Wednesday, August 13, 2014

SEGA Girls Exhibit Comes to Newton, MA

Photos courtesy of Warren Zelman Photography

Unbound Visual Arts (UVA), the newest UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Affiliate, is proud to announce an new photography exhibit on the SEGA (Secondary Education for Girls' Advancement) students of Tanzania. The event will be co-sponsored by UVA, Nurturing Minds Northeast Chapter, and the West Suburban YMCA in Newton, MA. Owing to popular acclaim, this is now a "traveling" UVA exhibition that was previously shared during Women's History Month (March 2014) in Brighton, MA.

The exhibit features the work of award-winning photographer Warren Zelman, who portrays and supports the academic and social life of the girls at the SEGA school. SEGA is a remarkable initiative of Nurturing Minds, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the crucial issue of girls' education in Tanzania. This tallies with UNESCO's Global Priorities of promoting gender equality, and Africa.

Warren Zelman: Adventures in Photography

An exhibit reception will be held on Friday, September 12 from 7-9 PM. The exhibition runs from July to September 2014 and is open daily from 5:45 am - 10:00 pm Monday to Friday and 7:00 am - 7:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. The event is being held in the Oval Gallery of the West Suburban YMCA, located at 276 Church St., Newton, MA.

For more information, a preview of additional images featured in the exhibit, and the bios of exhibit Photographer Warren Zelman and Curator John Quatrale, please see Unbound Visual Arts' website.

At the Brighton Athan's Café Gallery Exhibit: (l to r) State Representative Kevin Honan, Nusura Gundi of SEGA (Secondary Education for Girls' Advancement),
and UVA Executive Director John Quatrale who is also Curator of the SEGA Girls Exhibition at the West Suburban YMCA

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Save the Dates: “Song Cycles” to Open at the Honan-Allston Library Art Gallery

Baul minstrels singing & dancing in rural Shantiniketan
Unbound Visual Arts, an affiliate of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & Development, is excited to announce its upcoming exhibit “Song Cycles” curated by Julia Ryan, which will open on June 4 and run until July 30. The exhibit will feature a rich array of artwork and photography around the theme of music “as an agent with potential to permeate all moments and media.” The work of seventeen members of Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) will be featured, including founding Board member Christine Winship, founding Council of Advisors member Brenda Gael McSweeney, and Council member Heidi Lee. 

Incorporating UNESCO’s international focus, the exhibit will include Brenda's story in photographs of West Bengal’s traditional Baul musicians. Capturing the rich cultural heritage of this Indian folk tradition, which UNESCO has classified as a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity,” these photographs highlight the cultural and artistic influence of the musicians. Chandana Dey, a Founding Member of the UNITWIN Network residing in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, has contributed one of the exhibit's storyboards.

Christine Winship's entry is titled "The Dude from Phantom Glue" and Heidi Lee's is "Mendelssohn's Concerto." 

An opening reception will be held on June 18, from 6-7:45 PM at the Honon-Allston Library Art Gallery. For more information and a 'coming attraction' preview of the exhibit, please visit Unbound Visual Arts’ website

The Guest Curator, Julia Ryan of Jamaica Plain, has strong experience and knowledge in the history of art, visual arts, performance art, education, and the French language.  She has worked directly with artists in museums, including The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and other non-profits and colleges to support them in actualizing their exhibitions and performances. About Song Cycles, Julia writes: "In my selection, I hope to represent the many ways one can interpret music through painting, sculpture and photography, whether that be through vibrancy of color, undulation of form or literal experience." (Source: UVA website)

Gender Group girls dancing to Baul-inspired Tagore music
Sudhir at a Baul musical performance organized by Krishno Dey,
Founding UNITWIN Member, at Mitali  the "Abode of Peace"

Friday, May 2, 2014

Save the Date: Presentation on The Brighton-Allston Women's Heritage Trail


On Thursday, May 22, 2014, a Women's Heritage program sponsored by the Brighton-Allston Historical Society (BAHS) will begin at 7:15 at the Brighton-Allston Congregational Church, 404 Washington Street, Brighton Center. The BAHS is an affiliate of the UNESCO/UNITWIN on Gender, Culture, & Development.

Do join to learn the stories of some of the distinguished (and often overlooked) women who helped build the social and cultural fabric of Allston-Brighton.

This unique program will feature fifteen local women and women’s organizations of distinction. Presentations by members of the Women’s History Group of the BAHS will highlight the extraordinary lives, struggles and achievements of Brighton-Allston women spanning three centuries. This PowerPoint event will also showcase the historic and often magnificent architectural sites where these remarkable women wrote best-selling novels and newspaper broadsheets, produced world-famous Paul Revere pottery,and advocated successfully for women’s rights. An interactive discussion and refreshments will round out the evening.

