Preliminary syllabus for
WGS (POL/PSJ) 286 Empowering Women for Global Leadership*
Peggy Rivage-Seul, Coordinator of the Berea College Women’s and Gender Studies Program
Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Berea College Women’s and Gender Studies Program, in affiliation with the Women in Public Service Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, offers this special topics course to equip students with both skills and a knowledge base for pursuing leadership opportunities at both the local and national levels of their respective countries. Each week guest speakers from various multilateral and global institutions, e.g., World Bank, will lecture at Peanut Butter and Gender luncheons on the social and economic realities of girls and women across the globe. Students will select a global topic pertaining to female lives, e.g., sex trafficking, violence against women, poverty, etc., and develop that topic through analysis of case studies and feminist action plans, including the creation of social networks. Besides lectures and discussion of course readings, students will engage in hands-on group work and role playing to develop their leadership skills. Course fee: $75
* This course will meet AAAW perspective.
About the Women in Public Service Project
The Women in Public Service Project is an initiative that was founded by the Seven sisters women’s colleges—Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith and Wellesley—to advance women to positions of influence in governments and civic organization worldwide. The initiative is distinguished by the partners’ demonstrated legacy of educating women leaders across the globe and linking them to each other through powerful intergenerational networks. This mission has now grown to embrace universities and government ministries around the world.
The initiative will provide vital momentum to the next generation of women leaders who will invest in their countries and communities, provide leadership for their governments and societies, and help change the way global solutions are developed.
Working in alignment with other leading organizations and institutions in the U.S. and around the world, The Women in Public Service Project creates intensive training and mentoring opportunities for emerging and aspiring women leaders; establishes a vibrant international network of such leaders; and generate new, cross-culturally valid insights on women’s political leadership.
WPSP programming has been held around the world, bringing women together from Africa, Latin and Mount St. Mary’s College; a WPSP Institute on Peacebuilding and Development at Bryn Mawr College; a WPSP Institute at China Women’s University; and a Conference on Conflict Resolution through Economic Development and Innovation America, Asia, and beyond. Programming hosted by the WPSP partner schools has included the Inaugural Summer Institute hosted by Wellesley College for emerging women leaders from the MENA region; an Institute at the Asian University for Women; a WPSP Institute on Women’s Leadership in Latin America hosted by Scripps College hosted by UMass-Lowell. Other initiatives have been held in Burma, Belgium, France, Morocco, and Tunisia.
The WPSP’s rapid expansion over the past nine months has created many new opportunities for programs and affiliations. Currently, the WPSP has a number of flagship institutes in the pipeline for 2014 and beyond. Those being planned include: a WPSP Institute on Reconstructing Societies in the Wake of Conflict: Transitional Justice and Economic Development at Smith and Mt. Holyoke Colleges; and a WPSP Institute at Mills College.
Other initiatives include: A WPSP program in India on Defining Violence Against Women as a Regional Security Issue co-hosted by Lady Shri Ram College for Women, the Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Sciences for Women, and Karakoram International University; the Closing the Leadership Gap WPSP initiative at Brescia University College in Canada; and the WPSP Institute at Pannasastra University and the Harspwell Foundation in Cambodia.
In the spring of 2014, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Berea College will offer the first undergraduate course for the Women in Public Service Project.
The Women in Public Service Project and their partners and affiliates are committed to the “50 by 50” mission: reaching a minimum of 50 percent representation of women in public service by 2050.
Women’s and Gender Studies Program Goals and Student Outcomes
- Critical Thinking – Students will learn to critically examine assumptions in scholarly, popular, public, and interpersonal discourse. The desired goal will be to develop and employ theoretical paradigms and interpretive strategies with regard to gender. They will develop a critical understanding of patriarchal social systems, and the systems leading to the subordination of women.
- Writing– Students will be responsible for producing a high quality policy brief that outlines a substantial policy that addresses a situation of human rights for women.
- Global Awareness and Appreciation of Diversity – Students will gain an awareness of the daily lives and experiences of women across cultures and engage in an ongoing critique of women’s social and cultural history. They will continually explore the intersection of categories like gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, religion, and class, as well as women’s varied relations to patriarchy.
- Women’s Power and Empowerment – Both male and female students will hopefully be personally empowered by taking WGS 286. Engagement with other women who have transcended gender barriers in the public sphere will serve as models of empowerment in this course.
- Social Action – Students will explore issues of global social justice related to women as a class, and learn to translate theory into practice by producing a policy brief that may have social consequence.
