Elliott students in the field

Nanda Ruiz
MA Candidate, International Development Studies, Gender concentration

Nanda Ruiz [Center]
I never imagined I would spend a summer in the bustling capital of Bangladesh but I admit there is something appealing about Dhaka and the absolute jolt she offers your senses. Taking an internship with iDE-Bangladesh has been a very rewarding experience. My role with iDE-B is as an internship position as Programs Associate – Gender and Market Development. As soon as I arrived I was given an opportunity to apply my past experience in a way that supported the organization and left room for me to be creative.

iDE is a development NGO focused on market based approaches to poverty alleviation. iDE uses a Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P)approach to ensure inclusive development outcomes. My job was to identify spaces where gender equality could be better addressed through project interventions. My first few weeks I spent in the field speaking with beneficiaries. Working directly with people I learned so much and was able to take my insights back to the Dhaka office to add to a more robust and inclusive gender equality policy for iDE projects. Continue reading “Elliott students in the field”

DC event recap: Scaling the Mountain

Scaling the Mountain: Women, Health, and the Environment in Nepal

scaling_mountains by staff contributor Camry Haskins

On Wednesday, January 7, the Wilson Center hosted the event “Scaling the Mountain: Women, Health, and the Environment in Nepal”. Speakers included Rishi Bastakoti, Vanier Scholar, University of Calgary; Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of Population, Environmental Security and Resilience, Wilson Center; Judy Oglethorpe, Chief of Party, Hariyo Ban Program, World Wildlife Fund, and A. Tianna Scozzaro, Population and Climate Associate, Population Action International. The room was filled with gender and climate professionals, as well as, Nepalese citizens.

The room was briefed on a USAID sponsored project that combined women’s reproductive choices with environmental sustainability. The project worked at a local level to look at what changes could be made by the communities of Nepal in order to combat climate change. There are many aspects of climate change that local Nepalese farmers have no control over, but that doesn’t make them helpless over their day-to-day lives. In fact it is often this title of victim that often frustrates those who have been adapting to environmental changes their entire lives. Rather than fall into victimization, this project has worked with communities in order to tackle the problems they do have control over. This has been done through reduced deforestation and increased use of family planning measures.

Deforestation creates much vulnerability including increased landslides during rainy seasons. A significant reason for high deforestation has to do with wood burning cooking methods and the high demand for wood because of large family sizes. By increasing education in climate dangers and contraceptive use, the implementers have seen a gradual change in cultural norms surrounding gender values. Where once, families would continue to grow until a son or even two were born, more families are now valuing having no more than two children even when both are daughters.

Population control coupled with implementation of non-wood burning cook stoves and changing farming methods combine to reduce the environmental degradation in Nepal. This project has not been without obstacles, but overall it has shown much success.  The coordinated group of actors anticipates continued progress moving forward.


To learn more about this project click here or watch the video.

Org Spotlight: PRADET


PRADET (Psychosocial Recovery & Development in East Timor) is an NGO that provides assistance to people who are undergoing issues with trauma and other social problems. The mission of PRADET is to provide psychosocial support to men, women, children and families who suffer from trauma, violence, and mental illness.

The organization also focuses on delivering psycho-social service to the community via counselors positioned locally that have had experience in trauma related to health. The information administered is centralized on enabling the community to be better educated on illness and abuse, while also rehabilitating those in the community who have suffered from trauma induced health issues.  Along with counselling, PRADET is also dedicated to creating an atmosphere that enables people to feel encouraged to reach their potential. PRADET works with its various working partners to create community development programs as well as policy development at both local and national levels. PRADET is the singular organization in East Timor that focuses on delivery training as well as education on the topics of abuse in the larger context of the community.

PRADET views the process of overcoming mental health issues as a “journey of healing and transformation”.   The overall goal that PRADET seeks to accomplish is to empower any person who suffers from a trauma related mental health problem to have the ability to have livelihood and fulfillment in their lives, while also improving the community life of East Timor. The value that PRADET utilizes in its mission is hope.  In its mission, PRADET utilizes hope as an instrument that has the ability to be the facilitator of the rehabilitation process and ultimately change the community.

The process of recovering from trauma and other mental health issues offers individuals the opportunity to participate in the community, while also enhancing community life. By strengthening relationships with their partners, PRADET strives to generate increased initiatives and programs that will be able to alleviate trauma, improve treatment, and enable services that will assist the community of East Timor.

Women, Peace, Security, and Development Bibliography update

Image source: United Nations Development Fund for Women
Image source: United Nations Development Fund for Women

By student intern Lena Krikorian

In March, the Global Gender Program’s Women, Peace, Security, and Development Bibliography grew to nearly 2,340 sources.

We continue to improve the quality of listing on the database by adding more relevant descriptors and identifying whether sources are open access (OA) or not open access (NOA.)

Please feel free to suggest additional sources by sending an email to: 1325bib.ggp@gmail.com.

