Tag: Human Rights

Gender parity takes center stage at annual Mildred Fish-Harnack Lecture

Although international law affects individuals across the globe, women are largely underrepresented in the roles responsible for legal policies and decisions. Viviana Krsticevic, executive director of the Center for Justice and International Law in Washington, D.C., discussed the significant lack of gender parity in international and regional tribunals in her lecture, “Judging and Gender in the International Realm,” at the 2016 Mildred Fish-Harnack Lecture.

“Many decisions are made without fair representation of women or without any representation at all,” Krsticevic said.

Alexandra Huneeus

Associate Professor Alexandra Huneeus introduced Viviana Krsticevic at the 2016 Mildred Fish-Harnack Lecture.

Some of these decisions include matters that affect geographic and political boundaries and establishing precedents for gender-related crimes. Continue reading

TODAY on WPR’s Here on Earth: Milestones for a Spiritual Jihad

Today, July 6,  Jean Feraca of Wisconsin Public Readio’s Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders will present Milestones for a Spiritual Jihad.  The original show aired at 3 p.m., but will be rebroadcast at 9 p.m. here.

Description: Milestones for a Spiritual Jihad
“Muslim women can stand side by side their male counterparts at Mecca, the holiest city in the Muslim world, to pray, but once they are back home, they are most likely to find themselves crowded into a small, dark room at the back of a mosque. Asra Nomani, former Wall Street Journal correspondent and a visiting scholar at Georgetown University, thought she needed to take a stand against the unwritten rule of the mosque. We talk with Nomani and her journey to her spiritual jihad.”

About the show:
Here on Earth
explores international movements, world citizens, cross-cultural conversions, democracy-building initiatives, and the best world literature, movies, arts, food, and culture, each Monday through Friday at 3 p.m. (rebroadcast each night at 9 p.m.).

Here is on Earth is made possible by Wisconsin Public Radio, a service of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board and University of Wisconsin – Extension and has an engaged partnership with Radio Netherlands, Division of International Studies, and World Literature Today.

Follow Here on Earth on Twitter!

Madison Native Founds Program that Helps Mideast Women Get Involved in Politics [The Cap Times]

The Cap Times (June 24, 2010) — In a region of the world where religion and government are still tightly tied, one Madison native has found a way to empower a population with a growing, but still comparatively quiet, political voice.

Katie Croake

Katie Croake - UW '03 alum

“Bringing more women to elected office is a way to start to diffuse power — power that right now is in the hands of a small minority of men in the Middle East,” says Katie Croake, a 1992 graduate of West High and a 2003 graduate of UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs. “When these new voices (of women) are heard, you really start to change the culture.”

To that end, Croake started the Young Women Leaders Academy Program, which aims to empower women to become involved in politics and democracy. Begun three years ago, the program operates under the National Democratic Institute, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions worldwide.

Read the full story, by Jessica Vanegeren, printed in The Cap Times.

UW Student Interns to Assess Poverty Reduction Program in Ghana

Next month, four UW–Madison undergraduates will leave for Nyargia, Ghana for five weeks to study the impact of a poverty reduction model in the village.

The impact assessment internship is run by the Blessing Basket Project, which works to reduce poverty in developing countries by paying “Prosperity Wages” for artisan products, thus supporting entrepreneurs and financial independence for artisans.

The students, all of whom hail from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, will design and undertake research using economic impact assessment methodologies that will evaluate relevant and critical development indicators in Nyargia. Together, Samuel Morantz, Gabriel Segal, Michael Serposs, and Brandon Kaster, will bring with them training in international business, industrial engineering, economics, statistical methodologies, and intercultural communications.

This initiative, the first Blessing Basket Project study of its kind, will provide a systematic outline of the project’s impact on individual weavers and the local community. The results will be documented in an extensive report that will include important information and analysis to help guide future Blessing Basket Project operations.

As volunteers, the team is seeking financial support for their travel and cost-of-living expenses. Click here for more information or to support the project.

This internship opportunity was arranged by the newly established International Internships Program, which is a joint initiative of the Division of International Studies and the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences. The program aims to identify, cultivate, and promote high-quality student internship opportunities.

Please contact Maj Fischer, mhfischer@international.wisc.edu, for information on the Blessing Baskets Project or the International Internship Program.

[CHE] The Transformation of Learning in an Interconnected World

The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 4, 2010

Commentary: Jeremy Rifkin, “Empathetic Education: The Transformation of Learning in an Interconnected World


Maybe it’s time to ask the question of whether simply becoming economically productive ought to be the primary mission of American education. Shouldn’t we place at least equal attention on developing students’ innate empathic drives, so that we can prepare the next generation to think and act as part of a global family in a shared biosphere?

The extension of the classroom’s central nervous system to embrace the whole of civilization exposes students to their peers in widely different cultures, allowing empathetic sensibility to expand and deepen. Education becomes a truly planetary experience.

The global extension of learning environments in cyberspace is being matched by the local extension of learning environments in school neighborhoods. The walls separating classrooms and communities are breaking down. In the past 20 years, American high schools and colleges have introduced service-learning programs into the curriculum—a deeply collaborative learning experience.

