Friday, October 29, 2010

Gender and Development

As the Afghan government is making strides to come to a common peace agreement, Afghan women are concerned that a national peace settlement will undermine efforts to increase women's rights in the country. President Hamid Karzai increased efforts to reach a consensus with Taliban leaders is seen as a vital step towards ending the war, however many Afghan women worry what this peace agreement will it mean for women's rights in the country. Former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the new Afghan peace council and former president of Afghanistan, is convinced that some members of the Taliban are ready for a negotiated peaceful end to the nine-year war, but some human rights groups are skeptical and worry that de-facto Taliban officials would sell woman's rights to participate in the parliament. As the international community is pushing for greater efforts to improve governance in the country, what will this mean for other initiatives within the context of development?

To view this story in greater detail please visit:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alumni News

IDS alum, Deborah Hirsh recently co-founded The Hoop Fund- an exciting new start-up which connects producers and consumers to make loans to build business capacity in fair trade. Recenlty Deborah sat down with Amy Vaccaro of "The Triple Pundit" to talk about te impetus behind The Hoop Fund and how it provides access to affordable credit for fair trade producers as well as much more!

To find out more and to see a video of this interview visit:

Environment and Development

In recent news, the World Bank has launched a global partnership aimed at integrating countries to include the costs ofenviornmental degradation into their national accounts. Some might argue against such a revaluation of ecosystem conservation within the political agenda of the international community, in that it puts precedence on economics rather than take into account the greater implications that such a policy could have on human well being...Nevertheless the environmental impacts that have effected human well-being  have  been associated with the negligence of policy makers to implement sound policies on environmental sustainability. Whether the costs of   implementing an initiative based on economics of environmental sustainability is great or limited is left for contention. However one might see it, this is a monumental step in international ecosystem conservation. What are your opinions on the World Bank's initiatives?

For more information visit BBC news
Picture: BBC news

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Re-emergence of Cholera in the World

Cholera-once considered to be an "old world" disease has been reemerging throuhgout the world within the last decade, from Bandladesh, Nigeria to Zimbabwe, cholera is become a problem for various corneres of the globe. After the rise of the cholera in Zimbabwe under the Mugabe regime and recently with the rapid rise of the disease in Port-au-Prince Haiti after the country's earthquake, the remergence of the disease has alowed many to question underlying factors that have contributed tosuch  rising numbers. What cholera represents in relation to internal and external socio-economic and political strucutures is something that should be called into question.

Picture courtesy ITN
For more information check out CNN video on cholera in Port-au-Prince (Below)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Two Prominent Gender and Human Rights Defenders detained in The Gambia: Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho

Coalition for Human Rights in the Gambia
Press Release 13 October 2010
Two Prominent Gender and Human Rights Defenders detained in The Gambia.
Two prominent Gender and Human Rights defenders, Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho were arrested and detained on Monday October 11th, 2010 by Gambian security forces, kept in police custody at the Banjul Police station, and sent to  jail on Tuesday 12th October 2010.
Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho were called on Monday 11th October by an NIA officer to report to the Public Relations Officer of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA). Upon reporting to the NDEA office,they were directed to the Police Headquarters and eventually detainedwithout charges. Within hours, they proceeded to the Banjul Magistrate Court, where a ruling was made for them to be detained until Tuesday the 12th October, 2010. On Tuesday the 12th, the two women went back to the magistrate court for hearing on a bail application by the Defence Counsel.They were denied bail by the presiding magistrate and sent to the female wing of the Central Prison in Mile2 for 8 (eight) days while investigation will be ongoing.
Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director and Amie Bojang Sissoho, Programme Coordinator, of the Gambia Committee for Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) have over the years been very active and effective in the promotion of gender, women and children’s rights particularly as they relate to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other discriminatory practices.                                                                                                     Dr Isatou Touray
GAMCOTRAP is one of the lead organisations working in the area of women and girls empowerment, FGM and other harmful practices that affect the lives and circumstances of women and girls in The Gambia. GAMCOTRAP’s years of struggle and countless efforts have contributed significantly to the development of women and girls in The Gambia and elsewhere and has led to over 100 (one hundred) circumcisers dropping their knives publicly and abandoning the practice.
The two ladies were detained since Monday 11th October, 2010 and allegedly charged with theft of 30 thousand Euros. They spent Monday night in police custody, and their  application for bail that was due to be decided on Tuesday the 12th  has been refused and the two women’s rights defenders have been remanded for 8 (eight) days.
In his ruling, the presiding magistrate, Mr Emmanuel Nkea noted that he was in a tight corner and found it difficult to decide because both prosecution and defence have failed to elaborate on the issue of whether the defendants will use their influence to interfere with the investigation of the policewhich the police say is incomplete. In the end he refused them bail and remanded them in custody at the Female Wing of Mile Two Prisons for 8(eight)days after which they will proceed to court for hearing. The Prosecutor had asked for fourteen days to enable them complete their investigation.However sources close to the office of the President have disclosed that the detention of the two ladies is an executive order.
It could be recalled that in May 2010 the office of the President set up a panel consisting of 7 (seven) NIA and Police Officers to investigate GAMCOTRAP on the management of a Spanish donor fund from YOLOCAMBASOLIDARIDAD. After a careful review of the issues through statements obtained and relevant materials, the panel concluded that the allegation was unfounded. However, upon submission of its findings, the Panel was dissolved and some of the members dismissed from the service of The Gambian Government. A second Panel was set up and while GAMCOTRAP was awaiting the outcome of the second investigation, the two women were remanded.
This is not the first time that GAMCOTRAP has been targeted by President Yaya Jammeh ‘s government . In 1999 the security of members of GAMCOTRAP was threatened when the president publicly said that he could not guarantee the safety of activists who are campaigning against FGM. This was followed by a policy directive from the then Director of Broadcasting of the Gambia  Radio and Television Services (GRTS) forbidding the staff from  broadcasting on Gambia Radio and Television (state owned) messages that oppose FGM, or mention the medical hazards. Instead, only messages in support of the practice should be aired on the state owned media.
GAMCOTRAP reacted by sending an open letter to the President, the first to be done by a civil society organisation in The Gambia.
It could be recalled that President Jammeh has systematically launched direct attacks on vocal human rights campaigners and activists. Last year he threatened human rights defenders with arrests. In September this year,human rights defender and  Director of “Africa in Democracy and Good Governance”, Edwin Nebolisa, was  given six-month-imprisonment with hard labour and  an additional ten thousand Gambian Dalasi (approximately US $330) fine by the Banjul Magistrate Court having declared him “guilty of giving false information” to President Yahya Jammeh’s office. Nebolisa wasarrested in March 2010 following a letter he allegedly wrote to President’s office announcing the nomination of President Jammeh’s daughter as a goodwill ambassador of Africa in Democracy and Good Governance. The magistrate also ordered for the indefinite suspension of Mr. Nebolisa’s right-based organisation.
Recently, the government started the process of amending the NGO affairs Act in order to effect greater control and restrictions on the NGOs.
The Coalition for Human Rights in The Gambia is calling on President Yaya Jammeh  and his government to respect the constitutional rights of Dr.Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho and to allow justice to prevail.
For more information, PLEASE CONTACT +221 33 867 95 87

What are your opinions on this case?

RESOUCE WATCH: African Femenist Forum

The African Feminist Forum is a biennial conference that brings together African feminist activists to deliberate on issues of key concern to the movement. It was developed out of the growing concern amongst feminists on the continent, that the efforts to advance the rights of women on the continent were under serious threat from a number of sources. The women’s movement seemed to have lost its focus and direction. Growing religious, ethnic and cultural fundamentalisms had also developed within the movement. At the same time, new actors drawn from communities of marginalised women, such as lesbian and bisexual rights activists, women with disabilities and commercial sex workers emerged to demand greater autonomy, accountability and representation of their issues amongst the mainstream women’s movement. This often resulted in reactionary and fundamentalist responses from many within the women’s movement. With the onslaught of the AIDS pandemic, worsening impoverishment, increasing violence against women and girls together with the fact that funding for women’s rights issues was decreasing steadily over the years; the influence of the women’s movement on the continent appeared to be in decline. Yet, it was widely recognised that women’s empowerment is central to development.

A group of feminist activists decided that the time had come, for the development of an autonomous space for feminists from the continent to deliberate on these issues internally reflecting on the current architecture for the advancement of the rights of women, as well as assessing and developing strategies to address the external challenges on the movement. The first such convening took place in November 2006 in Accra, Ghana.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meet the New IDS Graduate Students!

Katie Schlaudt, a Holland, Michigan native, graduated in 2010 from Ohio Wesleyan University with majors in French and Spanish and a minor in Latin American Studies.  Her experiences abroad include semesters in both Spain and Cameroon, and a research experience in Mexico.  She hopes to pursue a Certificate in African Community Health along with her IDS degree.  Future career plans include any job with an international element that focuses on creating an environment of encouragement, health and motivation so that people are able to achieve a more favorable state of living.

Originally from Westfield, NJ, Christine Pirot found her passion African development while studying abroad in South Africa as a freshman at Clemson University.  Determined to make a difference, Christine transferred to Penn State in 2005 to take advantage of the African Studies Department.  While at Penn State, she supplemented her education with a nine-month internship in the Office of African Regional Security Affairs at the U.S. State Department.  In addition to Christine's interest in African development, she also has an ingrained love for music and theater.  In 2008, Christine joined the North American tour of Walking With Dinosaurs, an arena tour starring life-size, animatronic dinosaurs, and spent two years traveling across Mexico, the United States and Canada.  Christine is honored to attend Ohio University as a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow studying the Ghanaian language, Akan.   After graduating, she hopes to do consulting work for an oil company operating in West Africa.

Kate Hargis is from Louisville, Kentucky where she earned a BA in Anthropology as well as a BS in Sociology at the University of Louisville.  During her undergrad, she worked with non-profit organizations in at-risk youth programs and community development. She has also spent time in Europe studying history and anthropology. Following graduation, she became employed with a local refugee resettlement agency, which helped further her interest in development studies.  Here at OU, Kate plans to focus on Gender and Development issues in Central and East Africa.

Susan Pomar-Queirolo  was born in Lima, Peru where she grew up and obtained her basic education. In 1999, Susan came to the United States unaware that her future would take a different path. Although she could not speak English when she first arrived, Susan managed to learn it and few months later she was able to communicate. A few years later, she decided to attend college, this would help to improve her English as well as change her worldview. Susan says "During my educational transition and work experiences, my interest for the world’s accomplishments and predicaments became stronger".  She eventually finished her undergraduate education at Kent State University with a double major in International Relations and Spanish. Currently, she is pursuing my master’s degree in International Development program in order to obtain the instruction she needs to become a proactive global citizen. After graduation,Susan would like to work with an international organization that focuses on development in underprivileged regions in the world, particularly in Latin America.   

Moriah Shiddat is from Lansing,Michigan. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2010 with a BA in International Studies with a minor in Anthropology.  Moriah is a former Ronald E.McNair scholar were she conducted research on the impacts of global climate change on alternative livelihoods among the Maasai of southern Kenya.  In 2008 Moriah worked at  The Lansing Refugee Development Center  as student volunteer.  While pursuing her masters in the IDS program Moriah is studying Kiswahili in hopes of continuing her research on rural livelhoods and land use dynamics in East Africa.  In the future Moriah Shiddat aspires to obtain her PHD in Geography.

Jerimiah Wildermuth is from Sidney, Ohio . He graduated from Ohio University in 2001 with a BA in Political Science and History.  After graduation Jerimiah  joined the U.S. Army, where he served for the past 9 years as a communications officer.  He spent most of those years in Germany.  Jerimiah has been deployed to Kosovo and Iraq.  He chose the IDS program to gain a better understanding of policies that can lead to better lives for people in both a rich or poor countries.  In addition Jerimiah states, “ I love the fact that the program has such a diverse group of students, from all corners of the globe”.  After graduation he will continue his service in the Army and he hopes to be able to put the skills that he has learned at Ohio University to use.

Tatiana Puscasu and is from Moldova. Tatiana states "Growing up, my passion was English thus I pursued an undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature. I fulfilled my dream of being an English teacher for two years and a translator at times but changed my professional direction into the NGO sector ". Before coming to Ohio,Tatiana has worked for The Academy for Educational Development -a project dealing with strengthening Moldovan civil society monitoring capacity as
well as in a small rural NGOs for sustainable community development." I'm happy to be in Athens and enjoy my two years in the IDS program at Ohio University"she states. She further hopes  to acquire skills from OU professors and share development practices with herfellow IDS colleagues in order to apply them into Moldova's path to development.

Matthew Biddulph served four years in the US Army airborne infantry with the 82nd Airborne Division. He served two combat tours in Afghanistan plus an additional tour in Iraq. Matthew attended The Ohio State University, graduating summa cum laude with a BA in International Studies and a philosophy minor. After earning his undergraduate degree, Matthew worked in the private sector as an analyst doing automated text analysis at Social Science Automation. His main areas of interest are counterinsurgency strategy and US national security. With the knowledge he will acquire in the IDS program, Matthew hopes to one day assist American military efforts in third world nations facing insurgencies by using development theories and practices to strengthen governance and separate insurgents from their base of support within local populations. 

