New Publication: Gender equality in Tunisia: The EU’s tripartite dialogue

By Sarah Wolff


To what extent is the EU projecting democratic norms in the area of gender? Gender equality and women’s empowerment have been at the heart of the EU’s external action since the Arab uprisings. This article is an in-depth study of how the EU interacts with non-state actors in practice, and beyond the recipient-donor relationship, in the format of tripartite dialogue whereby the EU, civil society and the Tunisian government consult each other before any major EU meeting. First, this article reviews what EU democracy projection involves in the field of gender equality. Then it offers a mapping of the local, active participants on feminism and gender equality. Third, the article focuses on an innovative practice of trust-building, that of the gender sub-group of the tripartite dialogue. The main argument is that the dialogue has provided a new venue to project trust-building practices that are central to the consolidation of democracy. Yet this practice is weakened by the lack of considerations of major divides around gender in Tunisian society. Interaction on democratic norms thus remains secluded to a very selective venue. Democracy projection is, however, not fully ‘transversal’ as the Islamist-secularist cleavage, socioeconomic inequalities and divides of the rural peripheries constrain the impact of the tripartite dialogue and subsequent democracy projection.

To read the article, please see:

New Research: QMUL’s Sophie Harman co-authors a new article for ISQ about reproductive health

Professor Sophie Harman and her co-author, Professor Sarah Davies of Griffith University (Australia) have co-authored an article for International Studies Quarterly, titled “Securing Reproductive Health: A Matter of International Peace and Security”

Abstract: Failure to access reproductive health care is a threat to the security of women around the world. This article offers three propositions to recognize reproductive health as a matter of international peace and security. The first is to recognize current processes of advancement and backlash politics as a silent security dilemma that undermines rights, justice, and public health based approaches to reproductive health. The second is to draw on the human security origins of global health security to reorient the concept away from protecting states to protecting individuals. Finally, a feminist approach to security is incomplete without recognising reproductive health as a threat to women’s security and as a barrier to their participation in international peace and security processes. Reproductive health is central to effective peacebuilding yet remains curiously absent from the international peace and security discourse. We discuss how and why reproductive security should become integrated within the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda in order to hold states to account for reproductive health access. Reproductive security defines the urgency and threat of restricted reproductive health care to the lives of women, health-care providers, and sustained international peace and security.

The article can be found at

New Research: QMUL’s Sophie Harman co-authors a new article for Nature about the lessons of past pandemics about the effect on women

The social and economic impacts of COVID-19 fall harder on women than on men. Governments need to gather data and target policy to keep all citizens equally safe, sheltered and secure.

Authors/editor(s): Clare Wenham, Julia Smith, Sara E. Davies, Huiyun Feng, Karen A. Grépin, Sophie Harman, Asha Herten-Crabb & Rosemary Morgan

Drawing on the experience of past pandemics new article in the journal Nature argues that

“Women are affected more than men by the social and economic effects of infectious-disease outbreaks. They bear the brunt of care responsibilities as schools close and family members fall ill. They are at greater risk of domestic violence and are disproportionately disadvantaged by reduced access to sexual- and reproductive-health services. Because women are more likely than men to have fewer hours of employed work and be on insecure or zero-hour contracts, they are more affected by job losses in times of economic instability.”

The article can be found at

New Research: QMUL’s Sophie Harman co-authors a new article for UNWomen on COVID and gender equality

Authors/editor(s): Ginette Azcona, Antra Bhatt, Sara Davies, Sophie Harman, Julia Smith, and Clare Wenham

Original URL:

Sophie is Professor of International Politics and a BAFTA-nominated film producer. She is interested in visual method and the politics of seeing, global health politics, African agency, and the politics of conspicuously invisible women. Her research has reflected these interests through projects on Global Health Governance, the World Bank and HIV/AIDS, partnerships in health in Africa, the 2014/15 Ebola response, the governance of HIV/AIDS, and her recent film project, Pili. These interests have informed her teaching on the modules Global Health Politics, Africa and International Relations, and Global Governance.

COVID-19 has been declared a public health emergency of international concern and a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. This global threat to health security underscores the urgent need to accelerate progress on achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 and the need to massively scale up international cooperation to deliver on SDG 3. It also reveals what is less obvious, but no less urgent: how health emergencies such as COVID-19, and the response to them, can exacerbate gender inequality and derail hard-won progress not only on SDG 3 but on all the SDGs.

This paper presents the latest evidence on the gendered impact of the pandemic, highlights potential and emerging trends, and reflects on the long-term impact of the crisis on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The paper begins by presenting key facts and figures relating to the gendered impacts of COVID-19 followed by reflecting on the health impacts of COVID-19 on SDG 3 targets. Then, the paper explores the socioeconomic and political implications of COVID-19 on women and gender across five of the Goals: SDG 1 (poverty), 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), and 10 (reduced inequalities).

The paper concludes by outlining policy priorities drawn from the evidence presented.

This paper is part of the “Spotlight on the SDGs” series.

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Bibliographic information

Subject area(s): 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentCOVID-19Gender equality and women’s empowermentGender statisticsHealthSex-disaggregated dataSexual and reproductive health and rightsSustainable Development Goals (SDGs)