Concentration Director's Message

Sylvia Maier

Dear Prospective Student,

Twenty years ago, at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, governments from around the world committed themselves to the full implementation of the human rights of women and girls in the Platform for Action. Girls now surpass boys in educational attainment at nearly every level; infant and maternal mortality rates have declined; rape is recognized and punished as an international crime; domestic legal codes are purged of discriminatory laws; and women serve alongside men in the military, are heads of state, run major global organziations and businesses, and participate in post-conflict community building.

Academics and scholar activists have contributed to a fundamental rethinking of the hitherto presumed neutral meanings of "state," "security," and "development"; unmasked the gendered nature of the international system; established the link between gender discrimination and structural violence; thus, revolutionizing international development practices. The integration of women into global development and stabilization programs is now recognized as a fundamental precondition for sustainable development, peace, and economic growth. As a result, international organizations, NGOs, governments, and private businesses now invest billions of dollars each year in women's empowerment and capacity building.

Yet, women's rights worldwide remain under siege. The key objective over the next decade, therefore, is to vigorously defend, solidify, and expand the gains women and sexual minorities have made and to develop and implement effective programs that promote gender equality in a sustainable manner. This means that those of us passionate about women's empowerment and the expansion of sexual minority rights have the good fortune to pursue among the most cutting-edge and impactful careers. And while the challenges may appear daunting at times, we shall be inspired by the timeless words of Eleanor Roosevelt: "You must do the things you think you cannot do."

Warm regards,
Sylvia Maier
Clinical Assistant Professor
NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs