Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Documentary recap: A Path Appears

Thursday, January 29th, 2015


A Path Appears: Sex Trafficking in the US

by Staff Contributor Camry Haskins

The first installment of “A Path Appears” focused on sex trafficking in the United States. It highlighted the fact that trafficking is not just a problem on the other side of the world. Trafficking is a very real problem in the United States of America. Nicholas Kristof, coauthor of the book, A Path Appears invited famous actors to spend time in different cities taking the opportunity to speak with women who have been affected by trafficking. Ashley Judd takes a moment to share her own history of incest and rape with women in a self-help group. After sharing her story, she is taken around the city she grew up in and is reintroduced to the city through a new lens.

Magdalen House is one organization highlighted in this documentary. Magdalen House is a free, two year, residential program for women who are trying to leave a life of prostitution. After housing the women and realizing how few have anything to put on their resume, an organization called Thistle Farms was created so that the women could gain work skills. Thistle Farms is staffed by the women and sends money back into the program.

An important point made was the power the community has to reduce the propensity of sex trafficking. Searching through websites such as can aid in locating girls who have potentially been coerced into prostitution. The law enforcement needs to step up their techniques in both finding missing girls and locking up their procurers. The pimps and johns need to be targeted by police, not the prostitutes. The end of the film highlighted a police operation that caught men responding to an ad for prostitution. They have apprehended hundreds of men this way. If law enforcement makes this their focus, trafficking can be reduced.

Don’t miss the second episode of A Path Appears, airing at 10pm on PBS  Monday, February 2.

Watch the first episode online until February 14.


Org Spotlight: Aisyiyah

Friday, January 16th, 2015



Aisyiyah: Women’s Movement Berkemajuan


Aisyiyah was established in 1917, making it nearly a century in operation. It is an autonomous organization of Muslim women working together throughout Indonesia, to contribute to the advancement of women in various fields of life, better education, health, economic, social welfare, legal awareness, political education, and women’s empowerment.

Aisyiyah has a history of promoting women’s empowerment. It was one of the organizations that were actively involved in creating the First Indonesian Women’s Congress in 1928. It was also one of the original initiators of the establishment of organizations federation’s Indonesian women’s organizations.

In other areas of development, Aisyiyah has founded a school to promote education, a number of hospitals to provide services to the general population as well as women and children’s care specifically, and Aisyiyah has established care facilities for a number of population groups around Indonesia. There is an orphanage, elderly home, and training facility.

Aisyiyah works to uphold Islam and the Islamic community throughout all of its work. This focus is realized in the form of charitable efforts, programs, and activities, including but not limited to:

  1. Increasing the dignity of women in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
  2. Improve education, develop culture, expand science and technology, and stimulating research.
  3. Improve the economy and entrepreneurship in the direction of improvement of quality of life.
  4. Improve and develop activities in the areas of social, welfare, health, and the environment.
  5. Improve and pursue law enforcement, justice and truth, and foster a spirit of unity and national unity.

Org Spotlight: WRDA

Friday, January 9th, 2015

The Women’s Resource and Development Agency


The Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA) supports Women’s Groups and Networks within Northern Ireland. WRDA works from a feminist perspective in order to progress toward a fair and equal society where women are empowered within their own lives and with the influence to affect change in all areas of life.

WRDA is a regional organization working to advance women’s participation in society in order for women to achieve social, economic, political, and cultural progress. They partner with 20 other organizations and have the support of nine funders both within and outside of Northern Ireland.

Through their partnerships and funding WRDA is able to provide over 3000 training locations that have so far reached over 6000 participants. WRDA also uses their influence to campaign and lobby on issues affecting women. Through their work WRDA pushes policy makers to acknowledge the problems that women continue to face.

Most recently WRDA has helped to put together a factsheet on DOJ abortion consultation.

Kudos to Naomi Cahn

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

The Global Gender Program is very happy to congratulate one of GW’s own. George Washington University Law Professor, Naomi Cahn, has graced not one, but two best book lists this year. Her book,  Marriage Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family, is one of twenty books chosen for the Newsweek Staff Picks of 2014, and is on the list for the Economist’s Books of the Year! Cahn coauthored with June Carbone.