- Synthesis – Students will bring together the diverse areas of their program, challenging and interpreting scholarship on gender through shared inquiry in the classroom.
Most of the reading materials for this course will be included in the course booklet. The following list of books are available at the Bookstore.
Cait Clarke and Neil Shister. Dare to Ask: The Woman’s Guidebook to Successful Negotiating. (Washington, D.C.: Mulberry Street Press), 2010.
Elizabeth Vrato. Counselors: Conversations with 18 Courageous Women Who Have Changed the World. (Philadelphia Running Press), 2003.
Jeni Klug. 2012 World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development. (Washington, DC: World Bank), 2012.
Linda Tarr-Whalen. Women Lead the Way. (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler), 2009.
This course meets on Wednesdays, 12:00-12:50 (for Peanut Butter and Gender) and 3:00-5:50 in Phelps Stokes 204.
Attendance is required. Unless there is a personal emergency, absences will be unexcused, and will result in the lowering of the student’s grade. Three absences results in course failure.
Students who have a disability that may prevent them from fully demonstrating their abilities should contact the Disability Services Coordinator Lisa Ladanya, in 110 Lincoln Hall, or by email , to discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation in this course. Upon request, this syllabus can be made available in alternative forms.
Active Participation in weekly classes, including taking initiative for leadership in role plays and group work will count for 10% of the final grade. Weekly reading and writing assignments and quizzes on readings in the course booklet will count for 40%. The formal speech assignment will count for 20%.
Research Project: Each student will be responsible for preparing a policy brief to present to their legislators and/or respective law and policy makers on a topic selected by the student, e.g., human trafficking, environmental degradation, violence against women, etc. The policy brief will count for 30% of the final grade.
Each student will be responsible for investigating an area of concern to women’s human rights and well-being, and producing a policy brief. These briefs will have potential for impacting the lives of women as students gain confidence to act politically on behalf of other women. In this project, students inhabit the role of legislative aide in preparing these policy briefs.
When students have chosen their area of investigation, they will pursue their study by listening to the voices of survivors and studying models of policies in other countries. In terms of substance in a policy brief, students need to answer the question, What do you want the policy to do? How do you create taskforces? How do you create a budget for this proposed policy, and what are economic effects of implanting your ideas? How would you advocate to encourag the community to adopt the policy you propose? Detailed directions for the research project are found in the course booklet.
Class does not meet at noon today.
- Film: “Pray the Devil Back to Hell;” discussion led by Dr. Julee Rosser
Assignment for Wed. Jan. 15
- Read 7 articles this week from various publications that focus on international women’s issues. Write a one paragraph (10-12 sentences) response to each of these articles. Good sources for articles include Ms. Magazine, New York Times (including international issue), Economist, Guardian, Alternet, United National Women Watch (www.un.org/womenwatch), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Atlantic Monthly, Wellesley women’s review of books, UN women’s website, Half the Skies, Keeping Hope Alive, Anne Marie Slaughters article, “Women Still Can’t Have It All.”
- Read “The Power of Voice” pp. 2-23 in course booklet, and come prepared to ask questions about the assignment to give a formal speech.
- Read “Women Who Inspire: Case Studies” pp. 2-39 in course booklet.
- Read Chapter 1 (pp.15-30) “The 30% Solution” from Tarr-Whelan’s Women Lead the Way. Underline and make notes in the margin. Write short summary in book at the end of the chapter.
The Transformative Power of Women’s Voices
Peanut Butter and Gender
Inauguration of the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) at Berea College
Ceremonial Opening in honor of Peggy Keon
Peggy Keon Champion of Change Lecture: Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, will address the values, aims, and outcomes of The Women in Public Service Project, showing how these are connected to a global network of emerging women leaders.
In this session, participants will view the film ”Women’s Voices,” created by the Institute on Profiles of Women in Political and Public Service. These stories will illustrate women’s role as political leaders, policy makers, and change agents. Listening to these voices from around the world, participants will identify the multiple perspectives these women bring to the table and how these women transcended barriers in order to transform public life. Through the lens of women’s narratives, participants will explore: a) different voices of leadership and perspectives women bring to public service; b)challenges that women face in public service; c) creative strategies for transcending barriers and leading social change; and d) women’s critical role in leading social change.
1) Film and discussion with Dr.de Silva de Alwis: “Women’s Voices”
2) Discussion of research findings from the day’s assignment; group exploration of specific interests for the major policy brief that each student will present at the end of the course.
