Safe Cities: A Study of Institutional Responses to Gender Based Violence in the Global City

Elective

The course proposes a broad theoretical as well as an experiential and immersive introduction to some of the most urgent issues surrounding institutional responses to gender based violence (GBV) and related forms of gender discrimination today.

The course is divided into three main sections: a theoretical framework that introduces students to contemporary arguments and ideas around gender equality, violence, women’s empowerment, and legal protections offered under international and domestic law; a critical overview of contemporary New York City and State actors’ interventions against gender discrimination, such as the Governor’s 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda, the Mayor’s She Built NYC campaign, and the NYC4CEDAW Act Coalition’s campaign for a NYC ordinance for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and a series of thematic case studies that focus on specific challenges including in the areas of reproductive rights, sexual assault, sex work, trafficking and the rights of people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

The latter section will require engagement with actors that are instrumental in responding to and preventing gender based violence, and may include,  UN independent women's rights experts, Detectives of the NYPD Special Victim's Division, Gender Initiatives Directors of faith based organizations, and Social Workers serving Sexual Assault Response Teams.

Through these frameworks and studies, the course offers a well-rounded introduction to the complexity of interventions against gender based discrimination in the context of a Global City. The transnational scope of the course is anchored by New York City as an incubator and instigator for innovative interventions against gender inequality, and there will be an emphasis on the cross-pollination that occurs between the City, State and national and international NGO platforms.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Chiseche Mibenge

Chiseche Salome Mibenge is an expert in gender and human rights. For two decades she has worked in the field of human rights education and served as a researcher and consultant in post conflict societies, addressing the issue of conflict related sexual violence and access to justice for survivors. In her current role, Chiseche is the Director for Gender Initiatives at Episcopal Relief & Development, the humanitarian response of the Episcopal Church. She provides the organization with leadership on human rights and gender strategy and supports global partners addressing early childhood development, violence against women and gender equity, and climate resilience.

Chiseche trained as a Lawyer at the University of Zambia and received her PhD in International Human Rights Law from Utrecht University’s School of Law in 2010. She is the author of Sex and International Tribunals: The Erasure of Gender from the War Narrative’ (Penn Press 2013). She is the co-editor with Irene Hadiprayitno (Leiden University) of a human rights book series, Human Rights Interventions, launched with Palgrave MacMillan in 2017. She has been invited as a visiting scholar to leading human rights institutions, including the University of Bradford’s Division of Peacekeeping, American Washington College of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the National University of Rwanda’s Center for Conflict Management. Various UN agencies and INGOs, have recruited her as a gender consultant, including The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the DR-Congo, UNIFEM in Sierra Leone and Norwegian People’s Aid in Rwanda.

 As an educator in the US, Chiseche has made substantial contributions to human rights curriculum development with Stanford University’s Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and as faculty at the University of San Francisco, the CUNY Graduate Center and CUNY Lehman College. Her community service has included volunteering as an advocate and crisis counselor for survivors in emergency departments under the North Central Bronx Hospital Sexual Assault Treatment Program, and representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.