Conferences & Symposia

CANCELED: Sexual Rights and Wrongs: Global Perspectives


Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, we have regrettably decided to cancel this public program. We do not take these decisions lightly, but the health and well-being of our community must come first and we are acting in accordance with the most recent Harvard University guidance.

The Radcliffe Institute’s 2020 gender conference, “Sexual Rights and Wrongs: Global Perspectives,” will bring together international leaders from a range of fields to engage in conversations about urgent questions of gender and sexual rights today.

Activists, artists, scholars, and practitioners from around the world will gather to share experiences and expertise and to form new collaborations for change on transnational issues of abortion, gendered power, sexuality, and LGBTQ rights.

Free and open to the public.



9 AM

Welcoming Remarks

Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, and professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


9:10 AM

Framing Remarks

Durba Mitra, Carol K. Pforzheimer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and assistant professor of studies of women, gender, and sexuality in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


9:15 AM


This session will explore abortion, with an emphasis on the roles of stigma and policy and the social and health consequences of denying women the right to choose. It will be organized around case studies; e.g., settings in which abortion is illegal, access to services is highly restricted, or policies and sociocultural factors lead to harmful practices, such as sex-selective abortion or forced abortion and sterilization.

Mei Fong, director of communications and strategy, Center for Public Integrity; journalist; and author, One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández, visiting scholar in the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University; professor of English, Emory University

Rasha S. Khoury, medical doctor in obstetrics & gynecology, Montefiore Medical Center; former emergency obstetrician, Médecins Sans Frontières

Sandra Carolina Mena Ugarte, medical doctor, Hospital Centro Ginecológico (El Salvador)

Moderated by Mary Ziegler, Stearns Weaver Miller Professor, Florida State University College of Law


10:30 AM



10:45 AM

Arts Intervention

Rajiv Mohabir, poet; assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing, Emerson College


10:50 AM


This session will question the notion of a unidirectional flow of ideas, approaches, and practices from wealthier to less advantaged societies. Instead, speakers will stress the importance of building global connections to learn from successful experiences in a wide range of settings.

Naminata Diabate, assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and core faculty member in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, Cornell University

Jules Gill-Peterson, assistant professor of English and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, University of Pittsburgh

Moderated by Kareem Khubchandani, Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Tufts University


12:05 PM



1:15 PM


Ocean Vuong, novelist, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin, 2019) and poet, Night Sky With Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, 2016); assistant professor in the Department of English and the MFA for Poets and Writers, University of Massachusetts Amherst; 2019 MacArthur Fellow

In discussion with Ju Yon Kim, professor of English, Harvard University

Introduced by Catherine Ho, Harvard College Class of 2021; AB candidate in neuroscience and secondary in ethnicity, migration, rights


2:15 PM

Arts Intervention

Rajiv Mohabir, poet; assistant professor, Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing, Emerson College


2:20 PM


This interdisciplinary session of scholars, practitioners, and artists will analyze how we think about ideas of intimacy in relation to the global politics of gender and sexuality. The panelists will consider why intimacy is at points erased from global discussions of gender and sexual rights and how we might reimagine ways to speak about and enact new approaches to intimacy in scholarship, activism, and rights-based institutions and policies.

Shireen Hassim, Canada 150 Research Chair in Gender and African Politics, Department of History and Institute of African Studies, Carleton University (Canada) 

Mireille Miller-Young, associate professor of feminist studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Evren Savci, assistant professor, Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Yale University

Moderated by Nawal M. Nour, obstetrician/gynecologist, director of the Ambulatory Obstetrics Practice, and founder and director of the African Women’s Health Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School


3:35 PM



3:50 PM


This roundtable will engage in questions about what it means to organize for gender and sexual rights in global contexts in the 21st century. The speakers will feature diverse geographic and disciplinary perspectives, offering commentaries on key issues, including rights-based activism in the face of rising global authoritarianisms, the transnational reach of global women’s marches, and new approaches to legal and social protests for LGBTQ rights.

Nighat Dad, executive director, Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan)

Lyn Ossome, senior research fellow, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University (Uganda)

Salamishah Tillet, Henry Rutgers Professor of African American and African Studies and Creative Writing and associate director of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; founding director of New Arts Justice, Express Newark; cofounder, A Long Walk Home

Moderated by Mel Y. Chen, F.O. Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; associate professor of gender and women’s studies and director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture, University of California, Berkeley


5:05 PM

Closing Remarks

Ana Langer, professor of the practice of public health and coordinator of the Dean’s Special Initiative on Women and Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


5:10 PM

Public Reception