3) Discussion of the reading on making a formal speech and the elements of an inspiring message.
Assignment for January 22:
1. Read excerpts from Conversations with 18 Courageous Women Who Have Changed the World, and write a one page response to two of these stories.
2. Read “Championing Young Women’s Political and Public Participation” pp. 1-13 in course booklet.
3. Read “Overcoming Challenges: Women in Politics and Public Service” pp.2-9 in course booklet.
4. Read Chapter 2 (pp.31-46) “Modern Myths and Stereotypes” from Tarr-Whelan’s Women Lead the Way, and follow same procedure for underlining and note taking in the margins.
Transcending the Challenges to Women’s Leadership in Public Service
Peanut Butter and Gender
“A Woman’s Journey to Leadership”
Farah Pandith, U.S. Department of State Special Representative to Muslim Communities and former Senate Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, will discuss the social reality of Muslim communities in the 21st century.
In this session, Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis will discuss the myriad of challenges that women face in public leadership, including religious bias, lack of gender equality, women’s dual burden of professional and household responsibility. These challenges often result in women “opting out” of public service because of the disproportionate labor distribution. We will identify local and global challenges to women’s leadership and will brainstorm creative strategies to transcend barriers and boundaries to women’s leadership in the areas of politics, society, and culture. Although there is no single model of leadership, this conversation will help to identify a toolbox that can be used to transcend challenges to women’s public service: This “tool box” includes role models and mentors, the narrative power of women’s voices, and the redemptive power of women’s movements and networks that sustain, nurture, and empower women, especially at times of grave threat and crisis.
1. Class discussion with Farah Pandith about her work with Muslim communities
2. Lecture by Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis: “Global Challenges to Women’s Leadership”
Identify and present some of the challenges in your community and/or country for women’s advancement in public service or civic leadership. Present some good practices in your community and/or country to address these challenges.
Develop a plan (that you will present to class) for a campaign to increase the number of women representatives in Congress/Parliament.
Propose a strategy for partnerships/ linkages and alliances with the private sector, grassroots organizations, religious and other traditionally male dominated organizations. The focus of cooperation with your group could be (1) women’s leadership, (2) fighting violence against women including violence against women in politics, or (3) any other urgent policy.
Organize women’s caucuses in your national assembly or parliament. Present the challenges and opportunities of working as a caucus across party or other lines. Present a strategy (including finances) for identifying women to run for office. Finally, create role play “conversation with the press” where you identify positive images of women in public service in your community and/or country.
Convene a local, national or transnational network to combat trafficking of women or any other trans- border issue in your region. Present how you would go about creating a potential platform of action for the network.
Present recommendations for a training program on women’s leadership in public service in your community and/or country. What critical areas should the training program focus on?
Assignment for Jan. 29:
- Read Dare to Ask: The Woman’s Guidebook to Successful Negotiating, and complete assigned exercises in the book.
- Read Chapter 4, pp. 55-70, in Tarr-Whelan’s Women Lead the Way.
“Women and Negotiation”
“Future mediation processes must create spaces specifically for women to sit at the table… Women cannot be relegated to shouting from the windows because they are not allowed through the doors….”
-Graca Machel, a lead negotiator in the Kenyan mediation process.
Women have historically been excluded from boardrooms and decision-making because of their perceived reluctance to negotiate in an arena of power differences. This session will give students powerful negotiation skills and tips that will help them negotiate in the workplace, public service, and positions of leadership.
Peanut Butter and Gender
“Dare to Ask: The Art of Women’s Negotiation”
Cait Clarke, Washington, D.C. attorney and head of the Office of Defender Services (administrative office of the US Courts in Washington, D.C. that oversees annual congressional appropriations for 81 Federal Defender Organizations) leadership consultant, and co-author of Dare to Ask, discusses the social reality of women who are constantly penalized — at home, at work, in relationships — for lacking the negotiating skills to assert themselves. Cait Clarke has been involved in leadership, management and strategic initiatives for state and federal defender organizations nationwide for almost three decades.
Continue conversation and role plays with Cait Clarke.
Assignment for February 5
- Read “Women and Democratic Transformations” pp. 2-10 in course booklet.
- Read “UN Security Council Resolutions on Women and Peace” pp.1-14 in course booklet.
- Read “Women Leading Transitional Justice” pp. 2-23 in course booklet.
- Read “Women’s Rights in Peace Agreements” pp. 3-23 in course booklet.
