Media Contacts

Office of Media Relations
2121 Eye St., NW
Rice Hall 5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20052

Phone: 202-994-6460
Fax: 202-994-9025
E-mail: [email protected]


The George Washington University Launches Global Women’s Institute

Director Mary Ellsberg Leads Interdisciplinary Institute that Combines Civic Engagement, Education and Research
November 27, 2012

Latarsha Gatlin
202-994-5631; [email protected]
Michelle Sherrard
202-994-1423; [email protected]

The George Washington University Launches Global Women’s Institute

Director Mary Ellsberg Leads Interdisciplinary Institute that Combines Civic Engagement, Education and Research

WASHINGTON—The George Washington University Global Women’s Institute (GWI), which aims to support and improve the situation of women and girls worldwide through research, teaching and engaged service, will kick off its public launch today at 10:30 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Cloyd Heck Marvin Center located at 800 21st St., NW. George Washington President Steven Knapp, GWI Director Mary Ellsberg and White House Adviser on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal will make remarks.

GWI is one of the university’s institutional initiatives along with cybersecurity, autism research, computational biology and sustainability. Recognizing that women's issues span every academic discipline, GWI is a university-wide initiative that links faculty and students at George Washington with international researchers, practitioners, activists and policymakers to support the rights of women and girls worldwide.

“With the launch of the Global Women’s Institute and the recruitment of Dr. Mary Ellsberg, GW is in position to make significant and lasting contributions to issues impacting women and girls around the world, issues integral to the success and well-being of society as a whole,” said Leo Chalupa, vice president of research at GW.

In most parts of the world, severe gender inequality persists and can be seen in the high levels of different forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, child marriage, rape, trafficking of women and girls, female genital mutilation and sexual violence in conflict.  Women consistently have less access and control over resources and opportunities to improve their wellbeing, and less ability to make decisions in households, communities and societies.

“Increasingly, the international community has recognized that gender equality and women’s empowerment are critical to economic and human development, and essential for the realization of human rights and dignity,” said Dr. Ellsberg. “I’m delighted to be a part of the George Washington University community and to help facilitate research, education and civil engagement in this very important global issue.”

Dr. Ellsberg was named director of GWI earlier this year. In this role, Dr. Ellsberg will lead the institute in its mission of enhancing the lives of women and girls by assessing and responding to challenges that this population faces. She brings more than 30 years of experience in international gender and development research and program work.

Before joining GW, Dr. Ellsberg served as vice president for research and programs at the International Center for Research on Women. Previously, she held the position of senior advisor for gender, violence and human rights at the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health. Prior to that, Dr. Ellsberg lived in Nicaragua for nearly 20 years and worked on public health and women’s rights advocacy.

In support of the launch, GWI’s first public events relate to the internationally recognized 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign. The campaign consists of a series of public awareness activities, publications and panel discussions designed to begin a conversation on the prevention of violence against women and girls nationally and globally. Some topics include panel discussions on masculinity, violence against transgender persons and the parallel between dating violence and child marriage.

The events are co-sponsored with GW’s Office of the Vice Provost to Diversity and Inclusion, the Department of Women's Studies, the School of Public Health and Health Services, the School of Media and Public Affairs, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and the Progressive Student Union. Outside partners include the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Inter-agency Gender Working Group (IGWG) and Futures Without Violence.

The 16 Days campaign kicked off on Nov. 25 and will conclude on Dec. 10.

For more information about the official launch and other activities at the Global Women’s Institute, go to:

George Washington University

In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.

- GW -