Vandana Shiva keynotes 4W Summit

Photo of Vandana Shiva

Contacts: Helen Klebesadel at or Lori DiPrete Brown at

2017 Women’s Summit Welcomes Environmental Perspectives from Wisconsin and the World

A Time magazine environmental hero and one of Forbes seven most powerful women on the globe, Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., delivers the keynote address on April 27 for this year’s 4W Summit on Women, Gender and Well-being. Her presentation, which is free and open to the public, also serves as this year’s J. Jobe and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Lecture sponsored by the Human Rights Program.

Diverse and inclusive gender perspectives and environmental sustainability are core themes of this year’s 4W Summit, says 4W Director Lori DiPrete Brown, who is also associate director at the UW-Madison Global Health Institute. “Vandana Shiva has been a leading voice in these fields for many years. She offers a true, feminist challenge to so many of the conservations about sustainability, privileging and the quantitative knowledge system. Her holism invites us to bring in other knowledge systems, whether cultural or disciplinary.”

The three-day 4W Summit April 27 to 29 gives voice to several hundred regional, national and international participants who will present their research, scholarship, arts, activism and educational strategies in a series of breakout sessions Friday and Saturday. It is hosted by the UW-Madison 4W (Women and Well-being in Wisconsin and the World) Initiative and the UW Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium. It is convened under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Wellbeing and a Culture of Peace, part of the United Nations’ platform on education, science and culture.

The 2017 summit is the 40th gathering of the Wisconsin women’s and gender studies academic community. “In collaborating with the 4W Initiative we have expanded our focus, our participants and our audience to come together to examine women’s well-being in a global context, across all schools and disciplines,” says Helen Klebesadel, 4W Summit co-chair, and Director of the Women and Gender Studies Consortium.

Public invited to hear diverse voices

Shiva is the founder and director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun, India. Trained as a physicist, she is well-known for her interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy and her activism for protecting biodiversity, promoting sustainable agriculture and championing gender equity. She will present, “Women Lead the Way: From Violence to Non-Violence, from Greed to Sharing, from Hate to Love,” at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 27, in the Pyle Center Alumni Lounge.

The Shiva presentation is among several events that are free and open to the public. At 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 27, following Shiva’s talk, the summit hosts a showing of “Why Women Need to Climb Mountains: A journey through the life and work of Dr. Gerda Lerner.” The film details the life and work of the activist, social reformer, feminist historian and UW-Madison professor, and the evening includes a virtual question and answer session with German filmmaker Renata Keller.

The summit’s five plenary sessions and a film celebrating the 40th anniversary of women’s and gender studies at UW-Madison are also open to the public. Native American advocate Ada Deer, a member of the Menominee Tribe and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, joins Native American panelists to consider multiple ways of knowing. The African American Health Network of Dane Country sponsors a panel that will look beyond the stereotypes of African American women, considering how these women have managed to survive and thrive amid often hostile environments.

The 4W plenary sessions by design offer diverse perspectives on contemporary issues facing women, DiPrete Brown says. “When women lead the way, we hope we remember our history and make places for historically marginalized voices. We want our work to be informed by the lived experiences of women from Wisconsin and around the world. It’s part of making the local-to-global connection.”

The plenary sessions will be Friday and Saturday at the Pyle Center:

  • Presenters from Egypt, Australia, India and the USA participate in “Transformative Transnational Feminism: Theory and Praxis for the Future of Feminism” at 9:15 a.m., Friday, April 28.
  • Teresa Langle de Paz, co-director of the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Well-being and a Culture of Peace, moderates “Democracy, Gender and Transformative Education in Europe: The Case of Spain.” Panelists explore how the Spanish democracy developed policies to support gender equality as part of democracy. The session begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, in the Pyle Center.
  • UW-Madison’s Earlise Ward and Janean Dilworth-Bart join a panel that looks at “African American Women Beyond the Stereotypes.” Panelists will explore the multilayered identities and roles of African American women with a focus on mental health and wellness, resiliency and the sustainability movement. The discussion begins at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, April 28, in the Pyle Center.
  • UW-Madison’s Jean Geran, Aracelli Alonso and Amy Bintliff lead a discussion about the STREETS, or Social Transformations to End Exploitation and Trafficking for Sex, project looking at “Survivor and Educator Perspectives on Human Trafficking Education.” Alonso is also co-director of the UNESCO Chair. The session begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 29.
  • Ada Deer joins members of the Choctaw, Standing Rock Sioux, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe and Bad River Ojibwe tribes to discuss “Multiple Ways of Knowing: Insights Grounded in Indigenous Experiences.” The discussion begins at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, April 29, in the Pyle Center.

A long history of women’s studies

The 2017 4W Summit builds on 40 years of UW System faculty, staff and students coming together to create an academic community focused on and defined by the lived experiences of women, Klebesadel says. In 1976, UW-Madison librarians convened the first women’s studies conference in the UW system. Their theme was “Development of Resources for Women’s Studies in the UW System.”

The summit will celebrate the 40th anniversary of UW-Madison’s Office of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian with, “Step by Step: Building a Feminist Movement.” The film at 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, documents how a diverse group of Midwestern women contributed to the larger feminist movement.

4W became a co-host of the annual conference last year. The 4W Initiative is co-convened by the School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison Global Health Institute, and Department of Gender and Women’s Studies.

Registration is requested, not required.

To learn more and register for either the conference or the public sessions, visit

# # #

By Ann Grauvogl/ March 27, 2017 ( or 608-265-9592)

All Ways Forward: Expand PossibleSupporting Research & Innovation

Annual gifts provide immediately available discretionary funds that the Dean uses for facilitating faculty research and innovation at SoHE. Individual support makes a significant impact in keeping UW-Madison ranked as one of the nation’s leading research universities and to move the world forward.

Click “All Ways Forward” to start making a difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *