Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Second E-Book of Gender Case Studies Launched!

The Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender celebrates the release of the second e-book of gender case studies: Gender Perspectives in Case Studies across Continents, Volume II, edited by Brenda Gael McSweeney, Initiator of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture, and Development.

This second volume opens with a Foreword by Saniye Gülser Corat, Director for Gender Equality at UNESCO Paris, followed by ten case studies that explore gender equality around the world, and concludes with an Afterword by Gloria Bonder, Coordinator of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender anchored in Buenos Aires. The broader themes of this volume are women's political empowerment, economic livelihoods, gender gaps in education, and combatting exploitation. The authors who are UNESCO Chairs, also Partners and Affiliates of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network share gender perspectives on key challenges in nine countries around the globe. 

Here are the links:

To the volume itself:

To the Global Network announcement:

To the PDF version:

Please enjoy and share!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BU’s Dr. Roberta Micallef presents “Facing the Skeletons: Trauma and Narrative for Turkish Women in Prison”

Dr. Roberta Micallef presented a chapter of her ongoing exploration of women’s autobiographical works in the late Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, on 22 October 2014 as part of the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies’ lunch discussion series. The chapter she shared concerned prison narratives by political prisoners. Micallef’s study of Turkish women’s autobiographical works starts with late nineteenth century first person narratives by Ottoman royal women and women in the employ of the Ottoman household as well as important figures of the Turkish War of Independence such as Halide Edib Adivar. Women intellectuals, poets and writers of the Republic of Turkey and their changing notions of self over time and their changing notions of what should be included in life writing are covered in the intervening two chapters. 

Following a chapter on “Dutiful daughter of the Republic,” that on prison narratives on which the lunch talk was based explores the limits of autobiography and women’s autobiographical writings. Micallef examined when and under what circumstances language fell apart or what particular stories were simply too overwhelming to be narrated by the subject but were supplied later by other interlocutors. Micallef explored the effects of incarceration on the prisoners and their families, notably the impact of daughters’ imprisonment on their mothers. 

Based on the texts she analyzed, Micallef’s preliminary conclusions are that women in their daily lives face trauma simply because they are women, whether it is in the form of domestic violence or sexual harassment; that women who engage in political activism gain a new more independent and confident voice; that women who face sexual violence are able to overcome it if they can contextualize in terms of a larger pattern of violence; and that writing or speaking about their experience helps them to overcome the trauma.

Watch this space for news of her next publication!

Introduction of the speaker by Professor Deborah Belle, BU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and former Director, WGS:

“Roberta Micallef is Associate Professor of the Practice, Head of the Turkish Language Program, and Master Lecturer in Turkic Languages and Literatures at Boston University. She is also a deeply valued member of the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program. Roberta earned her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas in Austin. She then gained considerable cross-cultural experience when she taught at the University of Uppsala in Sweden and then at the University of Utah, coming to Boston University in 2005, where she has been a valued teacher and colleague ever since. 

In recent years, among many honors and activities, Roberta has been:
- participated in a Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Distinguished Lecture and Research Workshop;
- invited by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to serve on the Critical Languages Scholarship Turkish Language Advisory Board; and
- invited to join a network of 17 international scholars examining Muslim women’s autobiographical writings, which was sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom.

She is co-editor (with Sunil Sharma) of On the Wonders of Land and Sea, a collection of essays on Muslim travel narratives.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Yennega Featured in UNESCO Award-Winning E-Learning Tool

Exciting news came our way that we want to share with you - UNESCO's E-Learning Tool on Women in African History just won first prize from UN Women and ITU (International Telecommunications Union)!

This tool was developed with input from the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network anchored at Boston Unversity's Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program. It features a module on Warrior Princess Yennega, a powerful figure in Burkinabe history who is famous for her leadership in defending her territory from invasion in the 12th century. 

The managers/developers of this unique site aimed at African youth, UNESCO's Sasha Rubel and Edouard Joubeaud, used photographs from Brenda Gael McSweeney's portfolio on Burkina, as well as published articles by women's education pioneer Scholastique Kompaoré and Brenda with Casey Fox. For a glimpse of some of this material from the Women in African History interactive site, please click here

The E-Learning tool is an enticing combination of comic strips, music, quizzes, and resource material to engage learners from all backgrounds and boost awareness of women's historic roles across Africa and in the African diaspora. Do check out this award-winning site here! For more information about the Gender Equality Through Technology First Prize Winner and the impact of the Women in African History site, please see this article.

