Archive for the ‘student post’ Category

“Even diamonds come from the dirt”: a recap of the International Forum on Women’s Food Leadership in the Global South

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

by staff contributor Camry Haskins
and student contributor Hannah Stambaugh

The Women’s Food Leadership Initiative collaborated with the Global Gender Program

Women Food Leaders (from left to right): Buky Williams, Marlene Stearns, Susana Chavez Villalobos, Grace Mena, Monica Lozano Luque, Yiver Vargas, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Catherine Krobo-Edusei Benson, Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie, Randa Filfili, Dinnah Kapiza, Mama Cristina Kaba, and Sharon Againe [photo credit: Noel St. John]

Women Food Leaders (from left to right): Buky Williams, Marlene Stearns, Susana Chavez Villalobos, Grace Mena, Monica Lozano Luque, Yiver Vargas, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Catherine Krobo-Edusei Benson, Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie, Randa Filfili, Dinnah Kapiza, Mama Cristina Kaba, and Sharon Againe [photo credit: Noel St. John]

to host the International Forum for Women’s Food Leadership in the Global South last week at GW’s Elliott School for International Affairs. The two-day conference brought together over 30 speakers from around the world to discuss how women leaders in food and agriculture are “overcoming challenges to positively impact profit, sustainability, and communities.” Speakers came from South Africa, Colombia, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Costa Rica, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, and the United States. These women represented CEO’s, founders, and managers leading successful agribusinesses; policy makers; food and agriculture researchers and professionals; and faculty.

The conference consisted of eight panels and four keynote addresses.

The Keynotes included:

  • Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability, George Washington University
  • Catherine Gill, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Operations, Root Capital
  • Catherine Krobo-Edusei Benson, Founder & CEO, Eden Tree, Ltd.
  • Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau for African Affairs


Panel on selling and marketing (from left to right): Marlene Stearns, Monica Lozano Luque, Liz Cullen Whitehead, Michelle Stern, and Randa Filfili [photo credit: Noel St. John]

Panels addressed:

  • Climate-Smart and Sustainable Strategies (moderated by Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of GW’s Sustainability Institute)
  • Starting an Agribusiness (moderated by Kathy Korman Frey, Founder and CEO of Hot Mommas Project & Adjunct Professor of Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at GW)
  • Setting Up Organizational Structure and Building Social Capital (moderated by Celena Green, Director, Africa/Co-Director, Economic Empowerment & Entrepreneurship, Vital Voices Global Partnership)
  • Raising Women’s Profiles in Media (moderated by Leah Quin, Senior Communications Manager, Abt Associates)
  • Growing an Agribusiness (moderated by Dr. Rekha Mehra, Senior Associate, Gender in Development, Creative Associates International)
  • Selling & Marketing (moderated by Marlene Stearns, Founding Director, Women’s Food Leadership Initiative)
  • Partnering Effectively (moderated by Dr. Deborah Rubin, Co-Director, Cultural Practice, LLC)
  • Measuring Impact (moderated by Claire Starkey, President, Fintrac)


Grace Mena (Founder & CEO, Deli-café, San Jose, Costa Rica & Immediate Past President of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance), speaking on the panel, Growing an Agribusiness [photo credit: Noel St. John]

The Women’s Food Leadership Initiative proved to be a diverse and dynamic conference. The energy in the room was palpable and the stories told were powerful. From Mama Kaba, a retired, South African mother who built her organization from scratch after the death of her husband to Grace Mena, a Costa Rican woman with the foresight and wherewithal to create specialized coffee and convince men who were set in their ways to get on board so that the coffee would be picked up from international corporations like Starbucks, the women that we heard from all came with incredible stories of hard work and triumph.

In an effort to end the conference with as much power as was seen throughout, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield stepped up to the podium and gave the closing remarks filled with her own stories of women that she had met throughout her career and the differences that they too are making today.

To find out more about the conference and to follow the continued efforts of the Women’s Food Leadership Initiative stay active on the website. Here you can recommend women food leaders that you believe should be highlighted, and follow progress of case study development.

Also watch out for the release of video recording of the conference, which will be coming soon.

Honoring Women Food Heroes: Bahati Muriga

Monday, October 12th, 2015

by staff contributor Camry Haskins


Bahati Muriga, Tanzanian farmer and entrepreneur

On Thursday, October 8, Oxfam and the Tanzanian Embassy hosted an event honoring Bahati Muriga, the 2014 Tanzanian winner of Oxfam’s GROW campaign that gives $10,000 to one woman to make a better life for themselves and their family. Bahati Muriga was one of thousands of women who applied to this contest, and she has not let anyone down.

Since receiving her award of $10,000, Muriga has successfully purchased 7 acres of land, on which she grows cassava and sugar cane, as well as, other produce. She has also purchased her own rickshaw, and with that earns an extra $50 a week. As a widowed mother, Muriga has become empowered over her own life. She has been able to put her two sons through school, and provide for her family in a way that she never saw possible before entering Oxfam’s contest.

Through the GROW campaign, Oxfam is working with national governments and communities to help them recognize the hard work of women within their countries. By highlighting small-scale women farmers, Oxfam is shining a light on the challenges faced by these women and building respect for them throughout their communities. Bahati Muriga was able to lift herself and her family out of poverty thanks to the help of Oxfam. But it wasn’t just the money from Oxfam that has improved her situation, it was her own determination and hard work that has led to lasting success.

