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    Dsh - Women, Gender Roles and Humanitarian Aid in the Greater War

    Wednesday, 24 June, 2020 - 13:00 to Thursday, 25 June, 2020 - 18:00
    University Foundation
    Call For Papers: Women, Gender Roles and Humanitarian Aid in the Greater War 

    Subject Fields: Contemporary History, Humanitarianism, Gender studies, Women’s Studies, International Relations, First World War, War Studies, History/ Studies, Social History/ Studies, Trans- and National History, Material culture, Archaeology, Anthropology, Balkan Wars

    Female-centered humanitarian aid has gained traction in recent years. In 2016, the UN Population Fund stated that ‘to succeed in building a more stable world, leaders will have to address the needs and protect the rights of affected women and girls, and incorporate their leadership and knowledge into all plans.’ In response, humanitarian agencies have launched a number of initiatives that empower girls through education, create cash-for-work programs for women and localise long-term aid in communities through female involvement.

    While these issues might seem new and timely, women have shaped humanitarian agendas for more than a century. In the era of World War One, when Europe was also a recipient of help, numerous international aid organisations such as the Commission for Relief in Belgium, the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Save the Children tried to combat hunger, illness and trauma through the education and participation of European girls, women and mothers. The civilian aid programs were often carried out by international and local women. Female volunteers (society ladies and nobility members) laboured alongside professionals (home economists, nutritionists, nurses, physicians, social workers and librarians). These relief workers struggled with some of the same challenges humanitarian workers face today: how to reach crisis-affected civilians and particularly women in the private sphere of the home? How to help and empower women and employ female humanitarian workers with or without disrupting traditional gender roles? How to push forward, find finance for and carry out female oriented humanitarian projects in male dominated organisations and societies? 
    The two-day conference Women, Gender Roles and Humanitarian Aid in the Greater War will examine these and other questions by looking at the specific humanitarian programs for women and girls in Europe during and after the First World War. We look for contributions that analyse the nature of the programs by and/or for women and girls.

    Presenters are invited to talk about but should not feel limited to:
    - The different goals and approaches of humanitarian initiatives aimed at and carried out by female actors as compared to other civilian aid initiatives
    - The negotiation of specific gender roles, the responsibilities and expectations of the local women and girls involved
    - The involvement of feminist and/or conservative women’s movements in international aid 
    - The (assessment of) the specific needs and rights of crisis-affected women and girls in European countries during and after the war 
    - The mobilisation of traditional activities of women including cooking, child-care, sewing and lacemaking 
    - The role of working female professionals, particularly doctors and social workers in designing aid programs 
    - The involvement of mothers and teachers in child-centred aid, reproductive health and eugenics 
    - The possible advantages and obstacles implementing such programs leading to smooth collaborations or tensions between humanitarians and recipients 
    - The larger goals on a personal/ organisational, gender, economic or political level aimed by the humanitarian actors and organisations 
    - The impact of the aid for female humanitarians and recipients on a short- and long-term basis

    Keynote speakers: prof. dr. Susan Grayzel (Utah State University) and prof. dr. Sophie De Schaepdrijver (Penn State University | VUB)

    Organising committee: prof. dr. Nel de Mûelenaere (VUB-FOST); dr Wendy Wiertz (KU Leuven| University of Oxford); prof. dr. Antoon Vrints (UGent)

    Scientific committee: Prof. dr. Kenneth Bertrams (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Prof. dr. Bruno Cabanes (Ohio State University), Prof. dr. Henk de Smaele (Universiteit Antwerpen), Prof. dr. Rebecca Gill (Huddersfield University), Dr Jaclyn Granick (Cardiff University), Prof. dr. David Hopkin (University of Oxford, Hertford College), Prof. dr. Julia Irwin (University of South Florida), Dr Francesca Piana (Université de Genève), Dr Elisabeth Piller (University College Dublin), Dr Pierre Purseigle (University of Warwick), Prof. dr. Kaat Wils (KU Leuven)

    Nel de Mûelenaere (nel.de.muelenaere@vub.be)
    • KU Leuven
    • UGent