Monday, November 17, 2014

UNESCO/UNITWIN Congratulates Unbound Visual Arts on Enlivening the Creative Economy: Allston Arts District!

Unbound Visual Arts participated as a guest organization in the Allston Open Studios 2014, to help boost the creative economy for artists, art supporters, and all in the Greater Boston area.

Christine Winship, Board of Directors of Unbound Visual Arts at the
Allston Open Studios: 9-10 November 2014. Famous as the Pedigree Artist, Christine specializes in painting animals, frequently people's pets!

Sharing the studio space is UVA artist Nadia Richman -
featured are her dramatic seascapes 
from Hull and  other nearby coastal vistas.

UVA Executive Director John Quatrale curated the exhibit in the UVA Suite. Here we catch a glimpse at left of the Warrior Princess Yennega (Burkina Faso) by Brenda Gael McSweeney, UVA Council of Advisors, from UNESCO's prize-winning African Women in History e-learning tool.
At right is a painting by UVA artist Robin Dawkins,
and one by Sustaining Member Barbara Sawin at top.

UVA Photographer Fran Gardino's exhibition occupied the top floor of the Allston Open Studios.  Fran also screened an advance viewing of his Brighton-Allston Time Travels 360-degree photos!
Fran is on UVA's Council of Advisors, and the
 Board of Directors of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society. 

Unbound Visual Arts is the UNESCO/ UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & Development's newest affiliate - bringing an additional accent to our engagement in the cultural arena and educational outreach.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vogue features Gurmeet Rai and preserving cultural heritage!

We are pleased to announce that Gurmeet Rai, a Founding Member of our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network was recently featured in Vogue magazine, the July 2014 issue for 'Monuments Women'! She hopes the publicity will help in promoting the cause of implementing the Red Fort conservation plan in a systematic integrated way. Also, it may be helpful in the Punjab government taking up and implementing the well thought out cultural heritage policy that Gurmeet and the CRCI (Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative) have spearheaded.  Congratulations, Meeta! 

                                              Photo: Vogue India July 2014 

You are Invited: WGS and GaIDI/WSRC Co-sponsored HBI Lecture by Prof. Fareda Banda of SOAS on International Law & Global Challenges Facing Women (at Brandeis University)

We're happy to invite you to a Hadassah-Brandeis Institute lecture on Sunday 9 November, 2014 at 7:30pm at Brandeis in Waltham. Professor Banda (Zimbabwe) has a reputation as a forceful and knowledgeable speaker! 

Fareda, who hails from the Faculty of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) - University of London, has prepared a report for the UN on discrimination against women and is considered a leading expert on CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) and other treaties on the rights of women. 

Likely topics: Do global women's rights seem like a tug-of-war? 
                      Normative gains, especially in the area of violence
                      The latest backsliding on issues such as reproductive rights

Venue: Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library, Brandeis University
              415 South Street, Waltham, Massachusetts

This Hadassah-Brandeis Institute-hosted event of the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, is being co-sponsored by The Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS) at Boston University; and by GaIDI (Gender and International Development Initiatives) of the Women's Studies Research Center (WSRC), and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, both at Brandeis University.
Please feel free to spread the word!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Roberta Salper Speaks at The Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at BU

On October 23, 2014 the WGS Program at Boston University hosted a book reading and party celebrating Dr. Roberta Salper. Roberta is a Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University. Her book, Domestic Subversive: A Feminist’s Take on the Left 1960-1976 is “an intimate, riveting memoir about the making of a political radical during the upheaval of the 1960s. It is both a personal journey and an inside look at political movements that changed the world. Roberta Salper became one of the pioneers of a new field of study that would be known as Women’s Studies.” Source: Anaphora Literary Press 

Roberta Salper reading; WGS Director Carrie Preston to her left, and Dr. Barbara Gottfried at far left

Back at her BU alma mater, Roberta shared her experience and stories from Fascist Spain, Cuba and beyond, amidst selected readings from her book. 

This fascinating event was sponsored by the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS) at Boston University, and cosponsored by GaIDI (Gender and International Development Initiatives) of the Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC) at Brandeis University. 

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

Wednesday, June 25, 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, Professor 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 by Cassandra Fox will 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, a former Visiting Scholar at BU/WGS, 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", UNESCO Chair 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, Rose O'Connell-Marionand 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.

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.

In "Legacy of the Reduction of Enslavement of Men and Women: Several Cases from West Africa", Aminata Kiello will be examining 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.

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, Brenda Gael McSweeney and Rose O'Connell-Marion