As we await the December release of our Fall 2014/Winter 2015 issue, The Personal and the Political: Gender in International Relations, watch out for gender-related content coming out online! ...

If recent century-long trends in social history can be defined by the slow dissolution of the barriers of prejudice and ignorance that have divided the people of this world—whether by race, religion, social or economic class, sex, or nationality—then continuing these trends must involve dissolving the barriers surrounding gender. Today, only nine out of 196 countries have a female head of state, and two thirds of illiterates are female. An estimated 41 percent of people live in nations where homosexuality is criminalized. In most countries, gender is defined by two categories; a handful allow individuals to choose from three; while Facebook allows 56. It is clear that gender is a global and changing issue.

The academic discourse on gender issues has evolved substantially since the works of early feminists or even the first Gay Pride parades. Now, we discuss the breaking down of gender binaries, reflecting the continuum of identity in political structures, as well as continuing to challenge all forms of discrimination based upon sex, sexuality, or gender. However, it is clear that such ideas are not yet political realities. Moreover, in the twenty-first century, ideas can unite the world, whereas politics do not. The authors in this issue detail what more must be done to spread these ideas around the world.

This Fall 2014/Winter 2015 issue of the HIR, entitled The Personal and the Political: Gender in International Relations, traverses the topic of gender, from recent developments in the traditional gender equality debate to globalizing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, and Queer (LGBTQ) movement. Professor Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, will discuss the evolving standards in gender asylum; Iranian LGBTQ human rights activist Arsham Parsi will discuss the status of queers in Iran; and staff writers Sarah Moon, Alice Hu, and Kevin Xie will discuss specific gender issues in India, the US, and China, respectively.

Considering international relations more broadly in our Perspectives section, Dr John Kakonge, Kenyan Ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva, will discuss developmental challenges in Africa; Professor Leonardo Vivas, former Director of the Latin American Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, will write about human rights in Latin America; and Jordan Ryan, Director of the United Nations Development Program’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, will analyze the impact Ebola will have on post-war Libya. In an interview, US Special Envoy Robert King will talk about human rights in North Korea. In our World in Review section, staff writer Gregory Dunn will talk about the conflict between a global economy and international relations, and Mason Barnard will discuss Russia’s changing foreign policy strategy.

The topic of gender continues to cause division and controversy across the world and in all spheres of life: social, political, and economic. Issues of gender, sex, and sexuality have an unavoidable influence on international affairs; we must view these issues through a global lens. This issue’s feature articles remind us, therefore, that the personal is not merely the political, as Carol Hanisch first claimed, but indeed the personal is global.

To challenging norms —

James Watkins & Neha Dalal

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 7.27.55 PM