Voices and Ideas

Advancements in Feminist Thought and Advocacy in 2018

By Bailey DeSimone 

The year 2018 has already seen incredible advancements in feminist thought and advocacy, particularly in the field of international affairs. Phi Beta Kappa member, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumna, and graduate of the Bard College Program on Globalization and International Affairs Lyric Thompson is contributing directly to the success of international feminist goals. 

As the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the International Center for Research on Women, Thompson co-authored “A Year of Progress, A Long Way to Go: A Report Card on the Secretary-General’s First Year” in January, on behalf of the Feminist U.N. Campaign with Spogmay Ahmed and Sarah Gammage. In this report, the Campaign assesses the progress of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who was instated on January 1, 2017.

“Secretary-General Guterres is making important strides and continues to be a genuine champion for gender equality,” Thompson explains, “But his most visible progress has been limited to only a couple of issues, not embracing the full-fledged women’s rights agenda we called for.” 

Thompson and her colleagues measured the success of Guterres’s performance along the benchmarks of six dimensions: the implementation of a feminist leadership agenda for the U.N., ensuring feminist implementation and accountability, tracking financing for gender equality programs, ensure feminist leadership as a defining model of the administration, enable a feminist transformation for women in the U.N., and promoting the freedom of information within the U.N.

When looking towards the future, Thompson and her colleagues agreed that improvement upon their feminist goals for the U.N. can be made in addressing and dealing appropriately with cases of sexual harassment and abuse and greater transparency in publicizing and reporting information related to the progress of gender equality.

“Ours is an agenda that demands transformation and insists on the Secretary-General pulling all the levers of power at his disposal to advance progress,” the women of the Feminist U.N. campaign conclude, “from publicly championing increased access for feminist voices in the U.N., to campaigning for full funding for U.N. Women, to urging member states and actors throughout the System to finance for gender equality.”

Thompson continues to advocate on behalf of women internationally through her work with the ICRW. In the past, she has contributed to the Amnesty International USA’s women’s human rights program, Women International, and Development Alternatives Incorporated. In 2016, she was commemorated by Professional Women in Advocacy for Excellence. She works closely with youth activists for women’s rights in North Africa and contributes to promoting gender equality in urban development programs in Mumbai, India. 

In addition to her work with the ICRW, Thompson serves as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University, where she teaches a graduate course in women’s rights advocacy, and is a board member of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. More information on Thompson’s ongoing projects can be found on the International Center for Research on Women’s website.


Bailey DeSimone (ΦBK, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2017) is an Archives Intern with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and a Library Assistant with the Council on Foreign Relations. At Chapel Hill, DeSimone majored in history and global studies. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is home to the Alpha of North Carolina Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.


(Posted on 2/7/2018 )