University at Albany
 
Above: Aneela is photographed during a trip to the University of California Santa Barbara Global Studies Conference in February 2013.

Aneela Salman, PhD '13
Home: Lahore, Pakistan

(At the time the following article was written, Aneela was a doctoral candidate in the Rockefeller College Department of Public Administration and Policy.  Aneela received her PhD from the University at Albany in December 2013.  We wish her much success and happiness.)

Rockefeller College doctoral candidate Aneela Salman says if she could offer one piece of advice to incoming grad students it would be, "Talk with faculty about your interests. They're so willing to help you find out what you really want to do." Taking the time to "figure it out" has made Aneela's journey at Rockefeller "incredibly exciting" and led her in directions she never imagined.

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Aneela traveled to Azad Kashmir
on a study tour as part of her civil
service training.
Shortly after completing her Master's in Social Policy and Planning at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Aneela came to Rockefeller as a Fulbright Scholar, with the intention of focusing on policy issues related to women. Before that, she worked for ten years in her home country of Pakistan's distinguished Administrative Service. "It's a male-dominated environment that is very competitive, rigorous and demanding," says Aneela. "My interest in gender-related issues was triggered by my experiences working there. I wanted to look at why there were so few women and examine the barriers that hindered their progress."

Her curiosity about the limited role of women in the workplace prompted Aneela to get in touch with Rockefeller gender-equality scholar Judith Saidel.
"The program at Rockefeller fascinated me. Judith encouraged me and thought it would be a good fit. I was excited to apply here, but I had no idea that by coming to Rockefeller a whole new world would open for me."

It was Professor Victor Asal, Aneela's advisor and chair of her doctoral committee at Rockefeller, who introduced her to that new world by recommending she take a course on political violence and terrorism taught by Professor Bryan Early. "It was a fascinating experience and the turning point in my research career," remembers Aneela. "The sheer absence of women in this important discourse struck me.

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During her Azad Kashmir study tour, Aneela visits with a local
woman and work colleague.
Terrorism research is so much from a male perspective and is dominated by masculine narratives. It generally assumes a gender-neutral world. I couldn't hear women's voices and I couldn't even see how it was affecting them. That pushed me to ask the question 'Where are the women?' Most of the feminist research done in this area is qualitative in nature, focused on country-specific case studies. What was missing was a quantitative, cross-national, time-series study. I felt that feminists were not being able to make their voices heard in the mainstream discourse due to this methodology gap. I'm trying to bridge that gap. I'm trying to say something in numbers using statistical analysis based on cross-national, time- series data that they've been saying in case studies and qualitative research. My study provides strong evidence that gender equality, specifically women in parliament, has a negative relationship with the level of terrorism a country experiences. An increase in women's rights and empowerment helps to curb the conditions that foster terrorism. As women get political voices and political power, and they're participating in decision making about war and public policy, sustainable peace is possible. When a country suffers violence — civil war, conflict or terrorism — it's women who are disproportionately affected in very harmful ways. Women are not inherently more peaceful than men but women survivors bear relatively higher burdens and costs of armed conflict and the post-conflict period. They are the survivors who are the primary caretakers for the injured, sick, abused, orphaned, and dying, and they play multiple roles as caregivers, survivors, providers, recoverers, and peace-builders during conflict and post-conflict situations. Even though in most cases they are not making the decision to go to war, they are the ones who are suffering more. That is why we need to pay attention to the impact of gender equality on how countries experience conflict and terrorism. And my research helps us understand some of those connections."

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Aneela with Rockefeller faculty and colleagues
(from left) Judith Saidel, Kathleen Deloughery,
Aneela, Niyousha Hosseinichimeh, and Jennifer
Dodge

Aneela has returned to Pakistan where she has recently joined the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) as managing director. There she works to promote low-cost quality education for poor populations through public-private partnerships. PEF is providing education programs for 1.3 million students through a network of 3,400 schools, with special focus on female students. "I know I have a lot to contribute and I know the skills and knowledge I've gained at Rockefeller have pushed me to think more critically about important issues," says Aneela. "I feel as if I'm breaking new ground and I'm excited about that."

 

 

 


This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2013 Rockefeller College News Magazine.