin Jones, Dhyana Delatour, Vicki Bowman.

On Friday, March 27, the George Washington University (GW) hosted the 2015 Women’s Leadership Conference, an annual conference that brings together GW faculty, staff, students, and alumnae of GW and the Mount Vernon College to discuss topics of women’s leadership, and exchange stories and ideas for professional and personal growth. The title and central theme of this year’s conference was “Charting a New Course.” In this respect, guest speakers and participants zoned in on women’s capacity to brave unchartered waters and, by doing so, advancing their fields of work, improving the lives of others, and challenging harmful or restrictive gender-based norms in society.

The conference remained engaging throughout the day, with different presentation formats and group exercises. Keynote speaker and Mount Vernon College alumna Nazenin Ansari spoke about her role in the international community as an Iranian-born journalist, emphasizing the importance of “connecting through our hearts” and progressing forward with the common visions that this connection fosters. Break-out sessions catered to diverse interests, ranging from topics in entrepreneurship and financial finesse to self-care and self-representation. Cumulatively, the sessions taught that while success in society-level contexts such as business and the economy is certainly within women’s reach, it is crucial to also nourish individual physical, spiritual, and mental health to remain happy and strong in the long term.