Associate Dean for Curriculum and Faculty Development |Professor, Women and Gender Studies; Political Science & International Relations


Office:  Brothers College 104A
Phone:  (973) 408-3139


Debra J. Liebowitz is a Professor of International Relations and Women’s & Gender Studies, and the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Faculty Development, in the College of Liberal Arts at Drew University (Madison, NJ). Her work focuses on gender, political organizing, global governance and the United Nations’ human rights system. Her most recent scholarship includes, “Due Diligence and Gender Violence: Parsing its Power and its Perils in the Cornell International Law Journal 48:2 (2015) (with Julie Goldscheid); “Gender Equality Oversimplified: Using CEDAW to Counter the Measurement Obsession” in the International Studies Review, (December 2014 with Susanne Zwingel); “Comprehension Obscured: Feminist Ideas and Policy Directives,” in Politics & Gender (2013).  She has worked for the past twenty years doing gender and human rights related-training and research at the United Nations. In this capacity she has trained women’s rights activists from more than 60 countries on how to use the UN’s human rights system to advocate for political change at home.  She has worked closely with IWRAW Asia Pacific, a Malaysia-based international women’s rights NGO, and is a member of their International Program Management Team. She is currently on the advisory board for Association for Women’s Rights and Development’s (AWID) FundHer project and is also part of the Due Diligence Project on gender violence and international human rights.

B.A. University of Oregon, 1988; M.A. Rutgers University, 1996; Ph.D. Rutgers University, 2000


The Lancet’s Global Health Blog What the solution isn’t: the parallel of the Zika and HIV viruses for women 16th Feb 2016 (with Susana T. Fried)

“Due Diligence and Gender Violence: Parsing its Power and its Perils in the Cornell International Law Journal 48:2 (2015) (with Julie Goldscheid). Pages 301-345.

“Gender Equality Oversimplified: Using CEDAW to Counter the Measurement Obsession.” 2014. International Studies Review, 16 (3): 362-389 (co-authored with Susanne Zwingel).

Due Diligence and State Responsibility to Eliminate Violence against Women Regional Report: Australia, Canada, New Zealand & U.S.A.. Due Diligence Project affiliated with Northeastern University School of Law. 2014. (co-authored with Julie Goldscheid)

“Comprehension Obscured: Feminist Ideas and Policy Directives.” 2013. Politics & Gender 9 (4): 493-97.

Respect, Protect, Fulfill: Raising the Bar on Women’s Rights in San Francisco was published by the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development for Human Rights (WILD for Human Rights), 2008.

“Women, Gender and the Governance of Globalization: Activists Engagements with International Trade Policy.” 2008. In Global Governance: Feminist Perspectives’ edited by Shirin M. Rai and Georgina Waylen, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

“Women’s Labor in the Global Economy: Women Make Movies ‘Brings It All Back Home’.” July 2003. International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 5:2, (with Christie George and Debra Zimmerman).

“Introduction: New Questions, New Directions.” 2003. In Women and American Politics: New Questions, New Directions, Susan J. Carroll, ed. New York: Oxford University Press (with Susan J. Carroll).

Guest editor, theme articles, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 4:2, Fall 2002. Special Issue: Shifting Terrains: Constructing Gender After NAFTA (with Edmé Domínguez R.).

“Introduction: Gender in the Post-NAFTA World.” Fall 2002. International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 4:2.

“Gendering (Trans)national Advocacy: Tracking the Lollapalooza at ‘Home’.” Fall 2002. International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 4:2.

“The Films We Teach: Using Rosie the Riveter, Global Assemblyline, Dreamworlds II, and Fast Food Women in the Women’s Studies Classroom.” Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol. XXX: 1 & 2, pp. 296-311 Spring/Summer, 2002 (with contributions by Wendy Kolmar, Caitlin Killian, Lynne Derbyshire, and Carol J. Pierman).

“Constructing Cooperation: Feminist Activism and the North American Free Trade Agreement.” 2001. In Feminist Locations: Global and Local, Theory and Practice, Marianne DeKoven, ed. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ.

