GW event: Stopping Violence Against Women

March 19th, 2014

brysk_alisonStopping Violence Against Women: Women’s Rights as Human Rights

When: April 17 | 11am-12pm
Who: Global Gender Program
Where: Elliott School of International Affairs
Lindner Family Commons, Room 602
1957 E St NW Washington, DC 20052

Alison Brysk, Fellow, Global Women’s Leadership Initiative, Wilson Center and Mellichamp Chair in Global Governance, Professor, University of California Santa Barbara

Violence against women kills and maims more people than any war, and is estimated to affect one out of three women worldwide–yet it has only recently been recognized as a human rights problem. What can the framework adopted since the 1993 Vienna Conference, “women’s rights are human rights,” teach us about how to mobilize to stop violence against women? A generation of research on the politics of human rights campaigns suggest the importance of transnational action, framing, information politics, and the specific challenges of “private wrongs” committed by non-state actors. This talk will survey a global panorama of campaigns, with a focus on sexual violence in India.

RSVP here.

GW event: Girls’ Education and School-related Gender-based Violence

March 18th, 2014

Rescheduled Panel Discussion

Who: FHI 360 and the Global Gender Program
When: Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 5:00-7:00 pm
Light reception to begin at 4:30 and continue after panel
Where: Room 602, Lindner Family Commons, 1957 E Street NW
Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Washington, DC 20052
To RSVP: click here

To celebrate International Women’s Day FHI 360 and the Global Gender Program present a panel discussion: Girls’ Education and School-related Gender -based Violence.

Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children experience violence every year, many within and around the school community. School-related gender based violence (SRGBV) is a global phenomenon that is a barrier to girls’ and boys’ educational achievements, is correlated with lower academic achievement, higher economic insecurity, and greater long-term health risks. SRGBV is related to other forms of violence in the community, particularly for girls, and reinforces harmful gender norms.

What is the development community doing to address SRGBV and its impact on girls’ education worldwide? This interactive panel discussion will examine the connections between SRGBV and girls’ access to, retention in, and completion of school. Panelists will explore challenges to preventing SRGBV, approaches for changing norms, opportunities for empowering girls, and will offer solutions for fostering safe learning environments to improve educational outcomes for girls and boys alike.
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GW event: Re-thinking Gender in Peacebuilding

March 18th, 2014

When: April 1 | 1-2pm
Who: Global Gender Program
Where: Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E St NW
Suite 501 Conference Room

In this seminar, Henri Myrttinen will present ”Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding”, which is based on a 3 year research project in Burundi, Colombia, Nepal and Uganda with the thematic focal areas of access to justice, economic recovery, inter-generational conflict and continuums of violence. It explores how the gender, peace and security agenda could better engage with men and boys, as well as sexual and gender minorities, while remaining engaged with improving the lives of women and girls. As a part of this, the project is also looking at how to meaningfully work with a more nuanced approach to gender, i.e. how age, social class, marital status, urban/rural setting, etc. inter-act with gender identities.

Henri Myrttinen is a senior research officer on gender in peacebuilding at International Alert, London. He has been working and publishing on issues of gender, peace and security with a special focus on masculinities and violence for the past decade and holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. His thesis examined masculinities and violence in the context of East Timorese militias, gangs and martial arts groups.

RSVP here

Call for papers: Conference on Gender, Empowerment and Conflict in South Asia

March 17th, 2014

From Peace Research Institute of Oslo

The Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (MCRG) and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) are jointly organizing the International Conference on ”Gender, Empowerment and Conflict in South Asia“. This is the final conference for a collaborative project entitled Making Women Count for Peace: Gender, Empowerment and Conflict in South Asia. Funded by the Research Council of Norway’s INDNOR and NORGLOBAL programs, the project aims to generate new knowledge and debate on women’s empowerment and the challenges facing implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Nepal and India. With a focus on Northeast Indian experiences and a comparative look at Nepal, the project addresses the role of women in local governance and politics, particularly within the context of peace and security processes.

Papers are invited on any of the following sub-themes:

  • Women as activists and agents of peace and change;
  • Women as actors in institutionalized politics and governance in conflict zones;
  • Gender, women’s empowerment, and society in times of conflict.

The best papers presented at the conference will be included in an edited volume with the aim of contributing new insights to the debate on gender and political change in conflict-ridden societies. The volume would endeavor to generate awareness about the empowerment of women in peacebuilding efforts and their roles as political activists, members of social movements, politicians or writers. It will also include findings from our research project entitled Making Women Count for Peace: Gender, Empowerment and Conflict in South Asia, which examines the changing role of women in local governance, politics and peacebuilding in Northeast India and Nepal.

