5th annual Conference on Gender and International Relations by Nicholas Cicchinell (F’20)

by cpinkerton
Jan 27

On Friday and Saturday, November 15 and 16, the 5th annual Conference on Gender and International Relations took place at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy with the support of the Institute for Global Leadership (IGL). The entirely student-organized event featured a unique mix of academics, practitioners, and community leaders convened to discuss pragmatic ways to integrate gender analysis into all aspects of international affairs. The theme of this year’s Conference, “[En]gendering Change: A Rally for Action,” focused on promoting a robust understanding of gender and its role in politics, policy, and social relationships.

Conference participants were drawn from broad swaths of society, ranging from grassroots activists to preeminent professors, elected officials, and trailblazing entrepreneurs, giving attendees the opportunity to interact with experts representing a diverse range of personal and professional identities and experiences. Through inclusive and open dialogue among participants and attendees, the Conference emphasized the necessity of considering intersectionality and uplifting historically marginalized voices when examining the gendered dimensions of politics and international affairs. More than 400 individuals were in attendance, representing all corners of Tufts University as well as many other Boston-area schools and the surrounding community.

The Conference included four interactive workshops on Breaking Down the Binary: A Toolkit for Gender-Inclusive Programming and Policy-Making; Gendering Research Design; Empowering Future Leaders: The Steps to a Successful Political Campaign; and The Anatomy of an Ally. In addition, the Conference featured five moderated discussion panels on Marginalized Masculinities; Women in Peace Conflict; Bodies as Battlegrounds; Decoding the Patriarchy; and International Activism: Lessons from the Field. The workshops and panels were comprised of discussions that covered not only topics related to gender, but intersecting issues as well, including disability rights and accessibility; the socio-political inclusion of trans and non-binary individuals; the digitization of implicit biases in technology; and legacies of discrimination and oppression affecting indigenous communities and people of color, among others.

Finally, these nine thematic sessions were synthesized in a design-thinking plenary session led by Dean Diane Ryan of Tisch College and complemented by a keynote address by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. In her keynote address, Ambassador Power emphasized three key lessons gleaned from her experiences working in journalism, diplomacy, human rights advocacy, and government: “Representation matters; look out for other women; and shrink the change.”

The Conference on Gender and International Affairs represents a storied tradition of student advocacy at The Fletcher School and throughout Tufts to address gaps in curricula and programming around pressing issues of gender, equity, and power.