“TCBY© in Limón, Costa Rica: (Re)Constructing Identity in International Service Learning,” 2000. In Experiencing Citizenship: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Women’s Studies, Barbara Balliet and Kerrissa Heffernan, editors. American Association for Higher Education: Washington, D.C..

“Globalization = Homogenization? The Politics of Identity in Feminist Organizing,” 1999. In Power, Practice, Agency, edited by Marianne DeKoven. Working Papers from the Women in the Public Sphere Seminar, 1997‑1998. New Brunswick, NJ, Institute for Research on Women and the Institute for Women’s Leadership, 1999.

Women and American Politics: A Research Agenda, 1996. Center for the American Woman and Politics: New Brunswick, NJ, (with Susan J. Carroll).

Voices, Views, Votes: The Impact of Women in the 103rd Congress, 1995. Center for the American Woman and Politics: New Brunswick, NJ, (with D. Dodson, S. Carroll, R. Mandel, K. Kleeman, and R. Schreiber). 


2012-13. College of Liberal Arts, Sabbatical Grant

2007-2008. United Nations Development Fund for Women, Grant by the New York Office Grant. Amount – $70,000. Funding for “Uses of CEDAW” project (with IWRAW Asia Pacific).

2007. Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study and Conference Centre Grant. Approximately $75,000 to hold an international expert group meeting in Bellagio, Italy in November, 2007 entitled “Using International Human Rights Agreements for Redressing Violations of Women’s Human Rights: The Case of the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women” (with IWRAW Asia Pacific).

2007. The Global Fund for Women. Amount – $10,000. To help travel expenses of participants attending November, 2007 Bellagio Meeting on the the “Uses of CEDAW” (with IWRAW Asia Pacific).

2005. College of Liberal Arts, Sabbatical Grant

2002. Recipient, Harding Public Policy Research Grant. For work on United Nations CEDAW training and research project.

1998-99. Graduate Fellow, Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture, Theme: An American Century in the Americas.

1997-98. Bevier Dissertation Fellowship

1997-98. Graduate Fellow, Institute for Research on Women Faculty/Graduate Student Seminar on Women in the Public Sphere: Power, Practice, Agency.

1996-97. Dissertation Fellowship, Department of Political Science, Rutgers University.

1996. Special Study Grant for Advanced Language Training, Rutgers University, Graduate School.

1996. Dissertation Research Grant, Porte Fund for Peace and Security Studies.


Recipient, 2015 Faculty Leadership Award from Drew University’s Center for Civic Engagement.

Recipient, 2002 President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, Drew University.

Best Graduate Student Paper Award, 1998 Annual Meeting, International Studies Association, Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section.

Christabel Pankhurst/Miss Ella Baker Award for Women and Politics Research, 1998, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government’s Women and Public Policy Program.

Recipient, 1996 Rutgers University Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Award.


“Gender (in)equality indices – simplistic or simply useful?” paper presented at “Approaching Final Destination Envisioning Gender Equality as Outcome International Workshop” held at Florida International University, March 19-20, 2015 (with Susanne Zwingel).

“Assessing Global Gender (In)Equality: A CEDAW-based Approach.” International Studies Association Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada, April 3-6, 2014.

“Due Diligence and Gender Violence: Parsing its Potential and Limitations.” Faculty Research Forum, CUNY School of Law, January 30, 2014 (with Julie Goldscheid).

“Due Diligence and Gender Violence: Elaborating its Potentials and Limits.” American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, August 29-September 1, 2013 (Julie Goldscheid, co-author).

“Due Diligence and Gender Violence: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, & the U.S.” Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, May 30, 2013.

“Assessing Global Gender (In)Equality: A CEDAW-based Approach.” International Studies Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, April 4, 2013.

“Qualitative data collection on CEDAW implementation,” Presented at the International Studies Association’s Annual Meeting pre-conference workshop entitled, “Counting what counts and telling stories – how can a conversation between quantitative and qualitative research improve our understanding of global gender norms?” San Diego, California, April 3-6, 2012.