Those who are interested in presenting a paper are requested to send an abstract of maximum 500 words by 1 May 2014. Acceptance of abstracts will be notified by 1 June 2014. Full papers of the selected abstracts have to be submitted by 1 September 2014. The abstracts and papers have to be sent to Åshild Kolås (, Paula Banerjee ( and Debarati Bagchi ( All presenters are expected to register online by 1 September 2014. Registration is free of charge. Travel and hospitality will be offered to a limited number of participants. For further queries, please email Debarati Bagchi (

In all matters of shortlisting and selection, the decision of the Conference Organising Committee will be final.

Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group

GC-45, First Floor, Sector-III
Salt Lake City, Kolkata-700 106, West Bengal, India
Phone: +91-33-23370408, Fax: +91-33-23371523

Org Spotlight: Women’s UN Report Network

March 17th, 2014

Women’s UN Report Network


The Women’s UN Report Program & Network (WUNRN) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting human rights and empowering women and girls all over the world. WUNRN is tasked with implementing the conclusions and recommendations of the “United Nations Study on Freedom of Religion of Belief and the Status of Women from the Viewpoint of Religion and Traditions” (E/CN.4/2002/73/Add.2), a study that represents a comprehensive UN approach to combat intolerance and discrimination against women based on their religion or traditions. WUNRN, together with The Tandem Project, established a coalition in 2003 to build on the Juridical and Factual Aspects of this study by conducting research, and developing plans of action and practical projects. In addition, the WUNRN website is a worldwide information center and forum. It acts as a catalyst to encourage women’s NGOs, other organizations and programs to exchange information on this topic.

Women’s empowerment: Perspectives from near and far

March 11th, 2014

Guest post by doctoral student Brian Keilson

A second international videoconference was held on February 19, as part of the on-going partnership between the Global Gender Program at the George Washington University and the Gender and Development Studies Department at Lahore College for Women’s University. In Washington, DC, participants face an early morning, beginning at 8am, while, in Lahore, the get-together means a late evening with the event starting 10 hours later.

IMG_2867[1] (1)

Discussion between GW and LCWU students, staff, and faculty at the February 19 videoconference.

Each side was pleased to welcome a special guest. At GW, in attendance was Elliott School alumna, Ms. Arifa Khalid Parvez, a member of the Pakistani National Assembly (equivalent to a U.S. Senator). At LCWU, we were honored by the presence of Vice Chancellor, Sabiha Mansoor.

The one-hour meeting began with presentations from faculty and students at LCWU addressing aspects of women’s empowerment in Pakistan,

Key points from the four presenters were:

  • although higher education policies in Pakistan have promoted equal opportunity, there is still a significant gap between female graduates and employment, due to less opportunity because of religious or cultural biases toward different occupations.
  • for many females, teaching is the culturally preferred occupation.
  • however, there are females in every industry from politics to IT, to the army, judicial system and even taxi drivers.
  • Pakistani women have attained success in many areas, including:
    • Samira Baig- 1st Pakistani women and only 3rd Pakistani and youngest Muslim women to ascend Mt. Everest.
    • Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy- won an Oscar Award for best documentary.
    • women are truly agents of change in Pakistan from politics to philanthropy
    • there are more women in government in Pakistan than in Sri Lanka, Iran and India
    • there is a separate government ministry for women and there are many prohibitions against discrimination including in the country’s constitution
    • these protections, however, are not enforced evenly throughout the country

After hearing from our partners at LCWU, Candice Matthews, a doctoral candidate in Human & Organizational Learning at the Graduate School of Education & Human Development discussed her dissertation research on American female social entrepreneurs’ identities as an example of qualitative research. She highlighted her methods and findings from her in-depth interviews will 11 women entrepreneurs in the U.S. This presentation generated interest from the attendees at LCWU and GW, especially, about how these women succeeded and felt empowered in their roles. Key points were: a support network and having meaningfulness in their work, while still keeping in mind that stereotypes were still present regarding women.

Open discussion at the video conference also addressed U.S. laws regarding women’s empowerment, negative stereotypes about women and how women may overcome them, training opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and in what sectors women are succeeding.  At one point, a participant from LCWU asked the GW male audience to explain the male perspective of female empowerment. This question put the author of this post on the spot – the answer was a bit complicated but in essence shared that some men might feel threatened by the concept of female empowerment, but not all do.

The conference wrapped up by discussing how to integrate women’s empowerment opportunities into education. GW’s Shaista Khilji emphasized the importance of paying attention to words such as “empowerment” and what it means in different contexts. She reminded the participants that “women’s empowerment” is a cultural construction and needs to be explored in that sense, from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and with attention to studying the different meanings of empowerment. LCWU’s Sarah Shahed provided a very positive note by saying that this conference was even better than the first one that we had in December 2013.

PictureBrian Keilson is a doctoral student and graduate research assistant in the Department of Human & Organizational Learning in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at GW.  



The activity reported in this post is funded by a grant to the Global Gender Program (GGP) from the U.S. Department of State to support a three-year partnership (2014-2016) between GGP and Lahore College Women’s University (LCWU) in Pakistan. At GW, faculty leading the project are Barbara Miller, director of the Elliott School’s Global Gender Program and professor of anthropology and international affairs, and Shaista Khilji, professor of human and organizational learning in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and faculty member of the Elliott School and the GGP. Leading the partnership at LCWU is Sarah Shahed, chair of the Department of Gender and Development Studies. The two groups will work together to share knowledge and understanding about women’s status and empowerment in both Pakistan and the U.S. Another goal is to build capacity of faculty and students at LCWU, and during the first year, the partnership will focus on the curriculum of LCWU’s M.A. degree program. Each year, GW will host video conferences and provide webinars to facilitate intellectual exchange and cross-cultural understanding of shared challenges and solutions. Faculty and student exchanges will further contribute to the goals of the partnership. Every year, several LCWU MA students will attend classes at GW in the second summer session. LCWU faculty will visit GW to offer lectures and develop collaborative research projects, and GW faculty will spend time at LCWU delivering courses.

Org Spotlight: The Foundation for Women

March 10th, 2014

The Foundation for Women230506_203481973022356_6336578_n

The Foundation for Women (FFW) is a non-profit organization based in Bangkok, Thailand. Founded in 1984, FFW works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls. FFW works for the rights of all women and girls, but particular focus is given to vulnerable populations, such as rural women, women workers, and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. Their work involves both advocacy, campaigning for laws and policies that will enhance the legal rights and economic empowerment of women and girls, and direct service, including emergency, legal, and social services for survivors of gender-based violence.

FFW’s work is led by the following principles:

  • The social position of women will be changed through the combined efforts of women and men but women will play decisive role in this transformation
  • Their work will attend to those women who are most disadvantaged and be based on equal participation and mutual learning
  • They will cooperate with governmental and non-governmental groups nationally and internationally to achieve the best results

Event in New York City: Adolescent girls — The MDGs’ missing link

March 7th, 2014

When: March 10 | 02:30pm - 04:30pm
Who: The International Center For Research on Women
Where: Hardin Room, Church Center United Nations (CCUN),
777 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY

The 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women priority theme focuses on the “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.” Drawing from recent research under this theme, ICRW and its partners will bring attention to the gaps within the MDGs that failed to adequately address the needs and rights of adolescent girls, even under the banner of MDG 3, on gender equality.

The panel discussion will reflect on progress against the only mention of girls in the MDGs; draw attention to key areas of need for the 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty today; question the dearth of progressive policymaking in this space and pose concrete recommendations for the future, post-2015 framework.

Recent advocacy tools and research will be showcased, including the Girl Declaration and companion report I Know. I Want. I Dream. Girls’ Insights for Building a Better World as well as new research on child marriage. As we anticipate the world’s next development framework, this event will underscore the importance of addressing the needs of adolescent girls, both as an affirmation of girls’ human rights and an indication of their centrality to the achievement of other development goals.


  • Shelby Quast,  Senior Policy Advisor, Equality Now
  • Nina Besser, Program Officer for U.S. Foreign Policy, International Women’s Health Coalition
  • Mazelle Etessami, 17 year-old student activist, CSW delegate and Member, Girls Learn, a project of the Feminist Majority Foundation

Opening Remarks and Moderated By: Lyric Thompson, Senior Policy Manager, International Center for Research on Women

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

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.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Org Spotlight: Aurat Foundation

March 3rd, 2014

The Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation

Founded in 1986, The Aurat Foundation of Islamabad, Pakistan is a non-profit civil society organization working for women’s empowerment and citizens’ rights. Aurat collaborates with a large network of regional and national citizen’s groups, civil society groups, citizen action committees, individual activists and more.  This collaboration facilitates information sharing, capacity building and large-scale activism in support of  women’s equality and good governance in Pakistan. Aurat is comprised of three key programs powered by information, capacity building and advocacy:

  • The Information Program for Grassroots Organization and Action by Women
  • The Program for Strengthening Citizens’ for Advocacy and Action for Women
  • The Program for Affirmative Legislation and Policies for Women

The Aurat Foundation has proven a powerful force in the advancement of gender equality and good governance in Pakistan and continues to expand its networks and influence throughout the country.