Fellowships & Grants

Fellowships & Grants


Education is the key to gender equality, economic promotion, better health and much more besides. Access to secondary, tertiary and continuing education is, however, still a distant dream for millions of girls and women. The fellowships and grants offered by GWI and its national affiliates support the research, study and training needed to open doors to quality higher and continuing education for women and girls throughout the world.

The next fellowship round will begin in fall 2021. 


2019 Caroline Spurgeon Centenary Fellowship (CHF12000) - VIDYA DIWAKAR, Cambridge University

PhD title: Armed conflict and the education of poor girls in India: intersectional impacts and dynamic pathways for resilience

I won the birth lottery in India, being offered opportunities that millions of poor children will never experience. As a result, I was able to pursue an MPhil in Economics and a PhD in Education at Cambridge and work in development policy research. Yet I consistently faced adverse gender norms along the way from sources closest to me, which might have easily derailed my ambition. I was able to fight these norms because I had been encouraged by feminist mentors, supported through scholarships, and armed with knowledge through quality education.

The nearly 800 million Indians living under the $1.90 poverty line do not have such an arsenal at their disposal. For girls in conflict-affected areas, interlocking disadvantages worsen their plight in the absence of an enabling context. Many poor girls in areas of Naxal violence will not continue past primary education due to constraints ranging from safety concerns to vulnerable employment preventing education accumulation.

My mixed-methods PhD marries intersectionality with the capabilities approach to examine inequalities –based on age, ethnicity, religion, and other markers– of poor girls during conflict in India. It pragmatically explores: 1) the gender-disaggregated outcomes (access, accumulation, and quality of learning) in secondary education in Naxalite-affected areas of India, 2) the causal pathways through which armed conflict affects the education of girls in households which are chronically poor, have escaped poverty, or have fallen into poverty, and 3) how secondary education has enabled women to exert agency and escape poverty amidst conflict. This research will be instrumental in proposing policies to promote sustained escapes from poverty through education amongst a particularly vulnerable segment of society.

My desire to use my arsenal to effect positive change goes beyond my PhD. I am employed as a mixed-methods researcher in the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network hosted at the Overseas Development Institute, where I specialize in gender-disaggregated analysis of poverty dynamics, conflict, and education. My recent fieldwork centers on South Asia, but my larger portfolio also covers research on sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East North Africa region.

Across geographies I examine ways individuals are disadvantaged by both poverty and gender, and how promoting human development can nurture transformative change. The Fellowship will help develop this knowledge base and tie it to education policy and programming outputs to benefit the poorest girls. I won the birth lottery, and I am using its proceeds to help advance the status of marginalized girls.

2019 FfWG Crosby Hall Fellowship(£6000) - ARIANA MARKOWITZ, University College London

PhD Tile: How Dangerous Places Are Made: The Metabolism of Fear in San Salvador

Ariana is an urban designer specializing in security and development. Originally hailing from the United States, she has more than a decade of experience working on and in places experiencing different types of violence and precarity in North and South America, Europe, West Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Among the specific topics she has worked on in non-profit, for-profit, and academic settings are security sector reform at the municipal, state, and national levels in Mexico; crime and design in post-war social housing in England; urban upgrading in Cambodia; cultural development and conservation in Bolivia; the social impact of entrepreneurship in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Benin; language policy, politics, and identity in Israel; and counterterrorism with the US government, including projects related to social media, virtual worlds, and online gaming. In other lives she founded a small homemade food business in El Salvador and co-authored a book on concussions in professional American football. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Middle East Studies from McGill University and Master of Science in Building and Urban Design in Development from University College London (UCL).

Upon completing her master’s degree, Ariana remained at UCL to begin doctoral research in Development Planning at The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. Her work explores how dangerous places are made—how fear and trauma manifest in physical ways in the context of extreme and persistent violence. In this type of context, despite being a driving force in social and political relations and urban development, fear and trauma tend to ‘disappear’ behind public and private discourses of violence and crime. Through fieldwork in San Salvador, El Salvador, one of the world’s most dangerous cities, Ariana is developing alternative, embodied ways to engage with fear and trauma using participatory visual and artistic methods. As a corollary to this, Ariana is also exploring how researchers and practitioners can confront and learn from trauma in the course of their work in violent places.

