Fellows 2017

Ali Alhareth Ali Al Sammarraie

Ali Alhareth Ali Al Sammarraie (Iraq)

Khatoonah: Blog for the Female Iraqi Diaspora

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, more than six hundred thousand Iraqis living in Europe and thirty-seven thousand in the United States. An additional 1.7 million Iraqis are internally displaced people, with 40% of those being women. In order to better connect these displaced people, this project uses social media to create a blog platform specifically for women in the Iraqi diaspora. The blog site will combine news, personal stories, and social posts with articles spotlighting exceptional Iraqi women from the diaspora. The project focuses on peer information sharing and education by women who would otherwise be disconnected from their larger community. Importantly, women will be the decision makers regarding the content and form of the blog site.




Bisharo Ali Hussein

Bisharo Ali Hussein (Somalia)

Addressing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) through Promoting Literacy for Girls and Women in Rural Puntland-Somalia

Millions of girls below the age of 15 undergo FGM in Somalia, despite efforts to curtail the harmful practice. Past efforts to reduce FGM have been led by health professionals from outside the communities in rural Puntland. This project, however, proposes local leadership and focusses on educating community members about this harmful practice. The pilot program aims to introduce an anti-FGM curriculum into the local schools with the goal of nationwide adoption later. Education targets girls, women, and FGM practitioners in the community to help them better understand the harmful impact of FGM. Practitioners of FGM will be redirected towards positive practices that empower girls and women in Somalia. Importantly, this project recognizes that women, as both practitioners and victims of FGM, are the keys to changing this societal practice.

Hand-in-hand with the curriculum, the project leaders will create a network of community champions who will actively work to end FGM in their communities. The network will lobby the government to adopt the anti-FGM curriculum nationwide, to change FGM policies and laws, and to protect the rights of women and girls who are at risk for FGM.



Caroline Kalagala Kanyago

Caroline Kalagala Kanyago (Uganda)

Engendering Employment Relationships: Intergrating a Gender Perpective into the Ugandan Employment Law

Employment law in Uganda focuses on individual employment relationships and connected matters. Although the Employment Act provides for the promotion of equality, the law is not designed to address institutional and systemic barriers to gender equality. Legal principles that promote gender equality in the Employment Act co-exist with seemingly neutral standards that reinforce gender inequality. The legal rules in the Act are based on the traditional ideal worker with limited or no family responsibilities. The new goal of promoting equality between men and women enshrined in the Employment Act has an impact on the set up of traditional employment relations. Therefore, designing legal standards that accommodate both men and women is essential. This essay is structured around two feminist and gender perspectives guided by two questions: What is the role of the Employment Act in describing society and how can we integrate gender in the framework of employment law to promote gender equality?  The first gender perspective involves identifying the experiences of men and women in relation to the law and examining whether legal provisions favor one gender and disadvantage the other. The second perspective recommends modifying employment standards to incorporate a feminist and gender perspective to ensure that the rights of men and women employees are covered by the law. This includes reviewing the working time to accommodate workers with family and care responsibilities, legal recognition of indirect discrimination, and increasing the involvement of the state and employers in promoting gender equality in employment.



Devashia Tishana Whyte

Devashia Tishana Whyte (Jamaica)

Addressing Violence against Women and Girls: A Secondary School Based and Community Approach

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is prevalent in Jamaica where it accounts for 50% of deaths among women. VAWG is not just murder. It includes any act that causes psychological, sexual, and/or physical harm to women or girls. The root cause of VAWG in Jamaica is the gendered, social-cultural norms of male dominance and female subservience stemming from colonialism and slavery. Jamaica’s high level of VAWG is in violation of the CEDAW that Jamaican government ratified in 1984. Government interventions since then have failed to change the cultural norms of violent masculinity. 

