International Women’s Day marks a time to celebrate the strong, pioneering and resilient women that are making a difference in communities around the world. In these unprecedented times, women continue to face even greater challenges that threaten to undermine years of social, economic, cultural and political progress in achieving gender parity.
This year’s global IWD theme, Choose To Challenge, invites everyone to call out gender bias and inequality. A challenged world is an alert world. At the Duke Center for International Development – a center within the top-ranked Sanford School of Public Policy – Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) students are doing their part to address critical gender issues and gain the tools necessary to shape international policies and practices.
In recognition of International Women’s Day 2021, DCID asked four MIDP Fellows focused on gender research to share what International Women’s Day means to them and how their research will help achieve a more balanced and inclusive society.
Jessica Maeda Jeri
“International Women’s Day is a moment to remind ourselves that we all have the responsibility to speak up, not only denouncing the worst violations of women’s rights but also the practices that have been normalized. When we choose to ignore seemingly harmless ways, we are reinforcing and perpetuating prejudices and inequality. As a Sanford student, I am in a position in which I can speak up. In this world, that is both a privilege and a responsibility.
My first research in the MIDP program was for the Policy Analysis class. The topic was “Violence against women in Peru.” My motivation was the high levels of violence in my country… Consequently, I have intended to incorporate the gender component in every class, as I believe we need to integrate gender in the policy-making process. Along the same lines, my Master’s Project is on “Workplace Discrimination of Sexual Minorities in Peru.” Official data showed that 4 out of 10 Peruvians would not be willing to hire someone based on their different gender identity, and 3 out of 10 would not hire someone of different sexual orientation. Hence, my research aims to propose strategies to reduce and progressively end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the workplace.”
“International Women’s Day means a lot to me; it is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change, and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by women. While it is necessary to celebrate and honor these women, who have served the society, I think that International Women’s Day should be the day when the voices are heard, and the actions are made; actions to educate the public on issues of concern, and to mobilize the political will and resources to address gender inequality problems. As a woman, and as an individual, I am committed to advocate for gender equality, influence decisions, and have access to decision-making processes—to help share a more inclusive world.
I come from a developing country, Albania, where gender equality is being advanced, but not achieved. Here at Sanford School of Public Policy, I continue my research on these topics… particularly on refugee women and girls’ protection in Greece, which is the focus of my Master’s Project. Unfortunately, these women and young girls, especially children who arrive at the Greek islands alone, are vulnerable and need protection. They are exposed to several forms of abuse–physical, psychological, sexual violence, and exploitation. The protection of women and young girls is crucial to avoid abuse and exploitation, which often occurs inside migrant camps and other facilities.”
“International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s resilience and the progress the world is making in advancing gender equality. It is also a day to reflect on the journey and make new commitments for advancing women’s rights across the world. The organization I co-founded in 2016, Boundless Hands Africa (BHA), started a Women in Leadership Conference series in 2019 to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year, BHA is partnering with other organizations including the American Corner at CcHub in Lagos and the Imara Foundation, Nigeria to celebrate with a virtual event.
My Master’s Project is a policy memo addressed to my client, the UN Food Security Sector in Nigeria on “Addressing Food Insecurity in Borno State, Nigeria.” The kidnapping of 276 girls in Chibok, Borno drew global attention to the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency against the Nigerian government that began in 2009. Nigeria sits among the world’s top food insecure nations—a status exacerbated by the protracted nature of conflict in its tri-state Northeastern region. I am interested in developing strategies and implementation plans to move the population from aid dependency.”
“For me, International Women’s Day is a day that reminds me of the meaning of gender equality and the dignity of women, and it makes me think about action for change. For a more inclusive world in the future, I plan to join the effort of sharing knowledge with women in developing countries who are still exposed to widespread discrimination and to encourage them to break the unequal social framework in which they live.
My Master’s Project is focused on what the Tajikistan government should do to protect women from domestic violence and the prospect of women’s land rights for mitigating domestic violence. Women in Tajikistan are severely restricted from accessing land. Traditionally, land in Tajikistan is owned and managed by men, and in most cases, sons inherit their family’s property. Due to their low level of education, most women are unaware of the equal land and inheritance rights guaranteed to them by law.”