How might gender roles affect whether you engage, or hold back from, corruption?

Photo credit: CDA Collaborative

In this post from CDA Collaborative, Kiely Barnard-Webster (F’15) explains two key takeaways for practitioners from CDA’s recent field visit to the DRC: (1) If an anti-corruption program threatens a gender group’s privileged status, this must be taken into account in the program design or it will undermine effectiveness. (2) If anti-corruption strategies don’t account for the different ways in which gender groups engage in corruption these strategies may not work.

Read more on CDA’s website here.

Kiely joined CDA as a program manager in 2015.  Her professional areas of expertise are in gender and development, monitoring, evaluation and learning, theories of change and peacebuilding effectiveness. Kiely earned her Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and earned her Bachelor’s degree from Bates College. She can be reached at


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Gender and the Job Hunt: A PSA

By Allyson Hawkins 

As the year winds down, group projects come to a close, and everyone is putting the finishing touches on capstones, many of us are getting our ducks in a row and embarking (in earnest this time, I swear!) on the job search. It’s the question that lurks in the background of every phone call with your parents, the unsettling topic we all avoid when we do get a few minutes to relax and catch up with each other, and a perpetual piece of my running to-do list. FIND THAT JOB!

Recent conversations with my friends reveal: finding a job, not as easy as it looks! But don’t worry, that’s not the PSA. What I think is worth noting, however, is how gender can pop up during the job hunt, sometimes quite insidiously, in ways that I personally had never considered.

Below are a few gender related musings and anecdotes worth calling attention to, courtesy of collective Fletcher wisdom from both current students and alums.


There are some questions that interviewers should never ask you, but they do it anyway. Or, they do it in a sneaky way, under the guise of being friendly or conversational. While some questions are illegal,  there are some others that, while not against the law, are certainly inappropriate. These include:

What is your religious affiliation? Are you (or will you be) pregnant? (Or, put more nicely, are you and your partner thinking of starting a family?) How old are you? Are you disabled? Are you married? Are you in debt? Do you smoke or drink socially? The list goes on.

The bottom line: You are under no obligation to answer these questions. Responding to these types of questions can be tricky (you want the job, right?) but there are ways to maneuver around them gracefully! Brush up!


A friend told me that before a recent job interview, she removed her engagement ring before heading into the meeting. Turns out, there’s quite a lot of literature out there debating this very topic (thanks, Google). Does taking the ring off mean you’re not a feminist? That you’re letting the patriarchy win? That you’re ashamed of your relationship?

From an excellent take on this from XO Jane:

“Will they think I won’t be as committed to my job and be distracted while wedding planning? Will they think I’ll drive a hard negotiation for salary because hey, weddings are expensive? OR will they dread the amount of paid time off I might take?”

Or, even worse- might an employer be inclined to pay you less because you have a man to take care of you?

The bottom line: As always, feminism is about choice. Choose to wear a ring or not, but it’s good to recognize some of the patriarchy-bound pros and cons of this scenario. Especially because, as outlined above. your marital status is NOT RELEVANT to your ability to perform a job well.


This advice comes our way via Fletcher alum Adrienne Klein F’16. In her words:“I just had a huge wake up call from a lovely woman. I asked her briefly to review my resume before applying to a job at her organization and she changed one paragraph: Continue reading

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The Glass Ceiling in the Russian Foreign Service

By Anastasia Karimova

Russia has only one female diplomat among 131 ambassadors. Women head only three out of 40 departments of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All of the eleven vice-ministers of foreign affairs are male. What is to be done to destroy the glass ceiling in Russian diplomacy?
High-ranking Russian diplomats tend to deny systematic discrimination, saying that women are allowed to pursue a diplomatic career but are simply “not interested in it.” Those diplomats do not usually mention that in the USSR women were banned from admission to the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). One could not become a Soviet or Russian career diplomat if he or she did not graduate from this institution. Most of the current high-ranking diplomats started their careers in the era of that gender-based restriction.

Thus, foreign service remains predominantly male, and the diplomatic culture itself is quite masculine and patriarchal. “The spouses of diplomats are expected to follow them during their long-term work abroad. If a female diplomat is married and should work at an embassy for several years, her spouse might follow her, but the staff of the embassy would perceive him as henpecked husband,” a Russian diplomat, who works in Central Africa said. He anonymously shared his observations with me on Facebook.