This project addresses the root causes of VAWG in Jamaica by raising awareness in secondary schools in the rural town of Darliston, Westmoreland. Furthermore, the project will combine awareness raising with trainings both in the schools and in the communities to increase knowledge on the issue and give students, parents, and teachers tools to address VAWG and its causes. In order to truly address VAWG, the project includes trainings, social clubs, and other activities for both boys and girls at Maud McLeod High School.



Ekram Mohammednegash Osman

Ekram Mohammednegash Osman (Ethiopia)

Women’s Economic Empowerment in Ethiopia: The Concept and the Practice

Women’s empowerment is a broad term used by feminist movements with its exact definition being left to the context of use. Economic empowerment is a narrower phrase that looks at access to economic resources along with the power to control them. As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Ethiopia needs to understand the discourse around the economic empowerment of women in order to address the current economic disparities between men and women.

This PhD proposal focuses on discourse analysis as a tool to answer the following research questions:

1. How does the Ethiopian government understand economic empowerment in its policy frameworks and discourses? How does its understanding differ with international governmental and non-governmental organization working in Ethiopia? How is economic empowerment measured? Who measures it? What kinds of measurements exist?

2. How do the Ethiopian economic empowerment policies and practices increase women’s agency in socio-economic and political spheres? 

Both gender and development theories will inform the analysis of primary and secondary sources to move the discussion about women’s economic empowerment forward.



Farah Mnekbi

Farah Mnekbi (Tunisia)

Terrorism and Security: Female Terrorism in Tunisia

This research paper is a critical analysis of gender and terrorism, specifically focused on recruiting in Tunisia. The research looks at recruiting efforts that focus on women and compares that to the actual experiences of women in terrorist groups in Tunisia. Interviews with two, female ex-terrorists show that the women felt they would be more empowered in terrorist groups than they were in mainstream Tunisian society. The research documents the links that exists between the proliferation of international terrorist organizations in Tunisia and what some Tunisian women view as a lack of opportunity, significance, and security in mainstream Tunisian society in contrast with the roles, influence, and opportunities that terrorist organizations appear to offer. The desire to be equal to men is the main explanation as to why Tunisian women are joining terrorist groups. After joining these groups, female recruits mostly find themselves more marginalized than before and often regret their decision. 



Filipe Silvestre Mate

Filipe Silvestre Mate (Mozambique)

The Effects of Drought on Girls in Rural Mozambique in 2016

Between 2015 and early 2017, Mozambique was hit by drought from low rainfall that led the government to seek humanitarian assistance. Statistics reveal that more than 2.2 million people have been affected by drought in the country. This water shortage affects men, women, boys, and girls in the communities differently due to hegemonic masculinity leading to entrenched gender roles and a gendered division of labor from the household level up to the entire society. Understanding the effects of the drought on girls starts from understanding the causes and then moving towards minimizing them, so that girls will be less affected.

When it comes to drought situations, some human rights are likely to be neglected. These rights may include:  the right to equal opportunity to education, the right to food, and the right to reproductive health. When drought occurs, girls are more likely to be exposed to violence while fetching water. They also tend to drop out of school because they have to help in domestic activities traditionally assigned to girls and wives. The recent drought has exposed the vulnerability of the citizens of Mozambique, especially young girls in the rural areas of the country. This essay presents patriarchy and hegemonic masculinity as the main theory to understand the unequal impact of drought on girls in rural Mozambique.



Grace Takomana

Grace Takomana (Malawi)

Quinoa for Wealth and Health: Integrating Nutrition in the Establishment of a Gender Focused Value Chain of Quinoa

This project aims to break the cycle of subsistence farming poverty and malnutrition in Malawi. Currently in Malawi, children under five with stunted growth make up 37.1% of the population of that age, underweight is 11.7%, and wasting is 2.7% among children. This is largely caused by the inadequate, yet socially acceptable, diets of children under five which are composed of insufficient micro-nutrients and poor-quality protein. Added to this, most agriculture in Malawi is made up of small shareholder plots that are used for subsistence farming and most agricultural products to not make it to the market. The cycle of poverty is furthered by a lack of funds to buy agricultural inputs to better both diet and farming in Malawi.

