Delay implementing the proposed academic changes until 2016-2017 school year.
This petition had 101 supporters
“We study gender because lives are on the line.” - Professor Anu Pillay, UN Senior Gender Capacity Advisor
The proposed academic changes will dismantle the current nuanced 8-course Gender and Peacebuilding MA Program, replacing it with a 2-couse "gender specialization" within a more generic Peace Studies MA program. Gender is a fluid and culturally defined concept with many misconceptions. To establish a “gender specialization” that does not include a focused gender theories course will produce students with incomplete, inaccurate, and potentially harmful understandings of how gender affects dynamics in the world. The power of the current Gender and Peacebuilding MA is the depth at which it explores the role of gender in a complicated and evolving world. The proposed changes eliminate the nuanced perspective of gender that we are receiving this year. The proposed academic changes eliminate courses that examine the dynamic of gender and religion, of masculinities and violence, gender and human rights. There is also little indication, and little reason to believe, that gender will be mainstreamed into the core courses and other MA programs, which has become a fundamental aspect of UN policy via the implementation of UN-Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1880, and 1888.
Over the last 20 years, the United Nations has made a commitment to gender, gender equity, and gender mainstreaming as cornerstone of its policies and operations, and mandated such commitments of its affiliate organizations and signatory nations. The proposed academic changes are not simply misaligned with this commitment; they intentionally dismantle, disrespect, and invalidate the fundamental importance of a gender analysis and lens in peace work. Number 3 of the UN Millennium Goals is to “promote gender equality and empower women,” with target 3.A stating, “Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.” The proposed academic changes are in clear and active contradiction to this goal. Point 3 of the Mission Statement of The Beijing Platform for Action, resulting from the 4th World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995, states, “The Platform for Action emphasizes that women share common concerns that can be addressed only by working together and in partnership with men towards the common goal of gender equality around the world. It respects and values the full diversity of women's situations and conditions and recognizes that some women face particular barriers to their empowerment.” Additionally, it is within the Platform for Action that the UN made a commitment to gender mainstreaming and the need for gender perspectives in all aspects of decision-making, peace processes, and interventions. The proposed academic changes, eliminating gender from the core courses, and creating a two-course “specialization” as opposed to the current eight-course program, insults the Plan of Action, as well and fails to recognize that a specialization in the nuanced and constantly adapting field of gender is impossible to achieve in a mere six weeks.
We request that any proposed reform of the academic program be put on hold until at least the 2016-2017 school year, so that changes can be discussed in open forums with the active and informed participation of the council, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and professional experts. This will allow UPeace to utilize the incredible amount of knowledge, talent, and passion for peace. Through such a process we are confident UPeace will be adaptive and responsive to the needs of a changing world, rather than reactionary and narrow in its capacity.
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