Sen: “Women must empower themselves.”

International expert in gender equality Gita Sen.

This story was updated on October 19, 2015

By Emily Weir

Author, activist, and internationally known expert in gender equality Gita Sen will engage Mount Holyoke College community members in dialogue on global issues during a series of lectures, classes, and other gatherings as the 2015 Carol Hoffmann Collins Global Scholar-in-Residence.

During her residency October 19–23 at the College’s McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, Sen will give a free, public talk titled “Women’s Human Rights: Promises and Pitfalls of a Globalized World,” on October 20 at 7:00 pm in the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum’s Gamble Auditorium.

Eva Paus, the Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center and a professor of economics, described Sen as “a scholar and changemaker at the local, national, and international level.”

"Sen is a role model for all of us interested in promoting equality for women and girls, particularly in the Global South, but also in the Global North,” Paus said, noting that Sen will meet with students in seven classes at Mount Holyoke, ranging from history to physics, and conduct a workshop with students on effective ways of challenging gender inequality in development.

“Her public talk, and her many informal interactions with faculty and students will deepen our  community’s understanding of different aspects of gender inequality, structural causes, and possible ways to address them,” Paus said.

A professor emeritus at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore and an adjunct professor of global health and population at the Harvard School of Public Health, Sen said at a recent conference in India that twenty-first-century women must empower themselves—because no one else will do it for them.

“We have to get real. We have to make it work, for women and girls,” she said. “I believe in believing; because what else are we going to do? We have to keep dealing with these issues, and fighting for women’s empowerment in any way we can.”

During her 35-year career working nationally and internationally to promote gender equity, Sen founded Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) and wrote 17 books, major reports, and special journal issues as well as nearly 100 journal articles and book chapters. Among her recent works is the 2014 book The Remaking of Social Contracts: Global Feminists in the Twenty-First Century, which she co-edited with Marina Durano. Much of her writing has focused on development, international health, women’s empowerment, gender equality, and reproductive rights.

Sen has been a key participant in many international task forces, and she served in India as a member of many high-level commissions.

Mount Holyoke’s McCulloch Center has brought major activists and thinkers such as Sen to campus through its global scholar-in-residence program since 2004.

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