Soap and Wheels: Sustainably improving hygiene, reducing the spread of disease, and lessening the burden of water-carrying is not rocket science

By guest contributor Julia Collins

Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants on how to effectively wash hands.
Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants on how to effectively wash hands.

In the age of instantaneous communication, limitless data storage in the virtual cloud, and cloning entire organisms, advancements in technology seem to hold the key to unlocking better longer lives. But when it comes to managing water, improving livelihoods can be as simple as a hand-washing station or a device to lighten the heavy load of carrying water.

The U.S. State Department-funded Women and Water in South and Central Asia Project serves as a platform for women working on community water issues to learn from each other by sharing ideas and best practices. At our first annual conference in Bishkek, Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and the United States, on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) techniques, and presented an award-winning video about a wonderful invention: the Tippy Tap. The Tippy Tap is a “hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water”. Using a foot lever resting on the ground to tip a bucket and produce a small stream of water, the tippy tap reduces the chance of bacteria spreading from hand-to-hand because the only thing anyone touches is the hanging bar of soap. Not only is the tippy tap a fun and enticing way to incentivize hand-washing, but it also conserves water, utilizing only 40 milliliters of water to wash your hands versus the 500 milliliters it takes if you use a mug of water to do so. The Tippy Tap website has an entire section on the importance of this hand-washing station, but drives home this important takeaway: no matter where you are from or how old you are, washing your hands is a simple, effective way of stopping the spread of infection and dramatically reducing the number of deaths from diarrhea. Learn how to build your own by clicking here.

Conference participants from Afghanistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, and India have fun trying out newly learned hand-washing techniques.
Conference participants from Afghanistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, and India have fun trying out newly learned hand-washing techniques.

Another innovative, yet simple, invention is improving lives by lightening the burden of household water supply. Barbara Miller, the director of GW’s Global Gender Program, and a partner of the Women and Water project, recently shared a Guardian article about the WaterWheel. The 50-liter rollable water container is made from durable plastic and boasts numerous benefits over the previous method of transporting the life-sustaining liquid. Instead of carrying water on the head as many girls and women often do, the WaterWheel saves the neck and back from physical strain, is convenient, and hygienic. Every day women around the world spend over 25% of their time collecting water. With the WaterWheel, users can move 50 liters of water at once, “which is between 3 and 5 times the amount of water possible as compared to traditional methods: this means MORE water in less time!” The website also notes that the WaterWheel is constructed to decrease the frequency of contamination at the point of use through its ‘cap-in-cap’ design. This helps to prevent diarrheal disease “which is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 5, according to the WHO.”

Innovations in water management like the WaterWheel also help to balance the household workload across gender lines. Columnist Penny Haw cheekily sums up the WaterWheels impact in her recent article entitled, “Men discover the wheel … at last”. The Guardian article also comments on this phenomenon reporting that, “One of most exciting things is that men love using it, they see it as a tool. Men take on the primary role so the women are freed up to do other things…It has reduced the burden on women. A nurse told me she is not late for work anymore because the husband collects the water.”

When it comes to improving water management and access to the vital resource, it looks like reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary; simply using the wheel will do the trick.

This article has been reposted with permission from the WWCASA project. The original article can be found here.

Julia-Collins-Capitol1Julia Collins is a Program Officer and Researcher for the ‘Women and Water in South and Central Asia’ Project at the Elliott School and a full-time 2nd year Master’s Candidate studying Energy, Security Policy, and Conflict Resolution. Particular areas of interest include the water-energy nexus, the U.S. natural gas revolution, memory politics and dealing with the past, and promoting good governance in transitional democracies – Myanmar in particular. 

She graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a BA in Political Science, and minors in Environmental Geography and German. Julia has worked on Guam, studied in Germany and Hungary, taught along the Thailand-Myanmar border, advocated for refugees at a Californian refugee resettlement agency, and conducted economic and social development research at a think-tank in Myanmar.


New GGP Working Paper by student intern Asthaa Chaturvedi


The Global Gender Program’s seventh Working Paper, “Empowering Women Collectively and Individually from Her Perspective: A Case Study of SEWA Delhi” is now available. This paper is authored by Asthaa Chaturvedi, a senior at GW and GGP student intern. Funded by GW’s Undergraduate Research Award, Asthaa undertook two months of fieldwork in New Delhi to gather qualitative data on women’s perceptions of the impact of participation in an empowerment organization called SEWA. The paper’s abstract is included below.


“Most of the existing literature on women’s empowerment and self-help groups in South Asia emphasizes quantitative indicators about their results, ignoring the voices of the women participating in the organizations. This study examines the changes in the members of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in New Delhi as an effect of being part of SEWA. I use qualitative data collected from interviews and focus groups during the summer of 2013. The research traces the process of increasing confidence and expanding the capabilities of members by highlighting the voices of the women of SEWA Delhi, using their words instead of an abstract measure of empowerment. The women emphasized the importance of sisterhood and an increase in knowledge about opportunities, particularly in the realm of work and government schemes. Qualitative data provides a more complete picture of how development programs, in this case a women’s self-help group, can improve women’s lives.”