Introducing quinoa into farming communities will transform them from being predominantly poor and malnourished into being prosperous and well-nourished, while mitigating vulnerability to climate change and facilitating change of gender roles to eliminate disparities. Quinoa is a crop rich in quality proteins and of higher economic value compared to traditional Malawian crops. Through pilot testing under diverse natural circumstances in Malawi, it has proven to be resistant to climate changes, showing great potential in supplementing traditional Malawian crops. The project will impact farmers through product testing, training and outreach. Since subsistence farming and feeding families are primarily done by women, then project with greatly benefit local women farmers and their families.



Haneen H. S. Salameh

Haneen H. S. Salameh (Palestine)

Combating Electronic Violence against Women and Girls in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Ramallah City, West Bank

Women and girls in Palestine suffer high rates of violence due to cultural and institutional barriers. This is not limited to face-to-face violence as electronic violence is on the rise, especially against young women aged 15 to 22. Electronic violence includes harassment, threats, and use of degrading images, as well as identity theft. According to the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development, 73% of women are abused online.

This project focuses on the abuse happening to young women in Palestine. It takes a multi-level approach of awareness raising, education, and lobbying for legal change to help victims and potential victims and to increase awareness of the issue in society as a whole. The project will use online platforms, flash mobs, and traditional media to increase awareness. Education and victim counseling will take place at new social protection centers to give victims a secure place for healing from the impact of electronic violence. Finally, the project leaders will work with existing lobbying groups to pressure the government to adopt a modern cyber-crimes penal code. Together, all these activities will help decrease the incidences of electronic violence and increase the number of convictions.



Harriet Adong

Harriet Adong (Uganda)

Promoting Sexual Reproductive Health rights of Adolescents and Youths in Northern Uganda, Otuke District

This project directly addresses the rising birth rates and reproductive health of young people in northern Uganda through advocacy, peer education, increased services, and better economic opportunities for young women. Currently, over 50% of women in Uganda have children before the age of 20, and the average number of children per mother is seven. Access to contraception and other reproductive health services is low in rural areas, such as the Otuke District. This, combined with social norms valuing reproduction and a child marriage rate of 59%, has led to a high birth rate for young women and girls along with dangers such as mortality and infant death.

In order to combat these factors, the Foundation for Integrated Rural Development (FIRD) proposes a multi-faceted approach. Increased access to reproductive and sexual health services will help to reduce health-related risks and gender-based violence. Through trained peer educators, young people in the most marginalized areas will learn about sexual and reproductive health and their rights. FIRD will work to strengthen local support systems and youth-led community groups to work against the social norms leading to child marriage and to increase understanding of sexual and reproductive health. At the end of the project, both individuals and communities will be left stronger and with better knowledge regarding health services and rights.



Kevin Ekechukwu Ogbajie

Kevin Ekechukwu Ogbajie (Nigeria)

Fish Farming Agribusiness: A Panacea to Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment in Nigeria

The objective of this project is to introduce, train and equip rural women in the Bende area of south-east Nigeria in aquaculture as an alternative means of livelihood and economic diversification, using an entrepreneurship approach. The overall goal is to alleviate rural poverty through the core objectives of increasing household income, food security, diversifying nutrition and agriculture, and increasing gender equality within rural communities through entrepreneurial empowerment of women aquaculturalists/ agriculturalists. The project will also support mitigation of water scarcity and provide access to clean, potable water. 
Despite women accounting for up to 70% of agricultural activities, cultural and religious perceptions, as well as other socioeconomic factors have pushed Nigerian women towards smallholder-level subsistence farming in an otherwise broad and diverse agricultural system. Gender inequality is rampant in the rural areas of Nigeria and has proven to be a considerable barrier for poverty alleviation and rural development in the country. The rural women of Nigeria should be able to earn a real income from their time and labor, one that provides decision-making power over financial matters within their households. On successful completion and implementation of the project, it will have trained and empowered at least 50 women heads of household in aquaculture, contributed to their and their rural community’s poverty alleviation, and increased food security.



