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Human Rights

Securing Rights & Unleashing the Potential of African Women and Girls: Lessons from the Africa Campaign to End Child Marriage

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

March 22, 2018

Campus Center, 3rd floor, Room 3545, UMass Boston

Originally from Zimbabwe, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda has, over two decades, been working on issues of women and children’s human rights, with a special focus on crisis countries. Active in the women’s movement, she has more specifically focused on issues of violence against women, peace with justice, property rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV and AIDS.

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This event is the UMass Boston Human Rights Minor Spring Keynote Address and is co-hosted by the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. It is cosponsored by the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights; the Graduate Consortium in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality; the Department of Political Science; the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy; the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance; and the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development.

Gender Justice, Development, and Rights


Molyneux, Maxine, and Shahra Razavi, eds. 2002. Gender Justice, Development, and Rights. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Authors: Maxine Molyneux, Shahra Razavi


Gender Justice, Development, and Rights reflects on the significance accorded in international development policy to rights and democracy in the post-Cold War era. Key items on the contemporary policy agenda - neo-liberal economic and social policies, democracy, and multi-culturalism - are addressed here by leading scholars and regional specialists through theoretical reflections and detailed case studies. Together they constitute a collection which casts contemporary liberalism in a distinctive light by applying a gender perspective to the analysis of political and policy processes. Case studies from Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, East-Central Europe, South and South-East Asia contribute a cross-cultural dimension to the analysis of contemporary liberalism - the dominant value system in the modern world - by examining how it both exists in and is resisted in developing and post-transition societies. (Summary from WorldCat)
Table of Contents:
1. Introduction
Maxine Molyneux and Shahra Razavi
Part I: Re-Thinking Liberal Rights And Universalism 
2. Women's Capabilities And Social Justice
Martha Nussbaum
3. Gender Justice, Human Rights And Neo-Liberal Economic Policies
Diane Elson
4. Multiculturalism, Universalism And The Claims Of Democracy
Anne Phillips
Part II: Social Sector Restructuring And Social Rights 
5. Political And Social Citizenship: An Examination Of The Case Of Poland
Jacqueline Heinen and Stephane Portet
6. Engendering The New Social Citizenship In Chile: Ngos And Social Provisioning Under Neo-Liberalism
Veronica Schild
7. Engendering Education: Prospects For A Rights-Based Approach To Female Education Deprivation In India
Ramya Subrahmanian
Part III: Democratisation And The Politics Of Gender 
8. Feminism And Political Reform In The Islamic Republic Of Iran
Parvin Paidar
9. The 'Devil's Deal': Women's Political Participation And Authoritarianism In Peru
Cecilia Blondet M.
10. In And Against The Party: Women's Representation And Constituency-Building In Uganda And South Africa
Anne Marie Goetz and Shireen Hassim
PART IV: Multiculturalisms In Practice 
11. The Politics Of Gender, Ethnicity And Democratization In Malaysia: Shifting Interests And Identities
Maznah Mohamad
12. National Law And Indigenous Customary Law: The Struggle For Justice Of Indigenous Women In Chiapas, Mexico Aida
Hernandez Castillo
13. The Politics Of Women's Rights And Cultural Diversity In Uganda
Aili Mari Tripp

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Education, Governance, Political Participation, Privatization, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, Americas, Central America, South America, Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Eastern Europe Countries: Chile, India, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Uganda

Year: 2002

Impact of the World Bank and IMF Policies on Rural Women's Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa


Ibnouf, Fatma Osman. 2008. "Impact of the World Bank and IMF Policies on Rural Women's Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa." Agenda 22 (78): 28-41.

Author: Fatma Osman Ibnouf


Over the past decades, national governments across sub-Saharan Africa have implemented World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies. The liberalisation of the market and reduced expenditure on public services under these policies may have effects on rural women who, as a result, might have to pay more for agricultural inputs, have access to fewer public services, and may lose the opportunity to participate in the formal labour force. This article aims to study the impact of World Bank and IMF policies on rural women's human rights and first reviews the literature on the World Bank and IMF policies and their gendered impacts, then focuses on the impact of these policies on rural women's human rights in sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of education, labour force and food security. (Abstract from original)

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, World Bank and IMF policies, rural women's human rights, food security

Topics: Development, International Financial Institutions, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa

Year: 2008

The Politics of Counting and Reporting Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: the Case of Myanmar


Davies, Sara E., and Jacqui True. 2017. “The Politics of Counting and Reporting Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: the Case of Myanmar.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 19 (1): 4-21.

Authors: Sara E. Davies, Jacqui True


Scholars, states and international organizations have begun to systematically count, document and compare sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in conflict-affected countries. Qualitative and quantitative studies point to a “tip of the iceberg” phenomenon, where there is a high prevalence but low level of actual reporting of SGBV. We investigate the conditions in which SGBV is reported or, more significantly, is not reported to discover the trends of reporting in politically oppressive environments where SGBV is thought to be occurring. We ask how the power to report in local conflict-affected areas is affected by national political tensions and pervasive gender discrimination. Reporting of SGBV in Myanmar, a country that has experienced multiple, protracted conflicts since independence, is examined. Analysis of open-access reports over a fifteen-year period reveals a pattern of silence that we argue is rooted in pervasive discriminatory civil and physical practices against women. Engaging with the deeply politicized and gender discriminatory context of conflict-affected societies enables us to see the anomalies of SGBV data and to highlight significant gaps in our knowledge about SGBV.

