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Consortium Lectures

Consortium Lectures are edited transcripts and video recordings from the Consortium’s International Speaker Series. Our Speaker Series brings an international roster of frontline practitioners, reflective activists and engaged scholars. Their talks address the complex realities of women’s and men’s lives and livelihoods in conflict-affected areas, the challenges of trying to bring feminist commitments into security policy and humanitarian practice, and the ways in which gender analysis can and must transform resolutely “gender-blind” paradigms of conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

  • Imagined Peace, Gender Relations and Post­-Conflict Transformation: Anti­-Colonial and Post-­Cold War Conflicts

    • Jane L. Parpart
      Research Professor, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance, McCormack Graduate School, UMass Boston
    February 4, 2015

    The gap between promises of a more gender equal future and realities on the ground during and after conflicts has become a critical concern of feminist security scholars and many policy makers. In this talk, Jane Parpart will argue that gendered experiences and understandings of war, as well as gendered imaginings of peace, both influence the gendered nature of postconflict transformations after anti-colonial and post-Cold War conflicts.

  • "You Cannot Hold Two Watermelons in One Hand”: Securitizing Gender in Afghanistan and Pakistan

    • Bina D’Costa
      Peace and Conflict Specialist, Australian National University
    November 10, 2014

    In conflict zones, women's security becomes a highly politicized issue, often in counter-productive ways.  The roles and religious rights of women are highly contested and unsettled issues.  Based on recent fieldwork, this presentation analyses some of these debates within the context of Pakistan and Afghanistan’s security dynamics.  D’Costa will argue that a deliberate focus on the exclusion and limitation of women in Muslim and traditional societies sustains and reinforces the stereotypes of women as silent and silenced actors.  However, while the control of women within and beyond the nexus of patriarchal family-society-state is central to extremist ideologies, women’s vulnerability and insecurity increase in times of conflicts not only from the actions of the religious forces but also from “progressive,” “secular” international “humanitarian” interventions.

  • Gender Knowledge in the World Bank: Revisiting Cooptation

    • Elisabeth Prügl
      Consortium Senior Fellow 2014-2015; Professor of IR, Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies, Geneva
      Elisabeth Prügl is Professor of International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva where she directs the Institute’s Programme on Gender and Global Change. Her research focuses on gender politics in global governance, in particular in the areas of labor, agriculture and development. Recent publications include Transforming Masculine Rule (Michigan 2011), “If Lehman Brothers had Been Lehman Sisters ...” International Political Sociology (March 2012), and Feminist Strategies in International Governance, co-edited with Gülay Caglar and Susanne Zwingel (Routledge 2013). She is spending the 2014/15 academic year as a Fellow at the Women and Public Policy Program of the Harvard Kennedy School, and as a Senior Fellow with the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights.
    October 27, 2014

    When feminist knowledge enters development institutions it is translated in ways that scholars and activists have described as "cooptation." In this presentation Prügl will interrogate "cooptation" in two ways. First, she will identify the kinds of cooptations that characterize gender knowledge in the World Bank today, taking into consideration changes that have followed the post-Washington consensus and the financial crisis. Second, she will explore the processes of cooptation, i.e. what are the mechanisms through which cooptation happen and what are the effects they produce?

  • Why Is It So Hard to Get Women to the Peace Table? And Why Is That Not Even the Right Question?

    • Carol Cohn
      Director, Consortium on Gender, Security & Human Rights
    October 22, 2014

    The current "Women, Peace and Security" agenda in international policy and activist communities tends to focus on conflict-related sexual violence and women's political representation. In this talk, Cohn will explore the genesis of this severely constricted agenda, and argue that as the 15 year anniversary of UNSCR 1325 approaches, we need to rethink the kinds of research, knowledge and activism required for a truly transformative gender, peace and security praxis.  This talk will frame this year's Consortium focus on gendered political economies of war and peacebuilding.

  • "Women, Peace and Security" Policy's Skewed Focus on Sexual Violence: The Failure of a "Successful" Feminist Intervention?

    • Sam Cook
      Lawyer and Women's Rights Activist
      Sam Cook is a lawyer from South Africa whose academic and activist work has long focused on policy responses to sexual and gender-based violence. She spent five years working on United Nations policy on women, peace and security as Director of the PeaceWomen Project of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She then worked on LGBT rights research and policy at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. She is now a PhD candidate at the University of California Santa Cruz; her dissertation explores how the practices of Security Council policymaking shape feminist policy interventions.
    April 24, 2014

    In recent years a plethora of UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security have been adopted, most of which focus on sexual violence in conflict. A view has emerged that this focus has undermined - and even been antithetical to - the intent of feminists who initially lobbied for Security Council resolution 1325.  Are there ways of thinking about how such "failures" or crises of feminist policy interventions emerge that go beyond claims of cooptation or "lack of political will"?  Is there something that can be learned from looking at the micro-practices of policymaking?

