Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Article of Note

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

Beyond Strategic Rape and Between the Public and Private: Violence Against Women in Armed Conflict

by Aisling Swaine

Human_rights_quarterlyThis study gets to the heart of examining what counts as conflict-related gender violence under international law. Using empirical research from Liberia, Northern Ireland and Timor-Leste, the study specifically explores and explains variance beyond strategic sexualized violence employed in some conflicts, to analyze the ways that private individualistic violence is influenced by conflict across the three case studies. Proposing a set of variables as possible determinants of wide-ranging forms of violence, the study proposes that on a continuum of “political public violence” to “endemic private violence,” there are forms of violence that may sit somewhere “in-between.” The analysis queries where this “in-between”’ violence should fit in the thresholds provided by law and what consideration should be given to the political and private violence nexus that the research demonstrates.

Human Rights Quarterly. Volume 37, Number 3, August 2015 
pp. 755-786  [not open access]


Kudos to Aisling Swaine

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015


Aisling Swaine, Professor at the George Washington University, and affiliate to the Global Gender Program recently had three works published. Professor Swaine has done tremendous work within the field of gender, conflict, and security; while also remaining a devoted professor to her students.

Her most recent works include:

Beyond Strategic Rape and Between the Public and Private: Violence Against Women in Armed Conflict, a study published in the Human Rights Quarterly

Guidebook on CEDAW general recommendation no. 30 and the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security, published by UN Women 

Not Just A Handout; Moving Below and Beyond International Humanitarian Response, a policy brief utilized by the World Humanitarian Summit 


Article of Note

Monday, April 20th, 2015

‘A Lot of Headwraps’: Innovations in a Second Wave of Electoral Gender Quotas in Sub-Saharan Africa

by Gretchen Bauer

Over the last more than two decades, political parties and governments across sub-Saharan Africa have adopted electoral gender quotas for parliament at an astonishing rate – and with remarkable success as many sub-Saharan African countries have catapulted to the top in terms of women’s representation in a single or lower house of parliament. During a first wave in East and Southern Africa, quotas were adopted in the aftermath of conflicts and in the course of political transitions as mobilized national women’s movements, influenced by an international women’s movement and international norms, took advantage of political openings to press for the adoption of quotas through new constitutions or new electoral laws. In some cases a clear diffusion effect was at play between political movements that closely influenced one another. During a second wave mostly, though not only, in West Africa, quotas are again being adopted as women’s movements, in collaboration with regional, continental and international organizations, similarly press for an increased representation of women during constitutional reform processes or through revisions to electoral laws. During this second wave, creative quota designs have emerged as parties and governments have sought to strengthen existing electoral gender quotas or adopt them for the first time. This paper examines some innovations in quota design and quota use in three sub-Saharan African cases that are part of the second wave, including the move to gender parity and the possibility of an only ‘temporary’ special measure.

Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2014/92. [open access]


Call for Volunteers- Emerging Humanitarian Frontiers Conference

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015


The George Washington University’s Institute for Global and International Studies and the American Red Cross are partnering to host a two-day event addressing the emerging frontiers of humanitarian action. The conference will address themes including serving marginalized populations, utilizing cutting-edge technologies in emergencies, and integrating local voices in global responses.

When: June 1-2, 2015

Where: American Red Cross National Headquarters and the Elliott School of International Affairs, Washington, DC 20006

What: We are looking for note-takers, tweeters, and general volunteers to assist with one or both days of the conference. Note-takers will be responsible for taking detailed notes of panels and working groups, Tweeters will be responsible for regularly updating social media, and general volunteers will assist with miscellaneous tasks. This is a non-paid volunteer opportunity.

Volunteers are guaranteed admission to the conference, including catered meals.

If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, please contact Hannah Stambaugh at




Exploring an Expanded Spectrum of Conflict –Time Violence Against Women

Monday, April 6th, 2015

by student contributor Laura Kilbury


On Tuesday, March 31, George Washington University Professor, Aisling Swaine, presented on her research to a room of thirty people gathered together by the Global Women’s Institute. The research presented on comes from a paper that will be released in August by the Human Rights Quarterly.