Women Negotiating Peace and Security
“Bringing women to the peace table improves the quality of agreement reached and increases the chances of successful implementation.” -UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon
Over a decade ago, the landmark UN Security Council passed Resolution 1325 requiring the rule of law processes must be shaped by both women and men. However, women still represent fewer than 3% of mediators and 8% of negotiators in major peace processes. One of the most important on-going constraints to women’s capacity to engage effectively in conflict mediation and peace-building is the experience of sexual and gender-based violence during conflict; in fact, this experience has an inhibiting effect on women’s ability to engage in conflict resolution, peace-building, and recovery efforts.
This session will analyze concrete strategies to operationalize SCR 1325 which enshrines the critical importance of women’s participation in decision making. In addition, we will examine two other United Nations Security Council Resolutions, SCR 1820 the recognition of the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war, and SCR 1889 calling for women’s participation across all stages of the peace process.
12:00 – 12:50
Peanut Butter and Gender
Title: “People-to-People Peacemaking in the 21st Century”
Melanne Verveer, United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, former Chief of Staff to First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton, and co-founder of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, will discuss the history of U.S. policy toward issues of discrimination against women.
Transitional Justice: Different Approaches and Models
Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of: (1) Retributive Justice, (2) Restorative Justice and (3) Reparative Justice
Retributive justice includes court proceedings and trials for crimes committed. Typically, a trial involves a person charged with the commission of a crime being brought before an arbitrator.
Example: Cambodia — Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia established in 2001 by the Cambodian National Assembly to create a court to try serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime, 1975-1979.
Restorative Justice — Truth Commissions
Usual mechanisms: truth commissions, healing circles.
One of the most commonly used restorative mechanisms has been truth commissions. Truth commissions are established to examine widespread human rights violations that took place during a specified period of time.
Truth Commissions have been established in: Uganda, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Chile, Chad, South Africa, Germany, El Salvador, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Burundi, South Africa, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Serbia, Peru, Morocco, Ghana, Timor-Leste, Liberia.
Goal: to repair the injury suffered by victims. Usual mechanisms; restitution, apology.
Example: United States: $20,000 was awarded by Congress in 1988 to each American of Japanese ancestry who had been forcibly removed and detained in internment camps located throughout the country during the Second World War.
Restitution can be defined as a token paid in compensation for loss or injury.
Draft a Provision of the Peace Agreement.
Create a role play that negotiates a critical part of a peace agreement or conflict resolution. This could include a provision on a parity law; increasing women at the negotiation table; transitional justice arrangement and (including addressing the role of women in conflict and post conflict); and operationalizing Security Council 1325 and other international conventions and agreements.
Examples of Peace Agreements
The 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) recognizes the lack of representation for women in Sudanese government and society, and attempts to ensure the effective participation of women in government. The 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) provides numerous mechanisms for the protection of women’s rights, including provisions establishing women’s right to participate in government institutions, provisions recognizing the role of women in the economy, and provisions guaranteeing property rights to women. The DPA also requires the Government of Sudan to engage and consult women in the reconstruction, redevelopment, and reintegration efforts in Darfur.
The DPA requires that women who are displaced persons have access to financial assistance and that the government create special programs to address the special needs of women in the reintegration process
The Darfur Peace Agreement, art. 3, paragraph 28 (a (1) the right to marry; (2) maternity and healthcare for pregnant women; and (3) access to education, without discrimination as to gender. The agreement also requires parties to combat harmful customs and other activities that demean the status of women, and to protect lactating women from the death penalty.
The Rwandan Constitution’s Preamble enshrines the core human rights treaties and states:
We, the People of Rwanda,
1° In the wake of the genocide that was organized and supervised by unworthy leaders and other perpetrators and that decimated more than a million sons and daughters of Rwanda;
2° Resolved to fight the ideology of genocide and all its manifestations and to eradicate ethnic, regional and any other form of divisions;
3° Determined to fight dictatorship by putting in place democratic institutions and leaders freely elected by ourselves.
Create a roundtable discussion between conservative Christians and Muslims about the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
Role-play negotiations between two embassies on the transnational issue of cross-border trafficking.
Draft the Basic Elements of a Human Rights Institution.
- Constitutional and legislative frameworks which reflect international human rights norms and standards
- Effective institutions to promote and protect human rights, including central and local levels governments, central and local parliaments, administrations on both the central and local levels, the administration of justice, constitutional courts, and an independent human rights body, such as a national human rights institution and/or ombudsperson.
