This fall HKS hosts Rangita de Silva de Alwis to teach a special new course, MLD-236 Continuing Conflict: Old Challenges and New Debates. Rangita, a full-time faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania Law School with an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School, is a globally recognized international women’s rights expert with over 25 years of experience advocating for equal representation of women across the globe. On June 23, 2022 Rangita was elected to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) for the term 2023-2026. The CEDAW Committee—consisting of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world—is the body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Rangita’s new HKS course aims to meld her policymaking and advocacy role with learning in the classroom. MLD-236 will focus on two theaters of continuing conflict: Afghanistan and the Sahel region in Africa, the world’s most conflict heavy region. Collaborating with UN Security Council non-permanent members, this class will examine these recent conflicts, its impact on women, and the role of women as peace builders. From the denial of women’s and girl’s education in the recent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan to Africa’s Sahel region’s climate collapse which has impacted a gathering crisis in food security, access to water, migration, and the feminization of poverty, the class will analyze some of the root causes of recent conflict and provide new policy imperatives through a gender perspective. The confluence of the 3 Cs, conflict, climate change and COVID will continue to have a disproportionate impact on the lives and livelihoods of women.
This course will function as a lab to incubate new ideas and provide an opportunity for students to participate directly with important global changes on policy making. Through case studies in the two regions, students will learn an array of transformative policymaking tools to address the root causes of conflict and explore new approaches to peace building. Students will also engage with recent UN Security Council resolutions and directly connect with an amazing array of current global policymakers working in these geographies of conflict.
Policy makers expected to be guest speakers (virtually) in MLD-236 include:
From Africa’s Sahel Region:
- E. Michel Biang, Gabon’s Ambassador to the UN (Security Council)
- E. Cheikh Niang, Senegal’s Ambassador to the UN
- E. Lang Yabon, The Gambia’s Ambassador to the UN
- E. Ammo Baroud, Chad’s Ambassador to the UN
- E. Fanday Turay, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the UN
- E. Konfourou, Mali’s Ambassador to the UN
- Under Secretary General Zainab Bangura, Head of UN Africa
- David Moininia Senge, Sierra Leone Minister of Education and Innovation; Fellow MIT Media Lab
- Simar Samar, first woman Vice President of Afghanistan; Fellow at HKS’s Carr Center for Human Rights
- Shukriya Barakzai, founding Chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Civil Society, and Women’s Rights and former Ambassador to Norway
- Naheed Fareed, youngest woman parliamentarian and most recent Chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Civil Society, and Women’s Rights
- Maria Basheer, first woman prosecutor in Afghanistan
- Fawzia Koofi, member of Afghan delegation to Doha peace talks
MLD Area chair, Hannah Riley Bowles, who also serves as Co-Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at HKS, commended Rangita’s HKS appointment, stating: “We are honored and delighted that HKS will continue to benefit from Rangita’s intellectual energy and role model. In addition to her scholarship on gender in international law, Rangita brings direct experience working with governments and international institutions to bring a gender lens to peace and security.”
Martha Minow, the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University and former Dean of Harvard Law School, recently said of Rangita, “I know of no one with more expertise, tenacity, and devotion when it comes to advancing women’s rights . . . Rangita would be a stellar contributor to the efforts to protect against gender-based violence and to make human rights meaningful regardless of an individual’s gender.”
MLD-236 with Rangita de Silva de Alwis be offered at Harvard Kennedy School in the fall semester. This course makes an excellent complement to the following other AY23 HKS courses:
- IGA-100 International and Global Affairs: Concepts and Applications with Erica Chenoweth
- IGA-103 Global Governance with Kathryn Sikkink
- IGA-227 Insurgents, Rebels, and Terrorists: Causes and Consequences of Civil War with Dara Kay Cohen
- IGA-390M 21st Century Global Feminisms with Zoe Marks
- IGA-385 Strategizing for Human Rights: Moving from Ideals to Practice with Douglas A. Johnson
- IGA-632M Africa in Global Politics with Zoe Marks
- DPI-422M Reckoning with History: Collective Memory, Leadership, and the Politics of Remembrance with Sanderijn Cels
If you have any questions about this course, or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.
About feature photo above: Sohaila Noori, 29, owner of a sewing workshop, poses at her workshop in Kabul, Afghanistan January 15, 2022.
Source: REUTERS/Ali Khara (https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/afghan-women-losing-jobs-fast-economy-shrinks-rights-curtailed-2022-01-20/ )