Leonard Brave Chimbali

Leonard Brave Chimbali (Malawi)

Economic Empowerment of Rural Women: Income Generating Project Development through  Agricultural Based Entrepreneurship in Machinga District

Women in the Machinga District of Malawi are marginalized through lingering patriarchal systems combined with poverty and environmental degradation. The district has a population of almost 370,000 people, most of whom survive on less than $1.00 a day that comes primarily from agricultural labor. Women do not have equal access to resources for agricultural production, which further limits their income.

This project works against the reality of women in the Machinga District by putting market power directly in their hands. Through community partners, 200 women will be recruited for entrepreneurial training to head income generating projects. The project includes marketing initiatives to overcome the lack of links between the local producers and national markets. By using the household model for development, this project works to help not just individual women, but also the households they manage.



Lida Reca

Lida Reca (Afghanistan)


Analysis of the UNDP Master’s Program in Gender and Women Studies at Kabul University: Recommendations for a context responsive curriculum

This paper presents an analysis of the UNDP Master’s Programme in Gender and Women studies at Kabul University and recommendations for a context-responsive curriculum. The paper focuses on the effectiveness of the programme in terms of educating local gender experts. It explores institutional professionalism and pedagogical approaches and how these can empower or dis-empower students.

This paper draws on findings based on data collection that includes a document review of Kabul University’s Gender and Women Studies curriculum and an analysis of student responses to an electronic survey on their experiences of attending the program. The analytical framework applied in my study draws on curriculum and empowerment theories. My main findings suggest that despite the program providing an opportunity for empowerment in terms of student exposure to and engagement in gender related concerns, lack of institutional professionalism and inappropriate pedagogical responses can be discussed as dis-empowering.

The paper includes a set of recommendations for improvement so that the program better responds to the needs and the expectations of students and to the current situation of women in Afghanistan.



 Rami Naim Judeh Abu Sa'd (Palestine) Rami Naim Judeh Abu Sa'd

Women Beekeepers to Save the West Bank Lands

This beekeeping project offers a solution to two issues facing the West Bank of Palestine. First, it qualifies as land use that keeps West Bank land under the control of Palestinians. Second, it targets unemployed women for training in beekeeping and the marketing of bee products in order to combat poverty and food insecurity in the region. Palestine currently imports 150 tons of honey a year, making honey production an ideal field for local expansion.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugee in the Near East will lead the project in cooperation with local women’s centers, farmers, and beekeepers in Area C of the West Bank. Over the three years that the project will be running, participating women will increase their earnings, local women’s centers will be reinforced, and land in the West Bank will be kept under the control of Palestine.



 Wafaa SaadehWafaa Sadeh (Palestine)

Investing in Fear: Corporate Responsibility forWomen’s Human Rights Abuses in ConflictAreas

In 2008, the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights presented the UN Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework, regarding state and corporate responsibility for protecting human rights. This framework was adopted by the Human Rights Council on June 16, 2011 in Resolution 17/4 that endorses the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for implementation. Since the adoption of the guiding principles, various scholars have examined the issue of corporate social responsibility, either from a business perspective or from a human rights (legal) lens. International law and practice have also addressed the issue of women’s vulnerability in conflict areas (UNHCHR, 2014).

However, there has been a little consideration given to the disproportionate effects of human rights violations on women and corporate responsibility initiatives aimed at addressing these from a legal or ethical perspective. The proposed research intends to tackle the issue of whether corporations can be held responsible for human rights violations against women that are linked to the activities of transnational corporations’ in conflict areas with weak governments, authoritarian regimes, or that lack the rule of law. The aim of the study is to contribute to strengthening the social, ethical, and legal responsibility of corporations so they may not benefit, directly or indirectly, from human rights abuses.