Dr. Aisling Swaine’s research began as an academic and passionate pursuit to figure out why violence against women was occurring.

In 2006, Swaine was in Darfur working with an International Organization delivering first response to sexually based past violence. There was an emphasis on the intimate partner violence as well as rape.

What was happening in this environment became the genesis for Swaine’s research on Violence Against Women. In these camps, there was outrage provoked when outside violence was emerged into the community by outside militia, but when violence towards women was acted out by someone of their own community then there was silence. This was a conundrum. What did this mean?

After her time working, she went for a PhD to search for this answer. In her research, she worked with Feminist Legal Theory and International Law to narrow it down. She realized that other harms were missing. Questions like, why was strategic rape the only one that is mentioned? What is the violence conducted for personal and private means? What actually counts as a conflict debate? What is and what is not Human Rights violence?

These questions led to a three year investigation of research being conducted. She used the case studies of Northern Irealnd, Liberia, and Timor Leste. And Primary and Secondary Sources. She particularly emphasized her usage of the work of Elizabeth Wood.

aislingThrough her research she began to focus more on the factor of opportunity. In the case of Northern Ireland, Swaine found it interesting that the national state actors were acting out against their own. What did this mean? Wood had already highlighted causal factors of sexual violence as instrumental as well as the differing implementations of sanctions against sexual violence. Swaine used these finding but added three of her own: impunity; reporting and naming; and availability of resources. These she recognized as variations to forms of violence themselves, which become visible under forms that take place.

Northern Ireland showed that acts of violence by paramilitary were occurring within their own community. What was fascinating was that in Northern Ireland refuge workers were telling women not to tell them because they didn’t want to have to report that violence.

Timor Leste was very similar. Liberia showed extraneous violence was part of rape, and at times included forced cannibalism, which made the warriors feel more powerful. Charles Taylor boasted that eating the hearts of warriors resulted in gaining their strength.

Aisling’s discussion ended with the question of: why does it matter whether violence is counted as conflict related? UNSCR resolutions list only strategic violence as a tactic of war, but what about political violence? Or private violence? According to Aisling this creates a hierarchy of harms.

Swaine asked the group, how do we create a space for women to talk about their harms and to have it addressed in the way it should be? This question still needs to be answered, and soon according to Swaine as there is something about this hierarchy of harms that she sees as worrying.

Look for Aisling Swaine’s paper in the Human Rights Quarterly, coming out in August.

Article of Note

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Western Donor Assistance and Gender Empowerment in the Palestinian Territories and Beyond

by Manal A. Jamal
article_noteSince the end of the Cold War, the quest to spread democracy has become the rallying call of many Western donor agencies. Reflecting this new agenda, new program priorities prevailed that placed greater emphasis on civil society development, civic engagement and gender empowerment. Contrary to expectations, however, many of these programs have often adversely affected existing social movements. Most scholars attempting to explain these unintended outcomes have focused on the impact of NGO professionalization. Examining the Palestinian women’s movement, this article addresses the inadequacy of this explanation and focuses on the political dimension of this discussion by illustrating how Western donors’ lack of understanding of the Palestinian women’s movement and its “embeddedness” in the broader political context served to weaken and undermine this movement. The influx of Western donor assistance in the post-Madrid, post-Oslo era, along with the greater emphasis on Western promoted gender empowerment, undermined the cohesiveness of the women’s movement by exacerbating existing political polarization (that went beyond Islamist and secular divisions) and disempowering many grassroots activists. Effectively, many of these activists were transformed from active political participants involved in their organizations to the recipients of skills and services in need of awareness raising. Findings in this article also speak to current regional developments, especially in light of the current Arab uprisings and the promise of greater Western involvement to empower women in the region.