“When I was interning with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, my boss treated me in a very condescending way. He said that I should find a husband and become a diplomat’s wife instead of making my own career,” a recent MGIMO female alumna complained after finally deciding to pursue a career in the private sector.

The benefits of women’s participation in diplomacy are measurable. When women are included in a peace process, the resulting peace agreement is 20 percent more likely to last at least two years, the International Peace Institute reported in 2015. Women’s participation has an even greater impact in the longer term: a peace agreement is 35 percent more likely to last for fifteen years if women participate in its creation.

Finally, women’s presence in public diplomacy roles could improve the image of Russian diplomacy: it could show that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a modern and representative diplomatic institution.

This change might require some affirmative action from the government. Quotas for women could be helpful here, but they are not sufficient. They should go together with mentorship and educational programs for future female diplomats, as well as with the establishment of a strong office for diversity within the Russian foreign service that could advocate for female workers and protect them from discriminatory practices in the workplace.

Anastasia Karimova is Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy candidate, class of 2018. She is focused on human security and international organizations. Before Fletcher, she was a journalist and civic activist in Russia. She runs her own page on gender, called Not Mars, Not Venus, which is currently the most popular pro-feminist page in the Russian segment of Facebook. She also writes op-eds on gender issues for Russian mass media, e.g. Cosmopolitan Russia.

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Precarity, Grievability, Speech, and Assembly: Reflections on Judith Butler’s Visit to Tufts

On April 3rd, 2017, Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley visited Tufts to deliver a lecture entitled “The Politics of Human Rights.” This lecture considered the operations of human rights in critical language studies, political thought, and postcolonial theory, with consideration of situated struggles in various global locations.

Although some have attempted to summarize Butler before, we recognize that condensing her brilliance into a pithy blog post is an impossible task. Therefore, these are selected points from her lecture that left an impression on us.

On Bodies and their Politics

Akua Agyen

Butler evoked the body several times throughout her lecture. Those bodies which are grievable and ungrievable; the empowered and disempowered bodies; bodies that care and are cared for. Each pair is a conversation unto itself, but I will concentrate on Butler’s final points regarding bodies: 1) vulnerability is an enduring condition and 2) to assemble is to resist.

Few of us are born in isolation, Butler confessed. The labor of birthing rarely occurs out of commune. Instead, as Butler argued, we are “given over,” handed from one to another. Our earliest moments are spent in vulnerability. And this vulnerability is necessary for survival. “The body is given over to others in order to persist” (Butler). Butler claims that we require care. And I find myself wondering how our relationships with one another in these Fletcher spaces changes with this acknowledgment. What is the role of care in the classroom?

How does Fletcher diplomatic practice evolve when we consider interdependence is at the core of our being? If vulnerability must be an enduring condition, what should we expect of the condition of this enduring?

Assembled bodies lay claim to the space in which they assemble. When Butler said this, I could not help but reflect upon my own identity and specifically, the alone-ness of my identity at Fletcher. I was reminded that when I enter my classrooms, I am not taught by faculty who look like me. I walk through the halls and see few peers who share in my blackness. When we speak of the margins and the marginalized, do we also consider those we have pushed to the margins in our own community?

Butler’s statement was also cause for celebration: our blackness is ever defiant. Our choice to attend Fletcher means that we have laid claim to this building and thus our right to be here. This, our, gathering is significant. “The we who are gathering still persist enough to gather” (Butler). The precarious are indeed gathering, at Fletcher, and in doing so we persist.

On the Politics of Care and Vulnerability

Protiti Roy

While speaking about the politics of care and the politics of vulnerability, Dr. Butler spoke about the nature of vulnerability itself. Vulnerability, she said, is embedded in social relations. Thus, everyone is vulnerable. Terming certain populations as “vulnerable” creates a politics of paternalism. Vulnerability is not the characteristic of a group but of social bonds. When these social bonds are broken by the provider they create a sense of abandonment. At that time, the dependent person in the relationship feels dependency rage. Thus, aggression has a very real place within the politics of care.

A population that is disproportionately exposed to suffering is not inherently more vulnerable. The suffering is created by the practice of abandonment. For example, when European countries refuse to reply to SoS messages on the basis that the call is coming from the territorial waters of another country, they are using sovereignty to abandon their treaty obligations under the Law of the Sea Convention, 1982 the Maritime Search and Rescue Convention, 1979 and the Barcelona Convention of 1975. In this way, by abandoning social obligations, the European countries cause suffering to refugees crossing the sea.

