Launch of Global Women’s Institute Makes Global Issues Local at GW

A message from Mary Ellsberg, director of the GW Global Women's Institute.

November 28, 2012

On November 27, the Global Women’s Institute (GWI) officially launched at the George Washington University. Our purpose is one historically not seen on most university campuses: a place where the passion of activism merges with the research that supports robust evidence-based policy. What the institute provides is a place to research, cultivate, execute and elevate change in the lives of women globally.

Women consistently have less access to, and control over, resources and opportunities to improve their wellbeing, and less ability to make decisions in households, communities and societies. In the years since the landmark World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, women have made progress in a variety of areas, particularly in education and health.  However, in most parts of the world, severe gender inequality persists and can be seen in the high levels of different forms of violence against women.

True gender equality has the potential to fire a global economic engine that lifts lives out of poverty, provides an education to generations of women, and can spark the ultimate uprising: the ability for women around the world to be the driver of their own lives.

GW has a long tradition of empowering students with a commitment to changing the world. Faculty at the university also have a stellar reputation of elevating their research to do more than shine a light on a problem, but also provide solutions in the form of public policy. It is on this fertile ground that GWI proudly takes root.

GWI provides a space for scholars to turn their knowledge and commitment into action. By creating opportunities to engage with each other across disciplines and schools, and by forming partnerships with stakeholders such as government agencies and grass roots organizations, we are building an even stronger commitment to upholding the rights of women everywhere, whether we think globally or locally.

By coming together as researchers, activists, students and community members, we forge a powerful force against societal ills that have long plagued women across the globe. I am proud to lead this new and exciting Institute, which builds onto already-established GW programs to educate, support and improve the lives of women and girls.

To create awareness, GWI is hosting a series of public events from November 25 to December 10 to honor the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. This is an opportunity for the GW community to hear about the latest research on violence against women and girls, much of which has been carried out by GW faculty and to find out ways to engage more deeply in solutions. The list of events can be found at It is my hope that the entire GW campus community will register for and attend these dialogues.

Some facts to consider:

An estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. 

Women farmers produce more than half the world’s food –60-80 percent in developing countries – but have far less access to land and resources than men farmers.

Two thirds of the 780 million illiterate adults worldwide are women.

It is time to give these women a voice.

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