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WGD Discussion Series

Discussion Series Update:

The Women and Gender in International Development (WGD) Discussion Series (DS) is organized by the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) and is an InclusiveVT initiative of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA). 

The series offers an opportunity for scholars and development practitioners to share their research and knowledge surrounding gender and international development with the Virginia Tech community and beyond.

Given the ongoing impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the WGD program at Virginia Tech has made the decision to transition the WGD DS Fall 2020 to a completely virtual event. We believe this is the most responsible path forward to maintain safe conditions for our attendees and presenters.

Contact us at womengenderdev@gmail.com to be added to our listserv and receive information on upcoming events.

Fall 2020 Speaker Series (virtual)

Given the ongoing impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the WGD program at Virginia Tech has made the decision to transition the WGD DS Fall 2020 to a completely virtual event. We believe this is the most responsible path forward to maintain safe conditions for our attendees and presenters.

Thursday October 15, 2020 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Dr. Audrey Reeves
Assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech
College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

"Victories and failures of gender expertise in global governance: The case of post-conflict state-building."

Bio: Audrey Reeves is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and a core faculty for the ASPECT doctoral program. He areas of expertise include gender in global governance, feminist security studies, and emotion, embodiment, and memory in world politics.

Abstract: Over the last century, women’s organizations have successfully established women as a category of person worthy of dedicated attention on a global scale. Since 1997, when the United Nations committed to mainstream gender in all its policies, women's organisations and women's studies scholars established themselves as valuable sources of what is now called gender expertise. This project examines how gender expertise influenced post-conflict state-building as this strategy of governance became widely influential from the mid-2000s onward in the World Bank, the UN, and the government apparatus of major donor states. On the one hand, these international actors embraced liberal feminist ideals by committing to protect the political rights of women in the development of democratic state institutions in post-conflict societies. On the other hand, they ignored feminist critiques of the liberal state by systematically funding the security and law enforcement sector (coded masculine), and neglecting the realms of health, education, and social welfare (coded feminine), thus refusing to see women as embedded in relationships and responsibilities of care in their communities. This case illustrates how gender expertise, while enabling important feminist victories, is often accepted selectively, in ways that are least challenging to existing global governance frameworks and the inequalities on which these frameworks are based.

Thursday November 19, 2020 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Dr. Carly Nichols
Assistant Professor, 
Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences
University of Iowa 

"Towards a politics of mobility and women's empowerment: the case of self-help groups in India."

Bio: Carly Nichols is a broadly trained human-environment geographer with specializations in feminist, health, and agro-food geographies. She has over 10 years of research experience across northern, eastern, and central India investigating agriculture, health, gender, and food and nutrition security. Her research examines the complex interplay among processes of human health and wellbeing, ecological change, and everyday social relations, particularly in relation to food and agriculture. In considering human-environment-health relationships, she has a particular interest in using qualitative, ethnographic, and feminist methods to understand how health and social inequities are produced, reproduced, and experienced by different stakeholders. 

Abstract: Within the empowerment literature “freedom of movement” or “mobility” are frequently used as indicators to assess empowerment programs and assess whether women have become social empowered. As women’s self-help groups (SHGs) engaged in saving/lending and livelihood improvement schemes have emerged as the de facto vehicles for women’s empowerment over the past two decades, their propensity for increasing women’s opportunities for mobility has been an oft-lauded benefit. In this paper, I draw on multi-year ethnographic research of women’s SHG interventions in eastern and central India to critically explore the ways different mobile practices intersect with empowerment goals. I contend that it is critical to examine mobility as more than physical movement and also to analyze it as a meaning-laden and embodied practice. Using this analytic I find that although newfound mobility is often experienced positively by women, it is far from ‘free,’ and remains embedded in power relations where women continue to engage on unfavorable terms- exemplified in women’s inability to ghumna or to aimlessly tour/wander. I conclude by reflecting on how empowerment interventions might more productively engage mobility less as a practice of increased economic and political participation and more as a site where women can experiment with new forms of being.  

The Women and Gender in International Development Discussion Series is organized by the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) and is an InclusiveVT initiative of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA).  Students, faculty, staff and members of the community are encouraged to attend the discussions and bring their ideas and questions. 

The WGD program has sponsored a monthly discussion series for over a decade. Thanks to the support of OIA, the program is able to bring international speakers as well as others from across the United States. We have also received support from the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series, the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Endowed Lecture Fund, Women’s and Gender Studies, Women's Center, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Global Programs, the Department of Geography, the Department of History, the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Africana Studies and other programs and departments at Virginia Tech. The series offers an opportunity for scholars and development practitioners to share their research and knowledge surrounding gender and international development with the Virginia Tech community and beyond.

The Women and Gender in International Development Discussion Series is organized by the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) and is an InclusiveVT initiative of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA).  Students, faculty, staff and members of the community are encouraged to attend the discussions and bring their ideas and questions. 

Please visit the Events page for the 2020 calendar.

Please visit our Past Events Archive for information on the previous Discussion Series and speakers