2014 Soffa Lecture: Geran to talk about addressing child abandonment, trafficking

Jean Geran, a University of Wisconsin–Madison alumna who has worked on international child protection issues in a variety of capacities, will discuss “Right to Identity: Child Abandonment, Trafficking, Migration and Protection,” as this year’s J. Jobe Soffa and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Distinguished International Visitor.

“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child articulates a child’s right to identity in Articles 7 and 8,” Geran explains. “Millions of children around the world today lack a basic identity from birth registration or legal documentation, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse through child trafficking, migration or neglect and the key to assisting them is to protect each child’s right to identity.”

Geran (Ph.D. ’01 in development studies) will outline the importance of this often-overlooked human right and how it underpins both vulnerability and opportunity for all children in this year’s Soffa Lecture, on Tuesday, November 18, at 4 p.m. in AT&T Lounge at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St., on the UW–Madison campus. The lecture, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the UW-Madison Division of International Studies and Human Rights Program.

Jean Geran
Jean Geran

She holds two honorary fellow appointments with the Center for Non-profits and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UW–Madison. She is helping to launch a new anti-trafficking initiative called “Social Transformations to End Exploitation and Trafficking for Sex” (STREETS) through the School of Human Ecology.

She also is a senior fellow at Sagamore Institute and founded a social enterprise called Each Inc. to provide technology support to child care practitioners globally. In London, she helped establish a new think tank through work on human trafficking issues and child protection.

She has been a member of the secretary’s policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of State responsible for issues including human rights, women in democracy, trafficking in persons, and gender-based violence. She served as the director for democracy and human rights on the National Security Council and as advisor on United Nations Reform.

Her academic work focused on social networks in Asia, Africa and Latin America and she taught as an adjunct professor at George Washington University. Geran received her B.S.B.A. in business administration from Georgetown University, her M.S. in rural development from Michigan State University, and her Ph.D. in development studies from UW–Madison.

She was a 2006 recipient of the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award. She currently lives in Oshkosh, WI, with her husband and four children.

The J. Jobe Soffa and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Distinguished International Visitor Fund supports regular lectures on contemporary issues of global significance. Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa (BA ’46 in L&S) established this fund to bring renowned women from around the globe to lecture. Speakers have included well-known leaders in the struggle for human rights and understanding.

The Human Rights Program is supported by a UW-Madison Mellon Foundation grant for the advancement of area and international studies and coordinated by the Global Legal Studies Center.

– by Kerry G. Hill