Interactive Map: Org Spotlights

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

As you, our readers know, every week the Global Gender Update includes a spotlight on an organization that focuses on gender issues around the world. We believe that it is important to highlight the hard work that people are doing in the United States and abroad to alleviate gender discrepancies. Each spotlight links to a longer blog post on our blog page, global.gender.current. The blog then contains a hyperlink to the organization’s website so that any interested parties have the opportunity to educate themselves further, and maybe even get involved. We try our best to represent as many countries as possible. Evidence of this work can be found by going to the Org Spotlight Archive and checking out our interactive map. As different organizations are spotlighted in the newsletter, there location is added to the map.

Event Recap: Designing Global Measures for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Monday, November 17th, 2014

By student contributor Laura Kilburylinda scott

Many benefits are expected to ensue from programs for women. Professor Linda Scott from the University of Oxford addressed the challenges she has observed in trying to design programs and measurements for women’s empowerment at the “Designing Global Measures for Women’s Economic Empowerment” hosted by The World Bank Group Gender Team and SME Finance Forum. Professor Scott has been involved in many impressive efforts to create and evaluate support systems for female entrepreneurs. These experiences have given her a distinguished perspective on the state of affairs in women’s entrepreneurship support.

In her discussion, Professor Scott discussed the challenges of measuring the actual results of programs focused on women’s empowerment. For Scott, thinking critically about women’s entrepreneurship in developing and developed countries holds positive implications for family wellbeing, community viability, and national prosperity. Facilitating women’s entrepreneurship is a tactic for economic development as it produces a “ripple effect” that manifests in a greater trajectory than just focusing on men’s incomes. Scott supports this statement by pointing out that in the community, women invest their earnings in children and the community itself, which then produces a greater and more significant change. Scott also focused on private sector efforts, which includes her work building the measurement system for Walmart’s Empowering Women Together program.

Walmart’s Empowering Women Together holds the intention to assist women entrepreneurs at an early stage in their career development by facilitating a point of entry and access to a broader base of consumers, which is the “Walmart shopper.” The program is still small, in terms of the number of entrepreneurs it is connection and engagement with, but it is working within thirteen countries on four continents, so it has upward mobility potential thus far. These small companies constructed by women entrepreneurs involve a wide range of industries and products, such as jewelry and fashion. Many of the companies are social enterprises that are organized to benefit at-risk employee populations, such as refugees and recovering drug addicts. All these aspects make the system unique as Professor Scott highlights that no one else has attempted to capture the design measures that will work to assess impact and diagnose problems for women-owned businesses in any industry, any place, for any group of women.

Professor Scott’s discussion focused on the need for more attention to be focused upon the restrictions attributable to gender in the planning, management, and evaluation of interventions and particularly the need to recognize national differences in the constraints on women. She touched on the tendency of those who pursue this agenda,  to treat women’s entrepreneurship as if it were any regular business venture without taking the time to properly consider the concrete limits that gender norms put on women’s ability to build an enterprise. As Scott pointed out, anyone that wants to make a difference in empowering women must learn to look through a “gender lens”. The primary limits she highlighted were: biased financial systems, restrictive property rights, limits on mobility, and, most significant, the threat of violence.

Addressing gender equality and gender-based crimes at the International Criminal Court

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Guest post by GW professor Aisling Swaine

The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court in The Hague,  has released for consultation its new Draft Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender Based Crimes (Draft Policy Paper).

The Draft Policy Paper is a welcome initiative from the OTP.  It provides a platform from which the OTP can contribute to furthering the application of International Criminal Law in ways that are both sensitive and responsive to a gendered understanding of international crimes.

The International Criminal Court. Source: The Telegraph

The International Criminal Court. Source: The Telegraph

If tailored to the needs of males, females, transgendered and inter-sex individuals of variant ages and intersectional characteristics, the full implementation of the Draft Policy Paper has the potential to ensure that a safe and holistic approach is taken to the prosecution of these crimes.

Dr. Catherine O’Rourke (Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster), Professor Fionnuala ní Aoláin (Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster and School of Law, Minnesota University) and I wrote  a response to the draft policy.

