SG&HR Program Description

Far too often, ordinary human beings throughout the globe are denied basic rights, freedom, opportunity, and dignity because of their sex, sexuality, gender identity or expression.  Despite recent advances in law and public policy in some countries and contexts, women as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people continue to experience a disproportionate degree of discrimination and disfranchisement, poverty and violence, even death.  Hannah Arendt once said that “human rights are the rights we do not have,” and for too many women and LGBTQ people, human rights are still a distant dream.

The Carr Center’s Sexuality, Gender, and Human Rights Program (formerly the Human Rights and Social Movements Program) examines the promises and pitfalls of human rights through the analytical frameworks of gender and sexuality.   We do so in three main areas:

Through research, we will explore the roles that gender and sexuality play in the realm of human rights policy and practice.  In particular, we will focus on the underlying social stigmas and cultural traditions that often fortify patriarchal and hetero-normative systems of power.  We will also identify strategic interventions—cultural, political, social, and economic—that have proven effective in dismantling prejudice and violence against, and advancing freedom and equality for, women and LGBTQ people throughout the globe.

Through programming, we seek to energize public discourse and political debate regarding the important relationship between sexuality, gender, and human rights.  In particular, we will work to raise the visibility of these issues—as well as amplify the voices of women and LGBTQ people, more generally—across campus and in the broader community. 

Through fellowships and advising, we aim to empower Harvard Kennedy School students to become more effective scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and advocates on behalf human rights for women and LGBTQ people.  In particular, we will support student research, writing, and professional development with the potential to forge a more sophisticated analysis of the relationship between sexuality, gender, and human rights in both national and global contexts.

All told, through a critical examination of sexuality and gender, we hope to inspire a more inclusive conception and practice of human rights for all people.


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Please note:

January 13, 2014: Margaret "Peggy" Traub, distinguished Harvard alumna and passionate supporter of research, teaching, and advocacy around women's and LGBTQ issues, has passed away after a long battle with cancer. 

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