George Washington University opened the Global Women’s Institute (GWI) in Fall 2012. The institute calls itself “a university-wide initiative to advance gender equality through interdisciplinary research, education, and policy and outreach.” According to its website, GWI aims to connect its students and faculty with activists around the world “to end violence against women and girls, empower women economically, and increase women’s participation and leadership in society.”
Led by Dr. Mary Ellsberg, GWI works locally on the campus of George Washington University and abroad on research projects across the globe. Campus projects include helping to launch the HeForShe campaign in Washington, D.C., partnering with a student organization for Trans Day of Visibility event, and helping to connect interested students with careers in gender equality issues.
GWI members are involved in research projects with implications around the world,partnering with and receiving funding from a variety of organizations and government agencies including the International Rescue Committee, CARE International UK, the World Health Organization, the Australian Government Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Sexual Violence Research Initiative in South Africa, Futures Without Violence, and the United Nation Girl’s Education Initiative (UNGEI).
Before becoming the founding director of GWI, Ellsberg served as the vice president of research and programs for the International Center for Research on Women in Washington, D.C. She’s spent about two decades working in Nicaragua, studying and working against gender-based violence. She has served in an Expert Group on Violence Prevention for the United Nations and has given testimony for dozens of Nicaraguan women seeking to escape domestic violence by gaining asylum in the U.S.