For further information contact the Brighton-Allston Historical Society.
Visit our website at

Inline image 1
Famed Brighton author Fanny Fern circa 1880

Mary Ann Faneuil Bethune, embattled heiress 
Hannah (Webster) Foster, novelist 
Sarah Worcester, de facto postmistress 
Sarah (Willis) Eldredge – "Fanny Fern", journalist
Elizabeth (Rowell) Thomson, philanthropist
Mary Jane (Kingsley) Merwin, historian

Harriet (Hollis) Baldwin, educational reformer, second President of the Brighthelmstone Club
Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston and Mt. St. Joseph’s Academy for Girls
Ellen (Marrett) Gifford, Philanthropist, Founder of the Ellen M. Gifford Sheltering Home for Animals
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and School of Nursing
Edith Guerrier / Edith Brown / Helen Osborne Storrow, Paul Revere Pottery and The Saturday Evening Girls
Jennie Loitman Barron, first full-time woman judge in Massachusetts
Alice Gallagher, namesake Alice Gallagher Memorial Park
Veronica Smith, namesake of the Veronica Smith Senior Center
Sister Marie Augusta Neal, SND, educator, author, researcher, committed social justice activist

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

News from our India-based Network Member Asha Mukherjee!

We are thrilled to share with you an update from Asha Mukherjee of the Department of Philosophy, Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India - a Founding University Partner of our UNESCO/UNITWIN. Most recently, Asha participated on a panel entitled "Women Philosophers and the Enrichment of Philosophy" at the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy at the University of Athens. The following is an abstract of the paper "Feminist Concern in India and the "Other"" which Asha presented as part of the panel.

Asha Mukherjee (at right) pauses for a picture with other panel participants at the
23rd World Congress of Philosophy at the University of Athens 
"At the core of the Women's Rights movement debate, there lies a need to interrogate the very being of individual person, self, and "other" for accommodating the claims and the counter claims of rights to be creatively human, the promise of mankind which gets threatened by any destructive self of the few in power either political or social or economic or religious. The history of the world has witnessed such threats again and again. Women's rights discourse is meaningful only in the context of the "other" which presupposed that there is self and the 'other' which is also a self (basically) and the self must relate to the other self. If the self is relating to the other, then only social relationship becomes meaningful. The question is how to relate with the other. The relation with the other could be cohesive, peaceful, cooperative, and dutiful or it could be antagonistic, demanding, claiming, counter-claiming. In society, the other as co-human exists (whether we like it or not) whose existence is a requirement of my existence in the society. What kind of requirement is it? Is it just a social need or is it deeper than that? These are important questions which I would discuss in the paper. But the "other" can exist as human - a dignified person and demands reciprocity on the part of every individual - as Kant would say 'Treat Humanity as an end and never as a means only' (Foundations of Metaphysics of Morals). It is the inter subjectivity, the relation with "other" which is the cornerstone that makes my world and society meaningful even from an Indian feminist perspective. Questions of identity of the women and identity of men, the nature of discrimination with respect to gender and related questions would be dealt with in depth and finally if there is no discrimination of gender, does feminism make any sense would be discussed." 

Attendees of the "Women Philosophers and the Enrichment of Philosophy" panel
In addition to her involvement with the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy (August 4-10, 2013), Asha recently presented her paper "Religion as a Separate Area of Study in India" at a workshop entitled "Whose Religion? Education about Religion in Public Schools". The workshop was held at the University of Ottawa in November 2013. While in Canada, Asha also gave two talks on "Social Justice in India: A Gender Perspective". Asha was also the Founding Director of the Women's Studies Centre, Visva-Bharati. We're excited to read about and share the important work that our UNITWIN colleague Asha has been doing around the globe! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Second E-Book of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender in Progress!

Following the exciting March 2013 release of our first e-book of gender case studies of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender, we are delighted to announce that preparation of the second is well advanced. Brenda Gael McSweeney (Boston University and Brandeis University) is the Editor of this volume. Overarching themes include women's political empowerment, economic livelihoods, gender gaps in education, and combatting exploitation. Please see below for a glimpse of the content  of this publication, to be released in 2014. The Global Network's first e-book, "Gender perspectives in case studies across continents" can also be read here.

The new volume will open with a Foreword by Saniye Gülser Corat, Director for Gender Equality at UNESCO Paris, and conclude with an Afterword by Gloria Bonder, Coordinator of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender anchored in Buenos Aires.

Gender Case Studies:

Women and Higher Education

In "Gender Equality in Tertiary Education of Cyprus: The perceived superiority of men as academics and researchers", authors Mary Koutselini, Froso Patsalidou, and Katerina Tsimpimpaki analyze the causes and effects of gender equality within the academic profession in Cyprus. This inequality is illustrated through the underrepresentation of women in academic posts, their limited numbers in the rank of professorship, their absence in decision-making bodies and positions, and the restricted participation of women in externally funded research positions. Using quantitative and qualitative data, as well as historical context, the authors analyze the prevalent assumption of male superiority in research and academia.

