Org Spotlight: Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) Nigeria

November 9th, 2015


49AdJDBlWRAPA is an NGO dedicating to promoting women’s rights within the Nigerian legal system [customary, common, and Sharia]. Founded in 1999 by Nigeria’s former First Lady Hon. Justice F.L. Abubakar, WRAPA works to enhance women’s access to justice, to highlight the gross cultural/legal challenges faced by Nigerian women, to provide legal representation, and to advocate for legal reforms and cultural shifts in line with women’s human rights. WRAPA’s network of volunteers and members operate in all 36 Nigerian states. There are over 16,000 registered members, including men and youths, who work at group and individual levels to advance the organization’s ideals.

The organization’s activities include legal aid and counseling services, mobilization and sensitization, skills training, advocacy for legal reform at the national and international level, work around violence against women, and work around women’s political participation. WRAPA is one of the leading organizations in the campaign for ratification and domestication of CEDAW and the African Union Protocol on Women’s Rights.

WRAPA was one of seven global recipients of the 2014 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, worth U.S. $750,000. It was the only organization that was not American or Canadian.



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

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.

Org Spotlight: Women’s Learning Partnership

October 30th, 2015

The Women’s Learning Partnership is a collective of organizations committed to women’s leadership and empowerment. WLP’s network of 20 autonomous and independent partner organizations are spread throughout the global south, particularly in Muslim-majority countries. The goal of the partnership is to empower women to develop their communities, create a more peaceful world, and secure human rights. The organization’s primary objectives are to “increase the number of women taking on leadership and decision-making roles at family, community, and national levels, and to improve the effectiveness of feminist movements in Muslim-majority societies and globally” through capacity building of partner organizations. WLP seeks to inspire a cross-cultural dialogue on class, gender, generation, and nation in order to inspire change.

WLP has four core programmatic strategies: curriculum development of culture-specific training and advocacy manuals for grassroots activists, leadership training for civil society organizations and grassroots women, strengthening civil society through capacity-building, and women’s human rights advocacy and movement building.

WLP has 20 national and regional partners based in Bahrain, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.

Current campaigns include the , the in Morocco, and Iran’s One Million Signatures to demand an end to discriminatory laws against Iranian women

Article of Note

October 29th, 2015

Participatory Pathways: Researching Women’s Empowerment in Salvador, Brazil

by Andrea Cornwall and Cecilia Sardenberg

91nZ7j-8D5LCan research on empowerment be in itself empowering to those that take part in it? If so, how might that research be constructed and conducted, and what kind of empowerment might researchers and research participants experience? This article explores a series of research initiatives in Salvador, Brazil, that sought to integrate transformative feminist principles into the study of women’s empowerment as part of an international research programme involving researchers from Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, West Africa, the UK and the USA. We reflect on debates about epistemology and methodology that gave rise to the design of these projects and on the research journeys that these designs brought into being. Contrasting research projects with very different foci, methodologies and participants, the article explores insights from these initiatives for feminist research on empowerment.

Women’s Studies International Forum 45:(72-80), 2014. (not open access)

Org Spotlight: BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights

October 26th, 2015

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights

BAOBAB is a Nigerian women’s rights NGO focusing on women’s legal issues under Nigeria’s three systems of law- customary, statutory, and religious. BAOBAB began as a small group of activists, lawyers, social scientists and specialists in the early ’90’s under the auspices of the International Solidarity Network of Women Living Under Muslim Laws and formerly came into being as a separate organization in 1996.
BAOBAB works with Women Living Under Muslim Law to support human rights defenders including sexual rights activists. The organization, centered in Lagos, now operates in 14 Nigerian states.
BAOBAB’s mission is “to promote women’s human rights principally via improving knowledge, exercise and development of rights under religious laws, customary laws and statutory laws.” BAOBAB works with women, legal and paralegal professionals, human rights NGO’s, and the general public. BAOBAB programs include:
  • Capacity building through women’s leadership, human rights, and empowerment trainings
  • Women’s political participation training
  • Grassroots outreach and advocacy
  • Ben and Boys Against Violence Against Women pilot project
  • Research and documentation of legal issues as they affect women

Article of Note

October 22nd, 2015

Boys’ versus Girls’ Schooling in Nepal: Does It Vary by the Extent of Mothers’ Autonomy?

by Sharmistha Self

rhImage_thumbThis paper hypothesises that resource allocation affecting the decisions relating to sons’ versus daughters’ schooling in Nepalese households is dependent on the extent of the mother’s autonomy. Here, we posit that women’s autonomy is a relative concept as a woman has degrees of decision-making power within her household. The results indicate that daughters’ education is more likely to benefit when mothers solely make the decisions, but when decisions are made jointly with her spouse then the decisions are more likely to be in favour of sons’ education. Our results indicate a marked gender difference in parental decisions over children’s education, in the direction posited above, and less than 10% of mothers in the sample have complete autonomy over such decision-making. These results are important for policy-makers wishing to decrease gender bias in children’s educational outcomes.

Oxford Development Studies, published online June 2015. (not open access).