- Procedures and processes ensuring effective implementation of human rights, including avenues of redress for individuals whose rights have been violated, and open, democratic and participatory decision-making processes.
- Programs and policies for awareness-raising on human rights including women’s rights, through human rights education in schools, universities and professional education institutions, human rights training for public officials and other relevant professionals, as well as awareness-raising campaigns for the public at large.
- The existence of a vibrant democratic civil society with the full and equal participation of men and women, including free, active and independent media and human rights defenders communities.
Film and Discussion: “Women Making Peace” (pizza and salad provided)
Assignment for February 12:
- Read “Portrayal of Gender in Media” pp. 2-9 in course booklet.
- Read Part II…Development. Underline and take notes in the margin; summarize chapters either in the book or on paper.
Women in the Media: Advancing Gender Equality
This session highlights the power of media to define women’s bodies and women’s roles and focuses on the transformative power of the media to challenge those stereotypical paradigms.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. -Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The media plays a profoundly important role in defining the role of engaged citizenship, changing stereotypes about women and men and the way in which national and global security issues are defined.
Peanut Butter and Gender
Title: “Misrepresentations: Gender (In)Equality in the Media”
Dr. Susan Bailey, former Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, and author of 1992 Report, “How Schools Shortchange Girls,” discusses the gender inequality in the media and the transformative power of media to challenge gender stereotypes.
Film and discussion: “Miss Representation”
Group Work: Each group prepares a role play for the following situations:
Potential Candidate: Press conference to announce that you have decided to run for office. Define the issues you stand for.
Press: What are the questions you will ask the candidate?
Head of Civic Organization: Call a press conference to speak out against a horrific incidence of violence against women post revolution or before elections. This could include virginity testing or sexual abuse.
Press: How will you report this incident?
Your group has called for a press conference calling for 30 percent seats for women in parliament. They argue that women form 51% in the country and protested alongside of their men in bringing about the recent change in Libya. What are the arguments you will make for more women in decision making roles.
Press: What information do you need?
You are speaking at a press conference for more women in Constitutional Drafting and Transitional Justice Processes. What arguments will you make?
Press: What questions will you ask? What is your response? The press can ask hard questions in order to challenge speakers’ arguments and elicit the most effective response.
Ministry of Defense: Role play a training program for women in public service on how to use the media to bolster their message.
Trainers: What are the talking points you will need to provide the media? How will you avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes? How will you draw on the impact of women in public service in political, social and economic development in your community?
Assignment for February 19
- Read Part II (pp. 98-282) of 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development.
- Read “Women and Development” pp. 2-9 in course booklet.
Women Shaping Development
Increasingly, the World Bank has come to see that women’s leadership is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.0This session will highlight the evidence-based research from the Gender Equality and Development Report 2012.
The evidence has never been clearer in the words of the Economist Nobel Laureate, Amartya Sen that “nothing is as urgent today in the political economy of development as the recognition of political, economic and social participation and leadership of women.” The flagship World Bank Development Report, 2012, defines Women’s empowerment as the moral and economic imperative of our times. Women’s agency is important for women’s individual well-being; the well-being of women’s families; and for the well-being of their communities. Countries that create better opportunities and conditions for women and girls can raise productivity, improve outcomes for children, make institutions more representative, and advance development prospects for all. Women’s leadership in public service cannot take place in a vacuum. Unless women have equal access to financial resources, property, land, employment, training, vocational services, credit, equal tax provisions, and private/public partnerships, the playing field for women will not be level.
The World Development Report 2012: “Gender Equality and Development,” argues that gender equality as a core development objective is not only a moral imperative but also smart economics. Greater gender equality can enhance productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions more representative. The Report identifies four priority areas where gender gaps are most significant. These areas include: 1)reducing excess female mortality, 2) closing education gaps where they remain, 3) improving access to economic opportunities for women, and 4) increasing women’s voice and agency in the household and in society.
Peanut Butter and Gender
Title: “Gender Equality as Critical Development Policy”
Jeni Klugman, World Bank’s Director of Gender and Development, will discuss the 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development.
- Extended discussion with Jeni Klugman, author of World Development Report on Gender…
- Film: Pink Saris
Assignment for February 26:
- Read “Addressing Violence against Women” pp. 2-18 in course booklet.
- Read “Women’s Rights as Human Rights” pp. 2-14 in course booklet.
- Read up on the following United Nations Policies and write one full paragraph (10-12 sentences) summarizing the content of each convention:
Transformation and implementation of Core Human Rights Conventions: Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Convention against Torture, Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers (ICRMW), and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2000.
