Strength and Serenity Global Initiative Against Gender-Based Violence
Explore This Initiative
The Strength and Serenity Global Initiative Against Gender-Based Violence seeks to create a worldwide consortium to share best practices, develop training programs, and publish on issues pertaining to sexual exploitation and abuse with the goal to end gender-based violence.
Strength and Serenity is a global initiative to end gender-based violence (GBV).
The European Institute of Gender Equality defines gender-based violence as “violence directed against a person because of their gender”. Although both genders can experience GBV, women and girls around the world are more commonly impacted.
Gender-based violence takes various forms in different contexts, but is generally rooted in institutional violence and based on cultural, social, and economical perceptions of preconceived gender roles.
At the intersection of medicine, public health, culture, and social sciences, our approach is collaborative and constantly evolving. We partner with academics and professionals from different sectors working on the issue of violence to conduct research, develop programs, and inform policies in the U.S. and abroad.
Strength and Serenity regularly compiles and maintains a selection of relevant academic research papers, literature reviews, and recognized journalistic pieces on gender-based violence.Download our bibliography (PDF)
Each year, Strength and Serenity organizes a symposium to address a topic related to gender-based violence. This symposium is an opportunity for people from all sectors to learn from professionals in the field about an aspect of gender-based violence and how it is addressed in various fields. Keynote speakers along with smaller discussion groups provide a great learning opportunity and expand the network of professionals interested in the field of GBV.
MGH OB-GYN Global Health Newsletter
Strength and Serenity offers a concise monthly email newsletter, with field perspectives and informative content on topics related to global health and gender-based violence.
Read past issues
July 2021: Suffer Little Children Come Unto Me. Intro by Fiona Danaher, MD, MPH; Interview with Dorys Lemus by Ak Goodman, MD, MPH; Caring for Migrant Children at the Mexico-US Border: Stories of Struggle and Strength by Saul Jacob, MD and Reetu Malhotra, MD
May/June 2021: Liberian Women: Guardians of Peace, Activists for Change by Lynn Black, MD, MPH; Trauma, Recovery and Resilience in Liberia by Richard Mollica, MD, MAR; A Brief History of Liberia by Emily Kim
- April 2021: Speaking English So Good To Be Heard Well by Amanda Teo, Esp.; The Atlanta Shooting and the Hypersexualization of Asian and Asian-American Women by Emily Kim
- March 2021: Healing in the Face of Trauma and Conflict: The Journey Starts at Home by Fahima Begum
February 2021: Responding to Disasters: A Call to Action; Susan Miller Briggs, MD, MPH, FACS
January 2021: The Lost Dreams of Maternal Mortality: Intersection of Politics, Policy, Culture, and Trust; Annekathryn Goodman, MD, MPH
December 2020: Folding Death Into Life; Donna Blagdan, BCC
November 2020: When the Ground Shakes: Disaster Response Near and Far; Lindsey Martin, NP
October 2020: Women’s Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Costa Rica; Adriana Vallejos, MD
September 2020: “Go Home and Love Your Family”: Complexities of Individuality and Plurality in Public Health; Violette Perrotte, MPH
August 2020:Secondary Victims of the Pandemic: The Experience with COVID at Bangladesh’s Dhaka Medical College Hospital; Lutfa Begum Lipi, MD
July 2020: The Challenges of COVID-19 Lockdown in Mbarara, Uganda; Joy Muhumuza, MBChB, MMed
June 2020: Addressing Maternal Mental Illness in Rural Nepal; Shreedhar Paudel, MD, MPH
May 2020: How Do We Heal Ourselves When Surrounded By So Much Pain?; Annekathryn Goodman, MD, MPH
April 2020: Love in the Time of COVID; Annekathryn Goodman, MD, MPH, Arun Chaudhary, MPH and Violette Perrotte, MPH
March 2020: Reflections on the 2015 Nepal Earthquake Disaster Response; Arun Chaudhary, MPH
February 2020: Reflections on Managing a Delivery in Bangladesh; Hannah Bergbower MSN, MPH, CM
January 2020: Midwifery Education in Lira, Uganda; Jennifer Lynn Neczypor, CNM
December 2019: Attention to Gender-Based Violence in Disaster Response; Annekathryn Goodman, MD, MPH
November 2019: Implementing the BetterBirth Program in Uttar Pradesh, India; Rose Molina, MD, MPH
October 2019: Calling for a Human Rights-Based Approach to Obstetric Care in Chiapas, Mexico; Sammie Truong, HMSIV
September 2019: Using a ‘Care Bundle’ Approach to Reduce Maternal Mortality; Thomas F. Burke, MD
August 2019: Treating Anesthetized Patients with Respect and Dignity; Celeste Day, MS, CRNA
July 2019: Sexual Assault in Ethiopia; Beryl Manning-Geist, MD
June 2019: Pre-deployment Training: What It Can Look Like. Why It’s Important.; Bobbie Curtis, CNM, MSN
May 2019: The Challenge of Obstetrical Care in Rural Uganda; Thomas Randall, MD
April 2019: Home Births in a Refugee Camp: The Rohingya Refugee Crisis and the Challenge of Obstetric Care Delivery; Annekathryn Goodman, MD, MPH
Obstetrical violence is a worldwide phenomenon that takes on various forms, from absence of informed consent to physical harm. Strength and Serenity has published a literature review to assess the prevalence and root causes of obstetrical violence in different countries and develop solutions to address disrespect and abuse in childbirth.
