The Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights is an organization devoted to bringing knowledge about gender and security to bear on the quest to end armed conflicts and build sustainable peace. The Consortium is housed at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. The Consortium has been shaping the agenda in gender and security research since its establishment in 2002. As it approaches its sixth anniversary, the Boston Consortium continues with its traditional agenda and looks forward to exciting new initiatives.

The Consortium is made up of scholars and researchers from academic institutions from the Boston area, and linked with researchers internationally. Throughout its history, the Consortium has worked to:

  • Build Knowledge about Gender, Armed Conflict and Security through holding lectures, discussions, knowledge-building workshops and conferences
  • Bridge the Gap Between Research and Practice through creative, effective collaborations across some of the stubborn divides between scholars on the one hand, and policy-makers, policy-shapers, and practitioners on the other

The Consortium's sixth anniversary brings new projects to enrich our work towards these ends. The Consortium has moved to the University of Massachusetts, Boston. This year, the Consortium plans three major areas of expansion. First, the Consortium will start partnering working with the Social Science Research Council to develop its International Interactive Gender and Armed Conflict Research Agenda, aimed at enabling researchers, policy makers, and women “on the ground” to articulate their own most pressing knowledge needs; to find out what research may answer their questions; and to identify areas where new research and deeper interrogation is urgently needed. The Interactive Research Agenda will feature an online database of academic researchers’ current research projects, as well as links to published research and working papers.

In addition to positioning itself at the cutting edge of research in the field of gender and security, the Consortium continues to expand its active educational program. The Consortium provides student mentoring and participation programs around the Boston area. For researchers, the Consortium offers a Speaker Series which brings experts from around the world to Boston to build knowledge and awareness among Boston researchers interested in gender and security. The Speaker Series strives to build and enrich a community of researchers who learn from each other how to do more complex, subtle, multifaceted analyses of the gender dimensions of armed conflict. Additionally, the Consortium now invigorates a wider educational agenda, focused on increasing awareness about gender issues in international organizations. Looking forward from its sixth anniversary, the Consortium hopes to continue to be a resource for scholars and practitioners, and to serve as a go-to organization for policy-makers interested in learning about or implementing programs on gender and security.

This brings us to the Consortium's final area of expansion, the goal of increasing awareness about the problems of gender and security in the policy-making arena. In the gender mainstreaming work that the Consortium has done with international organizations, Director Carol Cohn observed an important dearth of policy-translatable material about gender and security, and found policy-makers therefore less willing to implement gender and security strategies. The Consortium, in its next five years, hopes to produce conceptual introductions as well as policy briefs for a gender and security agenda for the 21st century.

The Consortium is a member of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGOWG). The NGOWG was formed in May 2000 to advocate for a United Nations Security Council resolution on women, peace and security.  Following the unanimous adoption of Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 in October 2000, the coalition began the work of pressing for its full implementation. The membership consists of non-governmental organizations each working on different aspects of women, peace and security. As the only member of the NGO working group from the scholarly community, the Consortium contributes the analytical skills of academic policy studies to the working group's training, advocacy, and publication. Director Carol Cohn is one of the co-authors of the NGO working group's new report, SCR 1325 and the Peacebuilding Commission, which examines the recent establishment of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, its structure, mandate and obligation to implement SCR 1325.

The Consortium will also, in 2009, hold the first of our innovative "Knowledge-Building Workshops." Our goal is to improve the capacity of international organizations to address gender equality issues in their policymaking. One of the barriers to better policymaking has been the gap between research and practice, and the difficulty of bringing together people from worlds as disparate as the policy community, academic institutions, and field-level practitioners in an open and productive manner.  We are working with The Public Conversations Project to design a collaborative pre-meeting mapping and planning process that involves all of our participants, as well as a facilitation strategy shaped to enable constructive dialogue across the differences in language, priorities, timeframe and experience that so often make this cross-community brainstorming so difficult. The objectives of the workshop will be to yield new knowledge and approaches, empower policymakers, advocates and practitioners in their work, and point towards new and vital lines of research inquiry for scholars.

Please feel free to look around as we build our presence on the internet. Feel free to email the Director, Carol Cohn (carol.cohn@genderandsecurity.org), with substantive questions, or the webmaster (info@genderandsecurity.org) with internet-related questions.