Women’s rights in the developing world: Build it and it will come?

As originally post at opendemocracy.net.

By Valerie Percival

Mozambique is a land of contradictions.

Women were active in the independence struggle. Strong female civic leaders, like Graça Machel, participate actively in public life. And the government unequivocally supports international norms on women’s equality, such as the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals. Even the UN Website in Mozambique proudly asserts “there is a juridical, political and institutional structure in Mozambique favourable to the promotion of gender issues and the empowerment of women.”

Yet Mozambique remains a very difficult place for girls and women. Female literacy rates, their education attainment and poverty levels, and their health outcomes are appalling. Sexual and physical abuse is widespread. It has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage. Sexual assault in school is common, from boys as well as some teachers who demand sex as a condition for grade promotion.

Clearly the rights of women and girls are not respected, protected, or even properly understood.

Continue reading

A Vote Against Xenophobia?

By Steve Saideman

I usually write on Canada’s international relations, but as a former resident of Quebec and as a scholar who has written on xenophobia, I have a few thoughts on the outcome of Quebec’s latest election. The first is that xenophobia didn’t work this time. The second is that where we go from here is not so clear. The most certain outcome of PQ’s failed campaign is that Quebecois sovereignty is not dead but in a deeper coma than previously believed.

The take home message by many is that appealing to people’s worst nature, fear of those who are different, did not work during this campaign. The Charter of Values, or the Charter of Xenophobia, was quite popular before the election and was a deliberate effort by the PQ to split the CAQ and to put the Liberals into a difficult position. Pauline Marois called the election precisely because this cynical appeal to fear seemed to be working. Yet her party only got 25 percent of the vote, an awful showing compared to the expectations a month ago and relative to previous outcomes in Quebec’s history. So, it could be viewed that the the election’s results are a condemnation of fear-mongering.

Continue reading

From a Prospectus to a Dissertation Draft: My Reflections on the PhD Process – Part V

Part four of a five-part series on the dos and don’ts of thesis writing by PhD Candidate Eric Jardine.

 

V. Save it for the Book

Finally, as a last point, it is important to recognize that constraints (both short run and long run) and dissertation quality interact to determine when you are likely to go to defence. This interaction is best summed up by the adage, “Save it for the book.” When I first started hearing this, I was not impressed. Books are the better version of a dissertation so why not shoot for the best work possible? After the first few times that I heard the saying, I stopped thinking about it that way. At a certain point, there are time limits on how long you should be doing a PhD. The most obvious constraint is financial. I run out of university funding in May of this year, for example, so I was pressing hard to complete everything in time to avoid paying Summer tuition. Everyone’s financial situation is different, but the point stands that there are constraints on how long you can reasonably spend on your dissertation without running up huge debts.

Continue reading

From a Prospectus to a Dissertation Draft: My Reflections on the PhD Process – Part IV

Part four of a five-part series on the dos and don’ts of thesis writing by PhD Candidate Eric Jardine.

 

IV: How to Make Friends and Write a Thesis

Dissertation writing should also be a social exercise and the process will be easier if you treat it as such. As many of my colleagues know, I like to talk about my research (especially if I can use a whiteboard to diagram my ideas). I got a tremendous amount out of these conversations. There are two general reasons why people wouldn’t talk to their colleagues. Either they think their colleagues are stupid and could not contribute to their project or they are worried about talking about their project for fear of appearing dumb because it is still a work in progress. I am going to ignore the first reason because it is just wrong. We are surrounded by very smart people who could contribute to any research project in a number of ways. The second reason is also wrong, but I understand how people could be concerned that they are somehow out of place in a PhD program. It is pretty easy to feel that everyone else belongs and that you are just faking it somehow and slipping through the cracks.

Continue reading

From a Prospectus to a Dissertation Draft: My Reflections on the PhD Process – Part III

Part three of a five-part series on the dos and don’ts of thesis writing by PhD Candidate Eric Jardine.

 

III. Publishing: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Another thing that helped me write my dissertation was something that you might otherwise expect to undermine the process: writing and publishing articles. Like with writing, there are a few reasons why writing and publishing articles during your dissertation is useful. First, you kind of have to if you want to get a job afterwards. Take a morning someday and look over the PhD student pages of various departments, particularly in the USA. You will find a lot of high achieving people on those websites. High achievement in academia, as we all know, is measured by the quality and quantity of your publications. These high achievers are the people that you are going to be competing against when you apply for that single tenure-track assistant professor position. If you want to stand out, you cannot simply write your dissertation. You need to publish more. Many published articles is the new baseline. You need to excel relative to this fairly rigorous baseline.

Continue reading

From a Prospectus to a Dissertation Draft: My Reflections on the PhD Process – Part II

Here is part two of a five-part series on the dos and don’ts of thesis writing by PhD Candidate Eric Jardine. For Part I: The Lulls click here.

 

II. The Value of Putting Words on a Page

Another positive experience that I would relate involves the actual process of writing the dissertation. Both my undergraduate honours research paper supervisor and my master’s research paper supervisor were firm advocates of the “start writing and go from there” approach to crafting a lengthy project. My supervisory committee at NPSIA was the same. This approach has a lot to suggest it. First, I find that I think while I write, or at least writing is a process that forces me to think about my topic, so my ideas become clearer and the areas that need more work become plain. In some ways, I think the writing process is actually a core part of the research process itself, so believing that you will be able to complete the research and then write up your findings is not particularly realistic. Even if you are doing heavy duty quantitative research, the meaning of your findings can only be discovered through a process of careful thought; a process that writing facilitates.

Continue reading

From a Prospectus to a Dissertation Draft: My Reflections on the PhD Process – Part I

Below, is part one of a five-part series on the dos and don’ts of thesis writing by PhD Candidate Eric Jardine.

 

Part I. The Lulls

I have now submitted the final “draft” of my dissertation, which will be sent out to my committee and my two external examiners. It has been a long haul. I have been in the PhD program at NPSIA for five years now. Since I have the next several weeks to sit on my hands and wait for my defence (should one go ahead), I decided to briefly put down my thoughts on the dissertation process, particularly how to get from a prospectus to a finished draft.

My first thought on the matter involves what I would call the milestone productivity lulls. As the name implies, these lulls in activity can happen every time you reach a milestone, and there are many in a project the size of a dissertation. For instance, a completed prospectus, a completed draft of a chapter, a finished theory section, finished fieldwork, coding and so forth are all significant milestone that, once completed, give you a sense of satisfaction that can lead to a decrease in your efforts.

Continue reading