Home>Gender Studies: Maria Francisca, Studying Masculinities

27.11.2023

Gender Studies: Maria Francisca, Studying Masculinities

Maria Francisca Gonçalves joined Sciences Po’s School of International Affairs (PSIA) in 2021 with a bachelor in international relations from the Portuguese Universidade Portucalense in hand.

Two years later, she graduated with a master's degree in International Security from our Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) and the Advanced Certification in Gender Studies, a certificate open to all students in their second year of master programme by Sciences Po's Gender Studies department (PRESAGE). In July 2023, she left France to work as an Assessment Officer of the REACH evaluations in Mali.

Let's meet this graduate.

(credits: MFG)

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO PURSUE THE ADVANCED CERTIFICATION IN GENDER STUDIES IN ADDITION TO YOUR PROGRAMME IN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY?

By pursuing this Certification, I knew I would gain specialised knowledge and skills needed to tackle the complex challenges in this field: we are talking about feminist theories, methodologies, gender analysis, and gender-related policies and practices. This Certification has provided me with a deeper understanding of these areas, equipping me to engage with gender dynamics in conflict-affected settings. One of my career goals is to become a gender advisor, specifically focusing on gender and conflict in peacebuilding efforts. I want to contribute to the development of inclusive and accurate gender-transformative programmes, making sure that gender mainstreaming happens in all sectors… and that's where the Advanced Certification in Gender Studies comes in!

IS THERE A PARTICULAR GENDER STUDIES CLASS THAT MOVED YOU?

Yes, a course taught by Judith Gardner deeply resonated with me: it was an incredibly transformative experience. What made this class so impactful was its emphasis on exploring the complexity of the Somali context, an increasingly transnational conflict. We delved into topics such as state collapse, clan-related armed conflict, and the presence of violent extremist organisations like Al-Shabaab, all through a gender lens. The discussions were eye-opening, and challenged my ideas on gender… and on me. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have taken this course and for the profound impact it had on my personal and professional growth. I became deeply interested in masculinities and ended up doing an internship in Rwanda with The Rwanda Men's Resource Centre (RWAMREC), an organisation that aims to address issues of negative masculine behaviours and gender inequalities in order to promote healthy families, men’s welfare, women’s rights and men’s well-being.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR BEST MEMORY FROM YOUR TIME AT SCIENCES PO?

The people. Colleagues, Friends, Professors, Guest Speakers... they were absolutely breathtaking, both in their personalities and their ideas. I mean, I was blown away by the incredible individuals I had the privilege of crossing paths with. It wasn't just about the academic brilliance. Some people I met were genuinely passionate about making a difference in the world. They cared deeply about social justice, sustainability, equality—you name it. But above everything some of my professors and friends’ dedication and drive were contagious, and it motivated me and inspired me. The people are hands down the best part of Sciences Po!

IS THERE A ONE-SENTENCE ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO THE NEXT COHORTS?

Feed that curiosity beast and hold onto your humanity tight.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?

I am working as an Assessment Officer in Mali from July 2023 until January 2023. Under the supervision of the IMPACT Country Representative and the Mali REACH Multisectoral Evaluation Manager, I will be responsible for the management and implementation of REACH evaluations in Mali, focusing on the implementation of a multisectoral needs assessment that will aim to inform the humanitarian planning of the aid community in Mali for 2023.

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