Strength and Serenity is conducting a qualitative research study with Tanzanian collaborators on disrespect and abuse in childbirth in Dodoma, Tanzania. Study objectives are to identify obstetric care providers’ perceptions of the underlying root causes of disrespect and abuse during childbirth; and to explore provider attitudes towards the different forms of disrespect and abuse that occur.
GBV in the Time of COVID
We have compiled a bibliography of relevant literature on the correlation between COVID-19 and GBV increase throughout the world. The selected publications address issues of access to care, especially sexual and reproductive health services; increased risk of intimate partner violence; and innovative solutions and resources to address these concerns.
Yazidi Women and Sexual Violence in ISIS
We have, in collaboration with Hannah Bergbower, published a paper on the use of rape and sexual slavery of Yazidi women in the ISIS-controlled Northern region of Iraq.
Suicide as a Consequence of GBV
The aftermath of sexual assault can range from chronic physical pain, sexual dysfunction, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Suicide can be the tragic outcome for some survivors of sexual abuse. This study will address the following questions: Why do girls and women kill themselves after rape? What are the pressures that lead them to do that? Does the incidence of suicide vary by culture/religion/nationality?
Relationship of Structural Violence, GBV and Health Outcomes
Documentation of Rape, GBV, and Human Trafficking: The Rohingya Experience
The current Rohingya refugee situation in Bangladesh has become one of the most protracted in the world. A significant number of Rohingya women and children fleeing Myanmar experienced sexual violence, and continue to face gender-based violence within the Bangladesh refugee camps. In collaboration with Iftkher Mahmood, we have published a commentary on what is known of the Rohingya experience and the humanitarian response.
Gender-Based Violence in Disaster & Humanitarian Settings
Humanitarian interventions are designed to bring potentially life-saving support to vulnerable populations. To ensure that these interventions take into account gender dynamics, and do not neglect the needs of women and girls, humanitarian workers must be acutely aware of the importance of designing projects that specifically address those populations.
Strength and Serenity has created a training program for medical and public health professionals who participate in humanitarian missions and wish to approach field work with a gender-sensitive perspective. Our training program incorporates elements of implicit bias training and addresses underlying issues of gender and race discrimination as well as neglect in humanitarian work.
This training program is designed to bring a gender perspective to all types of humanitarian interventions, from setting up a latrine system in a refugee camp to screening for GBV in a typhoon-affected village. Using case studies, key concepts and talking points, the training encourages role-play and open discussion on how to best address different situations humanitarian workers may encounter.
More Information & Registration for Upcoming Trainings
No trainings currently scheduled. Please check back this spring for updates.
Training Materials from Past Sessions
- Session 1: GBV Screening
- Seminar 2: GBV Interventions
- Seminar 3: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
- Seminar 4: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Aid-Workers
MGH Ethics Forum 2021
At the Crossroads of Ethics, Law, Medicine and Anthropology: How do we respond to those in need at the U.S. southern border?
Wednesday, June 23, 6-8 pm EDT | Free Virtual Seminar
This forum will explore our obligations to non-citizens at the U.S. southern border through ethical, legal, medical and anthropological lenses. Panelists will address questions such as: What is our moral imperative to help “the stranger,” that is, the migrant who requests our humanitarian aid? At what point does this help become an existential threat to our country? How do clinicians reconcile competing ethical obligations to the individual patient versus the larger migrant community? And what can human migratory patterns teach us about our approach to all these issues?