  • Why Civil Resistance Works and Women's Catalytic Role: The Case of Syria and Beyond

    • Maria Stephan
      Senior Policy Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace; Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council
    March 12, 2014

    Dr. Maria Stephan will discuss key findings from her co-authored book, Why Civil Resistance Works, while focusing on the unique and often seminal roles women play in nonviolent struggles.  She will share observations from her work with the Syrian opposition and facilitate a conversation about the role women can play in transforming violent conflicts – including the challenges they face, and the tactics and strategies they have used with varying results.

  • Rule of Law and Democracy in Russia

    • Sergey Golubok
      Human Rights Lawyer, Russia
      Sergey Golubok is an attorney with Semenyako, Grib & Partners in St. Petersburg, Russia. In that capacity he has defended political activists and NGO's in high-profile human rights cases and argued extradition. He also served with the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France from 2008 to 2011. Dr. Golubok received his PhD in International and European Law from the St. Petersburg State University Law School.
    • Anton Burkov
      Human Rights Lawyer, Russia
      Anton Burkov serves as the chair of the European and Comparative Law Department at the University of Humanities in Yekaterinburg, Russia. He has worked with the Urals Centre of Constitutional and International Human Rights Protection of the NGO Sutyajnik, and is currently serving as a legal representative in a number of cases before the European Court of Human Rights and national courts.  He is currently a Galina Starovoitova fellow at the Wilson Center for International Scholars', Kennan Institute in Washington, DC.
    March 10, 2014

    Two courageous and prominent Russian human rights lawyers, Sergei Golubok and Anton Burkov, will be discussing their complementary strategies for transforming human rights practice and law in Russia. Mr. Golubok and Mr. Burkov will be sharing their experiences as front line human rights advocates in the currently deteriorating situation in Russia.

    Cosponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, and the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development

  • Paternalism & Women's Political Participation in Sri Lanka

    • Malathi de Alwis
      Consultant Socio-Cultural Anthropologist, Colombo, Sri Lanka
    March 5, 2014

    Feminist activism with regard to women's political participation in Sri Lanka has primarily focused on quotas to increase their numerical strength within political institutions. This emphasis on “bodies” has however precluded a deeper discussion on the lack of “voice.”

    Photo Credit: AP/Eranga Jayawardena

  • Women's Economic Activities in Eastern DRC: Livelihoods Under Duress

    • Meredeth Turshen
      Professor in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University
    February 20, 2014

    Protracted conflict over three decades in eastern Congo has profoundly altered livelihoods—-not just the ways in which women and men earn their living, but also the social, community, legal, political, security, and economic environments in which people work. Congolese women cannot avoid putting themselves in dangerous situations if they are to earn money and feed their families, and their work in markets and mining exposes them to violence and sexual exploitation.

  • Women's Economic Empowerment in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies

    • Joy Ada Onyesoh
      President of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Nigeria
    November 21, 2013

    Women continue to face significant barriers to full participation in peace processes during and after conflict. Although the post-conflict moment creates a window of opportunity for redressing structural economic inequalities, the opportunity is often squandered.  Only a multi-sectoral approach that closely links women's economic empowerment to political and social empowerment can translate national and international policy frameworks into real change for women in conflict and post-conflict societies.

  • In the Town Where Youth Ruled Their Fathers: Experiments in Generational Time in Postwar Sierra Leone

    • Rosalind Shaw
      Associate Professor of Anthropology, Tufts University
    September 24, 2013

    In Magbonkani, a northern Sierra Leonean town under occupation during the civil war, young men were conscripted by troops from the former AFRC junta, stationed there, and placed in positions of authority over their own elders. I examine one such town, in which the generational, gendered spaces of family and community became a terrain in which authority was recast, hierarchies reconfigured, and young people desynchronized from the flow of lineage time and succession. Not only armed conflict but also the reconciliation practices promoted by the international community became vehicles for experimentation in rethinking generational relationships and crafting new life courses.


  • Against All Odds: Naga Women’s Work to Transform Conflict and Build Peace through Seven Decades of Naga-India Conflict

    • Singmila Shimrah
      George Mason University
    April 10, 2013

    Singmila Shimrah’s talk is based on her experiences as a Naga woman in military-occupied Nagalim of Northeast India. It focuses on the powerful ways that generations of Naga women have found to engage in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and transformation, despite the challenges of the ongoing, seven decade-long Naga-India conflict.

