Paula Kantor Award

In 2015, ICRW created the Paula Kantor Award, in memory of our former colleague Dr. Paula Kantor, who died in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan in May 2015. Dr. Kantor was senior scientist of gender and development at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and former senior rural development specialist at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).

Dr. Kantor was a leading expert on gender issues in international development, with nearly 20 years of experience in policy and program research related to integrating gender into agriculture and rural development. Dr. Kantor’s work was largely driven by her passion to improve the lives of women and girls, especially in low- and middle-income countries and conflict-prone areas. She was a prolific researcher who worked in several initiatives across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

In the spirit of Paula’s legacy of supporting applied research to advance the economic and social well-being of women in low-income and otherwise marginalized communities worldwide, this annual award is given to a young professional female researcher doing field research related to ICRW’s mission, along with a US$2,500 cash prize.

Past Paula Kantor Award Winners

Dr. Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed is assistant professor of global media at the University of Georgia. Born and raised in Tamale, Ghana, Dr. Mohammed completed her PhD in Mass Communications with a minor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and an African Studies concentration at the Bellisario College of Communications at Pennsylvania State University. Her research examines the way that the lived experience of marginalized people are shaped by and represented in media, as well as how media can be used as a tool of resistance in the face of imperialism and colonization.


Dr. Farhana Rahman is a fellow at the Harvard University Asia Center and the co-founder of Silkpath Relief Organization. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, Centre for Gender Studies. She also works as a consultant providing technical expertise and trainings for international projects with organizations such as UN Women, UNDP, USAID and others. Originally from Bangladesh, Dr. Rahman has extensive experience researching the gendered effects of forced migration, gender-based violence in (post-)conflict situations, and the innovative coping mechanisms employed by marginalized women as a means of self-empowerment.


Dr. Mavuso is Research Associate for the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction research program at Rhodes University, South Africa, where she obtained her PhD in Psychology. She is also a member of the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition. A feminist, her activism centers on sexual and reproductive freedom and justice, and she encompasses her research and teaching interests in gender, race, sexualities and reproduction.


Dr. Otibho Obianwu is one of two winners of the 2019 Paula Kantor Award. Otibho is a Program Manager at the Population Council, Nigeria, where she designs and conducts research studies on female genital mutilation/cutting
(FGM/C) and serves as the Nigeria focal point for the Evidence to End FGM/C programme consortium. She also has experience implementing HIV prevention programs targeted at men who have sex with men and persons who use drugs in Nigeria.


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Dr. Jocelyn Kelly is one of two winners of the 2019 Paula Kantor Award. Jocelyn is the Director for Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s (HHI) Women in War program, where she designs and implements projects to examine issues relating to gender, peace and security in fragile states. Her work focuses on understanding and preventing gender-based violence (GBV) and human trafficking in complex crises, with an emphasis on specially examining mechanisms for social cohesion and resilience.

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Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga won the 2017 Paula Kantor Award. Violeta shares Paula’s dedication to gender equality and to promoting women’s health and rights. She is a prolific activist who has already made numerous outstanding achievements, is a powerful advocate for ending gender-based violence and a recognized global leader in the HIV movement.


Eunice Muthengi was the 2016 award winner. Muthengi is a researcher with the Population Council in Kenya, leading investigations into effective strategies to improve the reproductive health, education and economic potential of adolescent girls.

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Soumya Gupta was the inaugural Paula Kantor Award winner. On January 20th, ICRW awarded Soumya Gupta with the inaugural Paula Kantor Award for Excellence in Field Research, which honors the work of an up-and-coming research focused on alleviating gender inequality. Gupta’s work focuses on the linkages between agriculture systems and women’s empowerment and in turn, how these affect nutritional outcomes.

Read an interview with Soumya