- Jacqueline Bhabha, MSc, JD
- Wesley Boyd, MD, PhD
- Heide Castañeda, PhD, MPH
- Marsha Griffin, MD
- Nancy Berlinger, PhD
Annekathryn Goodman, MD, MS, MA, MPH
Founding Member, Executive Director
Dr. Annekathryn Goodman is a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and a fellow of both the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Surgeons. She has a fulltime practice in gynecologic oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital and is an affiliate of Mass General Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action and the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an associate of Mass General's Center for Global Health. She is the director of the Strength & Serenity Mass General Global Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence and co-director of Mass General Women’s Global Health.
She completed medical school and residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and her fellowship training in gynecologic oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to board certification in gynecologic oncology, she is certified in acupuncture and has completed training in both pastoral and palliative care. She received a certificate in Clinical Ethics and Health Policy from the Center for Practical Bioethics, University of Kansas Medical School. She received a certificate in Global health and MPH in Health Policy and Management from New York Medical College. She has undergone advanced training in humanitarian disaster relief work through the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Missioncraft in disaster relief operations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma.
She was the director of the Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Program at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1998 through 2017. She is the past president of The Obstetrical Society of Boston and of the New England Society of Gynecologic Oncologists. She is also a member of the Ethics Committee at Massachusetts General Hospital.
She is a member of the national Trauma and Critical Care Team, a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services and has deployed to various international disasters. Since 2008, she has been consulting in Bangladesh on cervical cancer prevention and the development of medical infrastructure to care for women with gynecologic cancers. She has directed a two-month observership in gynecologic oncology at Mass General for physicians from resource-limited countries since 2016.
Mary Greenwald, JD
Mary Greenwald has a background in clinical ethics, health law and domestic violence advocacy. Before joining Strength and Serenity, she worked in the Office of Clinical Ethics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, developing ethics teaching materials and educational programs for the hospital community. Earlier in her career, Mary was a staff attorney at Mass General Brigham and a legal advocate at The Second Step, where she collaborated with survivors of gender-based violence to help build a future free from abuse. She has served as a director of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts and is a recipient of its Pro Bono Award for her legal work on behalf of incarcerated domestic abuse survivors.
Fahima Begum is an undergraduate student at Harvard studying Sociology and Global Health and Health Policy. She is passionate about addressing institutional barriers and health inequities, both within the United States and beyond. Her previous professional experiences focused on domestic violence awareness and advocacy in the United States, global health delivery on the African continent, and educational inequity in the Greater Boston area. Fahima currently works with the Strength and Serenity team as a student intern, where she hopes to apply her past experiences to bring into light the barriers faced by those impacted by gender-based violence.
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Adeline Boatin, MD, MPH
Obstetrics and Gynecology Partner
Dr. Boatin is a clinician, researcher and educator at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She received her medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons University and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, and then completed a four-year obstetrics and gynecology residency at Harvard. Dr. Boatin is currently an Assistant Professor in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School. She is affiliate faculty at the Program for Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard Medical School and the Center for Global Health at MGH.
In addition to clinical care and resident training at MGH, Dr. Boatin is an NIH-funded clinical researcher with a focus on reducing global reproductive health inequities, particularly around the provision of safe and quality surgery. Her current research focuses on using wireless monitoring technology to overcome human resource limitations in post-operative care and the spectrum of quality of care around obstetric surgery in low- and middle-income countries.
Thomas C. Randall, MD
Obstetrics and Gynecology Partner
Dr. Randall is a gynecologic oncologist on staff at Mass General and the Yawkey Cancer Center. He received his MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and did his internship and residency in OB/GYN at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He did his fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and practiced gynecologic oncology at the University of Pennsylvania from 1999-2013, where he became known as an expert in minimally invasive gynecologic cancer surgery.
From 2013 to 2017 Dr. Randall worked as a consultant in HPV-related cancers and cervical cancer control for the National Cancer Institute. In this role he worked in low resource environments and international policy settings to facilitate cervical cancer treatment and prevention in low- and middle-income countries.
Dr. Randall continues to work actively to limit cervical cancer around the world. He works with the International Gynecologic Cancer Society to provide fellowship training in gynecologic oncology to physicians in low resource countries. He is also actively studying and supporting capacity building in cervical cancer prevention and women’s health care in Uganda and Rwanda.
As a member of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Dr. Randall actively participates in multidisciplinary care of women with gynecologic cancers through surgery, chemotherapy and collaboration with the radiotherapy team. Dr. Randall is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at the Harvard Medical School and affiliate faculty for the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and the MGH Center for Global Health. He works as an advisor for Partners in Health with a focus on cervical cancer control treatment of gynecologic cancers.
