Women's Empowerment: An International Perspective

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We're sorry for any inconvenience, but this event has reached maximum capacity. We're so thankful for the interest expressed from the community as well as USF faculty, staff and students! For any questions or concerns, please contact the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at

For our registered guests, please click here for a map and parking information.

This year's topic will be “Women's Empowerment: An International Perspective,” and is scheduled for October 10, 2019 from 8:45 AM to 5 PM at the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida. Nine prominent scholars will discuss the role of women in governance in China, Russia, U.S., Iran, Pakistan, Israel, and Latin America. The audience will have a chance to ask questions following every presentation.

To discuss sponsorship or secure an exhibit table, please email Tracy Overstreet at

*Please note that this event will be divided into a morning section with keynote speaker and a panel, followed by an afternoon section with three separate panels. All are encouraged to attend the event regardless of schedule.

Our distinguished speakers are as follows:


Kathy Castor

Congresswoman Kathy Castor is Tampa Bay’s voice in the U.S. Congress. She is serving her 7th term representing Florida’s 14th Congressional district. Elected in 2006, Castor focuses on issues vital to Tampa Bay area families and businesses, and is committed to building a stronger economy. She works on initiatives to create jobs, protect the environment and consumers, improve schools, ensure veterans receive the benefits and care they have earned, provide access to affordable health care and defend protections for people with preexisting health conditions.

Dr Currall

Cheyenne Currall has nearly 30 years of global business development and management consulting experience across the United States, Asia and Europe. Her efforts have spanned a variety of industries, including health care, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, higher education and professional services. For the past two years, she served in the newly created position of vice president and executive advisor for global advancement at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In that role, she developed partnerships with health care, educational and research institutions, investors, and philanthropic individuals and foundations globally.

Dr Fincher

Leta Hong Fincher is a journalist and scholar who has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Dissent Magazine and others. She won the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for her China reporting. Her second book, Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China, was named one of the best books of 2018 by Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Foreign Policy Interrupted and others. Dr. Hong Fincher's first book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China, was named on the New York Times list of recommended books on China. 

Dr Ispahani

Farahnaz Ispahani is a Senior Fellow for South and South East Asia Action Team at the Religious Freedom Institute and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Ispahani is the author of the book Purifying The Land of The Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities which analyses Pakistan's policies towards its religious minority populations. Ispahani served as a Member of Parliament and Media Advisor to the President of Pakistan from 2008-2012. In Parliament, she focused on the issues of terrorism, human rights, gender based violence, minority rights and US-Pakistan relations.

Dr Birgina

Victoria Tahmasebi-Birgani is an Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies, in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.Dr. Tahmasebi is an interdisciplinary scholar whose areas of specialization encompass feminist theories in relation to continental and transnational contexts; critical theories of women’s movements in the Middle East; digital activism; gender and ethics of non-violence; contemporary history of social and political thought. 

Dr Johnson

Janet Elise Johnson has published articles in Human Rights Review, Journal of Social Policy Studies, Politics & Gender, Perspectives on Politics, and Journal of Social Policy as well as online in The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, Boston Review, and The New Yorker. She has been affiliated with the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University, the Aleksanteri Institute-Finnish Centre for Russian and Eastern European Studies at the University of Helsinki, the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, and Miami University’s Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. For Spring 2020, she will be affiliated with the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany.

Dr Harris

Rachel S. Harris is Associate Professor of Israeli Literature and Culture in Comparative and World Literature and the Program in Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her recent publications include An Ideological Death: Suicide in Israeli Literature (2014) and Warriors, Witches, Whores: Women in Israeli Cinema (2017). She is the book review editor for the Journal of Jewish Identities, and Chair of the Women’s Caucus of the AJS (Association for Jewish Studies) 2018-2020.

Dr Pogoassian

Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian is Director of the Department of Social Inclusion at the Organization of American States (OAS). For more than 15 years, she has led missions, programs, and projects and conducted research on issues of democracy and elections, and equity and social inclusion, among others. At the Department of Social Inclusion, Muñoz-Pogossian leads work on the inclusion of populations in vulnerable situations and on the promotion of the full exercise of their human rights. Among her responsibilities, she directs work on migration and refugees in support of the OAS Secretary General and the Member States. 


Dr Herndl

Diane Price Herndl is Professor and Chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at USF. She also taught at the UNC School of Medicine, University of Vermont, New Mexico State University, and Iowa State University. Her research has focused on the cultural discourses of breast cancer, but most recently on gender and science fiction. She is the co-editor of Feminisms and Feminisms Redux and the author of Invalid Women: Figuring Feminine Illness in American Fiction and Culture, as well as essays on feminist theory, medical humanities, disability studies, and American fiction.

About the USF Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies
The USF Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies brings the world to USF as it conducts cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research on national security issues and develops programs dealing with diplomacy and strategy.