In our submission to the OTP, we highlighted the following:

  • The Draft Policy Paper appears to take an ‘integrationist’ approach to addressing gender in its work.  Our paper highlights that the integrationist approach does little to address the gendered assumptions and relations that inform why and how variant gendered identities may require specific tailored approaches.  We recommend that the Draft Policy Paper adopts Gender Mainstreaming as its approach.  As per UN Policy (ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions, 1997/2), Gender Mainstreaming, when fully implemented enables a transformative approach.  In the case of the OTP, this would mean that investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes would be based on an approach that uses gender analysis to address exclusions and the particularities of stigma, as well as the experiences of sexual violence on the basis of gender norms, which all  would be into taken account in ways that transform inequalities.
  • (more…)

Event report: Urbanization, conflict, and gender

Friday, February 28th, 2014

By student contributor Andrew Elliott

Urbanization and Insecurity: Crowding, Conflict, and Gender event. Source: Andrew Elliott.

Crowding, Conflict, and Gender event. Source: Andrew Elliott.

On February 18, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies in Washington, D.C., held a panel event titled Urbanization and Insecurity: Crowding, Conflict, and Gender.

In a world where global urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented rate, modern cities are challenged by several consequences. One of these challenges has only recently began to be brought into the spotlight: the issue of gender based violence created by contemporary urbanization.

Three panelists discussed their research and the problems that connect the concepts of urban livelihood and gender based violence. All three panelists agreed with the centrical idea that up until recently there has been an ‘invisibility of gender based violence in cities.’ Their research takes this abstract concept of invisibility and exposes the inequalities exacerbated by the urban scene in the developing world.

Dr. Alfred O. Omenya. Source: University of Nairobi.

Alfred Omenya/University of Nairobi.

Alfred Omenya, a principal researcher at Eco-Build Africa, is also a professor and head of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the Technical University of Kenya. He conducted a study comparing gender based violence in four urban centers in the developing world; these being: Nairobi, Patna (India), Dili (East Timor), and Santiago (Chile). His study took an interesting turn of events as he originally sought to utilize Santiago as a counterexample proving that gender based violence was mostly found in lower income communities.

However, he found that even among those with a higher socio-economic status, gender-based violence was taking place at a frightening level. His findings suggested that when dividing everyday life events into occurring either in the public realm or private life, people only pay attention to what happens in the public realm. Omenya suggested that men feel like they have “ownership” over the violence that goes on in their property. Omenya cites three principal causes for why gender based violence has been invisible for so long: firstly that politically, women are excluded from roles of power in many developing nations, secondly, the high poverty rates amongst a majority of the population, and lastly, that for a long time there has been an inadequate consideration of what gender based violence really is, and up until recently most violence has been classified as being normal.


Org Spotlight: Commission for Gender Equality

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Commission for Gender Equality

CGE logo

The Commission for Gender Equality is an independent institution created  by the Constitution of South Africa.  The purpose of the Commission is to advance, promote, and protect gender equality in South Africa through undertaking research, public education, policy development, legislative initiatives, effective monitoring and litigation. The goals of the Commission are to demystify gender oppression, revise  gender relations, and  promote the substantive improvement in the quality and life experiences of the disadvantaged gender in society. Based in South Africa, the Commission’s vision is to establish a society free from gender oppression and all forms of inequality.

Gender and Disaster: Where Are the Anthropologists?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

By guest contributor Judy Mason

Anthropologists study disasters, but unlike scholars from other disciplines, they do not seem to study gender [1] issues which arise during disasters. Some themes which anthropologists have addressed are those related to aid and relief and those related to memorials to victims of disasters. In this bibliographic essay I will examine the fact there is extensive research from other disciplines which considers issues of gender and how they affect disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and argue that anthropologists could make valuable contributions to this body of literature.

Anthropologists and Disaster

Anthropologists have extensively studied memorials and artifacts of memory. One article discussed the role of retrieving and restoring photographs after a disaster in Japan (Nakamura, 2012); these photographs were used as a way to both remember the victims and to celebrate the strength of the survivors. Another discussed and compared memorials to victims and survivors of earthquakes and tsunamis in Gujarat, India, and Sri Lanka (Simpson and De Alwis, 2008).

