20 June 2013

Using Game-based Learning to Understand Violence Against Women

First off, the Half the Sky Movement is nothing short of amazing. Kristoff and Wu Dunn have constructed a complete and relevant learning environment by polyangulating different content and experiential resources; text, film (Part 1 and Part 2), and game. Since the film and game weren't ready for our GLOPO class until last fall, we've pushed off the study of Human Rights until this coming academic year. The delay in facilitating this unit (Human Rights) has been a difficult one. Over the past decade, I've taught world politics through the study of armed conflict and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). My classroom experience and feedback from students over the years has taught me that there is no better way for students to learn about these complex issues than to do so through games and simulations. As such, its been a real exercise in intellectual patience to keep our class from diving in to the study of human rights; playing and simulating all along the way. 

As if to highlight the necessity and urgency for students to learn about the geopolitical importance of IHL-especially as it relates to women-a number of news items crossed all sorts of media outlets today. Writing in The Atlantic, Olga Khazan documents the states who are most complicit in the latest incarnation of global slavery; that of Human Trafficking. Drawing on annual reports from Human Rights Watch and the United States Department of State, Khazan notes the ways in which women and girls are victimized at various points in the trafficking process. While the BBC notes that the governments of Russia and China objected to the State Department's assessment of the state of trafficking inside their respective societies, one does wonder how much more officials in Beijing and Moscow can or will do to combat the trafficking of women going forward. 

As heard today on NPR, the World Health Organization (WHO) has documented an extensive account of violence against women around the world. The statistics could not be clearer; more than one-third (35%) of all women around the world have been raped or physically abused. The consequences of this violence is pervasive and disturbing, and yet the WHO has made their analysis of this significant issue clear and accessible for a wide range of learners. On the policy side, it is interesting to consider the two maps above. On the left, the State Department's assessment of the problem of human trafficking. On the right, the prevalence of rape and physical abuse against women as documented by the WHO. Clearly, there are parts of the world where being a woman can be a tremendously difficult and dangerous existence. As cosmopolitans, we must continue to do more to facilitate learning about the hideousness of structural violence against women and girls. 

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