02.06.2008 -

UNESCO Chair in Gender Research at Lancaster University Launched

The new UNESCO Chair will build capacity for, and facilitate, the development of research which is directly relevant to the global policy debate on gender inequalities, making a strong contribution to UNESCO’s focus on gender equality as a global priority area.

On 2 and 3 June 2008 Lancaster University (UK) officially launched the new UNESCO Chair in Gender Research with a high level seminar and appointed Professor Sylvia Walby as Chairholder.

This is the tenth UNESCO Chair to be established in the UK.

“Targeting inequalities in gender, globally, is a way in to relieving huge issues such as violence against women, and poverty, and boosting human and economic development”, explains Professor Walby. "But we need to know the extent of the problems and get usable figures so we can monitor whether policy developments are effective."

The high level seminar brought together leading international experts in gender and equality to discuss 'what is gender equality in a global era'.

The seminar debated the different ways in which the meaning of ‘gender equality’ has been constructed and its implications for the development of indicators to monitor the impact of policy innovation at transnational levels.

Speakers joining Professor Walby included Gülser Corat, Director of UNESCO’s Division for Gender Equality, members of the UNESCO Women’s/Gender Studies Network, individuals from the ILO and the CEDAW (UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), and academics involved in UN and EU expert and research networks and initiatives.

Sylvia Walby has been a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University since 2005. She has previously held Chairs at the Universities of Bristol and Leeds and a Readership at the LSE. She has been a research consultant for the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on the development of indicators of gender-based violence. Previous research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Government’s Women and Equality Unit has focused on gender, productivity and employment. Current research funded by the European Union Commission, and also by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission, concerns the meaning and measurement of gender equality. She is the author of many books: including her forthcoming work Globalization and Inequalities: Complexity and Contested Modernities.

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"Building networks for gender equality and women’s empowerment gives us power in numbers and power through knowledge. For this reason, I am particularly pleased to take part in the launch of the UNESCO Chair on Gender Research at Lancaster University under the leadership of Professor Sylvia Walby.

This Chair will seek to further research, training, information and documentation in the field of gender research. I believe that Sylvia Walby says it well when she makes the point that: “Expertise is a form of power… often articulated within epistemic communities that combine values, expertise and politics to become advocacy networks, which are increasingly international.”

By building networks for the pursuit of women’s empowerment and gender equality, within and between the academic community and international organizations, we are stepping out of two worlds that have a tendency towards insularity, and we are sharing ideas. And by sharing ideas, and building networks, we are gaining the power needed to one day truly achieve what we are all working towards: gender equality.”            Ms. Gülser Corat Director of the Division for Gender Equality




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