International Feminist Journal of Politics 17(2):232-252. [temporary open access]

Org Spotlight: Camfed

Friday, March 27th, 2015


The Campaign for Female Education

Camfed, The Campaign for Female Education, is an international non-profit organization that works to encourage and support education for girls with the ultimate vision of alleviating poverty socio-economic inequalities. The organization was initially established in 1991 when Ann Cotton traveled to Zimbabwe to learn more about the rural schooling practices and enrolment in the area. She discovered that the primary reason for why enrolment rates were so low was because of the overarching theme of poverty. Poverty prevents families from being able to pay for their children’s fees that are associated with school. Families were facing a choice between sending their boys or girls to schools, which typically results in the families choosing their sons because they have a higher chance of earning a higher paying job in the future. So, Cotton began a small grassroots campaign in Cambridge, England, which then evolved into Camfed in 1993.

Camfed supports and endorses the idea that all children should have equal access to education and quality of life. The reasoning behind supporting specifically girls is because as Cotton noted in her travels to Zimbabwe, girls face greater disadvantages such as, early marriage, early pregnancy and HIV and AIDS which poise as obstacles. As an organization oriented on activism, Camfed have developed programs that work to confront and transform the system that continually fails girls.

The organization has focusing on empowering girls and women through the channel of education in poor rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where the girls face dire hindrances towards their future due to the complications of wealth disparity. Camfed is transforming these communities by ultimately reinforcing the girls’ educational access. The model produced by Camfed has spread to more than 3.428 communities in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have directly supported over 1,202,000 students to attend primary and secondary school, and over 3 million children have benefited from an improved learning environment.

Org Spotlight: National Council of Women’s Organizations

Friday, March 13th, 2015

National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO)


The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) is an umbrella organization for over 200 groups that together represent over 12 million women across the United States of America. It is a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition that is the only one of its kind.

NCWO grew out of an informal group of women’s organizational leaders after the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1983. Capitalizing on the energy and inspiration following the 1995 Beijing Conference, NCWO has taken an active and powerful role in the policy arena, uniting women’s groups across the country to work together to advance a progressive women’s agenda.

Together, NCWO’s over 200 organizations collaborate to create policy, lead grassroots activism, and address issues that affect women and their families. Topics addressed by this organization include: education, older women, economic equity, corporate accountability, reproductive freedom, and global progress for women’s equality, among others.

The National Council of Women’s Organizations is the leading coalition that makes fighting for women’s rights more effective by working together.

DC Event Spotlight: What Works? Promoting Gender Equality and the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in Military Operations

Monday, March 2nd, 2015


by student contributor Hannah Stambaugh

2015 is the fifteen-year anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. UNSCR 1325 calls for the inclusion of a gender perspective in all levels of UN peace and security efforts and asserts the critical role of women in peace processes. On February 25th, the Global Gender Program celebrated International Women’s Day with a panel discussion on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in military operations. The event was part of the GGP’s Global Gender Forum series and was co-sponsored by Women in International Security.

Aisling Swaine, Associate Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the Elliott School, opened the event with an overview of resolution 1325. Though the resolution has been in place for fifteen years, there is still a lot of work to do in terms of implementation. Challenges in implementation are particularly pronounced within military institutions. Currently, only 3% of UN military missions are women, and most of these women are deployed as support staff. This figure has not changed in the past three years. The panel provided a unique comparative lens on the implementation of UNSCR 1325. Panelists hailed from three different countries – the United States, Ireland, and Sweden- and described prospects and challenges for the implementation of 1325 in their respective countries’ armed forces. Panelists also discussed the overarching roles of NATO and the United Nations in implementation of the resolution.


Org Spotlight: Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence

Friday, February 20th, 2015

The Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence 


The Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence is an umbrella nonprofit organization representing Tribal Coalitions working to end sexual and domestic violence against Native people.  ATCEV was formed by Tribal Coalition leaders to deliver a unified voice against violence. Together, the Alliance seeks to strengthen ties and to share knowledge and resources between member coalitions. ATCEV supports and strengthens coalitions through sharing resources including policies, training curricula, outreach strategies and nonprofit development and sustainability. Collectively, ATCEV’s Coalition leaders have over 150 years of experience in victim services and Tribal nonprofit management.

The Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence currently consists of eighteen member coalitions across the country. These coalitions are: