Round tables  


Less of a Gap and more of a Void: the International Feminization of Poverty

1/C Ginny Burger
Seventy percent of the people living below the poverty line in today’s world are women. 
Referred to as the “feminization of poverty,” this title explains the concept that women
experience poverty at disproportionate rates compared to men.  The gap between men and
women in their financial security continues to widen, despite industrialized nations focusing on
“decreasing the wage gap” and “breaking the glass ceiling” within the workforce and
employment.  Why is there a correlation between gender and poverty?  Where does this
correlation manifest itself the most geographically? Are there differences in the relationship
between gender and poverty in advanced industrialized economies and developing countries? 
Are any of the policy changes made to lift women out of poverty in the last fifteen years actually
working? Are there correlations between poverty and “women’s work” globally?  The
feminization of poverty is a huge and unquestionable pattern within the world economy, and
attempts to further understand it can provide insight and development towards global change.

Women in Global Politics

1/C Mikaela Carlson
In a Foreign Policy article, U.S. ambassador-at-large for women’s issues, Melanne
Verveer, reminisces on meeting with Afghan women activists in Kabul in 2009. One of the
Afghan women opened the conversation with a plea: “Please don’t see us as victims, but look to
us as the leaders we are" ( This comment embodies the potential that women
have in modern global politics. Around the world, the participation of women in politics is
increasing. From 1995 to 2000, female national parliamentarians doubled from 11.3% to 22%
(UNWomen). However, this progress is not as encouraging as it might seem. Women comprise
half of the world’s population, yet they hold less than one-fifth of positions in national
governments. All too often, important decisions that affect the lives of women, their families,
and communities are made without their voice. Why are women underrepresented in politics
globally? When women are left out of politics, nations lose diversity of thought and are unable to
benefit from the talents, experiences, and perspectives of half their populations. What are the
benefits of having women involved in politics? What is the United States and other countries
doing to more effectively involve women in decision making? At this table, we will discuss the
evolution of females in global politics, the challenges they face today, and what this means for
the future of our world.

The Missing 50%: Women in the Executive World

2/C Sophia Costes
Though 36 percent of women and only 28 percent of men aged 25-34 in the United States
have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, there still exists a disparity between the number of
male and female executives. Statistics show that companies led by a mix of male and female
executives have higher IPO gains and more rapid goal achievement. Are companies “successful”
because of their inclusion of women, or are women only assigned to executive positions within
financially stable companies capable of implementing the programs necessary to combat the
natural obstacles to female leadership? Do companies fear the utility of female executives in
business deals with less progressive nations or do societal norms discourage women from
aspiring to top positions before companies have the opportunity to decide? Though women
control 80% of consumer spending, only 14.6% are executive officers, 8.1% are top earners, and
4.6% are Fortune 500 CEOs; to give companies the highest probability of success, we must
identify the obstacles to female leadership to ensure 100% of the talent pool is capitalized upon.

The Internet: A Sword That Cuts Both Ways

2/C Nicole DeFazio

A single mother striving to make ends meet; an eager college student trying to find her
voice; a pre-pubescent girl forced into the destructive ring of prostitution: these three women are
fully submerged in the cyber domain, some with free will and some with no control at all. Today
women are defined by a vast digital network. Their education, careers, and personal lives are
incredibly influenced by the internet and social media. Thus the cyber domain is both
empowering and suppressing women’s voices. But how has the cyber domain empowered that
single mother and college student? How has this platform transformed the role of a wife and
mother? Conversely, where has the internet failed in allowing women to be harassed, assaulted
and trafficked? Has this new technological advancement blurred the line between work and play?
As we explore these questions, we will also deliberate upon the efforts needed to construct our
next 21st century woman as we fuel her with the resources needed to define her own role in the
cyber domain.

India’s Inequalities

3/C Andrew Bilden

 India is home to the world’s largest democracy and second largest population. Ideally, these
attributes make it a country of equality and global influence. However, Indian society faces
several challenges to achieving gender equality. It is, for instance, ranked 108th  of 145 countries
by the World Economic Form in measuring global gender gap index. 
This panel will discuss the influence of India’s cultural history and religious identity on gender
relations, the state of women’s education and healthcare, as well as their participation in business
and government. It will discuss persisting issues, to include honor killings and UN based reports
of high rape incidents. Specific emphasis will be given to Prime Minister Modi, future
administrations, and the global community’s role in enforcing the dignity and equality of women
in society.

