Mission Statement*

We promote the study of human development in international settings.  Because such development  has gender, cultural, economic, legal, moral, political, social, and technological dimensions, we emphasize scholarly activities that advance our understanding of how resource  inequalities and gender equity affect individual and community capabilities.  Through a multi-disciplinary approach, we address and critically evaluate human development issues by:

  • Conducting research
  • Impacting policy and decision making as well as practice
  • Educating future academic and policy leaders
  • Engaging academic, policy, government, and non-governmental, and community leaders
  • Highlighting the centrality of gender in human development

* The Women and Gender in Global Perspectives (WGGP) Program is a program in the Illinois Global Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 


A Brief History of WGGP

In 1980, the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program (WGGP) was established as the Office of Women in International Development (WID) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The formal program arose from the interdisciplinary efforts of the Committee on Women in Development that had been meeting on campus for a year previously. As a new academic unit within the campus-wide International Programs and Studies, the WID Office was charged with encouraging and facilitating the development of research, instructional, and service activities focused on the international aspects of women in development. With additional funding from a Title XII Strengthening Grant of the Foreign Assistance Act, the WID Office began its official role at UI. Gradually, the program moved to more secure state funding of some of its activities.

From the beginning, a multidisciplinary team approach has guided the program. This effort was instrumental in developing the graduate concentration (minor), Gender Roles in International Development (GRID) which was developed beginning in 1983 as part of a U.S. Dept of Education grant, officially approved as an interdisciplinary concentration by the Graduate College in 1987, and formally approved by the Senate as a graduate minor in 2011.

Barbara Yates (Educational Policy Studies) was the first Director, serving from 1980 to 1985. Frances Magrabi (Family and Consumer Economics) was Acting Director from 1985 to 1986. Kathleen Cloud (Human and Community Development and Women’s Studies) became Acting Director in 1986 and then Director from 1987 until 1998. Brenda Eheart (Sociology and Institute of Government and Public Affairs) was Associate Director from 1991 to 1997. Gale Summerfield (Human and Community Development; GWS; and ACE) was Director from 1998 to 2013. In 2013, Colleen Murphy (Philosophy and Law) became Director.

Since its inception, the program has certified 155 GRID graduates from 48 countries and 35 different departments. In 2000, WGGP established four international research awards as well as a full fellowship for student research. The program has organized international workshops and brought in speakers from around the world, worked with many departments on campus to co-sponsor presentations and events, sponsored international scholarly exchanges, and undertaken collaborative research here and abroad.

Major projects have included the development of a series of curriculum guides in the early 1980s as part of developing the GRID program, funded by the US Department of Education; a group Fulbright grant in cooperation with M.S. University of Baroda, India resulting in the publication of a volume on household resources and their changing relationships and subsequently a Ford Foundation-funded collaboration with M.S. University in the late 1980s, with two international workshops and a published volume on policy-relevant household research methods as well as faculty exchanges; and gender training guides and research on employment of rural women in multinational agribusiness [GAP] funded by USAID in the 1990s. 

With funding from Ford, Sloan, Hewlett, and others, WGGP held a series of international symposia during the 2000s that focused on global human security and gender equity -- transnational migration, global health, food security and land rights, livelihood, and policy -- examining perspectives on gender, development, and globalization. The debates engaged in during the symposia reached broader audiences through publications of special issues of journal, including the following: Risks and Rights in the 21st Century in the International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society (2001); Globalization, Gendered Transnational Migration and Care Work in Globalizations (2006); Sustainable Biofuels and Human Security in Swords and Ploughshares (2009); and Food Security and Public Health (in progress). In addition, the program collaborated on the publication of China, Gender, and the WTO in Feminist Economics (2007; 2011) and Gender, Land, and Food Security in Feminist Economics (2013). WGGP celebrated its 30th anniversary during 2010-2011 with events that included two major international symposia: Risks and Rights in Today’s Global Setting in November 2010 and Gender Equity in Research and Practice in April 2011. 

The WGGP program continues to be dedicated to teaching and mentoring students, to carrying out and supporting cutting-edge research projects, and to providing opportunities for discussion and dialogue through symposia, seminars, newsletters, and electronic networks. Stressing multidisciplinary, policy-oriented explorations of gender, development, and globalization issues, the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program serves as a center of communication and common effort for students and faculty at the University of Illinois and the larger community. Recent speakers have included Roger Thurow, award-winning journalist & author of "The Last Hunger Season" (2013) and Honorable Mary Robinson, President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, former President of Ireland and former UN Special Envoy for Climate Change (2016).



In August 2000, the name of the WID Office was changed to Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program (WGGP) to reflect the inclusion of gender in its focus while also looking at global women’s movements as active promoters of greater agency for girls and women. Global perspectives emphasizes the need for international discussion and debate on the critical issues that push the boundaries of the field, and program is a more accurate reflection of its research, teaching, and outreach activities. The GRID program name was also changed slightly to Gender Relations in International Development. The original newsletter, WID Information, is now called Perspectives: Research Notes and News and is now available on the WGGP website