Institute for Inclusive Security senior adviser lectures on women’s critical role in peacemaking


Shweta Gulati

Deborah Cavin, senior adviser of Institute for Inclusive Security, talks about the importance of promoting women’s participation in diplomacy and policy making Tuesday evening. 

Alyssa Mahoney

Deborah Cavin, former diplomat and senior advisor at a peacemaking nonprofit organization, lectured on the importance of including women in diplomacy and foreign affairs Tuesday. 

Diplomat in-residence Julie Connor was originally supposed to speak at the event but was unable to because of the government shutdown. She helped put the organization in contact with Cavin, senior adviser with the Institute for Inclusive Security.

Cavin said the Institute for Inclusive Security focuses on four main areas to increase women’s participation in diplomacy and policy-making: research, advocacy, training and partnerships. 

“We work on women’s issues, but not just for women,” Cavin said. “Our point is efficacy … It is absolutely valid to work for women’s rights and we should do that, [but] that’s not our focus because we start from the premise that peace is what we’re about. Getting a better peace requires those missing links, which happen to be women.”

Cavin said she has worked with the institute for two years and worked with the State Department and as a foreign service officer in Austria, France and the UK.

“I’ve worked my whole life at peacemaking,” Cavin said. “Now I’m doing it in a different way with a different kind of organization, but it’s the same work.”

Women in Foreign Affairs, the organization that hosted Cavin, was established in spring 2013.  

“[Diplomacy and foreign affairs] is a very male-dominated field still, so we felt like having an organization focused on promoting women being more involved in this field would be beneficial for the student body as a whole,” said Shelley Hernandez, president of the organization and government and pre-law junior.

Cavin said she thinks women need to dream bigger and understand they can accomplish their goals. According to Cavin, men say “I have a great idea. I am the one to do it and I’m going to make it happen.” Women say, “I care about this issue.” Women need to ask themselves why they are not the ones implementing their ideas.

“I thought it was really interesting that the majority of the people she works with are 35 or under,” event attendee Emily Rohles said. Rohles is a government and international relations sophomore and the community service director of the organization. 

Cavin said even in places where the institute’s network is not as far-reaching, women find surprising ways to assert agency.

“The cool thing about women is we find ways,” Cavin said. “Ultimately there is no way to hold women down.”