GGP event: Women’s Food Leadership in the Global South

October 22nd, 2015


Space is running out so check out the website and RSVP!


Org Spotlight: The Sylvia Rivera Law Project

October 19th, 2015

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

The Sylvia Rivera law project works to ensure all persons are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression while receiving fair treatment free from discrimination, violence, and harassment, regardless of race or income. Understanding the linkages between gender, socioeconomics, and race, SRLP seeks to reconcile these factors through an intersectional approach to justice. SRLP focuses on poor gender non-conforming people of color who regularly face the most severe discrimination and violence in many realms ranging from employment to housing to healthcare. Many are rejected from essential, life-saving services like shelters and treatment centers. Furthermore, these individuals often face unfair legal treatment and are overrepresented in prisons, group homes, and detention facilities.

The organization asserts that injustice against gender non-conforming people is a threat to justice of all people. “We believe that justice does not trickle down, and that those who face the most severe consequences of violence and discrimination should be the priority of movements against discrimination. Our agenda focuses on those in our community who face multiple vectors of state and institutional violence: people of color, incarcerated people, people with disabilities, people with HIV/AIDS, immigrants, homeless people, youth, and people trying to access public benefits.” (SRLP, About)

SRLP’s works to address both the systemic causes of these causes and the everyday effects on low-income trans, gender non-conforming, or intersex people. The organization has three projects that provide direct legal services and assistance.

  1. Survival and Self Determination Project [name changes, assistance obtaining and updating ID documents, health care advocacy, criminal history/fingerprinting]
  2. Immigrant Rights Project [name changes, assistance updating immigration documents, adjustment of status, naturalization, removal defense, asylum]
  3. Prisoner Justice Project [assistance with name changes, obtaining hormones, obtaining gender appropriate undergarments, advocacy and support around sexual violence, alternate housing, mental healthcare, other civil matters, and more.]

Additionally, SRLP has four active campaigns: Every Day Abolition Series, End Solidarity, Healthcare, and Policy Advocacy.

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project was founded in 2002 in honor of trans civil rights pioneer Sylvia Rivera and in operates in New York City.

The State of Security and a Call for the Prevention of Armed Conflict: Women, Peace and Security Fifteen Years On

October 19th, 2015

by GW Professor Aisling Swaine

secretary genera

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launching the report [photo: Aisling Swaine]

This week, the UN Security Council hosted a High-Level Review” to consider progress made towards meeting its commitment to overcome the historic exclusion of women and their concerns from its purview.  The event marked fifteen years since the Security Council adopted a ground-breaking resolution, Resolution 1325 (2000), that for the first time, recognized and strived to advance the overlooked, but critical role women can play in global efforts towards conflict resolution and peacemaking. 

In the UN Security Council on Tuesday, we heard from the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Their representative described how in the last decade, a century’s worth of progress on women’s rights has simply come to a halt as a result of the cycles of conflict there. These women provide life-saving aid to families trapped in areas that international organizations and the government itself cannot reach. This is in a context where they risk becoming one of the over 3000 women that they estimate to have been captured by ISIS.

The panel that launched the report. Left to right: Radhika Coomaraswamy, lead author of the Global Study; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee.

The panel that launched the report. Left to right: Radhika Coomaraswamy, lead author of the Global Study; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. [photo: Aisling Swaine]

As part of its review process, the Security Council commissioned an independent Global Study on the Implementation of Resolution 1325. Also launched by the UN this week, the study assesses progress over the past 15 years on securitizing the world in ways that equally reflect both men and women’s rights and concerns.  The study points towards much progress.  It also points towards much that remains to be done.

Global trends on the prevalence of armed conflict bear grim tidings. The current era is characterized by a-symmetrical conflicts, where factionalized and fragmented modes of warfare means that more and more civilians are deliberately targeted. In these conflicts for example, we see variant ways that women, men, girls and boys are forced into combatancy and subjected to a myriad of harms, the propensity for and impact of such experiences determined by gender roles and norms.  Terrorism and counter-terrorism as strategy predominates, and new technologies, such as the use of drones, enable a remote controlled warfare that appears unapologetic of the collateral damage it causes to civilians. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Article of Note

October 15th, 2015

On Becoming a Leader in Asia and America: Empirical Evidence from Women Managers 

by Claudia Peus, Susanne Braun, and Kristin Knipfer

leaquaIn concordance with recent calls for cross-cultural leadership research as well as research on women leaders, this study investigated how women in Asia and the U.S. become leaders and how they enact their leadership. In-depth interviews with 76 mid- to upper-level female managers in Asia (China, India, and Singapore) and the U.S. were conducted. Analyses revealed that a simple dichotomy of “Asian” versus “Western” leadership did not appropriately describe the data. Rather, factors such as achievement orientation, learning orientation, and role models emerged as crucial success factors for advancement to leadership positions across continents. However, the particular meaning differed between countries. Furthermore, with regard to women’s leadership style differences between Asian countries were more salient than between Asia and the U.S. Implications for leadership theory and practice are discussed.

The Leadership Quarterly 26(1):55-67. 2015. (not open access)