Dependency rage is a concept theorized by Austrian-British psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, which says that the child, dependent on the caregiver, feels intense rage when its needs are not being fulfilled. The caregiver is not always a consensual participant in the relationship since the dependency of the child does not change into independence over time. Thus, the caregiver sometimes abandons his or her responsibilities. While on the one hand the child hates the caregiver for abandoning it, on the other hand it also loves the caregiver because its own survival is dependent on this person. This leads to confusion, anger and anxiety, where the abandoning caregiver can neither be destroyed nor fully loved.

Care can thus be an instrument of damage. Hence, the politics of care is not inherently virtuous.

A question that arises, from this theory, is what makes some communities more ‘abandon-able’, so to say, than others? Why do the social structures on which some communities are dependent fail more often than the structures of other groups? This goes back to Dr. Butler’s opening question of why are all lives not equally valuable? Why are some deaths more grievable than others? Judith Butler says, only equals are grievable.

 On Language, Precarity, and Agency

Allyson Hawkins

Dr. Butler used the recent refugee crisis to frame her arguments around language, precarity, experiences of vulnerability, and paternalism within humanitarianism. The language we use to discuss the dispossessed, the imperiled, and the abandoned matters.

The politics of human rights surge to the fore again and again within today’s forced migration contexts- shaping new nationalisms, racisms, and militarizations along the way.

The organized character of deprivation and death has extended to the borders of Europe, prompting questions around how to name and understand the organization of populations primed for dispossession and abandonment. Paternalistic language, categorizations, and corresponding care (or lack thereof) of these populations prompt an ethical dilemma: when war extends beyond warzones, can we ethically remain bystanders? What is the best way to intervene?

Notably, in her discussion on language and compulsory categorizations of vulnerable populations, Dr. Butler noted, “there is no refugee without the war.” Those who die in war, those who die because of war, those who die fleeing from war- how do these classifications encourage different modalities of care? How does language shape perceptions of vulnerability and agency?

The current status quo requires when declaring a humanitarian crisis, one must also identify the “vulnerable population” at risk. Dr. Butler questioned this language, asserting that those who have lost infrastructural support maintain their agency. She used an example of refugees who stitched their mouths shut to protest the closing of “the Jungle” in Calais. Here, these refugees used their “voicelessness” to make a point about audibility and agency.

Refugees and other “vulnerable populations,” Dr. Butler noted, are not any more vulnerable than anyone else. “Vulnerability is not an exhaustive title.” Trapping subjects into the frame of vulnerability is a reflex that must be abandoned. Acknowledgement of agency, interdependence, and the precarity of humanity, should instead follow.

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“Business as Unusual”: Fletcher Honors Maria Kristensen, F02, with Fletcher Women’s Leadership Award

Maria Kristensen speaks at The Fletcher School

By Allyson Hawkins 

“It’s a humbling experience to receive an award simply for doing my job,” Kristensen said in her opening remarks to a packed ASEAN auditorium on Monday, March 27th. Quick to highlight the accomplishments of her national staff colleagues, and of her fellow Fletcher classmates, Kristensen accepted the honor with grace and insight with a speech about her work in the humanitarian sector.

After interning with the Danish Refugee Council during her time at Fletcher, Kristensen took a position at the Council on Foreign Relations after graduation. She enjoyed the position, but felt she could be more relevant working directly with conflict-affected populations. So when the Danish Refugee Council called with an offer three years later, she hopped at the chance to “run towards the challenge” and has never looked back.

In the time since, her career has taken her across conflict zones working on crosscutting issues like aid delivery, migration, and de-mining. She has worked in Sudan, South Sudan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Ukraine, among other places, and currently works with Save the Children Denmark.

The Fletcher Women’s Leadership Award was established in 2014 by the Board of Advisors of The Fletcher School at Tufts University and the School’s executive leadership to honor outstanding women graduates who are making a meaningful impact in the private, public, and NGO sectors. Kristensen began her remarks by addressing a head-on an issue many have pondered since the award’s establishment: why a women’s leadership award? She highlighted a pattern prominent in the private sector, but that impacts leadership across other sectors as well; women’s representation has made gains in lower levels of administrations, but the number of women in leadership positions decreases drastically the higher you rise in leadership structures.