Pots, Pans, and Political Change: Women in Leadership Roles in Latin America

1/C Jarred Gillie
            In Chile and Argentina, the movement to protest “Los desaparecidos (the disappeared)” is recognized as one of the early moments where women found their voice. More recently in Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil, women continue to lead movements to protest their respective governments’ police brutality, a lack of free and fair elections, and government corruption. Despite the fact that women have become the head executive in three Latin American countries, a worldwide 2014 Gallup survey reported that only 35 percent of respondents believed women were treated with respect in the region, compared to 65 percent in the Middle East and North Africa.[1] How can Latin America take greater advantage of women’s talents and energies throughout their polity? How can public perceptions of women’s leadership capabilities be improved? Why, in spite of obtaining the presidency in three countries, are women still represented and treated like second class citizens throughout Latin America? At this round table, we will seek to answer these questions and many others, as well.

Women's Issues & U.S. Foreign Policy: Justice and Strategy in a Complex World

3/C Thomas Krasnican
The idea of improving women’s rights around the world is often cast as a moral or social undertaking. Research increasingly suggests, however, that the advancement of gender equality should also be an important strategic consideration for the United States. According to studies by the International Crisis Group, diplomatic negotiations and conflict moderation that involve women as political actors are more likely to lead to a sustainable peace than those that do not.[1] States with higher levels of gender equality also experience less violence than states where the gender gap remains large.[2] Higher gender equality correlates with more competitiveness and prosperity in the economies of developing nations.[3] In light of these and other revelations, what role should women’s and gender issues play in foreign policy and national security strategy? This roundtable will grapple with this complex problem, evaluating our government’s history in the area to date, and seek to understand how the United States can most effectively leverage its resources to promote global gender equality alongside our foreign policy goals.

Beyond Mad Men: Moving Past the Antiquated Global Gender Gap

3/C Christy Tse

The notion that the empowerment of women requires revolutionizing the way in which societies are run economically or politically is riddled with fallacies. The main concept revolutionized by the empowerment of women is global gender inequality and sexism.  Slowly, America and many other countries have been working beyond the gender norms set in place decades ago to create a more opportunity-rich environment for women.  But what of cultures and societies who traditionally view men as more powerful and bestow few rights to women?  As an example, in Saudi Arabia, women were granted the right to vote and run for local office only in the past year, and still cannot perform basic day-to-day tasks such as driving freely or going anywhere without a male chaperone.  This roundtable will look into the empowerment of women in all aspects, be it government, business, or even basic rights believed to be possessed by all human beings regardless of gender and explore questions such as what does it mean to empower women?  How do societies empower women domestically and abroad?  What is required to move countries whose customs and societies are generally against enabling women towards women’s empowerment?

What About the Women? Bringing Women’s Rights Back Into the Conversation

3/C Marina Muenster
Twenty years ago, First Lady Hillary Clinton said these powerful words: “Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights once and for all.”[1] While Clinton’s speech in Beijing certainly drew more attention to the issue of global women’s rights, the fight began many years earlier and has continued many years later. One can still look around the world and see women not allowed to drive cars or own businesses or property. In some places, girls barely older than children are forced into marriage or sex trafficking, and in others babies are aborted or killed right after birth solely because of their gender. Furthermore, in some countries, women have no protection under the law from things like domestic violence or honor killings, or are cruelly subjected to genital mutilation. While the UN and other NGOs have devoted considerable resources to improving women’s rights, there is still much work to be done, and many questions to answer. To begin, is a country’s culture or religion an acceptable excuse for limiting women’s rights? What can the world and local governments do to improve women’s rights?  Should the protection of women’s rights be a foreign policy goal?  How and why? The world can no longer shy away from the question: what about the women?

Great Women of China

2/C Clara Navarro
A thousand-year history of foot binding; a Confucian foundation that delineates a subordinate position for women in society; a one child policy that resulted in a demographic imbalance, as baby girls were “disposed of” — China, the oldest civilization still in existence, has a history of gender discrimination with deep cultural roots. Change began in the mid-twentieth century when Mao rose to power, calling both men and women to work hard together to lift up the country. Sixty years later, 26% of urban women earned college diplomas, and today, women regularly outperform men at Chinese universities. But though laws have changed and statistics appear positive, the ancient Chinese mindset of a woman’s place has yet to improve. Chinese women today face overt prejudice in the workplace. Those who have found career success struggle to find mates and are deemed “leftover women.” The central government views unmarried citizens as unstable.[1] Will China’s women escape the pressures of marriage and child rearing? Will the Communist party enact laws to help? These answers and more will determine whether Chinese women can rise alongside their country.