2019 NZFGW Daphne Purves Award (CHF2000) - SUBHA SHRESTHA , University of Western Australia

PhD title: Phenotypic and molecular characterisation of antimicrobial resistance to clinical isolates of Enterobacteriaceae from Nepal

Coming from a country where patriarchal systems dominate has its challenges. Yet, I was fortunate enough to get a quality education from one of the best schools in Kathmandu (St. Marys High School), a girls’ school where I learnt and valued the importance of education for girls from the very beginning.  My interest in Biomedical Science led me to pursue my bachelor’s degree in laboratory technology, the science which helps doctors identify and diagnose disease. For a middle-class family, getting a bachelor’s degree, followed by a standard day job, was considered more than enough. However, I was ambitious to do my master’s in medical microbiology, the study of germs that cause infections in humans. Working for almost a decade in this field, I decided that my major interest lay in the area of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria, and that I wanted to achieve more. For this, I needed a PhD. As a mother, leaving my young child back home and coming abroad to pursue a doctoral degree is a big challenge. Nevertheless I was determined to pursue my dream of further studies abroad. Bacterial infections are becoming increasingly hard to treat because of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics that were once effective in treating bacterial infections no longer work. The situation is worse in developing countries like Nepal due to lack of policies for antibiotic prescriptions, misuse of antibiotics and inadequate infection control systems. Knowledge about the types of antimicrobial resistance circulating in hospitals and communities helps guide antimicrobial stewardship policies and control the spread of antibiotic resistance. My research focuses on characterizing the range and type of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria in Kathmandu, Nepal.  A better understanding of these issues can inform treatment decisions, infection control policies and antimicrobial stewardship. The conduct of this work in both Nepal and Australia offers unique opportunities to combine the resources available at each site in order to better understand antimicrobial resistance in Nepal. In the future, I hope to establish a molecular biology facility at home in Nepal and be in a leadership position to provide opportunities for women working in biomedical sciences. This will also create new opportunities for women to achieve postgraduate qualifications, working on research projects relevant to Nepal with international collaborators.

2019 BFWG Marjorie Shaw Fellowship (£5000) - MIREILLE WIDMER, Sussex University

PhD title: Urban security governance in Janakpur Nepal

Mireille Widmer worked for some 15 years in the field of peace and security. She started off her career as a human rights activist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the 2000 uprising, became a disarmament advocate after completing her Master in Peace and Conflict Studies, and joined the United Nations Development Programme, where she worked as community security officer in Haiti, the Central African Republic, or Somalia. She has now embarked on a PhD in urban security governance because she feels the need to, as she says, “go back to the drawing board”. She feels international development support to governance and security could be made more effective by tapping into the potential of cities, civil society, and – especially – women. Through her PhD, she wants to acquire the methodological skills and substantive knowledge that would enable her to become a more effective change agent.

Her research project hones down on the governance of security in a secondary city in the Nepali plains, Janakpur. Nepal is going through tremendous changes in governance since the adoption of a new Constitution in 2015. The introduction of federalism led to municipal elections in 2017 for the first time in 20 years, and propelled women to leadership positions across levels of governance. It should be noted that Nepal introduced federalism in large part to assuage calls for greater autonomy emanating from the Nepali plains, some of whose traditional inhabitants, referred to as the Madhesis, have long felt discriminated by the country’s hill-based elites.

Relationships between the Madhesis and institutions of the central state, including its various police forces, have at times been tense, including in 2015, when Janakpur was the theatre of violent confrontations between police and protesters. This history makes the city a particularly interesting case study to understand systemic changes in a politically sensitive area of governance.

Mireille will seek to detect whether increased representation of women in local governance leads to a shift in the way security is governed.   After her PhD, Mireille intends to build on her thesis by broadening this research to further cities. There is much to learn from a comparative study of urban security governance, which unfortunately was not manageable through a single PhD. She is also interested in taking up teaching activities, in order to pass on some of her experiences and insights to the next generation of development practitioners.

2019 NZGW Cullis Leet Award (CHF2000) - CLAIRE CULLEN, University of Oxford

PhD title: Norms, intimate partner violence and women’s economic empowerment in Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria

Claire Cullen is a PhD student at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government and a consultant at the World Bank Africa Gender Innovation Lab. Claire uses a range of quantitative research methods including field experiments and machine learning techniques to better understand the underlying drivers of gender inequality and poverty. Her current research in development economics focuses on understanding the role of social norms, networks and mental health in women’s empowerment and intimate partner violence. She is currently supporting the Rwandan government to evaluate an intimate partner violence prevention program and is also studying the impact of a cash transfer program on households in Nigeria.

The Cullis Leet New Zealand GWI Award will help Claire to complete her research on women’s empowerment and gender equality by helping cover the costs of her studies and PhD fieldwork. Through her doctoral studies, Claire hopes to develop the skills and expertise to contribute evidence-informed insights to global policy debates on poverty reduction and issues affecting women and girls. Claire is driven to see the uptake of her research, and works with policymakers and program implementers in Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria to support them to generate and use rigorous evidence on what works to promote women’s agency, and to incorporate global evidence to scale-up impact.

