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  • BU WGS

    BU's WGS, hub for our UNESCO/University Twinning (UNITWIN) Network

  • Women's Literacy in Burkina Faso since the 1970s

    Promoting women's education and empowerment in West Africa

  • Srihaswani

    Creative manual skills for self-reliant development in West Bengal, India

  • UNITWIN Partners, in Punjab

    Conserving cultural heritage in Punjab and across India

  • Unbound Visual Arts

    Enlivening the creative economy in Greater Boston

  • Promoting Women's Heritage

    Women's History Initiatives of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society

  • Partnership with the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender

    Gender case studies published by the Global Network, Buenos Aires and by UNESCO Paris

The UNESCO/UNITWIN (University Twinning) Network on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development, headquartered at Boston University’s Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS), is an international partnership of universities and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in India, West Africa and Greater Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America. As such, the Network was created to promote collaboration, and actively support the development work of fellow academics at member universities and social activists in partner NGOs. The Network aims to highlight innovative development action and produce publications that emphasize promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in international and local development initiatives in India, West Africa, and Greater Boston.

Slideshow photo credits and ©: BU/WGS – Alexandra O’Hare; Women’s Literacy in Burkina Faso, Srihaswani, and UNITWIN Partners in Punjab – Brenda Gael McSweeney; Unbound Visual Arts Exhibition – Karen Smigliani

Founding Partners


Photo: Alexandra O’Hare

The Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at Boston University explores the variety and richness of women’s historical, cultural, and social contributions and provides insight into the ways in which gender dynamics influence the experiences of women cross culturally. A multidisciplinary approach exposes students to gender-related issues from a variety of disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. Students explore aspects of women’s experiences that are beyond their own immediate boundaries – communities, class and ethnicities. Dr. Carrie Preston, Director of WGS, and Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney, Initiator of the Network and WGS Visiting Faculty, co-coordinate the UNESCO/UNITWIN at BU. 


Photo from: visva-bharati.ac.in

Visva-Bharati University located in West Bengal, India, was founded by the poet and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. He envisioned the forming of a center for Indian culture, a seminary for Eastern Studies and a meeting-place of the East and West. The University strongly believes in strengthening conditions of world peace through enhanced communication between people. Visva-Bharati follows a path of consistent research and study and encourages mutual cooperation of scholarly efforts between thinkers around the world. In respective of rural reconstruction, it successfully initiated a dialogue between academic study and hands-on field experience. It created a Centre for Women’s Studies  in 2009. The UNITWIN is coordinated at Visva-Bharati by Professor Asha Mukherjee and Professor Kumkum Bhattacharya. Drawn in part from: visva-bharati.ac.in


Photo from jmi.ac.in/fss

Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) emerged from being a small institution in pre-independence India to a central university located in New Delhi offering integrated education from nursery to research in specialized areas. Rabindranath Tagore called it “one of the most progressive educational institutions of India”. The basic emphasis of JMI was on evolving innovative education methods. The Department of Sociology houses a project on women’s issues and the related areas of expertise of the faculty span a large spectrum. Professor Savyasaachi, Head of the Department of Sociology and Dr. Arvinder Ansari, Associate Professor of Sociology, co-coordinate the UNITWIN at JMI. Drawn in part from jmi.nic.in


Photo from: punjabiuniversity.ac.in

The Punjabi University at Patiala, Punjab, India, is a multi-faceted, multi-faculty educational institution with over sixty-five teaching and research deparments. The Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology is unique insofar as it brings together two intellectual orientations, in its teaching and research. The curriculum covers social theory, women studies, folk religion, sociology of violence, rural social structures, Sikhism and Gandhism. The University has established a Women’s Studies Center. Women and development courses are offered and theses have been prepared on topics such as rural women in Punjab and female-headed households. The UNESCO/UNITWIN is coordinated at Punjabi University at Patiala by Professor Malkit Kaur and Professor Harvinder Singh Bhatti. Drawn in part from: punjabiuniversity.ac.in


Photo: Brenda Gael McSweeney

The Bhab Initiative was created by Krishno Dey and Chandana Dey in 1995. The participants comprised members of the community from Shantiniketan and from nine surrounding villages, in the district of Birbhum, West Bengal, India. Out of an informal dialogue, a program called “Srihaswani”, meaning Creative Manual Skills for Self-Reliant Development, emerged. It is intended to bridge rural-urban gaps in the perception and understanding of women and men concerning many daily issues in living, brought to a head by the manifold pressures of ‘globalization’. The initiative sought to focus on low-income households where manual skills have not yet been lost and could be revived, and improve the quality of life in the communities through creative manual skills. Krishno Dey and Chandana Dey represent the Bhab Initiative in the UNITWIN Network. Main source: the founders.

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Photo: Brenda Gael McSweeney

The Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative (CRCI) was founded by a team of conservation architects to document, preserve and promote India’s cultural heritage, and revitalize community through cultural heritage initiatives. CRCI’s forte is to work with communities and develop appropriate strategies for conservation in rural and urban areas. CRCI was founded with the idea of ‘conservation of built heritage’. It strongly believes that conservation is an integral part of development and should not be perceived as a peripheral activity. CRCI’s work is interdisciplinary as it recognizes the sensitivity and the complexity involved in understanding, conserving and interpreting cultural heritage. CRCI works in partnership with local, national and global institutions. CRCI Director Gurmeet Sangha Rai and Yaaminey Mubayi represent CRCI with the UNITWIN Network. Main source and for more information, visit: crci.4t.com


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