 Walaa Isam Naji Shamasna (Palestine)Walaa Isam Naji Shamasna

Development and implementation of a lifestyle intervention promote physical activity in patients with B-thalassemia in Palestine

For young people in Palestine with B-thalassemia, the outlook is dim. Not only are they faced with a debilitating, genetic disease, they also deal with social isolation that keeps them from enjoying life and even accessing needed medication. The negative symptoms of thalassemia can be reduced through physical activity and proper nutrition, along with proper medical care. The goal of this project is to improve the quality of life for people with thalassemia through increasing physical activity, educating patients on proper nutrition, and increasing community awareness in order to decrease isolation of people with thalassemia.

Increasing physical activity is covered two ways through this project. First, project funds will be used to equip fitness rooms in existing thalassemia centers in Palestine. This will allow people with thalassemia to have access to physical activity where they receive medical care. The project will also create support groups, social activities, and educational workshops for people with thalassemia and their families. The workshops will focus on skills training and lifestyle changes in order to increase the quality of life for people with thalassemia. Physical activity and community awareness are at the center of the let’s move! campaign, which will organize fitness events for people with thalassemia and their families in their local communities. The three-pronged approach will increase the welfare of thalassemia patients and help them become less isolated in their communities.



 Yeshiwas Degu BelayYeshiwas Degu Belay (Ethiopia)

Breaking Barricades, Making Peace: Women in Ethiopian Peacekeeping Missions

This doctoral research project will examine the Ethiopian government’s implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, adopted seven years ago. The resolution was the first to focus on mainstreaming gender in peace processes and conflict management. Several other resolutions followed UNSCR 1325. They looked at both the gendered impact of conflict and women’s positions in peace keeping. Implementation of the these resolutions, however, has been criticized.

According to the UN, Ethiopia is the top contributor of peacekeeping forces in the world. In order to better understand how implementation of UNSCR 1325 and other resolutions occurs in Ethiopia and how deployment impacts female peacekeepers, the research will focus on three things: government efforts to integrate women into peacekeeping forces and how the gender gap in peace operations has been addressed; the experiences, challenges, and contributions of women peacekeepers; and the interactions between national and global actors with respect to the implementation of gender mainstreaming policies in peace operations. Research will take place in the field in Abyie and South Sudan, where Ethiopia has a total of 8,000 troops deployed and will be informed by multidisciplinary theoretical and empirical perspectives.



Zeinab Deeb Mattar Nassar

Zeinab Deeb Mattar Nassar (Palestine/Lebanon)

Knotting the Peace and Gender Lace: Public Co-Educational Sport Zones in EEH Palestinian Refugee Camp – Lebanon

Knotting the Peace and Gender Lace aims to create safe spaces for children while breaking down patriarchal ideas and structures that lead to sexism and violence against women. The spaces will be friendly, flexible, adaptable, accessible, multiuse sports fields for refugee girls and boys of all ages in the EEH Palestinian Refugee Camp. Local staff will train children of 8 to 12 years old in organized basketball, volleyball, and football in creative and flexible ways. Young athletes of 17 to 20 years old will staff the program, giving them coaching and youth programming experience. The one-year pilot program will also provide equipment, space, and supervision for free play. A coeducational sports space address the needs of the refugee community by offering a place for children to learn about and practice social cohesion, social skill building, mental and physical health, and gender equity. By creating a flexible space, several sports and activities can take place by using mobile baskets, goals, and nets and other age-appropriate play structures.

Sports training and interactions help to change deeply sexist cultural norms by empowering girls (as athletes) and young women (as coaches and supervisors) and by exposing boys and young men to ideas and experiences of gender equity. In turn, safe, coeducational sports training and play, exercise, skill building, cooperation, friendly competition, parental participation and support, and pride in self and place, will promote a less violent society at every level.