Claire has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Sydney and a master’s degree in International Development Policy from Georgetown University, Washington D.C. Previously, Claire was an economist at the Australian Agency for International Development.

2019 GWI Recognition Award (CHF1100) - IDA NADIA DJENONTIN , Michigan State University

PhD title: Environmental governance of forest-agriscapes in Sub-Saharan Africa: socio-institutional dimensions of people centred ecological restoration life

Ida Djenontin is a Benin citizen, who holds two Master’s degrees: Development Practice (Track: Natural Resources and Governance) from the University of Arizona and another  in Agricultural Sciences (Major: Rural Economy and Sociology) from Benin. Her previous research on various areas, including agricultural farming systems & policy analysis, sustainable rural livelihoods, climate change, decentralized environmental governance, knowledge co-production in environmental management, demonstrate her research competence at the intersection of environmental governance, sustainable natural resources-based livelihoods, and international development. She has published articles in national and internationally peer-reviewed journals. Working towards a dual PhD degree with Geography and Environmental Science and Policy at Michigan State, her academic training and professional background integrate natural and social sciences perspectives, an interdisciplinary approach that gives her the requisite skills to conduct her research.

Ida’s research focuses on ways to foster environmental resources-restoration mechanisms that contribute to multifunctional landscapes by addressing the severe environmental degradation issue, including land degradation, deforestation, and biodiversity loss, largely encountered in Sub-Sahara Africa. As crucial underlying conditions and factors sustaining farmers’ socio-economic and livelihood activities, multifunctional environmental landscapes represent healthy and ecologically-integral landscapes that sustainably provide a wide range of ecosystem goods and services. Ida’s proposal enhances women’s natural resources-based livelihood activities financial capabilities and ultimately build their empowerment.

Specifically, Ida’s research is a holistic look at the governance systems and dynamics in both individual and collective-action restoration efforts. It will inform environmental mechanisms that embrace an integrated approach to resources restoration and sustainable management at the landscape-scale. The research is two-pronged. It looks at the institutional dimensions that shape the outcomes of integrated landscape approach to resources restoration and the often-overlooked social dimensions that equally affect its prospects. Firstly, the research articulates appropriate governance and institutional arrangements that promote successful implementation of the “Forest Landscape Restoration” (FLR) paradigm, a new and promising mechanism for landscape-scale restoration of land and forest resources. This implies framing adequate cross-scale and cross-sectoral institutional arrangements along with a cohesive regulatory framework. Secondly, it analyses the factors and processes that shape small-scale farmers’ decisions to invest in resources-restoration activities for FLR along with their impacts on the condition of the landscape. This includes uncovering positive policy options that enable and support small-scale farmers’ decisions to engage/invest in resources restoration at local level.

2019 GWI Recognition Award (CHF1100) - ASHLI AKINS, University of British Columbia

PhD title: Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage: battles of authenticity and adaptation in the markets of Peru

Ashli Akins is a human rights advocate, artist, scholar, and social entrepreneur. She is passionate about cultural revitalization, community resilience, gender empowerment, and socioeconomic justice. Ashli is one of Canada’s leading doctoral students, ranked in the top five as a recipient of the competitive Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. In the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program of the University of British Columbia, Ashli uses the disciplines  of law, anthropology, environmental studies, and economics to research how to safeguard women’s traditional knowledge today, given the pressures of globalization and a capitalist market. She works in collaboration with Quechua women of the Peruvian Andes, where their  weaving tradition is a key cultural cornerstone and has fuelled their livelihoods for centuries. She uses her research to build community-based tools that empower economic relevance, exploring the complex relationship between “authenticity” and “adaptation,” as well as the power dynamics of women’s absent voices in both law and marketplace.

In 2014, Ashli graduated from the University of  Oxford with a master’s in international human rights  law. She previously received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Victoria in environmental studies, Latin American studies, and professional writing. In 2013,Ashli was honoured as one of its top 50 alumni in history who have made a difference.

When Ashli was 21, she founded Mosqoy, an international charitable organization that works with highland Quechua communities of the Peruvian Andes.        Mosqoy mitigates the adverse effects of unsustainable tourism and development in the region by providing economic and educational opportunities to women and youth, while nurturing their threatened indigenous culture. Mosqoy is now 12 years old, operates two social enterprises, and is a strong force in the Cusco region. For its first decade, Ashli acted  as Mosqoy’s Executive Director, and now advises the charity as its Board President.