Arun Chaudhary, MPH
Arun Chaudhary is a social epidemiologist and an advocate of socio-economic development for health equity. He is specifically interested in gender equality and poverty eradication. He completed his Master's in Public Health (epidemiology and global health) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 2018. He is a co-founder and a board member of Abiral Foundation and volunteers with Health Foundation Nepal, non-profit organizations that work to promote health and development in Nepal. Currently, he is pursuing a MicroMasters in Data, Economics and Development Policy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working with Health Foundation Nepal to expand a maternal mental health program in Dang, Nepal, and exploring a collaboration with a mothers’ group cooperative to distribute microcredit loans in Birgunj, Nepal.
Emily completed her B.S. degree in Molecular Biology from Eckerd College in 2018. Since graduation, she has worked in the Center for Genomic Medicine at Mass General as a research technologist in the Slaugenhaupt lab. She has a background in working at domestic violence safe houses and promoting sexual violence prevention and awareness. She has volunteered as a certified rape crisis counselor and medical advocate with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) since 2019. Emily hopes to become a physician scientist studying women’s health and improving trauma-informed care in medicine. Outside of work she loves hiking, yoga, and all things plants.
Violette Perrotte, MPH
Violette Perrotte is a public health professional who has dedicated her career to fighting against gender-based violence in France, the US and on the African continent. Her previous professional experiences focused on intimate partner violence in young couples, access to sexual and reproductive health, and female genital mutilation care for migrant women in Europe. She was the program manager for La Maison des Femmes (House of Women), France's first multidisciplinary health center dedicated to vulnerable women. Violette completed her master's degree at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and served as Strength and Serenity’s research coordinator before moving back to France to spearhead a city government’s public health initiatives.
Lynn Black, MD, MPH
Founding Member, Co-Director, GBV Training
Dr. Black’s career has been broadly engaged in global and public health, clinical medicine, disaster and humanitarian assistance, along with hospital administration. While Dr. Black’s clinical experience has been in both Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine, her work is highlighted by leadership and clinical roles in clinician and patient resiliency, disaster relief, access to care, maternal-child health, and gender-based violence in regions around the world, including Africa, Haiti, Central America, Micronesia and the United States. Through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and MISSIONCRAFT in Disaster Relief Organizations, she has participated in advanced training in humanitarian disaster relief work. Dr. Black has served as the Chief Medical Officer for the Trauma and Critical Care Team for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
She is a certified health and wellness coach, working with clinicians to address trauma and resiliency. She has participated in a trauma mitigation master program and Realizing Resilience Coaching Masterclass©.
Dr. Black has been a subject matter expert on emergency medical teams and palliative care in disaster settings for the World Health Organization and as a technical liaison to the Disaster Medical Coordination International Society. She has served on the Massachusetts General Hospital Ethics Committee and as a clinical evaluator for asylum seekers with Physicians for Human Rights. Dr. Black has been the Chair of the Public Health Committee for the Massachusetts Medical Society and was award the Henry Ingersoll Bowditch award for her contributions to public health. She received a B.S. in nursing from the University of Vermont and subsequently, completed her master’s degree in Public Health Policy and her medical education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her residency was in Internal Medicine at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.
Kristen Giambusso, MPH
Co-Director, GBV Training
Kristen is Deputy Director of Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action at MGH Global Health. She began her career at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and went on to obtain her Master of Public Health degree from Boston University School of Public Health focusing on International Health. Prior to joining MGH Global Health, Kristen worked overseas in Zimbabwe and Peru and spent several years working in research within the University of California system in both Oakland and San Francisco. Kristen received a Health Emergencies in Large Populations (HELP) certificate from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and has several years of volunteer experience with International Rescue Committee and the American Red Cross.
Lindsey Martin, NP
Co-Director, GBV Training
Lindsey is director of Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action at Mass General. She is trained as a critical care nurse practitioner with a focus on surgical critical care and trauma. After starting her NP career at University of Maryland Medical Center-Shock Trauma, in 2015 she joined the Blake 12 surgical ICU at Mass General and started volunteering on the Global Disaster Response Team. Her deployments have included the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, 2016 Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, 2017 Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Maria in Puerto Rico. She has assumed the role of team leader on multiple deployments, most recently leading a 26-member medical EMAC to Ponce, Puerto Rico. In addition she has participated in multiple training exercises and disaster simulations with MGH and its partner organizations.
Lindsey also has worked as public health clinical faculty at Northeastern University and has training in wilderness medicine and pre-hospital care as an EMT. Other international work includes volunteering with the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa. She will be starting her Masters in Global Public Health this year at Brown University.