Research Areas

Gender and International Development; Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Issues in West Africa, India and Ireland; Poverty Eradication


Ph.D., Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy

M.A., Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy

B.A., Smith College


Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Boston University Faculty Web Page

UNITWIN Network: Gender, Culture and Development

Burkina Faso: Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Personal Web Page

Unbound Visual Arts Artist Page


Brenda's Net

Brenda Gael McSweeney

Brenda Gael McSweeney

Brenda Gael McSweeney

Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney is an academic and researcher specializing in Gender and International Development. She headed UN Volunteers and led UN programs in West Africa, India, and the Caribbean for thirty years. Brenda’s United Nations career began in Burkina Faso, where she oversaw UN Development Programme activities and conducted research on women and development. After serving in policy at UNDP’s Headquarters, Brenda headed the UN System and UNDP in Jamaica and The Bahamas. She led the UN Volunteers with oversight of 4,000 specialists from 130 countries engaged in grassroots development, humanitarian activities and peace-building worldwide. She then served as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India. Brenda was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris, and recipient of prestigious awards from the Governments of Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Germany, and from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and Lackawanna College. At Boston University, she leads the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & Development with Indian and West African university and nongovernmental partners, and is a Founding Board Member of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender. In her community where she is a “Legendary Local”, Brenda launched the Brighton-Allston Historical Society’s women’s heritage initiatives and advises Unbound Visual Arts, Inc.

Current Projects

Brenda has an e-book underway with Scholastique Kompaoré on female education and empowerment in Burkina Faso, drawing on their work and research across four decades. She also continues to research and publish on women and development in India, Ireland and Greater Boston, and to lead the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & People- Centered Development. 

Representative Publications

McSweeney, Brenda Gael, Editor & Author, Gender Perspectives in Case Studies Across Continents, Vol. II: 2014-2015. Paris: UNESCO. 

McSweeney, Brenda Gael with Raffi Freedman- Gurspan, Rose O’Connell-Marion and Jade Sank, “Irish Women Today: Perspectives from Galway to Dublin on Gender (In)Equality.” Buenos Aires: Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender, 2014.