Join the Conversation: UW Without Borders – June 29

We recently announced UW Without Borders at our “Internationalize” reception. Now the Morgridge Center for Public Service and the Division of International Studies encourage you to help shape the UW Without Borders proposal!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010
8:30 to 11 a.m.
On Wisconsin Room, Red Gym

You should attend this event if you are already doing interdisciplinary service learning (local, national, or global) or if you’re interested in doing interdisciplinary service learning.

The workshop is an opportunity to review the proposal, give constructive feedback, and, in effect, make the proposal your own.

Learn more about this workshop.

“All it takes is one spark, one seed to change the world” – Tim Miller, PhD student, UW–Madison

Haitian Student Offers Practical Solutions at Panel Discussion

On January 28, 2010, panelists gathered to discuss,  “HAITI: Perspectives on Crisis” in the Red Gym’s On Wisconsin room.

Gergens Polynice, an M.A. candidate in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS), who was in his home country of Haiti until just a few hours before the earthquake, spoke to the full audience. “A practical way we all can help is by supporting UW’s leadership to build a sustainable project, like a clinic, in Haiti,” Polynice said.

SLIDESHOW: ” “HAITI: Perspectives on Crisis” – January 28, 2010 Panel Discussion

Video to come.

Learn More about the Panelists
Brenda Plummer (History, Afro-American Studies) is an historian whose research includes race and gender, international relations, and civil rights. Her work ranges from essays on Haitian-American relations to studies of Afro-Americans, race, and foreign affairs.

“Haiti’s poverty is not a natural consequence of the environment or circumstances, but is a constructed reality by domestic elites and foreign adversaries,” she told the audience.

Aliko Songolo (French and Italian, African Languages, and Literature) is a specialist in African and Caribbean literature in French; 20th-century poetry; francophone literature; and cultural studies.

“I learned of another Haiti from authors and through my teachers than the one from stereotypes in the United States and [Europe],” Songolo said. “It is largely a positive story.”

Paul Thompson (InterWorks, LLC) has more than 30 years of experience in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery, disaster and refugee emergency management training, and program development and evaluation.

Thompson forecasts that this earthquake will be as influential to Haiti as 9/11 was to the U.S.

The panel was moderated by Alberto Vargas, associate director of LACIS.

Featured left to right: Alberto Vargas, Paul Thompson, Gergens Polynice, Aliko Songolo, and Brenda Plummer

Featured left to right: Alberto Vargas, Paul Thompson, Gergens Polynice, Aliko Songolo, and Brenda Plummer

To learn more about Haiti, check out the upcoming film series at Memorial Library.

The event was sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies; the General Library System; and the Division of International Studies.

Division and WAA Announce New Communique, Wisconsin Worldview

The Division of International Studies and the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) are pleased to announce their new communique, Wisconsin Worldview, designed specifically for alumni living abroad.

A message from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor:

It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome you to the first issue of Wisconsin Worldview,  an online publication for University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni and friends who live and work outside of North America.

I first learned about the “Wisconsin Idea” — a century-old belief that the university’s boundaries extend far beyond its physical campus — while I was earning my doctorate in German literature at UW-Madison in the 1980s. The Idea is equally relevant today.

Today, more than ever, we value our partnerships with alumni, researchers, businesses and peer institutions around the world as we address the issues that accompany this phase of globalization, including environmental sustainability, global health, national security, and human rights.

This is the role and responsibility of a great public research university that is serving the people of Wisconsin, the nation and the world.

So, I invite you to take part in a global discussion — to share your worldview. Together, we’ll work to make UW-Madison the standard-bearer for academic quality and social contribution: the essence of the Wisconsin Idea.

Chancellor Carolyn “Biddy” Martin
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison is Home to Many With an International Reach [Wisconsin State Journal]

From the Wisconsin State Journal
August 10, 2009

While Madison is far from foreign countries and international borders, it’s home to many people who delve into international problems, some working at an individual and grass-roots level.

The city’s international sensibility and influence come through in its 10 sister-city relationships and its international student population of nearly 4,000. More than 1,000 people from the Madison area have served in the Peace Corps, said spokeswoman Christine Torres.

“Ma dison has a wonderful spirit of reaching out to strangers with the graceful assumption that these are our brothers and sisters that we have not yet met,” said Bill King, pastor emeritus of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Madison.

Sending books to Africa

Carol and Bob Dombroski had a problem: They had collected hundreds of used books and wanted to deliver them to children in Africa but didn’t know how.

Carol Dombroski, a retired elementary teacher from McFarland, had provided books to teachers from South Africa during the summer of 2004. And she still had plenty of other books in her basement.

The Dombroskis realized individual efforts for international charity can be daunting. It’s important to plug into the expertise and capabilities of established groups, Bob Dombroski said.

The two connected with the Madison Breakfast Rotary Club to secure a storage space in Madison. Volunteers organize and pack the books, which are sent to a Rotary facility in Houston and then on to South Africa.

“A lot of people would like to help, but they don’t know how,” Bob Dombroski said. “We provide a way for them do that. We make it easy.”

