I really enjoyed the session on gender by Professor Moorti. One of the major take away for me is to use and speak more about “gender” rather than “women”. This really connected me back to a previous panel on a similar topic that I attended.

Earlier this summer, I attended a panel at Pulitzer Center in Washington D.C. on Women in Conflict Zone where  journalist, NGO workers and war photographers all spoke about their experiences. One of the panelists suggested that there is so much attention on gender that it actually distorted the truth on the ground. For NGOs, it became much easier to apply for grants if they have a focus on helping women living in conflict zones while in reality, there are actually many more men who need immediate treatment because many of them became soldiers. Another journalist noted a similar phenomenon citing the Boko Harem kidnapping that happened several years ago in Nigeria and the journalist noted that while there are actually more boys being kept hostage by Boko Harem, they never became the attention of media.

While I was left pretty confused after the lecture, I think it would have made more sense for them to speak about gender rather than exclusively on women, which reinforces the idea that women fell victimhood during conflict and needs extra protection.

It was also interesting to me that journalist and NGOs might have different missions and approaches to gender. For journalist, if their job is to report an event as comprehensively and accurately as possible, then does it mean that an additional focus on gender (for example, the emphasis on abducted school girls) might be against their ethics and distorted the truth? Or is it that journalists also need to conceptualize and acknowledge different forms of violence that all genders experience?