Interview by Susan Lowry Rardin
A lawyer armed with the law in the form of three UN Human Rights Conventions, Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, S.J.D. seeks to amplify women’s efforts on behalf of equality and justice. One of her recent leadership events, organized with Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior, was the “Rabat Roundtable: Women Leading Change in the Arab and Muslim Communities,” which was held late in the 2011 Arab Spring and involved women leaders from the Middle East/North Africa region. Her strategies, which focus especially on Asia and the Muslim/Arab communities, feature the building of networks of women’s organizations and the linking of interest groups—especially through the power of those international human rights Conventions, as she describes in this interview.
Wellesley Centers for Women research and action initiatives are funded primarily by federal, state, and corporate grants and contracts. Several new and continuing projects received funding over the past six months.
In its September 11, 2011, issue, the New York Times Magazine brought together a group of pundits for a roundtable discussion, moderated by reporter Scott Malcolmson, of the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Michael Ignatieff, James Traub, David Rieff, Paul Berman, and Ian Buruma. Scott, Michael, James, David, Paul, and Ian: not a woman—nor a person of color—in the bunch. This particular group had been invited because each had published a significant article previously in the magazine about the issues under discussion—which doesn’t justify the choice; if anything, it makes it worse. Not only were women absent from the magazine’s 9/11 anniversary discussion, but we weren’t included in the debates of the past ten years!
Original research was a key focus at this year’s Intensive Institute held in June by the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at the Wellesley Centers for Women. All Institute attendees paticipated in a skills-based workshop, “Creating Connection in a Sea of Disconnection: Research Informed Clinical Practice,” with Mary Tantillo, Ph.D., Jennifer Sanftner, Ph.D., and Renee Spencer, Ed.D. The seminar was based on Spencer’s work on mentoring and on Tantillo’s and Sanftner’s recent article, “Measuring Perceived Mutuality in Women: Further Validation of the Connection-Disconnection Scale,” published in the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.