For more information, visit www.madisonbreakfastrotary.org.

Aiding health care in the Congo

It was the loss of Emilie Ngo-Nguidjol Songolo’s brother, Robert Banoum, that inspired her to form AFRICaide in 2005, an organization in Madison that supports efforts in rural African communities. Songolo, in Madison, received a call from Cameroon on Dec. 24, 2000, saying her brother was in a coma. Banoum had offered to drive a family to a rural area for the holidays. “There was an accident, and it took too long for help to reach him,” Songolo said.

“It made me realize how important it is to provide health care for those who need it,” she said.

AFRICaide focuses on providing aid to remote areas of Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where “a lot of help doesn’t sink down to,” Songolo said.

Her goal is to raise awareness. “Human nature is such that once we know about what is going on, we will not be indifferent toward it,” Songolo said.

The organization spoke to audiences in Madison in March and raised funds to purchase and send two motorcycles to the Congo. The motorcycles are important because cars often can’t get through to the rural areas where patients require care. AFRICaide also collects and sends medical equipment, supplies, medicine and vitamins. The next goal is a sponsorship between people in Madison and women and children in Uvira, a city in eastern Congo.

For more information, visit www.africaide.org.

Sustainable buildings in Haiti

When Scott Hamel, 31, travels to Haiti, he gets to be an engineer again.

Hamel, a doctoral student in civil engineering at UW-Madison, was a professional engineer before he returned to school. He leads trips through the Madison chapter of Engineers Without Borders, helping design sustainable structures for impoverished communities in Haiti.

One challenge Hamel faces as a project manager is getting survey and rainfall data before beginning engineering projects. His solution was to develop a survey class in Haiti that allows community members to help with data collection and also to generate income. The first class, taught in January, had about 30 students, Hamel said.

Last year, a hurricane flooded northern Haiti and destroyed the approach to a bridge he designed and built in 2006. The bridge remained, suspended but intact, in the middle of the river. Despite the setback, “it was exhilarating to see,” Hamel said, because it was one of few structures still standing.

In addition to engineering, Hamel also helps his students assess communities for other needs, including health care, energy supply and education.

“With international projects, you can try to impose U.S. standards of engineering but not cultural standards,” Hamel said. “I’m still learning how to interact with their culture and guide my students.”

For more information, visit www.ewbuw.org.

Helping create hope in Guatemala, Tanzania

Karen Klemp, 55, and her husband, Rick, 57, have taken nearly 30 trips to Guatemala and Tanzania since 2002. In 2006, they formed Hope 2 Others, a Christian ministry, and continue to travel to the two countries for projects involving hygiene, water purification, health care and education.

A goal of Hope 2 Others is to send more than just supplies, said Karen Klemp, who has worked in the newborn intensive care unit at Meriter Hospital for 33 years.

“We are building a relationship,” she said. “They are tired of seeing things being done halfway.”

The ministry has learned to adapt to challenges inherent in international work. Members are working to raise $80,000 to build a medical facility in Tanzania that would be made of pre-fabricated metal components, making for easier delivery and construction.

“It’s like a clinic in a container,” Rick Klemp said. “It will take 10 people about two weeks to finish the entire clinic, and it will be fully functional when we leave.”

For more information, visit www.bringinghope2others.com.

Aiding small loans in Central America

The story of how Carlos Arenas, 42, became involved with microfinance can be told as a love story. Arenas is the executive director of Madison’s Working Capital for Community Needs, which connects investors in the United States with microcredit borrowers in Central America. Funds are managed by 19 partner agencies in Central America and go toward different initiatives, including urban entrepreneurs, rural producers and issues of women’s empowerment, housing and fair trade.

Arenas, who is originally from Colombia, first came to Madison in 1994 for an event sponsored by the UW-Madison sociology department. There he met his future wife, Amanda Hammatt, Arenas said.

The two were married in Colombia in 1996. Because of Hammatt’s ties to the area, it made sense to return to Madison for law school, Arenas said.

After he graduated in 2001, Arenas joined WCCN as executive director. At that time, the organization managed $3 million.

Arenas praises the collective knowledge of the staff for the success of the organization. It now manages $10 million.
For more information, visit www.capitalforcommunities.org.

Training, education in rural Peru

Bill King, 73, has taken four trips to Peru with the Downtown Madison Rotary Club in support of CECADE, an school in Peru that provides training and education to help rural communities become self-sufficient. CECADE is a Spanish acronym that means “institute for enabling people to live well,” King said.

Volunteer teachers at the school come from the nearby city of Cuzco. Women and men attend classes to learn skills that they are expected to take back and share with their villages.

“In my eyes, it is a wonderful empowerment of the people,” King said.

Women learn how to use computers and how to weave and make clothing that is marketable. They also learn about proper sanitation, solar collectors and beekeeping. The men learn skills including woodcarving and how to make windows and doors.

“I came back thinking they have done more for me than I have done for them,” King said. “I kept going back because I believed in the direction of the school and its purpose. I could see changes happening in the people.”

For more information, visit http://rotarymadison.org.