This phenomena, she asserts, has little do to with women being ineffective leaders. In fact, as women age, they generally remain more receptive to feedback (a trait that disappears in men as they become older) which makes their leadership capability stronger over time. A piece of this puzzle, she stated, was the fact that in leadership, confidence is often conflated with competence. However, until men and women have access to the same leadership opportunities, she believes that showcasing a diversity of leadership styles is valuable in helping recruiters recognize the abilities of both men and women. Unfortunately, she lamented, women’s leadership is still very much, “business as unusual.”

Continue reading

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Here’s Why Closing the Foreign Policy Gender Gap Matters

By Saskia Brechenmacher 

This story is a continuation of the New America Weekly’s Women’s History Month edition.

Amid heightened concerns about the future of liberal democracies and the rapidly shifting international world order, it’s easy to miss a persistent pattern: Conversations on these issues, especially at the higher levels, still happen largely between men—to everyone’s detriment.

Just look at last month’s Munich Security Conference. It’s the largest, and arguably most important, security conference of its kind. Yet 80 percent of the speakers were male, and only two out of the twelve panel discussions featured more than one female speaker.

This problem is not a new one, nor is it unique to security conferences. Despite significant strides over the past two decades, US foreign policy and national security circles also remain overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. The likes of Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Condoleezza Rice may seem to tell a different story. During the Obama administration, record numbers of women held senior national security and foreign policy positions. However, the fact that a select number of women have reached highly visible leadership roles has not solved the problem of systemic underrepresentation.

A few more examples to drive this point home. A group of scholars recently identified and surveyed 500 leaders working for US (governmental and nongovernmental) institutions specializing in foreign policy—and found that their sample was 80 percent male. Of the 177 senior officials currently listed on the US Department of State website, only 33 percent are female. In the Department of Defense, the imbalance is even starker: Women make up 12 percent of active senior defense officials. On Capitol Hill, women outnumber men in the role of staff assistants, but their numbers decline quickly as they rise in the ranks. Men also still dominate senior management roles at DC think tanks: Thirteen of the fifteen top-ranked US foreign policy and international affairs think tanks are currently led by men. Media coverage of foreign policy and national security issues mirrors these patterns. According to Media Matters for America, less than one in four national security and foreign affairs experts featured on Sunday and weekday shows in 2015 were women.

Why does this matter, you’re probably thinking?

On a basic level, representation is an issue of fairness. Women should be hired, promoted, and invited when they are qualified and capable of doing the job—not because they bring anything “special” to foreign policy and national security discussions. Moreover, US foreign policy discussions benefit from having a wide diversity of perspectives at the table. The fact that women drop out, fail to advance, or perhaps choose not to enter the foreign policy field limits the candidate pool for leadership positions, leading to the loss of valuable talent and expertise.

But that’s not all.

Continue reading

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Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s International Women’s Day!

So, maybe you heard about it? Or watched the great doodle on Google today? If not, here’s a great brief rundown of its history and what it means today.

So what can YOU be doing today to #appreciate the continued fight for global gender equality? Glad you asked!
Locally Today:
1. There’s the HAS forum from 12:30-1:30pm in the Crowe Room discussing gender-based violence in humanitarian crises and humanitarian agencies
2. There’s a One Billion Rising Event being held in Mugar at 12:30pm
3. Interested in Tech/Politics/Culture? General Assembly is hosting a free speaker talk on those topics downtown from 6:30-8:30pm.
4. As part of a larger day-long event, LIDS and the Women’s Law Association at Harvard, are hosting an evening reception with their 2017 honorees from 5pm-7pm.

1. You may have heard of the Women’s March #DayWithoutAWoman, encouraging women to go on strike for their commitment to human rights and in recognition of the “enormous value women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system”. Recognizing the #privilege in being able to take a day on strike, you can also wear RED in solidarity.
2. Check out the IWD website with great resources on how to get involved/take action around causes YOU care about, whether it be violence against women, pay equity, equal opportunity to education, you name it – #BeBoldForChange
3. Get involved in our community/donate where you can:
a. There’s the Cambridge Women’s Center where you can volunteer or donate
b. There’s the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center – where you can volunteer or donate
c. Want more women in elected office? Get involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus
4. Keep up the fight for gender pay equity – check out the country by country segment on gender pay gap from WEF – I’ll be 196 before I make as much as a man in the US, cool (not.)