Aid agencies and relief efforts are also a popular topic for anthropologists. Some researchers have studied the cultural sensitivity of aid workers; some have examined the motives of aid agencies and the fact that competition can arise among them because of the need to be seen to be doing good in order to attract donations (Fisker-Nielsen, 2012; Nygaard-Christensen, 2011; Stirrat, 2006), as well as the role of publicity in generating donations (Beatty, 2005; Samuels, 2013). One author discussed the different goals of scientific researchers during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, contrasting the work of university researchers interested in furthering their knowledge with that of government scientists concerned with mitigating the effects of the spill (Bond, 2013).

Stirrat was one of the few anthropologists whose article discussed (briefly) the effects of gender in a post-disaster situation. In an article devoted mainly to competition between aid agencies, he noted that men were apparently more able to escape the tsunami than were women and children so that more women and children died. This led to the unusual situation where aid workers had to deal with single parent families in which the parent was a male; they were more used to working with families headed by a single woman (2006:12). Another group of researchers which included one anthropologist (Balgos et al., 2012) conducted research into the situation of warias in Indonesia after a volcanic eruption, showing an awareness of gender identities other than male and female. They argued that the warias are a marginalized group whose needs should be considered, but that warias are also able to contribute to relief efforts. Dovil (2013) analyzed data obtained immediately after Hurricane Katrina pertaining to the role of gender in disaster preparedness and response and found that gender is generally not a significant predictor of response to disaster warnings.

Gender and Disaster – Studies from Other Disciplines

Sociologists and other social scientists have extensively studied gender as it relates to disaster response and recovery. A number of studies have found that not enough attention is given to gender in relation to disasters (Benelli et al., 2012; Hazeleger 2013) and have discussed how this could be rectified. Other researchers have examined the effects of gender disparities in relation to particular disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis in various parts of the world (Juran, 2012; Saito, 2012). Dhungel and Ojha (2012) gave an overview of a specific program of Oxfam in Nepal which aims to empower women to take an active role in disaster preparedness and response.

A number of researchers have studied relief and aid organizations and how they relate to the people among whom they are working (Carpenter 2003; De La Puente 2011; Grabska 2011; Henrici 2010; Scharffscher 2011). These researchers tend to agree that aid organizations are beginning to recognize that gender is a salient feature in disaster response and preparedness, but that they do not always get it right in the field for various reasons including lack of understanding of cultural mores or not being fluent in the local language/s.

Gender and Hurricane Katrina

Research on gender in relation to Hurricane Katrina reveals many aspects of the effects of gender on disaster response and recovery. Enarson (2012), focusing on women, examined the various ways gender affects disaster preparedness and recovery. She also details many ways in which women can be empowered and are already working to help themselves become more resilient. Other researchers homed in on particular issues of gender which surfaced during and after Katrina. Some found that some stereotypically gendered behavior can be carried to extremes in reaction to a disaster and that relief workers should take gender differences into account (Harris, 2011; Macomber et al., 2011). These researchers included gender-based violence during and after Hurricane Katrina in their research, finding that there was an increase in such violence in the aftermath of this disaster. Others examined what happened to pregnant and lactating women during and after Katrina, because both of these processes can be severely affected by a natural disaster (Harville et al., 2009).

Another field of research was related to gendered humor expressed on souvenir t-shirts after Hurricane Katrina (Macomber et al., 2011). It was the authors’ contention that sexist and sexualized humor against women was used as a way to reassert masculine power in the face of a “female” hurricane which forcibly snatched that power away. The writers found that humor based on Hurricane Andrew was a lot less vitriolic, possibly because this hurricane had been gendered male by its name. One researcher who could have addressed gender in his study was Beaudoin (2011), whose paper on addictive behaviors among African Americans after Hurricane Katrina omitted any distinctions between men and women.

The role of gender in disaster survival and recovery is a potentially rich seam of inquiry which appears to have been neglected by anthropologists. Researchers of various disciplines have studied the relationship of gender to disaster survival and recovery, and the literature I have discussed relating to Hurricane Katrina exemplifies this. However, studies by anthropologists in this area seem not to have been done. From the literature I have reviewed, it is apparent that many if not most cultures have concepts of gender differences, and anthropologists could fruitfully follow this line of questioning in order to contribute to public policies related to disaster preparedness and response. (more…)