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Queen’s academic awarded UNESCO Gender Equality role

Professor Maria Lohan from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s has been appointed as the first UNESCO Chair in Gender Equality focusing on ‘Masculinities and Gender Equality.’

A UNESCO Chair is an international leader and team at a university or a higher education or research institution that partners with UNESCO to advance knowledge and practice through research, education and impactful policy in an area that is a priority for both the institution and UNESCO.

Educating girls has huge societal impact and can help to address gender inequality, but to create a step-change in gender equality for women and girls globally, it is equally essential to engage men and boys as partners, and as allies for change.

The aim of this new UNESCO Chair will be to improve understanding of the best ways to engage men and boys in support of gender equality for women and girls – and to improve men and boys’ lives alongside.

This UNESCO Chair at Queen’s University Belfast is developed in collaboration with two universities in the Global South: Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Universidad de la Repύblica, Uruguay.

Welcoming news of the new UNESCO Chair, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Ian Greer, said: “We are delighted to accept the honour of establishing a UNESCO Chair in Gender Equality at Queen’s University Belfast. It both reflects and bolsters Professor Lohan’s forefront role in leading globally impactful research on engaging men and boys in support of gender equality. Professor Lohan has generated sustainable and effective interventions to reduce gender inequality and enhance health and education. This work has been supported through her leadership in multi-disciplinary research studies totalling £2.5M.

“The announcement of this UNESCO Chair is doubly exciting for us. Queen’s will be one of the few universities worldwide to now host two UNESCO Chairs. Our colleague in Education, Professor Joanne Hughes, is a UNESCO Chair in Shared Education for Peacebuilding and Social Justice.

“In addition, the international award of the UNESCO Chair in Gender Equality also comes just after Queen’s recent announcement that we have received the national-level Athena Gold Swan award recognising our institution’s commitment to advancing gender equality in higher education. Professor Lohan has contributed substantially alongside colleagues on Queen’s Gender Initiative Strategic Committee for over 18 years to bring this achievement to reality.”

Professor Maria Lohan, added: “This UNESCO Chair has come at the perfect time and it will be such a privilege to work with UNESCO and the United Nations organisations whose work can reach millions where it matters most. We begin by launching, with the WHO and UNFPA, a collaborative research agenda on engaging men and boys in gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the Lancet Global Health journal and at the International Conference on Population and Development. I am grateful for the collegiate support I have received at Queen’s to develop my research on gender equality.”

James Bridge, Chief Executive and Secretary General, United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO, said: “We are delighted that the UNESCO Chair in Masculinities and Gender Equality at Queen's University Belfast, led by Professor Maria Lohan, has been formally established.

“Since 2007 Gender Equality has been designated a Global Priority for UNESCO. To maximise gender equality for women and girls, it is essential to engage men and boys, so the establishment of this UNESCO Chair will support global understanding of the best ways to do this, with particular focus on comprehensive sexuality education for boys.”

The Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: “I have followed the development of Professor Lohan’s study “The Jack Trial” bringing age-appropriate relationship and sexuality education into schools as well as into youth justice. It is fantastic to see the international recognition and influence of this health education research developed at Queen’s School of Nursing and Midwifery”.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Study at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Professor Sibusiso Moyo, said: “We are delighted to work in partnership with Queen’s and Professor Lohan as UNESCO Chair in Masculinities and Gender Equality.  This will be a key opportunity to open up new partnerships and collaborations building capacity for the next generation of scholars on gender equality, and especially male engagement in gender equality, in South Africa as well as across Sub-Saharan Africa”.

Professor Rodrigo Arim, Rector of Universidad de la Repύblica, Uruguay, said: “Our collaboration with Queen’s and the Universidad de la Repύblica through its Programme for Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Health has already led to joint innovations in our national educational systems for adolescents to improve comprehensive sexuality education from a gender transformative approach. This is an important partnership to jointly address the global sustainable development goals of improved health and gender equality simultaneously”.


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