5. Read about IWD around the world to see how citizens (men, women, non-gender conforming individuals) are celebrating the day.
6. Read the EU press-release on International Women’s Day.
And there’s lots lots more you can do, including telling all the important women in your life how much you appreciate all that they do, your mothers, wives, aunts, sisters, teachers, frandz, whomever.

And feel free to jump on to this with ways you suggest others get involved or how you are celebrating the day!

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5,141,000 Reasons Women Marched

Image source: Wikipedia

By Danielle Piskadlo, Manager, Investing in Inclusive Finance, CFI

It is 2017. Why would millions of women around the world feel the need to march for equality? Is half the world’s population actually oppressed? Let’s take a look at the financial inclusion gender gap. And given the relationship between financial inclusion and financial health, let’s also examine how the financial well-being of women is systemically compromised. Here are some of the ways that our financial worlds exclude or marginalize women, ultimately resulting in their being more financially vulnerable and more likely to live in poverty than men. In outlining these ways I pull heavily from an Ellevest guide called “Mind the Gap”, which highlights and quantifies a number of ways women in the United States still face financial inequalities. Though these Ellevest figures are for the U.S., these gender gaps are even more prevalent in nearly all other countries around the world.

1. Gender pay gap – The range varies, with women of color making less, but on average, women in the U.S. make 78 cents to every $1 a man makes. This stems from a number of things, including implicit gender biases and the fact that women are less likely to ask for raises (and when they do, they are more likely to be punished in the workplace for it – see evidence here and here). This current reality costs the average woman in the United States $1,300,000 over her lifetime!

2. Financial account ownership gap – The most recent Global Findex tells us that although financial account ownership has improved globally in recent years, the account ownership gender gap has persisted. Globally, 65 percent of men have access to a financial account as compared to 58 percent of women. In developing countries this gap is 9 percent. In some regions the gap is much bigger, such as South Asia with an 18 percent gap.

3. Financial literacy gap – The Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey found that there is a global financial literacy gender gap at 5 percent. In the United States, this figure is higher at 10 percent. For both account ownership, and financial literacy, there is a litany of potential reasons for these persistent gaps, including biases from husbands and families and financial institutions that exclude women from enrolling in formal finances and education systems. The costs of these gaps are no doubt high but difficult to capture. Continue reading

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First Do No Harm: What the Global Gag Rule Means for Women’s Health Worldwide

By Megan Keeling

Among the many horrifying executive orders signed by President Donald Trump within his first two weeks was the reinstatement of the “Global Gag Rule.” This rule bars any organization that receives US funding from performing or even “actively promoting” abortions, even if they use non-US funding to do so. Basically, this means that organizations that receive any US funding are prohibited from counseling women on abortions or making referrals to (non-US funded) providers who offer abortions, regardless of the laws of the country they’re in or what’s in the best interests of individual women, their health, and their families. The Global Gag Rule prevents both health care providers and US development workers from carrying out the foremost part of both of their jobs: First, do no harm. This rule replaces evidence-based practices in reproductive health care counseling with a political script – forcing health care providers to withhold care or mislead patients, and putting women at risk for unsafe abortions that can result in serious injury or death.
Rich white men always know what’s best for every woman. Right?

While the Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, has been re-instated by every Republican administration since Reagan, Trump’s version goes beyond previous iterations to include all “global health assistance” work carried out by US government agencies. This could cut off funding or compromise care in organizations that work in HIV/AIDs, infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and malaria and tuberculosis. In the age of the Zika virus, this rule is likely to have particularly devastating consequences for women and their families in affected regions who depend on access to contraceptives and family planning counseling to reduce their risks of having a child affected by the virus.

Continue reading

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Fletcher on ‘Now This Politics’

14980707_1336166759748144_411949767283913794_nRecently, two Fletcher alumna appeared on a short video produced by Now This Politics, part of the organization Now This News.  The video features a workshop, in the days following the 2016 Presidential Election to train women interestd in running for office.

The clip features remarks, from women at the workshop, addressing the 2016 Election and its implication for women. Among those featured are Samantha Karlin F’16 and Grace Choi F’12 , who both studied gender analysis while at Fletcher! Also, Grace Choi moderated the Feminist Foreign Policy panel at the Second Annual Conference on Gender and International Affairs in December 2016.

To hear from our very own Fletcher alumna, click here to see the video.

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