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Week Foregrounds Women’s Labor Movements


Vanderbilt has the distinct privilege of hosting three leaders in global women’s labor movements from September 12 through 19, with a wide array of events open to all.

Major Events

Please visit our online calendar for a full list of opportunities to visit with the panelists.

The Power of Women’s Activism, Locally and Transnationally: Panel Discussion

Monday, Sept. 17, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Commons Center Multipurpose Room, and
Tuesday, Sept. 18, 4:00-5:00 p.m., Commons Center Multipurpose Room

Activists from labor movements led by women explain how they use networks and international conventions to bring change.  Panelists will include Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, and Ida Le Blanc (see below for bios).  Free and open to the public.

Philanthropy Transformed: Panel Discussion

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 4:00-5:00 p.m., Wilson Hall 126

Activists Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, and Ida Le Blanc discuss ways in which philanthropy can support women’s human rights activism in this panel moderated by Brooke Ackerly.  Reception to follow.  Free and open to the public.

About our Guests

Photo of Ida Le Blanc

Ida Le Blanc (right) and colleague. Photo courtesy of the National Union of Domestic Employees.

Ida Le Blanc is the General Secretary of The National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE), and a founding member of the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN), where she holds the position of the Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean and sits as a member on the Steering Committee. Ms. Le Blanc is also the Coordinator of a UNIFEM supported project to mobilize and strengthen the position of Domestic Workers; a member of the Minimum Wages Board; a former member on the International Labour Organization 144 Tripartite Committee; an alternate member on the Registration Recognition and Certification Board; and an alumna of the Human Rights Advocates Program from the Columbia University, New York.

Image of Kalpona Akter and Babul Akhter

Babul Akhter (left) and Kalpona Akter (right), photo courtesy of Sweatfree Communities

Kalpona Akter and Babul Akhter founded the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity and have been supporting worker activism in Dhaka and through their activism supportive of the Asian Floor Wage movement. They have partnered directly with international anti-sweatshop networks like Clean Clothes Campaign and Sweatfree Communities. They also negotiate directly with factory management to improve conditions in the factories and keep garment manufacturing in Bangladesh. In 2010 their struggle made international news when they with Aminul Islam were arrested and held until Eid. This year their colleague, Aminul Islam, was tortured and killed. They have done work with workers in the shrimp industry and ship wrecking and with migrant workers (primarily to the Middle East.)

Photo of Brooke AckerlyDr. Brooke Ackerly is Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt.  She is also Affiliated Faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies and Principal Investigator, Global Feminisms Collaborative. Dr. Ackerly’s research interests include democratic theory, feminist methodologies, human rights, social and environmental justice. She integrates into her theoretical work empirical research on activism. Her publications include Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism (Cambridge 2000), Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference (Cambridge 2008), and Doing Feminist Research with Jacqui True (Palgrave Macmillan2010). She is currently working on the intersection of global economic, environmental, and gender justice. She teaches courses on feminist theory, feminist research methods, human rights, contemporary political thought, and gender and the history of political thought. She is the winner of the Graduate Teaching Award and the Margaret Cuninggim Mentoring Prize. She is the founder of the Global Feminisms Collaborative, a group of scholars and activists developing ways to collaborate on applied research for social justice. She advises academics and donors on evaluation, methodology, and the ethics of research. She serves the profession through committees in her professional associations including the American Political Science Association (APSA), International Studies Association (ISA), and the Association for Women’s Rights and Development. She has been a member of the editorial board for Politics and Gender (Journal of the APSA, Women and Politics Section) since its founding.