Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Justice for Women Lecture - Reader's Guide: 2020


will present the ninth annual Justice For Women (JFW) Lecture on March 25, 2020, four days after World Poetry Day. Emi Mahmoud is an international poet, advocate, and activist, who captured the world's admiration by winning the Individual World Poetry Slam Champion at age 22. Named one of the most inspirational women worldwide, the slam poet and author who originates from Darfur began writing slam poetry - work that is written for performance and that is often powerful and emotional in tone - when she arrived at Yale University as an undergraduate. In 2018, she became a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador for her work raising awareness about refugees.

Emi Mahmoud is the founder of One Girl Walk, a movement to inspire a collective responsibility for peace. She is a former refugee and a current UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. She was also named one of the BBC's Most Inspirational Women in 2015  and was 2016 Women of the World co-champion. In 2017, she hosted the first fully inclusive civilian peace talks across Sudan. In 2018, she completed an unprecedented 1000km journey on foot in 30 days from Darfur to Khartoum, mobilizing thousands. She studied Anthropology and Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology at Yale University.

Ms. Mahmoud is the author of Sisters’ Entrance, a collection of poetry that traverses genocide, diaspora, the guilt of surviving, racism and Islamophobia, the burdens of girlhood, and the solace of sisterhood. She is a student of life, spreading peace through poetry with themes of love, war, and reconciliation.

Supplemental reading on Poetry, Sudan, & Genocide

Reading time estimates: readometer /

Background materials on Poetry

What is "slam" poetry? What is "spoken word" poetry?


"A competitive poetry performance in which selected audience members score performers, and winners are determined by total points. Slam is a composite genre that combines elements of poetry, theater, performance, and storytelling. The genre’s origins can be traced to Chicago in the early 1980s. Since then, groups of volunteers have organized slams in venues across the world. The first National Poetry Slam was held in 1990, and has become an annual event in which teams from cities across the United States compete at events in a host city. For more on poetry slams, see Jeremy Richards’s series “Performing the Academy”. See also poets Tyehimba Jess, Bob Holman, and Patricia Smith."

Spoken word

"A broad designation for poetry intended for performance. Though some spoken word poetry may also be published on the page, the genre has its roots in oral traditions and performance. Spoken word can encompass or contain elements of rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theater, and jazz, rock, blues, and folk music. Characterized by rhyme, repetition, improvisation, and word play, spoken word poems frequently refer to issues of social justice, politics, race, and community. Related to slam poetry, spoken word may draw on music, sound, dance, or other kinds of performance to connect with audiences. See Murdoch Burnett, Kevin Coval, and Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz for examples of spoken word performers. For spoken word’s connection with music, see David Browne’s essay 'Pop Star Poetics.'"

Educators may check out the Poetry Foundation's extensive online learning resources.


Lifting Youth Voices through Spoken Word by Tony DelaRosa, Harvard Graduate School of Education "Relevant Research for Today's Educators" (April 3, 2018).
For National Poetry Month, eight ways teachers can use spoken word to inspire and empower their students.

ReadWriteThink: Lesson Plan Crossing Boundaries Through Bilingual, Spoken-Word Poetry
"In this unit, students write and perform bilingual poetry, exploring the theme of 'crossing boundaries' Boundaries can be those that divide countries, race, class, cultures, or even our own mental boundaries and prejudices. In order to scaffold the integration of different languages, three mini-workshops with individual models are provided. The unit culminates in a poetry slam at school or in the community. This unit is suited to a foreign language, bilingual, or ESL classroom but can be adapted for use in any linguistically diverse classroom. (Note: Examples are in Spanish but could be adapted.)"


100 Articles on World Poetry over 60 years (2016)  < 2 min read each
Compelling compilation of poetry and articles from diverse voices.

