Seminar on Global Norms and Local Action: The Campaigns to End Violence against Women in Africa by Dr. Peace Medie

, 2:00pm –
Social Science Research Council

On June 7, 2017, African Peacebuilding Network (APN) Alumnus Dr. Peace Medie (BMC 2016; IRG 2015) gave a seminar on her forthcoming book manuscript, Global Norms and Local Action: The Campaigns to End Violence against Women in Africa, at the Social Science Research Council in Brooklyn, NY. Much of the fieldwork for the book was supported by an APN Individual Research Grant, and Dr. Medie received an APN Book Manuscript Completion Grant in 2016 to finalize the manuscript.

Dr. Medie’s book project potentially contributes to the literature on international norms in International Relations, as a lens into how international norms are translated at the domestic level. Additionally, Dr. Medie argues that it will advance an understanding of the advancement of women’s rights across Africa, by providing insight into if—and if so, how—specialized units improve the security sector’s responses to violence against women. This is a bold attempt “to understand how post-conflict states in Africa have responded to violence against women,” particularly rape and domestic violence. She focuses predominantly on how Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire are implementing anti-gender-based violence norms within the security sector—specifically, the police force and, in Côte d’Ivoire, the gendarmerie as well. Her study operationalizes this implementation by tracking the creation and institutionalization of specialized police units that address violence against women, as well as the performance of personnel within these units.

Throughout the seminar, Dr. Medie gave an overview of specialized units, discussed her research methods and the theoretical framework of her project, and highlighted the disparities in implementation of specialized units between the countries used as her two case studies. She supported with her arguments with evidence drawn from her fieldwork, and provided clear explanations for the differences between local actions in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, as well as her view on the long-term sustainability of these reforms to the security sector. Dr. Medie also provided recommendations for policies that may increase access to justice and improved services for women who have experienced domestic violence and rape.

The seminar was attended by a diverse audience, including distinguished professors and scholars, foundation representatives, policymakers, and Social Science Research Council staff members. The discussion following Dr. Medie’s presentation spanned a range of topics—from the positive and negative aspects of cultural influence and possibility for culture to evolve over time, to the influence of women as leaders and the role of women in powerful positions in influencing local norms and laws. With the discussion and feedback from the seminar, Dr. Medie intends to finalize her book manuscript, Global Norms and Local Action: The Campaigns to End Violence against Women in Africa, and send it to her publisher later in the year. The APN greatly looks forward to its publication.

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