Fernand Sanou of the University of Ouagadougou is coordinating a team paper with Afsata ParéSoumaïla KeitaAminata Elisabeth Ouédraogo, and Guidouma Oumar Sanouon the performance of girls in science at the secondary and university levels in Burkina Faso. Drawing as well on earlier studies in the US and France, the team works to identify the complex sociocultural factors that influence female performance in the sciences in the West African context. By carefully measuring and analyzing factors ranging from profession of parents to hours per day spent on domestic work, the authors explore the gendered breakdown of academic performance. The goal is to identify reasons that female students consistently perform less well than their male counterparts in certain subjects, with the long-term vision of addressing these inequalities in order to create a system that is truly egalitarian.

A summary will also be available in English, titled 'Female Performance in the Sciences at Secondary and University Levels in Burkina Faso'.

Livelihoods and Political Voice

"Visible or Invisible Money: Different Opportunities for Rural Women in Iran" will explore the factors that led to the financial failure of a group of women beekeepers in Iran, in spite of microfinance loan support from national and international donors. Soheila Alirezanejad discusses the the cultural and socioeconomic factors that inhibited the women from sustaining their business, including gendered expectations from their families, as well as divergent cultural conceptions of money. These factors prevented the women from understanding the sources of their capital or the conditions of their loans. Drawing from seven years of observation, as well as interviews with the women, Alirezanejad's ethnographic work addressed many of the cultural challenges of international development and philanthropy.

In "Role of Gender Quota Systems in Polish Parliamentary Elections After the Fall of Communism" Renata Siemienska addresses the changing cultural attitudes towards gender equality to evaluate the status of women in politics in Poland. Women have been seeking political candidacy in increasing numbers, but face limited success and prominence even with the implementation of quota-based systems during elections in 2001 and 2011. Siemienska attributes these obstacles to the inconsistency of cultural support for women's political participation, which in turn limits access to cultural capital that women candidates need in order to be elected to public office - particularly authority and economic resources.

"Irish Women Today: Perspectives from Galway to Dublin on Gender Equality", reveals that Ireland is a highly 'developed' nation, yet gender disparities persist, particularly in the areas of wages and political voice. Through interviews with Irish women and men, Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney (with Raffi Freedman-Gurspan and Jade Sank) shares factors that contributed to these disparities, as well as some steps taken that improved women's political empowerment and employment opportunities.

Confronting Domination

"'Indrer Pori' - Nachni, a Tragedy" is a paper from West Bengal, India that addresses the social exclusion of nachni, low-caste women who work as traditional dancers and performers under the abusive and exploitative authority of male proprietors, or "rashiks". Author Jharna Panda explores the socioeconomic factors that lead these women to a life of exploitation, and explains the social and cultural rejection that they face as a consequence of their position, in spite of the high cultural value ascribed to their art.

In "Legacy of the Reduction of Enslavement of Men and Women: Several Cases from West Africa", Aminata Kiello examines the gendered impact of historical to modern-day slavery in West Africa, as well as its impact on the development of African societies. This paper highlights the stigmas of modern-day slavery, particularly for women, who are subjugated both within the family structure and the broader society, and who may be subject to a gender-specific form of slavery known as wahaya ("fifth wives"). Championing empowerment through education and cultural pride, Kiello argues that combatting the economic, social, and psychological determinants of slavery is key to West African development overall.

A summary of the above essay, submitted in French, will be available in English.

Another contribution is an educational tool in English and in French. It is a story in photographs of West African women's empowerment: roles and rights of women in Burkina Faso over four decades. This is based on action-research by Brenda Gael McSweeney and Scholastique Kompaoré, with Cassandra Fox. The tool has also been used for outreach to Boston communities via the Boston Public Library and a photo exhibition.

Activism Across the Decades

Margaret "Peg" Snyder, the founding director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), will contribute "How African Women led the World: The Story of the Women's Centre of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)". This paper identifies the events which led up to the 1975 founding of the first UN regional center for women, in a time when none of the other five UN regional commissions in the world had programs or staff dedicated to addressing women's concerns. The program, which later became the African Training and Research Centre for Women (ATRCW), was formed in response to demands from African women, whose roles in economic development were frequently unacknowledged in the modern sectors of agriculture, industry, commerce and government. Through institution-building, innovative approaches to women, documentation, and inter-agency cooperation, the ATRCW became a global model for addressing this major obstacle to development.

Jean Chapman, a Research Associate at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, Montreal, is sharing a personal narrative of student engagement with the Left in India in the 1970s, when she was attending Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. This was also a presentation in March 2014 at the Conference, “A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the Late 1960s and Early 1970s” sponsored by Boston University’s Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS), that anchors our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network.

Boston University student and activist Alessandra "Sasha" Goodfriend has contributed "Students for Gender Advocacy: Comparative Analysis of the Center for Gender, Sexuality, & Activism at Boston University and the 2110* Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University". In this exciting collaborative work, this young author examines the student activism tactics employed in addressing issues of gender and sexual assault on university campuses. The author will compare her experiences as an activist for the formation of the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center at Boston University with the student-led strikes in Montreal, Quebec. Sasha acknowledges fellow student and activist Gabrielle Newton for her contributions on this important topic.

*Since renamed 'Centre for Gender Advocacy' as of June 2013.

Post contributed by: Cassandra Fox, Lucia Hsiao, Katherine Lochery, and Rose O'Connell-Marion