“Mobilizing People to Engage in Processes of Global Governance: Gender, Human Rights and The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)” presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Montreal, Canada, March 16, 2011.

“The Practice of Feminist Human Rights: Theorizing the Substance and Politics of Local Human Rights Ordinances in the United States” at a conference entitled “Human Rights in the USA” held at the University of Connecticut Law School sponsored jointly with the University of Connecticut’s Human Rights Institute. October 22-24, 2009.

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Lectures, Presentations & Media Appearances

Invited roundtable presentation, “Addressing Domestic Violence as a Human Right through Local Resolutions” at Columbia University Law School, May 28, 2015.

Invited presentation, “Looking to CEDAW and its standard of substantive equality to sustain development and the realization of women’s human rights” at The International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific’s Expert Group Meeting on Women’s Human Rights, Equality and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda, 29 – 31 January 2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (flight cancelled because of snow).

Invited presentation, Columbia University Human Rights Seminar (regional seminar for faculty), “Due Diligence and Gender Violence”, February 2, 2015 (with Julie Goldscheid) (cancelled due to snow storm).

Invited participant, Expert Group Meeting, Application of the Due Diligence Framework to End Violence against Women in the Digital Age, held at the Robert F Kennedy International House of Human Rights, 10-13 November 2014, Florence, Italy.

Invited Lecture, “Due Diligence & Gender Violence: Parsing its Power and its Perils” at Columbia University School of Law, sponsored by the Columbia University Human Rights Institute and Columbia’s Center for Gender & Sexuality Law (with Julie Goldscheid), October 1, 2014.

Invited Lecturer, “The UN’s Human Rights System – Using the Mechanisms” and “Equality as a Human Right: Gender and International Human Rights Norms” presented Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation’s Women’s Human Rights Training Institute (a capacity building program for young lawyers from Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States), May 7-13, 2014.

“Applying the Due Diligence Framework: The U.S. Context” at Northeastern University School of Law, 2013 PHRGE Institute “Human Rights and Violence against Women: Applying the Due Diligence Principle”, November 7 & 8, 2013.

Guest, HuffPost Live. Topic: Obama’s 2013 Cabinet Slim On Female Leadership. Host Abby Huntsman, aired December 18, 2012.

Guest, HuffPost Live. Topic: Meet the New Class (Women in Congress). Host Abby Huntsman, aired January 4, 2013.

Guest, HuffPost Live. Topic: Do Professors Have It Easy? Host: Marc Lamont Hill, aired January 14, 2013.

Invited Presenter, “Violence Against Women in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand: Preliminary Research Findings” at the Expert Drafting Meeting of the Due Diligence Project, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, June 15-16, 2012.

I organized and spoke on two related roundtable sessions entitled, “Passionate Politics: Analyzing Transnational Feminist Human Rights Activism – Session 1 & Session 2” held at the National Women’s Studies Association’s Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on November 11, 2011.

Invited Presenter. “Future Directions for Work on CEDAW.” At meeting entitled “Strategizing for Change” organized by the International Women’s Rights Action Watch, Asia Pacific, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 15-19, 2011.

Invited Consultation with Dr. Lee Hudson, Deputy Commissioner of Public Affairs at the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) on the local implementation of human rights. July 2011.

Invited Lecturer. “Understanding the United Nations’ work on women’s rights: the case of CEDAW.” Held at the National U.S. Human Rights Training sponsored by the Urban Justice Center on Feb 2, 2011.

Invited written testimony, “CEDAW’s Worldwide Impact” for U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law’s hearing on U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). November 18, 2010.

Invited testimony, “Experiences with Municipal Human Rights Laws,” New York City Council hearing of the Civil Rights Committee on “The Commission on Human Rights and Its Enforcement of New York City’s Human Rights Law,” April 28, 2010.

Invited lecture on “Human Rights and the United Nations” at the National Human Rights Institute sponsored by the Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project, February 4, 2010.

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