Article of Note

April 9th, 2015

‘My Body is Mine’: Qualitatively Exploring Agency among Internally Displaced Women Participants in a Small-group Intervention in Leogane, Haiti.

By Carmen H. Logie and Carol Ann DanielRGPH

The 2010 earthquake resulted in the breakdown of Haiti’s social, economic and health infrastructure. Over one-quarter of a million people remain internally displaced (ID). ID women experience heightened vulnerability to intimate partner violence (IPV) due to increased poverty and reduced community networks. Scant research has examined experiences of IPV among ID women in post-earthquake Haiti. We conducted a qualitative study to explore the impact of participating in Famn an Aksyon Pou Santé Yo (FASY), a small-group HIV prevention intervention, on ID women’s agency in Leogane, Haiti. We conducted four focus groups with ID women, FASY participants (n = 40) and in-depth individual interviews with peer health workers (n = 7). Our study was guided by critical ethnography and paid particular attention to power relations. Findings highlighted multiple forms of IPV (e.g., physical, sexual). Participants discussed processes of intrapersonal (confidence), interpersonal (communication), relational (support) and collective (women’s rights) agency. Yet structural factors, including patriarchal gender norms and poverty, silenced IPV discussions and constrained women’s agency. Findings suggest that agency among ID women is a multi-level, non-linear and incremental process. To effectively address IPV among ID women in Haiti, interventions should address structural contexts of gender inequity and poverty and concurrently facilitate multi-level processes of agency.

Global Public Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, April 2015. [not open access]
DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2015.1027249

Women’s Leadership in Pakistan: Beyond Stereotypes and Myths

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Women, Peace, Security, and Development Bibliography Update

April 8th, 2015

In April, the Global Gender Program’s Women, Peace, Security, and Development Bibliography is adding new sources. Since our last update in December, the number of entries has increased by approximately 400 entries, which has brought us to nearly 3,200 sources. Many of the new sources are on women in Afghanistan, particularly the impacts of gender policies on women and girls in Kabul, the tribes of Pashtun, and other rural areas of Afghanistan.

Examples include:

“Evaluating Female Engagement Team Effectiveness in Afghanistan”

“Implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 ‘Women, Peace and Security’ in Afghanistan”

“Afghan Women and the United States’ Policy in Afghanistan”

We continue to improve the database by allowing researchers to find or search for sources more efficiently.
Please suggest additional sources by sending an email to:

Women’s Leadership Conference

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.

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Call for Volunteers- Emerging Humanitarian Frontiers Conference

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

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

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: Aware Girls

April 2nd, 2015

Aware Girls

awaregirlsAware Girls is young women led Organization that is working for women empowerment, gender equality, and peace in Pakistan. Their goal is to strengthen the leadership capacity of young women enabling them to act as agents of social change and women empowerment in their communities.

The Ultimate vision ofAware Girls is a world where women rights are equally respected, have control over their own lives and have equal access to Education, Employment, Governance, Justice, Legal Support, Financial Resources, Recreation, Health specifically Sexual and Reproductive Health and Social Services.The mission of Aware Girls is to empower young women, advocate for equal rights of young women, and to strengthen their capacity enabling them to act as agents of women empowerment and Social Change.

The founder of Aware Girls- Gulalai Ismail was just 16 years old when she first generated the idea of how to empower girls as “Agents of Change”. She is the winner of the various honors and fellowships and has been recognized by Foreign Policy Magazine as a top 100 Leading global Thinkers of 2013.

Upcoming workshop in Australia

April 1st, 2015

Workshop with Dr Kiran Martin, Founder of Asha: Women Innovating in Delhi’s Slums

When: Tuesday, April 7, 11:00 am- 1:00 pmindia
Who: ANU Gender Institute
Where: #130, Cnr Garran Rd and Liversidge St. Canberra Australia
Hedley Bull Theatre 2, ANU

The ANU Gender Institute presents Dr Kiran Martin, Founder and Director of Asha (“hope” in Hindi). Asha is a Delhi-based NGO that works in partnership with women in slum communities to improve living conditions and access healthcare, education and financial services. A blueprint for India’s national programs, Asha transforms lives in Delhi’s slums by turning women into leaders. Asha’s model has been acclaimed by the UN and Dr Martin has received the Padma Shri, India’s highest civilian award.

Article of Note

March 30th, 2015

‘My Grandfather Broke All Traditional Norms by Sending Both His Daughters to School’: Lessons from ‘Inspirational’ Women in Nepal

by Sara Parker, Kay Standing, and B.K. Shrestha
Gender Development
This article focuses on the key lessons learnt from interviewing 33 women in Nepal. It examines the importance of the support of parents and the extended family in enabling girls to both enter, and proceed, in education at all levels. It also highlights the work of Global Action Nepal in promoting gender and child-friendly schools. The findings discussed here highlight the need for inter-generational and family support, both mother and fathers as well as wider family member, in promoting girls’ access to education. Further, the support of mother and father-in-laws is also integral to their ability to progress through the education system to realise their full potential.

Gender and Development 22(1):91-108, 2014. [not open access]

DOI: 10.1080/13552074.2014.889272