Darfur poet triumphs in international poetry slam by Alison Flood (The Guardian November 4, 2015)
Mahmoud won the international competition with a bracing poem titled "Mama"  following her first two poems, People Like Us, and Bullets, which also deal with Darfur. "Yale News reports that halfway through Mama, the crowd gave her a standing ovation, and she received a perfect score. She dedicated the win to her grandmother."

March 21 United Nations World Poetry Day
"Held every year on 21 March, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. Practiced throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace."

Slam from Sudan: how Emtithal Mahmoud shook the world by Alison Flood (The Guardian July 2, 2018)
"She has debated with presidents, been comforted by the Dalai Lama, and been called one of the world’s most inspiring women – but it’s as a poet that Emtithal Mahmoud truly shines."

FOR ARTISTS (and aspiring artists):

Cave Canem: A Home for Black Poetry
A 501-c-3 non-profit literary service organization with administrative and programming headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, that serves as a home for the many voices of African American poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. Poets of color find productive space for writing without fear of censure or the need to defend subject matter or language—an intellectual and physical site where they validate their own and their peers’ voices and deeply know that s/he is not 'the only one.'

Teaching Genocide: pedagogy for lessons around traumatic events

  1. Centre for Holocaust Education, Pedagogical Guidance (website) (U.K.)
  2. The Genocide Education Project (website): "GenEd is a nonprofit organization assisting educators in teaching about human rights and genocide, particularly the Armenian Genocide, as the predecessor of the pattern of genocides that followed. GenEd develops instructional materials and provides workshops, consultation and presentations."
  3. Teaching Tolerance (website): provides free resources to educators that emphasizes social justice and anti-bias using UNESCO's Declaration of Principles on Tolerance definition of tolerance:"Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance is harmony in difference."
  4. Samuel Totten, Addressing the "Null Curriculum": Teaching about Genocides Other than the Holocaust, 65 Social Educ. 309 (2001)[GoogleScholar]
  5. Samuel Totten, Teaching and Learning about Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity: Fundamental Issues and Pedagogical Approaches, Vols. 1 & 2 (2018) [Find in a library]

Background materials on Sudan


Case Studies on Genocide: Sudan 2 minutes, 22 seconds. 475 words
Brief read from Yale University Genocide Studies Program with supplemental resources.

Country Studies: Sudan, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; 20 minutes
Comprehensive, illustrated, and up-to-date analysis of the history, risks, forces, and humanitarian crisis of genocide in Darfur. Each of the six parts is about a 2-minute read, supplemented by data and statistics.

Internally Displaced Persons in Darfur: Taking Stock 14 minute read. 2800 words
by Elizabeth Ferris, Brookings Institute (May 7, 2008)

Mass Atrocity Endings. 7 minute read. 1383 words
"This case study is an adaptation of “Sudan: Patterns of violence and imperfect endings” by Alex de Waal in How Mass Atrocities End: Studies from Guatemala, Burundi, Indonesia, Sudan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Iraq, ed Bridget Conley (Cambridge University Press, 2016)." Hosted by Tufts University.



All about Darfur 82 minute video

"All about Darfur", directed by Taghreed Elsanhouri, produced by Taghreed Elsanhouri. California Newsreel, 2005. Alexander Street, [UMS access] [MaineCat]


Haleema is the parable of a young Darfurian girl who must fight for the survival of her family. Ms. Mahmoud's credits include voice and poem. Germany 2012, 17 min Link



Living a Genocide: The Children of Darfur
This online exhibition hosted by the University of South Florida illustrates the brutal realities of the Sudanese conflicts by featuring drawings by Darfuri children living in refugee camps in Eastern Chad. Illustrations 2003-2006; exhibit undated.

Boy holdings his drawing of the war in Darfur.


The Justice For Women Lecture (JFW) Series brings a distinguished speaker to Maine annually to present a public lecture and to contribute to a global conversation about justice for women and girls in the developing world. The Lecture Series was established in 2011 with the generous support and leadership of Catherine Lee of Lee International.