WEF at Oxford
Funded by the Open Society Institute (OSF) since 2015, The Global Dialogues & Women’s Empowerment in Eurasian Contexts Feminist Mentoring (WEF) Programme provides two fellowships each year. Their purpose is to offer gender-centred contributions to on-going discourses surrounding issues over societal transformation in the Eurasian region. The WEF Programme provides opportunities for intellectual engagement, critical education and political empowerment of women from Central Asia and South Caucasus countries, seeking thus to strengthen the role of women as transformative leaders in their own societies and as global citizens.
Recognizing that interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act for the dignity of fellow human beings, our Program is dedicated to providing intellectual engagement, critical education and political empowerment of women from Eurasian countries to enable them to become transformative leaders in their own societies and as global citizens. The exclusion of women from societal affairs – be it via explicit or implicit discrimination or deprivation of resources – significantly diminishes the ability of a society to maintain and promote peace and delivery of justice. To support efforts to end such discrimination and exclusion, the IGS Centre runs this Fellowship Program to help strengthen the emergence of effective women leaders in the Eurasian Contexts which are characterized by ethno-religious complexities.
The core objective of the ‘Global Dialogues & Women’s Empowerment in Eurasian Contexts Feminist Mentoring Programme’ (WEF Programme) is to provide opportunities for intellectual engagement, critical education and political empowerment of women from Eurasian countries so that they can become transformative leaders in their own societies and contribute as global citizens. The Programme thus balances academic programming with applied mentoring, reflecting a holistic approach to develop both intellectual and professional skills. The mentoring program is as attentive to intellectual engagement, academic learning and methodologies for change as it is to the critical examination of conditions and processes of empowerment (personal and collective) with which to strengthen a society’s capacity to safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of all.
The WEF Programme is designed to equip fellows to make a difference in their home societies through individual intellectual and political empowerment. Aimed at creative thinkers and social change makers from the Eurasian region (defined as including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan), the Programme selects fellows in consideration of their past accomplishments and for their potential in leadership roles in the public and private spheres of activism, which may also be in the religious domain, and in both academic and civil society institutions. The Programme aims to build on fellows’ existing capacities and strengths. Its purpose is, furthermore, the enhancement of fellows’ aptitude to participate in regional and global discourses and activity on cultural, political, social and economic issues, always from within informed, gender-critical perspectives.
Every year, we accept two applications from a large number of applicants for the Women's Empowerment Programme (WEF). Our WEF fellows have much in common; their gender-critical research, their public engagement in women's empowerment, and passionate engagement in their country’s future. However, each WEF fellow is an exceptional and unique scholar, with her own critical objectives, research questions and search for the most meaningful application of her work.
The academic provisions for their course of study, therefore, are designed to provide gender-sensitive, critical learning on thematic issues that connect with, and expand upon, each fellow's established expertise. For example, our course in Gender Violence and Institutional Transformations offers multi-regional case studies that the fellows are invited to analyse and interpret, using insights to reference comparisons with their home region.
Our tutors, guest speakers, and mentors come from a background of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary feminist scholarship and include such noteworthy names in gender and development as: Dr Peace Medie, Dr Fenella Porter, and Dr Khin Mar Mar Kyi. Tutors are encouraged to develop innovative teaching techniques, which can include field visits, experimental writing workshops, and use of the classroom as a site of conversations between colleagues, intent on dialogue and mutual learning, rather than as a hierarchical teacher-student arrangement. For example, in the second half of the WEF programme, we host fellow-directed seminars designed and run by the fellows themselves.
In addition to these taught courses, the WEF fellows take ownership of their own research objectives, conducting independent study on topics ranging from forced migration to women's autobiographies to transnational labour. Each fellow chooses a mentor to provide support for her independent research which will be disseminated in open-access journals, in video-recorded events, and in public events at the University of Oxford and beyond.
Applications are due by email by midnight (GMT) on 2nd of October 2017. Short-listed candidates will be contacted by 11th of October for letters of reference and/or to arrange for phone interviews. If a letter of reference is requested, these must be emailed to IGS no later than midnight on 14th of October. Open Society Foundations’ approval of the selections will be sought prior to offers of place.
Successful candidates will be notified on the 16 th of October and should be prepared to immediately begin the visa application process. IGS will provide guidance throughout this process.
Successful applicants will arrive in Oxford in advance of the beginning of Hilary Term 2018 (starting 15 January), on or around January 8, and will depart Oxford by July 31st. Trinity Term ends on the 17th of June and applicants are expected to remain until towards the end of July to prepare their work for publication.
The Hilary Term will consist of a course-based programme located at Lady Margaret Hall. Fellows will be in class for a maximum of three days every week and will be expected to prepare for seminars by reading from a provided reading list and completing writing projects assigned by course tutors. In the period between academic terms, Fellows will be expected to carry out a small period of field work. Due to the limited time-scale of the programme, the field work is not meant to draw main conclusions for the paper but will provide context and offer the opportunity for exploration of research sites that may serve the basis for future projects. In Trinity Term Fellows will complete any remaining field work and write-up the document. The Fellows will be expected to contribute as a presenter in the Trinity Term IGS seminar series and will give one additional presentation in Oxford.
Successful applicants will be supported in accessing accommodation in Oxford, applying for a visa, and applying for medical insurance. They will be informed of opportunities and resources available within the wider University. Fellows will have access to the University of Oxford main libraries, the Bodleian, as well as College library access at Lady Margaret Hall. They will carry out their independent work in one of the many Oxford libraries and attend classes at Lady Margaret Hall. They will receive financial support for most research-related expenses (travel, accommodation, registration costs, etc.).
Fellows will receive a living and accommodation stipend commensurate with Oxford living expenses. In addition to the stipend, fellows will receive a project budget. That budget will include most expenses such as in-country travel (including airfare and hotel), visa costs, conference fees and health insurance. The purpose of the fellowship is to support individual fellows; therefore the program will only cover individual expenses and cannot support the families or dependents of Fellows. Fellows must not engage in paid employment while in the UK for the duration of this Fellowship, in order that they focus exclusively on opportunities and responsibilities associated with the Programme.
The proposed Fellowship Programme seeks to equip Fellows for the important task of making a difference in their home societies through individual intellectual and political empowerment. Aimed at creative thinkers and social change makers from the Eurasian region who have already attained a high level of University education, the Programme will select Fellows in consideration of their past accomplishments and for their potential in leadership roles. Accomplishments and potential may be demonstrated through engagements in the public and private spheres of activism, which may also be in the religious domain, and in both academic and civil society institutions. Its purpose is the enhancement of Fellows’ aptitude to participate in regional and global discourses and activity on cultural, political, social and economic issues, always from within informed, gender-critical perspectives. Applicants should possess a deep understanding of their chosen subject and a track record of professional accomplishment. Fellows might have worked as journalists, activists, academics, and practitioners in a variety of fields, but they are expected to have obtained an advanced degree and be able to give proof of an impressive academic record. Priority will be given to candidates who have attained a PhD and also worked successfully in an activist capacity. Successful applicants will be eager to utilize the many resources offered by IGS, LMH, and the Open Society Foundations and be prepared to engage constructively with and within our global networks.
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