  • From Survival to Freedom: Evolving Strategies for the Reintegration of Women and Girls in the Aftermath of Sex Slavery

    • Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg
      Babson College
    March 12, 2013

    Sex slavery is very much in the media these days, often with an emphasis upon the spectacular moment of rescue.  While the moment of liberation is, of course, critical, this talk will explore the ongoing process of living into freedom for survivors of cross-border trafficking.  What political conditions create fertile ground for trafficking?  And what happens when survivors are repatriated to those very source regions-their homes-after having been "rescued"?  What options are available for reintegrating in a way that protects survivors from being re-trafficked or otherwise vulnerable to exploitation?  Reporting upon her work with the international NGO Made By Survivors, Elizabeth Goldberg explores the problems of poverty, political instability, and ongoing gender injustice that inform the current phenomenon of trafficking, while also sharing news from the field of long-term strategies for empowering survivors economically and socially to live fully into free, independent lives.

  • Maternal Protest in Argentina: Transforming the Global Human Rights Landscape

    • Lisa Baldez
      Dartmouth College
    April 17, 2012

    When a handful of women first gathered to protest the disappearance of their children at the hands of the Argentine military government, they could not have predicted that their actions would change the global landscape of human rights. Why did the mobilization of mothers and grandmothers spur the formation of a powerful human rights movement in Argentina? Under what conditions will an appeal to motherhood generate a powerful political response?

  • Gendering the Arab Spring: Egyptian Women & (Counter) Revolutionary Processes

    • Nadje Al-Ali
      University of London
    March 28, 2012

    Women and gender contestations have been central to both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary processes in Egypt since the beginning of the protest movement in January 2011. However, Egyptian women have a long history of political participation in opposition parties, trade unions, social movements and feminist organizations. Nadje Al-Ali explores women's roles and involvement in the protest movements and political transition, and discusses the backlash against women's rights and the various ways gender and sexuality are being used by the old regime to reassert authority and control. She pays particular attention to the practices and policies of both the Egyptian military and Islamist political parties. 

  • Between Gender and Ethnicity: Women’s Rights and Identity Politics in the Andes

    • Jane Jaquette
      Occidental College
    December 1, 2011

    In the Andean region, indigenous groups have become an important political force, even participating in rewriting constitutions. On gender issues, indigenous demands raise important issues for feminists, as women’s rights are understood within a cultural context of gender complementarity rather than gender equality. Jane Jaquette discusses the content of these debates and explores their implications for women’s rights. 

  • Leapfrog Feminism: Learning about Human Rights Institution Building from Local Actors

    • Julie Mertus
      American University
    November 8, 2011

    Drawing on 25 years of experience working with a host of governmental and nongovernmental human rights organizations, Julie Mertus explores the mistakes and successes in over two decades of human rights advocacy. 

  • Women Essential for Sustainable Peace

    • Anwarul K. Chowdhury
      United Nations
    September 28, 2011

    During his term as United Nations Security Council President, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury played a critical role in the adoption of the groundbreaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Throughout the years since, he has continued to campaign for the resolution's increased implementation in the United Nations and the global community.  In this talk Ambassador Chowdhury addresses the essential role of women in the international community’s efforts toward building sustainable peace.


  • Gentle Invasions: NGO Funding and the Manipulation of Civil Society within Transitional States

    • Denise Horn
      Northeastern University
    February 19, 2008

    Denise Horn discusses the development of a new international regime in which hegemonic states have used funding for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to manipulate the development of civil society in transitional states. Through an examination of US funding strategies for women's NGOs within a sample of transitional states (Estonia, Moldova, and Thailand), Horn assesses the power of such strategies and the long-term effects they have had on the development of democratic norms within these states and regions.

  • One Mandate, Many Policies: Lessons on Gender Mainstreaming in the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme, and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations

    • Ramina Johal
      Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children
    March 5, 2007

    The UN is mandated to apply gender mainstreaming in its work. In late 2006, the UN Secretary-General released two reports calling for greater synergy on such efforts. One report, "Delivering as One" places mainstreaming in the context of broader UN reforms; the other "Report on Progress of Implementing Resolution 1325" considers the peace and security agenda. In this talk Ramina Johal compares the ways that gender mainstreaming is operationalised in the UN World Food Programme, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, and explores ways to enhance their synergy from the context of refugee and displaced populations.


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