Women’s Human Rights
The Human Rights Framework and Violence against Women
“The human rights of women and the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of human rights. The full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic social and cultural life, at the national, regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex are priority objectives of the international community.” –The Vienna Declaration and Platform of Action
When the Former First Lady Hillary Clinton reminded the world that women’s rights were human rights, the international women’s movement was reborn and revitalized. Violence against women is now defined as a human rights abuse. Rape and sexual abuse is often a tool of war and have been defined as crimes against humanity and even war crimes. On the other hand, intimate partner violence kills women and harms their security more than malaria, traffic accidents, and war. Three women in the U.S. are killed daily by intimate partners. Given this epidemic, the argument for women’s leadership becomes a most urgent challenge of our time.
Women’s access to leadership/political participation/public service cannot not take place in a in an environment that subordinates and dis-empowers women. Women’s leadership cannot be isolated from the general status of women in society. Violence against women both in the home and in public is one of the biggest impediments to women’s agency and has enormous social, political and economic ramifications on women and society. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) established that violence against women caused more death and disabilities among women aged fifteen to forty-four than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. In 1992, the U.N. Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee officially noted that violence against women results in the most widespread form of injuries to women between fifteen to forty-four years of age. Unfortunately, in spite of international commitments, the lives of girl children and women around the world are often marked by gendered, discriminatory practices. However, violence against women is now a critical public policy issue of transnational character and showcases how global forces coalesced with local women’s groups and human rights movements to place it on national and transnational policy agendas.
Some Opportunities for Reform: New Developments in the Law
The Afghanistan Domestic Violence Law, 2009, attempts to reconcile human rights with Islamic injunctions:
- The law seeks to eliminate “customs, traditions, practices that cause violence against women contrary to the religion of Islam.”
- The law makes illegal the selling and buying of women for marriage; forced marriage; child marriage; forcing women to commit self-immolation. Acknowledging that women’s rights cannot be realized in Afghanistan unless harmful practices are addressed, the law defines the denial of right to education, work, access to health services as harmful practices. Moreover, the criminalization of the prohibition of an Afghan woman’s or girl’s education is particularly salient.
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, 2011
- This Convention criminalizes Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Kurdistan — Fatwa Against Female Genital Mutilation
Shortly after Human Rights Watch report on Female Genital Mutilation was published in July 2010, the High Commission for Issuing Fatwas at the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union, the highest Muslim religious authority in Iraqi Kurdistan, issued a Fatwa, a religious edict or pronouncement, attesting that FGM is not an Islamic practice. Although the Fatwa did not ban FGM but left the decision to parents, this was an important Fatwa.
Recent Legal Milestone:
- The Kurdistan Family Violence Bill to curb Female Genital Mutilation, 2011 and affirms that FGM is not an Islamic practice
Pakistan, The Acid Control and Burn Crime Prevention Bill, 2010
National Acid Control Councils will be established to implement the Act in every province.
Moreover, the provincial Acid Control Committees are to ensure prevention of sale of acids in their relevant areas of jurisdiction. The Acid and Burn Crime Control Tribunal is to monitor the Act.
Peanut Butter and Gender
Title: “The Imperative Value of CEDAW to Women’s Rights”
Dr. Susan Weld, Executive Director, Law Asia Leadership, Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University, and former General Counsel of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China from 2002 to 2005, will discuss the importance of CEDAW (The Convention To Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women) including law reform and bilateral cooperation.
Participants will break into groups and discuss the following role playing scenarios based on emerging challenges and creating opportunities to address those challenges:
Discuss a plan of action to address state led violence and violence in politics. This can include virginity testing, threats to political candidates and disappearing of political candidates, etc.
Discuss a violence against women law. This can include acid attacks, dowry related crimes etc. Imagine you are a group of stakeholders including NGO, academics, parliamentarians, activists and victims of honor crimes discussing critical provisions to a law. How do you build a consensus; how do you build a team to work on this issue?
Violence against women in Conflict: Transforming UNSC 1325 into practice — this could be a law, policy, plan of action, a speech before congress or a community group.
Crimes against women in the name of honor — Discuss changes to criminal laws to revise crimes against women as mitigating or exculpatory offence. Imagine you are a group of stakeholders including NGO, academics, parliamentarians, activists and victims of honor crimes discussing critical provisions to a law. How do you build consensus, how do you build a team to work on this issue?