Sein Lin is a Fulbright student from Myanmar (Burma), studying a master degree in International Development Studies (2010-2012) at Ohio University. He received a bachelor’s degree in Physics from University of Distance Education, Yangon, Myanmar in 1998. He also received a post graduate diploma in management and administration from University of Economics, Yangon, Myanmar in 2002. He served as a business development manager at private pharmaceuticals company in Myanmar from 1992 to 2000. From 2002 to 2009, he worked for World Vision International. He held a position as a livelihood technical support officer for anti-human trafficking project from 2002 – 2003.  He served as a design, monitoring and evaluation officer for integrated community based sustainable area development program and other sector projects, from 2003-2006. He has held a position of country program coordinator at World Vision Australia from 2006-2007, managing Australia funded (both government and private) projects for Myanmar. Later, he served as a design, monitoring and evaluation coordinator for World Vision Myanmar from 2007-2008. Sein was also a program support manager for Category III, Level III emergency response and recovery program for Cyclone Nargis from 2008 – 2009. Sein states that he is dedicated to facilitating new and innovative development programs that covers advocacy, development and humanitarian emergency affairs, to effectively meet the needs of vulnerable people, utilize knowledge and experiences in building local capacity to develop human resources in the community development area. Furthermore he hopes to develop higher level management and leadership skills in implementation of development, advocacy and relief assistance programs.
Mame Seyni Dieye but preferably (Nini), came to  Ohio University after recieving her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Ohio State University, after working for 3 years in a private university as
a research analyst.  A native of  Dakar, Senegal, Nini states," ...I always knew that I wanted to learn the skills that would contribute to reducing poverty in Africa and assist the continent in reaching its growth potential. The Masters in International Development Studies program at Ohio University gives me the chance to analyze critically the most current international development theories and policies. The curriculum is well designed by integrating both theory and practice. I am confident that the multidisciplinary course of study offered will help me do my part in contributing to positive, creative, African sustainable development." Nini is also  fluent in Wolof, French and English.

Hanh Nguyen is a Fulbright student from Vietnam. She recieved a BA in English Language Teaching and MA in English Linguistics at Vietnam National University. She worked as a university lecturer of English in Hanoi before she completely focused on the area of international development. Her job at a Danida environment program in Vietnam during three years before she came to Ohio University gave her opportunities for on-the-job training and practical experience in the field of environment and development. She realized that only by furthering her education in development studies with a focus on environmental sustainability could she fulfill her career. The 2009 International Courses at United Nations University for which Hanh was granted a full fellowship to attend further motivated her to pursue the master’s degree in international development studies. She wants to be able to apply the knowledge and skills she has learned from the IDS program to the context of her country. She hopes to work for the United Nations or an international organization in environmental sustainability in the future. 

Betty Ackah is a native of Ghana. She is currently pursuing a dual master’s degree in International Development Studies and Spanish. Betty received her undergraduate degree in Spanish and Political Science from the University of Ghana, Legon.  Upon graduating she worked in a number of organizations, two of which she states, have been instrumental in her career focus.  She has also been an instructor of beginners' and Intermediate Spanish in the University of Ghana. Betty believes the experience opened her eyes to the Ghanaian educational system and its influence on national progress. While working for the Embassy of Spain in Accra, Betty mentions that the experience deepened her knowledge of international relations and the effects that foreign policy has on a nation's developmental goals. She states” I expect my MA degree to equip me with adequate knowledge on how to contribute meaningfully in both these areas, from the grassroots level of the social ladder. With this focus, my area of interest is primarily in cultural studies especially through literature and pertinent mediums of communication, as well as how it ties in with progressive social and human development.”

Prince Adu was born and raised in Ghana where he obtained a BA degree in Psychology with a Russian language minor. He found his passion for international development during a community outreach program he engaged in during his undergraduate studies. Subsequently, working with the Millennium Development Authority and Streetwise Project Ghana motivated him to pursue higher education in the field of development. Hoping to pursue the African Community Health Certificate alongside the IDS degree, Prince hopes to work with a health oriented international organization. He loves to try bits of everything. Apart from English, he speaks Twi (Native Language), some French and Russian. He has a great passion for soccer,  music and loves learning about other cultures.

IDS Students Visit Local NGO

Dr. Smucker and his first year IDS graduate students got the chance to visit a local community based NGO in Athens County, to find out more about issues of regional development within the U.S. Students were presented with a presentation highlighting the initiatives of the organization, as well as the history of the Athens county region and how it fits into the history of U.S industrialization. Rural Action builds model sustainable development projects and encourages a broad civic conversation around Appalachian Ohio’s assets in order to create sustainable development paths for the region. The students got the opportunity to ask questions on rural integration of the local economy, and learn about the ways in which Ohio University partners with Rural Action in community based efforts.

To learn more about Rural Action and opportunties to get involved visit