Keywords: ethnic conflict, human rights reporting, feminist methodology, Myanmar, Conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence

Topics: Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, conflict, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Property Rights, Sexual Violence Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2017

Islamic Culture, Oil, and Women’s Rights Revisited


Rørbæk, Lasse Lykke. 2016. “Islamic Culture, Oil, and Women’s Rights Revisited.” Politics and Religion 9 (1): 61–83. doi:10.1017/S1755048315000814.

Author: Lasse Lykke Rørbæk


According to recent research, oil abundance is the principal explanation for women’s poor human rights record in many Muslim societies. However, this study argues that resistance to gender equality in the Muslim world originates in its specific historical trajectory and that the critical juncture precedes the extraction of oil by a thousand years. The study assesses data on women’s economic, social, and political rights in 166 countries from 1999–2008 and shows that whereas the negative effect of oil is driven by the 11 members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, Muslim countries consistently underperform even when oil and gas rents and other relevant factors such as income and democracy are accounted for. The study concludes that persisting orthodox tendencies in Islamic culture provide the best explanation for Muslim women’s limited empowerment.

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Religion, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2016

Desafíos para la reintegración: Enfoques de género, edad y etnia


Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica. 2014. “Desafíos para la reintegración: Enfoques de género, edad y etnia". Bogotá, Colombia: Imprenta Nacional.

Author: Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica


Spanish Summary:

La Dirección de Acuerdos de la Verdad del Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (CNMH) preparó esta publicación a partir de rescatar trabajos y elaboraciones realizados inicialmente por parte de las áreas de Desmovilización, Desarme y Reintegración y de Género y Poblaciones Específicas de la Comisión Nacional de Reparación y Reconciliación (CNRR) referidos a los enfoques diferenciales necesarios de abordar con relación al género y las mujeres, las etnias con referencia a los pueblos indígenas y las comunidades afrodescendientes y la edad en lo relativo a las niñas, niños y adolescentes. 

En conformidad con el mandato legal y la misión institucional de dicha Comisión, tales esfuerzos se orientaron a garantizar los derechos de las víctimas de graves violaciones a los derechos humanos ocurridas en los contextos de violencia y conflicto armado registrados en Colombia durante las últimas décadas, a desarrollar iniciativas de reparación en beneficio de las víctimas y la sociedad y a conseguir garantías de no repetición de tales violaciones (Summary from original source​).

English Summary:

Challenges for Reintegration: Focus on Gender, Age, and Ethnicity 

The Direction of Truth Agreements of the National Center for Historical Memory (CNMH) prepared this publication from recovered works initially produced in the areas of DDR and Gender and Specific Populations of the National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation (CNRR) referring to the differential focus necessary to address gender and women, ethnicities with reference to indigenous people and afro-descendant communities, and age with reference to girls, boys, and adolescents. 

In accordance with the legal mandate and institutional mission of said Commission, such efforts were oriented towards guaranteeing the rights of victims of serious human rights violations that occurred in contexts of violence and armed conflicts in Colombia over the last decades, to develop reparation initiatives benefitting the victims and wider society, and obtaining guarantees of non-repetition of such violations (Translation from original source​).

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Gender, Women, Justice, Reparations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2014

Financing for Gender Equality: Realising Women's Rights through Gender Responsive Budgeting


Khan, Zohra, and Nalini Burn, eds. 2017. Financing for Gender Equality: Realising Women's Rights through Gender Responsive Budgeting. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-46101-8.

Authors: Zohra Khan, Nalini Burn


This collection of essays addresses the glaring gap between policy commitments and actual investments in gender equality, ranging across sectors and focusing on development aid, peace-building and climate funds. Casting a spotlight on the application of gender-responsive budgeting in public budgetary policies, systems and processes, the contributions to this volume explore the checkered trajectories of these efforts in Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Andalucía. Critiquing systems of finance, from adherence to neo-liberal macroeconomic fundamentals which prioritize fiscal austerity, the book makes a compelling case for reframing and re-prioritizing budgets to comply with human rights standards, with a particular view to realizing women’s rights. The authors highlight the paltry funding for women’s rights organizations and movements and examine the prospects for making financing gender responsive. The specific policy, strategy and technical recommendations and the connections across silos which articulate the authors suggested operational levers will appeal to researchers, practitioners, students, policymakers, gender equality and human rights activists alike. (Summary from Palgrave Macmillan)

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction
Zohra Khan

2. Financing for Gender Equality: Reframing and Prioritizing Public Expenditures to Promote Gender Equality
Stephanie Seguino

3. Financing for Gender Equality: How to Budget in Compliance with Human Rights Standards
Diane Elson

4. Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Africa: Chequered Trajectories, Enduring Pathways
Nalini Burn

5. GRB Initiative in Andalusia: Reconciling Gender Equality and Economic Growth Perspectives
Buenaventura Aguilera Díaz et al.

6. Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Latin America: Regional Learning to Advance Financing for Gender Equality
Lorena Barba et al.

7. Gender Incursions in the Domain of Budgets: The Practice of GRB in Asia Pacific
Yamini Mishra et al.

8. Politics, Policies and Money: Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals for Women
Zohra Khan

9. From Commitment to Action: Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals
Emily Esplen et al.

10. Financing for Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding: Setting Financial Targets as a Tool for Increasing Women’s Participation in Post-Conflict Recovery
Sarah Douglas et al.

11. Beyond Investing in Women and Girls: Why Sustainable Long-Term Support to Women’s Rights Organizations and Movements is Key to Achieving Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
Angelika Arutyunova

12. Climate Finance: Why Does It Matter for Women?
Mariama Williams

Topics: Development, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender Budgeting, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, NGOs, Peacebuilding, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Southern Europe

Year: 2017

Sexual Minorities in Conflict Zones: A Review of the Literature


Moore, Melinda W., and John R. Barner. 2017. “Sexual Minorities in Conflict Zones: A Review of the Literature.” Aggression and Violent Behavior 35: 33-37.

Authors: Melinda W. Moore, John R. Barner


In civil and ethnic conflict, sexual minorities experience a heightened risk for war crimes such as sexual violence, torture, and death. As a result, sexual minorities remain an invisible population in armed conflict out of a need for safety. Further study of sexual minorities in conflict zones confronts matters of human rights, war crimes, and the psychosocial effects of war. This article reviews the existing research on sexual minorities in conflict zones, examines the findings on human rights, war crimes, and the psychosocial effects of war and violence on sexual minority populations, and reviews the barriers to effectiveness faced by intervention programs developed spe- cifically to aid post-conflict societies. The article concludes with a summary of findings within the literature and further considerations for research on aggression and violent behavior with sexual minority groups in conflict zones.

Keywords: violence, aggression, Sexual minorities, gender, war, armed conflict, human rights

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Human Rights, Justice, War Crimes, LGBTQ, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, SV against men, SV against women, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence

Year: 2017

"Subjects of Change": Feminist Geopolitics and Gendered Truth-Telling in Guatemala


Patterson-Markowitz, Rebecca, Elizabeth Oglesby, and Sallie Marston. 2012. “‘ Subjects of Change’: Feminist Geopolitics and Gendered Truth-Telling in Guatemala.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 13 (4): 82.

Authors: Rebecca Patterson-Markowitz, Elizabeth Oglesby, Sallie Marston


This paper explores the often-undervalued role of gender in transitional justice mechanisms and the importance of women's struggles and agency in that regard. We focus on the efforts of the women's movement in Guatemala to address questions of justice and healing for survivors of gendered violence during Guatemala's 36-year internal armed conflict. We discuss how the initial transitional justice measures of documenting gendered war crimes in the context of a genocide were subsequently taken up by the women's movement and how their endeavors to further expose sexual violence have resulted in notable interventions. Interviews with key organizational activists as well as testimonies given by victims of sexual violence during the conflict suggest that transitional justice mechanisms, extended by women's movements' efforts, are creating conditions for the emergence of new practices and spaces that support the fragile cultivation of new subjectivities. Sujetas de cambio (subjects of change) are premised not on victimhood but survivorhood. The emergence of these new subjectivities and new claims, including greater personal security and freedom from everyday violence, must be approached with caution, however, as they are not born automatically out of the deeply emotional struggles that play out around historical memory. Still, their emergence suggests new ways for women to cope not only with the sexual violence of the past but also to work against the normative violence that is part of their present.

Keywords: gendered violence, historical memory, transitional justice

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Genocide, Justice, Transitional Justice, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against women, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Guatemala

Year: 2012

Reconstructing Fragile Lives: Girls’ Social Reintegration in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leone


McKay, Susan. 2004. “Reconstructing Fragile Lives: Girls’ Social Reintegration in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leone.” Gender & Development 12 (3): 19–30.

Author: Susan McKay


In many contemporary African wars, girls and women participate in fighting forces. Their involvement is sometimes voluntary, but often they are coerced or abducted. In these forces, their roles range from porters, domestics, and 'wives' of male fighters, to spies and commanders. Few girls go through official UN processes of disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR). Their human rights severely violated, girls face enormous challenges to physical and psycho-social recovery. Typically, they return directly to their communities, or migrate to where friends or relatives live, or resettle in urban areas, where they are at increased risk of forced prostitution, sexual assault, and/or sexually transmitted diseases, including H IV/AIDS. This paper examines the experiences of girls who have returned from fighting forces in the recent conflict in Sierra Leone and the continuing conflict in northern Uganda. These experiences are compared with those of women who recalled their experiences when they were girl participants during the Mozambican war which ended in 1992.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2004


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