Discuss a CEDAW State Party or Shadow report to address violence against women; you could also use this opportunity to discuss SC Resolution 1325 and what has or has not been done to implement that.
Assignment for March 12:
- Read “Work Family Balance and the Impact on Women’s Empowerment” pp. 2-12 in course booklet.
- Read Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis’ essay, “Examining Gender Stereotypes in New Work/Family Reconciliation Policies: The Creation of a New Paradigm for Egalitarian Legislation,” pp. 1-31, in course booklet.
In this session we will explore the ways in which work-family reconciliation policies for both men and women go to the heart of gender equality in the family and at work. New laws, policies, and practices look at the ways men can exercise their rights and duties to caregiving. These new policies attack mainstream gender stereotypes and avoid mainstream gender paradigms.
One of the most globally pervasive harmful cultural practices is the stereotyping of women exclusively as caregivers in a way that limits their opportunity to participate in public life. The assumption that women are the primary or sole caregivers of children is often used to exclude women from the public sphere, especially with regard to political life, promotions and high profile employment opportunities.
Women leaders across the world have identified their dual responsibilities in the public sphere and the family life as being one of the major impediments to their advancement in public life. It is thus important to create new policies that ensure that both men and women choose caregiving responsibilities and both receive similar treatment.
The patriarchal construct of the male head of household is often carried over and replicated in politics and public service. How do we address women’s disenfranchisement as heads of household? When women are denied agency and full citizenship and decision making powers in the home how can they achieve leadership in the public sphere?
Peanut Butter and Gender
Title: “Saving Face”
Today we will show the 2012 Academy Awards winner for Best Documentary (40 minutes) “Saving Face.” Discussion led by Professor Rosanna Hertz, Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wellesley College.
Discussion on Work-Family Reconciliation with Dr. Rosanna Hertz.
Issues to be discussed:
- Unequal access to economic opportunities and incomes, whether in the labor market, public service, agriculture, or entrepreneurship
- Equal pay for equal work
- Wage gaps and productivity gaps between men and women
- Increasing decision making in the family and in the public sphere
- Gender unequal child care policies including social norms around care work that perpetuate wage disparities between men and women
- Lack of power in households and in society and the perpetuation of gender inequality across generations
- Women’s equal access to property and land including joint land titling
- Access to credit
- Substantive gender equality in the public and private sector
- Disparities in girls’ schooling across regions
- Increasing women’s voices at all decision-making levels
- The importance of public/private partnerships: How can governments harness the potential of the private sector to increase access, enhance quality, and improve efficiency in public services
Assignment for March 19:
- Read “Temporary Special Measures for Women in Politics” pp. 2-23 in course booklet.
- Read “Ethics in Public Service” pp. 1-13 in course booklet.
Women and Politics: Erasing the Gender Gap
Peanut Butter and Gender
Title: “In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate”
Judge Nancy Gertner, Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, and former United States federal judge for the District Court in the District of Massachusetts, will discuss her career in legal system to defend women’s rights.
Women cannot transform leadership opportunities for women across society unless their numbers increase. In many countries, gender quotas are responsible for enhancing the participation of women in politics and serve as a mechanism to overcome imbalances in the political representation of men and women and addressing a legacy of discrimination against women. Quotas for women do compensate for actual barriers that prevent women from their fair share of the political seats. Today, quota systems aim to ensure that women constitute at least a “critical mass” of 30 percent as established by the Beijing Platform of Action that was adopted at the historic Fourth World Conference in 2005 in Beijing.
Quotas in Indian local government or the Panchayat Raj
The 1993-94 elections in India brought about some 800,000 women into active political life as a result of the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Indian Constitution which promulgated that one third of the seats in local councils, both urban and rural — the gram Panchayats (GP) — be allotted to women. The Indian experience with local government as a result of the constitutional amendments reserved one third of the seats in local assemblies, the Panchayati Raj, to women thereby sweeping almost one million women into elective politics throughout the country and transforming the face of local government politics in India.
- Do women have equal opportunities to lead?
- Strengths and weaknesses of the quota: how do you address the question that quotas may seem to view women as symbolic representatives at the early stages of game?
- Quotas also may imply that politicians are elected because of their gender, not because of their qualifications, and that more qualified candidates are pushed aside.
- Are quota’s enough? What more must be done to prepare women for politics?
- Are bottom-up quotas that first create a critical mass of women at the local government level effective preparation for women to run for national office?
