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Department of Gender Studies Speakers' Series

Speakers' Series

The Advisory Committee on Speakers, Department of Gender Studies, organizes public talks by local and visiting speakers on topics of interest to the university and St. John's communities.

The series runs in the Fall and Winter semesters of each academic year.


All lectures are open to the public and unless otherwise noted are held in the Sally Davis Seminar Room, SN 4087.

The following speakers are confirmed for the Winter 2015 Department of Gender Studies Speakers' Series.

Friday, 23 January, 1:00 p.m. - Nicole Helwig, Child Rights Advocate and Non-Profite Manager

International Development Priorities & National Realities: The Case of Child Marriage in Malaysia

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated “there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women”. The promotion of gender equality has become a priority of international development, with ample evidence to suggest that investing in women is key to reducing global poverty. Since the Millennium Declaration in 2000, UN Member states have set their sights on achieving eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The practice of child marriage is seen as an obstacle to achieving those goals with negative impacts on the health, education and economic and political participation of women and girls. In this talk, I will examine child marriage in Malaysia to highlight the challenges of transforming international policy into concrete change at the national level. I will address how the phenomenon manifests itself in different Malaysian communities; social constructs and legal structures that underpin the practice; and civil society engagement with the issue, in particular by the women’s rights and children’s rights movements. Importantly, I will present the issues against the backdrop of current Malaysian politics and the reception of perceived Western pressures in this middle income nation.

Friday, 20 February, 1:00 p.m.  -- Alyse Stuart, Master of Gender Studies Candidate

De-colonizing Canada: Indigenous Women's Representation and the "Frack"turing of Discourse

On October 17, 2013, the anti-fracking, shale gas protests in New Brunswick attracted national attention. The focal point of the event was the Elsipogtog First Nation’s clash with the RCMP, which resulted in the arrest of 40 people. The media coverage that followed centered on the actions of the protestors as radical, bordering on violent, featuring images of burning police cars and RCMP forces in full riot gear. Amidst the eruption of media coverage the people of Elsipogtog and allies across the country were active in confronting misrepresentations through film, blogs, Facebook, and interviews; among them the women of the community were especially vocal and instrumental in continuing the resistance against shale gas while challenging the dominant media depictions. Using the shale gas protest as a lens and a mixed media discourse analysis as method, I want to explore the relationship between Indigeneity, gender, and citizenship in Canada: What might Indigenous women’s protagonism in the shale-gas protest in Elsipogtog tell us about this relationship? More specifically, I hope to provide insights into how Indigenous women are negotiating the identity/subject position of “Indigenous protestor.” In so doing, are they resisting colonial constructions of Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women, as non- or undesired citizens and in the process, modeling “alternative” visions of citizenship and the nation?

6-7 March

Scholarship in the Arts Workshop

Sex Work: Soliciting Reflections is a two-day event with film screenings, presentations, and a community panel discussion. We invite students and faculty as well as members of the wider community to come learn about the realities of sex work, challenge old assumptions, and participate in collective reflection. The event features two guest speakers: Dr. Emily van der Meulen (Ryerson University) and Morgan Page (a former Trans Community Services Coordinator at The 519 Church Street Community Centre, Toronto).

The full schedule will be posted in January 2015,

Thursday, 2 April, 12:00 p.m. -- Akua Anyemedu, Master of Gender Studies Candidate

Perceptions of Services Available to Victims/Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence in Ghana

In 2007, Ghana’s bid to provide better support to victims/survivors of intimate partner violence was enhanced by the passage of the Domestic Violence Law. Despite this development, service providers, researchers and gender advocates still deplore the underreporting of intimate partner violence cases in the country. Based on my fieldwork in Sowutuom, a community in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, I present my findings on women’s knowledge and perceptions of services available to victims/survivors in the country. Additionally, I examine factors which shape these perceptions and how these perceptions are likely to influence women’s utilization of these services. Furthermore, I also explore challenges to service delivery in Ghana.