GFDD Talks to Ms. Christine Hart, from Women Thrive Worldwide, about Their Efforts to Promote Gender Equality and the Prevention of Sexual Violence against Women

July 31, 2014

On July 22, 2014 GFDD’s Executive Director, Ms. Natasha Despotovic, cordially welcomed Ms. Christine Hart, Manager of Policy and Government Affairs at Women Thrive Worldwide, who spoke in this Global Roundtable meeting about the role of gender equality and the issue of sexual violence against women within the post-2015 development agenda, with emphasis on the success of their advocacy efforts in the Caribbean and the USA in particular.

Ms. Despotovic began the interview by providing a description of the vast experience Ms. Hart has on topics related to empoweringwomen worldwide. GFDD’s Executive Director asked Ms. Hart about how she became interested in gender issues and
in what way her passion developed, to which Christine responded that her work in the Peace Corps was a crucial element for her to createawareness of gender issues in the world. She mentioned that being able to relate more deeply to women in other parts of the world made her realize the need of working in a collaborative way to advance their status, not just in the United States but around the world. She brought up that studying the causes of
human trafficking and contemporary slavery during her graduate studies gave her a new perspective to really think about the root factors of this issue, in order to understand the realities of many victims. For example, the lack of access to educational opportunities and to better livelihoods make women and girls more vulnerable to things like sex abuse and labor trafficking.

Asked about the different efforts Women Thrive Worldwide and other institutions perform to
contribute to promote gender equality, Christine commented that there are many approaches being made in conjunction with the United Nations such as the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which is one of the more effective ways to mitigate, prevent and respond to gender base violence in conflict zones. However, pondering on why there hasn’t been significant progress on the issue of gender violence, she cited out that over the last decade
women have not been considered to the same degree as men, therefore their experiences and needs have not been addressed in a similar way.  She emphasized that it is problematic that gender issues have not been in the public agenda effectively, as people in the halls of power, often men, have shaped policies that affect women without really understanding their concrete realities. She highlighted the importance when society can work to reverse social and economic barriers to
gender equality by creating awareness, educating people and getting involved in different efforts being made by institutions like Women Thrive Worldwide.

Women Thrive
Worldwide was founded in 1988 and focuses on three important aspects to prevent gender-based violence: Quality of Education, Economic Empowerment, and Global Gender-Based Violence Prevention.

In her concluding remarks Ms. Hart talked of the work of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals which are due to end in 2015) and assessed its achievements in relation to
gender-based violence.

About Christine Hart
Ms. Hart joined Women Thrive Worldwide in December 2012, becoming an integral member of the Policy and Government Affairs team, tackling issues from gender-based violence to girls”””” education. She is now that Portfolio’s Manager. She holds an M.A. in International Human Rights degree with concentrations in Human Trafficking and Contemporary Slavery and
International Human Rights Law from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies (as a graduate student there, she served as Associate Director of their Human Trafficking Clinic and conducted field research on human trafficking in the Philippines and on issues facing youth in post-conflict northern Uganda), and a B.A. in Political Science and History from Colgate University. Christine joined the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human
Rights upon returning from her Peace Corps service in rural Burkina Faso.

About GFDD Global Roundtables
In close association with the United Nations and the Mission of the Dominican Republic to the UN, GFDD organizes regular meetings with UN Ambassadors and other prominent figures in the international community in an effort to spread the news, knowledge and understanding of other countries, global issues and work of different
United Nations bodies to its audience in the Dominican Republic, the US and around the world.

Related links:
Women Thrive Worldwide

Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals