Program Information


The Lecture Series was created by GCRL Project Founder Sylvia Neil and her husband Dan Fischel in memory of Sylvia's late sister, Diane Markowicz, to honor her commitment to gender equality and social justice. 

The Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law

Hadassah-Brandeis Institute
Brandeis University
Mailstop 079
Waltham MA 02454-9110

Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe
Director, Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law
(781) 736-3116

Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights

What are the most pressing challenges in the quest for Women's Human Rights? Who are the most innovative thinkers taking on these issues? How can their work inform the struggle for gender equality around the world? 

The Lecture Series feature internationally renowned scholars, judges, and activists discussing ways of negotiating the tensions between gender equality and religious or cultural norms.

Past Lectures

  • Sexual Harassment: The Law, The Politics, and The Movement, Professor Catharine MacKinnon 

    Long before the #MeToo movement, Professor Catharine MacKinnon pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment and, with Andrea Dworkin, created ordinances recognizing pornography as a civil rights violation and proposed the Swedish model for abolishing prostitution. The Supreme Court of Canada has largely accepted her approaches to equality, pornography, and hate speech, which have been influential internationally as well. Watch it here!
  • Iran's Unfinished Revolution - What Began in 1979 Continues TodayRoya Hakakian

    Roya Hakakian, 2017 HBI Scholar-In-Residence, is a widely published author, poet, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Today, Hakakian is outspoken on current issues in the Middle East, most recently commenting on the uprisings in Iran and the actions of Iranian feminist women.
  • Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Women's Stuggles Against Fundamentalism in Muslim Contexts, Professor Karima Bennoune

    Karima Bennoune is a Professor of International Law at the University of Californa - Davis, School of Law. She is the author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism and is the United Nations' Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.
  • Good Morning Heartache: International Law and Global Challenges Facing Women, Professor Fareda Banda

    Fareda Banda is a Professor of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and and a Global Professor of Law at NYU. She is the author of Women, Law and Human Rights: An African Perspective, the definitive text on this issue. She has consulted to the United Nations on laws that discriminate against women. Her academic work focuses on the human rights of women in multiple international settings.

  • Women in Israel: From the Back of the Bus to the Top of the Agenda, Anat Hoffman

    Anat Hoffman is the chairwoman of Women of the Wall and the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel. She has brought a series of successful legal challenges to sex segregation in public life in Israel. 

  • The Woes of WOW: The Women of the Wall as a Metaphor for Diaspora Relations, Professor Pnina Lahav

    Professor Lahav is a Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law.  During the course of her legal career, Pnina Lahav has published nearly 50 journal articles and three books, including the critically acclaimed Judgment in Jerusalem: Chief Justice Simon Agranat and the Zionist Century. Winner of Israel’s Seltner Award (1998) and the Gratz College Centennial Book Award (1998). Professor Lahav is the recipient of the BUSL Melton Prize for excellence in teaching in 2011. She has taught at Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Herzlia, Oxford University and Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 in Lyon, France.

  • Polygamy and Gender Justice in the 21st Century: Reflections on Basic Principles, Dr. Abdullahi An-Na'im

    Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law School, associated professor in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion of Emory University. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, Professor An-Na'im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights, and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics.
  • What History Teaches Us: Gender and Human Rights in the New Century, Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella

    Justice Abella's theories on gender equality have influenced courts and legislatures around the world. The first Jewish woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, she was previously a family court justice of the Court of Appeal. Justice Abella has chaired the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment. Her opinion in the landmark case of Bruker v. Markowitz (2008) recognized the rights of Jewish wives to sue for damages in circumstances where their husbands use their power under Jewish law to deny them divorce.
  • Gender, Peace and Human Rights (inaugural lecture)Dr. Shirin Ebadi and Professor Jody Williams

    In 2006, Ebadi and Williams founded the Nobel Women's Intiative to use the visibility and prestige of the Nobel prize to promote, spotlight and amplify the work of women's rights activists, researchers, and organizations worldwide.

    An Iranian lawyer and human rights activist, Dr. Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her significant and pioneering efforts in democracy and human rights, especially for the rights of women and children. Jody Williams is the Sam and Cele Keeper Endowed Professor in Peace and Social Justice at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. She was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, leading to the creation of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines.