Women talking

Arts for Gender Justice

The Global Women’s Institute (GWI) believes art has the power to speak to our humanity in ways we don’t often experience in everyday life. Art inspires us to reflect beyond logic and awaken our most genuine selves.  

Arts for Gender Justice is an initiative designed to create awareness to promote social justice and gender equality by cultivating artistic expression to address issues of women’s empowerment and to challenge harmful norms and beliefs about women. When we see a powerful image, watch a play, or hear a song, we may relate to another person’s experience in a more profound way.  

GWI Affiliated Faculty member Leslie Jacobson of the Theater and Dance Department curates Arts for Gender Justice. Among its noteworthy initiatives: annual workshops and performances with GW students and members of the Bokamoso Youth Centre from Winterveldt, South Africa; two original plays entitled DC Seven and This is my Calling, both written and directed by Leslie Jacobson with performances by GW students and women community activists; and several film screenings with presentations and facilitated discussion.  

This is My Calling: About the Curator

Leslie Jacobson


Leslie Jacobson has more than 40 years of experience producing, writing, directing and teaching theatre to address societal challenges and to give voice to people often marginalized by the dominant culture. Jacobson has been a Professor of Theatre at the George Washington University since 1977, serving as Department Chair for 13 years.

She is Founding Artistic Director of “Horizons… theatre from a Woman’s Perspective”, a platform offering Washington area audiences professional theatre featuring works by women playwrights, creating opportunities for women theatre artists, reflecting the diversity of women and their experiences, and cultivating new voices through creative and educational collaboration between Horizons and the community.

In 2003, she first engaged with the Bokamoso Youth Centre in Winterveldt, South Africa. In collaboration with Roy Barber, she has created eight music/theatre pieces with at-risk youth from the Centre and has brought a dozen youth to Washington each winter to perform and serve as informal ambassadors to the D.C. community and the GW University. 

"Human beings are hungry for story – it is the way we understand each other; the way we transfer experience; and through it we can practice the very human art of empathizing with another person. This process of storytelling requires only two elements: the teller and the listener. With an audience bearing witness, a performance becomes a transformative experience for everyone – and can inspire us to make positive societal change."

Leslie Jacobson