Picture of UNU-GEST fellowsThe  programme aims to enhance understanding of the structures and mechanisms that need to be in place to promote gender equality and advance women‘s empowerment  but is also intended to provide training that addresses how these mechanisms can be set up. The programme equips fellows with critical thinking skills and with the essential analytical tools for understanding gender equality issues and their impact on social development and public policy.

The learning approach is transnational with an emphasis on dialogue and diversity where fellows and trainers are encouraged to develop a sense of how meanings are transformed when travelling from one culture to another.

 The main objectives are to develop:

  • capacity of professionals and organisations who work in the field of advancing gender equality in developing, conflict and post-conflict societies and countries;
  • understanding of what are the main issues in gender equality studies and how they apply to different cultures and circumstances and are intersected by ethnicity, sexuality, religion, race and class;
  • skills in gender analysis and in dissemination of knowledge about gender equality methods;
  • the capacity to engage in critical and transnational dialogue on gender equality issues;
  • ability to organize and manage projects focusing on gender equality
  • a sense of their own localization and of how meanings of main concepts and practices are changed through transnational transfers and dialogues.

Teaching Modules

The course is divided into six teaching modules, which vary between academic years. In fall 2017, fellows can select between two courses that are consecutively taught:  Gender, Peace and Security, and 2) Gender, Health, Violence and Bodily Integrity. Each module corresponds to five ECTS credits. The following modules will be offered spring term 2017:


Module 1: Theories and concepts

The focus rests on some of the main concepts used in the gender equality discourse. Theoretical and critical frameworks are analysed and discussed, and issues concerning gender equality and minority groups are explored from a historical perspective and in a human rights context. Differences in terms of religion, sexuality, and ethnic groups are explored.

Module leader: Dr. Tracey Jean Boisseau, Associate Professor and the Director of Women’s Studies in the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University, USA. She is a visiting Fulbright scholar from Purdue University. Thomas Brorsen Schmidt, a PhD candidate at the University of Iceland also contributes to the module.


 Module 2: Gender and education

  The question of how gender is learned and performed in educational institutions is explored. Fellows will analyze policies across educational settings through gender and human rights theories, and will learn how to apply their knowledge in different educational settings. Module assignment is an education project by fellows of their own design.

Module leader: Dr. Annadís Gréta Rúdolfsdóttir, 
Assistant Professor, Department of Education at the University of Iceland and former Academic Coordinator of UNU-GEST.


Module 3: Practical tools for gender sensitive projects

This module provides the methods, tools and skills needed to conduct  gender-sensitive analyses of social and cultural conditions,  and of information and policies - and to participate in developing gender-responsive policies. Fellows are provided with skills and gender-sensitive techniques for successful stocktaking, planning and implementation of programmes and project initiatives to advance gender equality. A special emphasis is on project management, management for results, monitoring and evaluation, gender responsive budgeting, gender mainstreaming and leadership.

Module leader: Erla Hlín Hjálmarsdóttir, Head of Research at UNU-GEST and PhD candidate from the University of Iceland. Dr. Elisabeth Klatzer teaches gender-responsive budgeting and Milica Minic teaches gender mainstreaming.


Fellows select either one of the following modules:



Module 4a: Gender, Peace and Security

The aim of the module is to increase the fellows‘ ability to understand and discuss the gender dimensions of security in practical terms, especially with regards to relevant UNSC resolutions, security sector reform and emergency operations. It examines the concept of human security versus national security and the role of women in conflict, peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction. Specific attention is paid to gender-based violence and sexual violence as tactics of warfare.

Module leader: Dr. Irma Erlingsdóttir, UNU-GEST Director. Contributing scholars include Dr. Cynthia Enloe. 


Module 4b: Health, Violence and bodily integrity

This module focuses on gender relations and norms and resulting behaviours, which affect physical and mental health and bodily integrity. The approach explores how gender differences and inequalities result inequality both health status and in access to health care. A human rights framework is applied to explore gender-based violence (GBV) and how unequal power relations contribute to GBV with consequent physical, mental and economic consequences. A variety of strategies to address health challenges and GBV will also be introduced and discussed using a multi-sectoral approach.

Module leader: Kristjana Sigurbjörnsdóttir, UNU-GEST.



Module 5: Environment, climate change and resilience

The role of gender in unsustainable and sustainable development, natural resource management and resilience building is explored. The focus rests on gender and climate change as well as gender relations in fisheries, energy production and use, agriculture and land management, and the dynamics of environmental theories in practice. 

Module leader: Dr. Jón Geir Pétursson, Associate Professor at the University of Iceland. 


 Module 6: Final assignment

Fellows work on an applied project of their choice throughout the duration of the programme under the supervision of experts.The purpose of the applied project is for fellows to reflect on some of the theories, methods and skills studied during the training course, to consider when these would be appropriate and their application in a practical context. The topic should be integrative, relate to the content of the program and should have relevance for gender equality issues in the fellows’ home country. The project is either in an essay form, addressing a specific gender relations problem and identifying strategies and suggestions to counter it or in the form of a project proposal which outlines all the necessary steps and activities needed to solve a problem and implement a project. By the end of the semester, the fellows present the design and findings of their projects at an open seminar organized by UNU-GEST.

Module leader: Dr. Kirk Hoppe, Associate Professor and visiting scholar from Purdue University. Academic staff contributing to this module include Dr. Giti Chandra, Erla Hlín Hjálmarsdóttir and Annelise Thim from the OECD Development Center.  Each fellow is assigned a final assignment supervisor, who is an expert in the field in which the fellow is writing. Supervisors will work with respective fellows to offer directions on the final assignment throughout the semester.