Ashli uses the arts to educate about socioeconomic injustices; she has published and exhibited internationally. Such projects include documenting the right to health in highland Mayan communiti of Guatemala; human-wildlife interactions at a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya; and artefacts found in the suitcase of a Carrier woman’s grandmother. Ashli has also worked as a researcher and science communicator for government, NGOs, and universities, including a contract in Aotearoa, New Zealand that supports M?ori communities     and the Federal government to co-manage marine harvest resources. She also leads workshops and    field courses and has given hundreds of lectures, including two TedX talks.

2019 GWI Recognition Award (CHF1100) - MARICARMEN HERNANDEZ, University of Texas at Austin

PhD title: Life in the shadowlands of Oil: home informality and environmental justice in Ecuador

Maricarmen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests are in the areas of environmental inequality, social movements, political sociology and extractive economies. She holds an MA in sociology and a BA in anthropology from the University of Texas at El Paso. She is currently working on an environmental justice research project with a focus on collective action and community organizing using ethnographic methods in the coastal city of Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Maricarmen spent a total of 12 months conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Esmeraldas as part of an NSF-funded project on the social production of environmental risk perceptions in Latin America. Her dissertation project is an ethnographic exploration of organizing strategies and daily life in a highly toxic informal settlement located next to the largest refinery in the country.

Her MA thesis, “Latino Communities and Environmental Justice: A Comparative Study of Mobility and Exposure to Air Toxics in Houston,” received the 2014 Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award from the University of Texas- El Paso. It examined distributional injustices, focusing the role of residential decision-making among Latino immigrant groups living at risk to air toxics in the Houston, Texas Metropolitan Area.

Maricarmen is a fellow at the University of Texas Urban Ethnography Lab and the Rapoport Center for human rights and justice. She was a 2017 Fulbright Scholar and has served as student coordinator for the working group Power, History and Society. She is currently the recipient of the University of Texas Graduate Continuing Fellowship.

2015 30 06 web pic

Meet the GWI (previously IFUW) International Fellows and Grantees

GWI International Fellowships and Grants support postgraduate research, study and training for women.

National funding offered by GWI affiliates targets all levels of education, from primary and secondary education, to undergraduate studies and postgraduate research, study and training. Read stories from past winners to learn what a difference educational funding can make to women. These awards are made possible through the generous support of GWI members and friends. You can help by making a donation, however large or small. For award details and eligibility requirements, click on International Awards or National Awards.

Some past awardees include:

  • Funds for Women Graduates Fellowship: Yovitha Sedekia of Tanzania, Family planning services for women who want to delay their first pregnancy in Southern Tanzania; a mixed methods study of perceptions, demand and service provision (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK).
  • CFUW A. Vibert Douglas International Fellowship: Laura Jan Obermuller of Guyana, My Guyana El Dorado, alluring to all: Lokono Arawaks and Akawaios perspectives on RDD+ initiatives (University of St Andrews, UK).
  • Ida Smedley MacLean Fellowship: Maria Elvira Alvarez of Bolivia, Women in the public sphere in Bolivia from the Chaco War to the National Revolution (1935-1952) (Université Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, France).
  • Winifred Cullis Grant: Bindu Sunny of India, Understanding schooling and sexual behavior trajectories and their influences on school dropout (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK).
  • Winifred Cullis Grant: Darja Groselj of Slovenia, Rethinking the role of material and cultural factors in digital inequalities: A qualitative examination (University of Oxford, UK).
  • Dorothy Leet Grant: Arti Ghopal Bhatti of India, Influence of globalization on challenges faced by ethnic women students of higher education in London (University of London, UK).
  • Daphne Purvis Grant: Anne Kaagestein of Sweden, Assessing gender norms contextualized by relationships among young adolescents in poor urban settings (John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA).
  • Daphne Purvis Grant: Logeswari Ponnusamy of India, Role of gene-environmental interaction (epigenetics) in acquired chemotherapeutic drug resistance in breast cancer and reversal of resistance using epigenetic drugs (Texas Tech University USA).
  • Fumi Takano Award: Josephine Iacarella of the USA, Understanding variation in the impacts of invasive species in aquatic ecosystems (McGill University, Canada).
  • IFUW Recognition Award: Pon Souvannaseng of Thailand, Going for broke: the political economy of development in contemporary Lao PDR (2000-2013) (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK).

All awards are made possible through the generous support of GWI members and friends.

Show your support for GWI fellowships and grants and donate now by clikcing on the Make a donation button

Back to Fellowships & Grants