Sexual assault: it’s time to end the culture of victim blaming

Monday, September 21st, 2015

by staff contributor Camry Haskins


From left, Prof Barbara Miller, Prof Aisling Swaine, PhD candidate Shweta Krishnan

On Wednesday, September 16, GGP hosted a back-to-back film screening focused on issues of rape and sexual assault. The films, India’s Daughter and The Hunting Ground, both highlighted specific incidents of rape, while also discussing the societal problems surrounding sexual assault as a whole. The event ended with an open discussion of the documentaries, the issues they highlighted, and what still needs to be done. Panelists included: Barbara Miller, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Global Gender Program; Aisling Swaine, Professor of Practice in International Affairs; and Shweta Krishnan, PhD student in anthropology.

India’s Daughter is a film that came out after the 2012 rape and murder of a 23 year old medical student in Delhi. The film tells her story through interviews and news clips. The vast gender discrepancies are evident in the way that the sexual assault defense lawyers blatantly criminalize and demean the victim. Equating her choice to leave the house in the evening with a male friend to a spoiled flower left in the gutter. One of her convicted murderers in also interviewed and the nonchalant way that he describes the incident is chilling. His lack of remorse can be seen in his description of events and his belief that he is no different from many others.


Elliott students in the field

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Timor-Leste:  Youth and women’s empowerment through the arts

Monica de Pinto Ribeiro Hancke
MA Candidate, International Development Studies, Gender concentration

Monica (second from the left) with the Drama team

Monica (second from the left) with the Drama team

For most people, Timor-Leste is an un-heard-of country in the middle of a far-off sea someplace completely unimaginable in their daily lives. It only rings a bell in if you describe its turbulent history of Portuguese colonialism, brutal Indonesian occupation and its to-the-death struggle for independence. For me, it is a country and a people I have heard about since my childhood: two of my uncles were deployed there as Portuguese soldiers in the 1970s and have since shared their stories with the family at every possible opportunity. My Portuguese mother was also committed to teaching me about Portuguese history, and our “mighty empire,” as a way of connecting me to her culture, the one she aspired I would identify with too despite my third-culture upbringing. To her credit, to some extent, it worked! 


World Bank report highlights gender disparity in global laws

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

by staff contributor Lesli Davis


women-biz-law-main-promo-v2On September 9, the World Bank Group released the fourth iteration of its report, Women, Business, and the Law 2016. The report, which examines laws that impede women’s economic advancement, found that 90 percent of monitored economies have at least one law that discriminates against women, with Saudi Arabia topping the charts at 29 laws. Only 18 of the 173 countries monitored were found to be free of laws that negatively affect women.

According to Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, the report is a “quiet document,” which “presents information and you must take action.” He charged countries to put in place laws that close the gender gap, not just because it is good for economies, but because gender equality in itself is important.

Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group, noted that the team found correlations with other indicators of gender equality. For instance, in countries where there are restrictions on the type of job women can hold, the wage gap between men and women is 12 percent higher.  The report also found that women’s life expectancy is likely to be higher where they are legally protected from domestic violence. Specifically, in countries where domestic violence laws are in place, women are 15 percent more likely to live to 65 years of age.


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…)

Women, Politics, and a Way Forward

Monday, August 3rd, 2015
Homa Hoodfar, keynote speaker

Homa Hoodfar, keynote speaker

by student contributor Laura Kilbury

On July 30 at The Elliott School, women and men rose early in the morning to be a part of the Empowering Women through Political Participation & Empowering Politics through Women’s Participation conference hosted by The Global Gender Program.

The panelists who spoke at the conference were leaders in their field of academia and practice. The conference was honored to host panelists: Homa Hoodfar from the University of Concordia, Rosalyn Cooperman from the University of Mary Washington, Theresa Reidy from University College

Mona Tajali on Turkey

Mona Tajali on Turkey

Cork, Maryam Batool from Lahore College for Women University, Mona Tajali from University of Oxford, Loubna H. Skalli from American University, Gretchen Bauer from University of Delaware, Uzma Ashiq Khan from Lahore College for University Women, Katsuo Nishikawa Chaves from Trinity University, Toni Michelle C. Travis from George Mason University, Kanisha Bond from University of Maryland, Zille Zahra Naqvi from Lahore College for Women University, and Jane Henrici from George Washington University. (more…)

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.


GGP Welcomes Visitors from Pakistan

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Through funding from the U.S. State Department, six members of the Department of Gender and Development Studies at Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) in Pakistan, have come to Washington. During their six week stay, the visiting scholars will take courses at GW, see a bit of America, and make friends here.

super six

Please join us in welcoming:

Amna Saeed, MS Scholar at LCWU

Amna currently studies Gender and Development Studies. Her BS thesis was titled “Resilience, Subjective Well-Being and Happiness Among Slum Dwellers.” She presented her thesis at the international conference, The Current Challenges For Psychology: From Crisis To Solution, in March 2015.

Arshia Yasin, MS Scholar at LCWU

Arshia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Gender and Development from LCWU. Previously, she served as a school teacher and held an internship at the AGHS Legal Aid Cell. Her research interests are female subordination in domestic life and distress level of women.