Terrorism: Understanding the Gender Dimension

2/C James Smith

Amidst a procession of Shiite pilgrims on February 1st, 2010 in northeastern Baghdad, a
veiled female bomber detonated her concealed explosive vest and killed 46 people. In the
following month, two Chechen women, dubbed the “Black Widows,” conducted a joint suicide
bombing in two Moscow subway stations, murdering 38 passengers. On Christmas Day of the
same year, 45 other innocent individuals were killed in Bajaur, Pakistan following an act of
martyrdom by yet another female suicide bomber. Despite the historic trend of male suicide
bombers, women are responsible for the majority of suicide attacks within the Kurdistan
Workers Party and Chechen rebel groups. In spite of this data, counterterror practices
administered by the United States employ a terrorist profile of males aged 16-45, dangerously
underestimating women as a possible threat. This vulnerability represents a larger problem in the
modern understanding of terrorism that has previously rejected the role and importance of
women. Together we will attempt to explain the multiple roles that women play as sympathizers,
mobilizers, and perpetrators of terrorism. Finally, we will explore how women can best
contribute to the fight against terror as preventers.

Inspiring Learning: Equal Education in the 21st Century

3/C Tim Smith

In a post Title IX America, women are more educated than men. They are more likely than men to finish high school and pursue higher education. In fact, women hold 60% of postgraduate degrees in America.  The rest of the world presents a starkly different picture. The majority of the world’s out-of-school children are female, and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women. What is stopping women in other countries from receiving the education they need? Do cultures where girls marry young impact opportunities for education? Would free and compulsory education better educate women? What are the security implications of promoting gender equity as policy? This roundtable will address educational policy by analyzing   how to more effectively educate students using principles of divergent thinking, thereby encouraging young people to develop creative minds that will be able to solve problems not yet seen. Further, we will discuss how to ensure that education is equitable between men and women, both domestically and abroad, to ensure that the world does not leave half of its people behind.

Women and Security: A Middle Eastern Perspective

2/C Morgan Speight

Middle Eastern women are often characterized as downtrodden, but because of the
diversity of the political systems, religions and cultures of the 17 countries that geographically fit
the boundaries of the “Middle East,” the degree of women’s empowerment varies significantly
within those borders. This roundtable will discuss where and in which ways women are
organizing and working towards empowerment within the Middle East. We will examine the
multiple dimensions, including culture, ideology, and value differences, which affect women
living in Middle Eastern countries and how “empowerment” is defined and measured. Because
empowerment of women is a tenet of the US National Security Strategy, we will investigate
whether the same strategy can be used throughout the Middle East in the same manner, with the
same justifications, and under the same guidelines. Lastly, we will discuss which leadership
roles are available to women working to enhance their voice and power in their respective
countries and under what circumstances women are able to make a mark on their families,
communities and nations.

Tearing Down Gender Barriers on the African Continent

2/C Luke Sullivan

Africa is an immensely diverse and complicated continent with a vast array of social, political, and cultural issues that women face today. While many of these challenges occur around the rest of the world, some are particularly acute in Africa. A maternal mortality rate of 866 deaths per 100,000 births outpaces the rest of the world and highlights women’s poor access to health care. Educational opportunities are disproportionately low with a literacy rate of 51 percent for women in Africa. The objective of this roundtable will be to explore the most significant issues facing women in Africa today while discussing potential solution strategies. In writing your paper, feel free to use the following questions to guide your research: How does female political participation correlate with increased focus on women’s issues? What cultural and legal obstacles inhibit gender equality in economic, health, political, and social areas? What are some examples of successes in changing policy for the better? failures? Participants are encouraged to seek additional topics to discuss.

Economic Empowerment of Women

2/C Cam Wegener
Beginning with a broad survey of the current state of global economic affairs as they
relate to women, this table will seek to identify root causes of female economic
disenfranchisement and attempt to develop practical and implementable solutions to alleviate
gender-biased economic inequality. This roundtable will focus on the juncture of macro and
microeconomics and the associated policies designed to facilitate female economic
enfranchisement, especially in developing nations. Special attention will be paid to the
intersection of international policy with grassroots regional activism and the accompanying
implications for progress. Ultimately, this roundtable seeks to find objective means of
empowering one half of the world’s population in such a manner that the human species as a
whole benefits.
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