New and Emerging Quotas for Discussion
Article 16 of Decree-law stipulates that “Candidates shall file their candidacy applications on the basis of parity between men and women. Lists shall be established in such a way to alternate between men and women. Lists that do not follow this principle shall only be admitted when the number of seats, in the relevant constituency is odd.” This provision however does not establish parity in the Tunisian Constituent Assembly.
The Coalition of Libyan National Women is calling for a 30 percent quota. Currently the draft National Congress Election Law in Article 2 calls for a 10 percent quota. The Coalition is challenging this provision.
Under the Conduct of General Elections Order 2002, seats are reserved for women in both the lower house of the parliament (60 of 342 seats, or 17 percent) and in the provincial assemblies (also 17 percent). Thirty three percent of the seats in lower-level councils (union, tehsil, municipality, and district) are reserved for women. Women are elected to the reserved seats in the national parliament and provincial assemblies by a system of proportional representation. In the general elections of 2002, 12 women won seats in the national parliament from generally contested 8 seats, in addition to the 60 reserved seats, making for a total representation of 72 women out of 342 seats, or 21.1 percent.
Film and discussion on “Panchyat”
Assignment for March 26:
Read packet on “Social Media and Women,” pp. 2-31 in course booklet, and respond to questions.
The Transformative Power of Social Media
Social media has increasing come to play a democratizing role in negotiating power, for building communities, and broadening communication. The dangers of social media must be addressed in thoughtful ways, while also harnessing the power of social media to transform communities and power.
Has the shift in the balance of power from nation-states to individuals and from media institutions to citizen journalists through social media had a transformative impact on women’s empowerment? Has the rise of social media led to a democratization of power and politics? There has been research done on the feminization of social media but very little on the transformative potential of social media on women’s empowerment. Social media has helped to blur the distinction between the public and private and thus has potential to make visible in the public sphere hitherto private acts of violence and subordination.
Some case studies examined in the materials include:
Harassmap Egypt is a social media project that utilizes open-source mapping technology to allow women to report incidents of sexual harassment and abuse by sending a text message marking immediately the place where the abuse is taking place.
Women 2Drive, Saudi Arabia. Social media can be a powerful space and a platform for women not only to bear witness to events but it can be an alternative space to rewrite women’s narratives. The Twitter and Facebook campaign in Saudi Arabia on Women2Drive is another critical example of how social media can literally help drive women’s empowerment.
Peanut Butter and Gender
Title: “Empowering Women through Social Media”
Shelly Kapoor Collins, Technology Entrepreneur, Founder of Enscient Corporation, and recently named in the list of “40 Women to Watch over 40.” will discuss best practices of social media for social activism.
Delegates break into groups and design the following based on a cause driven issue:
Group One: Create YouTube video for the network
Group Two: Create Facebook for the network
Group Three: Create Twitter for the network
Group Four: Create a blog for the Network
Group Five: Create a Website (preliminary thoughts)
Assignment for April 2:
- Read “Many Faces of Social Entrepreneurship,” pp. 2-6 in course booklet.
- Read “Addressing Barrier to Economic Empowerment,” pp. 1-10 in course booklet.
- Read “Teaching Women in the Zapatista Movement,” pp. 1-19 in course booklet.
Social Movements and Grassroots Mobilizing
“Social Entrepreneurship is about innovative leaders who provide new ideas to solve intractable social problems and who can transform societies.” -Echoing Green
Peanut Butter and Gender
Title: “Another World is Necessary: Women Leading the Way”
Gustavo Esteva, renowned intellectual activist of Mexico, and advisor to indigenous groups throughout the country, will discuss the leadership of women in Mexico’s contemporary political struggles.
Extended conversation with Gustavo Esteva
No class today. Students work on policy briefs.
Assignment for April 16:
- Read “Guide to Advocacy Campaigns” pp. 2-11 in course booklet.
- Read Chapters 6-8 , pp. 89-164 in Women Lead the Way.
Preparing Policy Briefs
In this session, students will present policy briefs on any topic of their choice (trafficking, women’s violence, environment). Students invite community to their presentations; certificates from Women in Public Service Project are awarded this day.
Peanut Butter and Gender:
Title: “Combating Modern Day Slavery”
Ten years ago, Katherine Chon discovered that slavery still exists in America. In fact, slavery existed two miles from her apartment in Providence, Rhode Island. She immediately decided she had to do something, and co-founded the Polaris Project upon graduating college. She shares her story, staggering statistics on human trafficking, and what Polaris is doing to combat modern-day slavery.
Students continue to present policy briefs.