In response to Robin Morgan's book, Sisterhood is Global, the Sisterhood is Global Institute was founded in 1984 with Karen Berry as its first director. Its purpose was to mobilize international support on women’s rights issues and educate various communities around the world on women's rights and human rights issues. The records of the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) span the years from 1965 to 2005, with the bulk of the material ranging from 1980 to 2002. Materials such as correspondence, administrative files, publications drafts, manuals, newsletters, flyers, photographs, videos, and sound recordings provide a record of the work and the organizational structure of SIGI from its inception to its present activities at the beginning of the 21st century. The documents in the collection illustrate SIGI's efforts to discuss, debate, and act on a variety of women's issues around the world, including voting rights and political representation; reproductive rights; violence against women; education for women; and the socio-economic status of women.
The records of the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) span the years from 1965 to 2005, with the bulk of the material documenting the Institute's activities and administration from 1980 to 2002. Through correspondence, administrative files, subject files, drafts of publications, newsletter, manuals, reports, photographs, videos, and sound recordings, the collection provides an in-depth record of the work and the organizational structure of SIGI from its inception in 1984 to its present activities at the beginning of the 21st century, and documents its efforts to discuss, debate, and act on a variety of women's issues around the world, including voting rights and political representation; reproductive rights; violence against women; education for women; and the socio-economic status of women. Subject files created by SIGI researchers provide additional materials on prostitution, rape, the status of women in developing countries and rural areas, the legal status of women, and the concept of human rights. In the 1990s particular emphasis was paid to women's issues in Muslim societies. Much of the Institute's role is an educational one, as evidenced by the many folders of manuals, newsletters, news alerts, workshops, and conferences on women's issues, including materials on two U.N. World Conferences on Women. The collection offers many documents relating to SIGI publications, including the book Sisterhood is Global; and editions in various languages of In Our Own Words, Safe and Secure, and Claiming Our Rights. In addition to documenting SIGI's activism on behalf of women, the collection also provides a record of the Institute's organizational structure and functioning; although there is very little from the earliest years, there are many records for the 1990s, particularly for the years 1999-2002, during Greta Hofmann Nemiroff's tenure as President. Other individuals whose active roles in the development of Sisterhood is Global Institute are documented through correspondence and writings include Marilyn Waring, Robin Morgan, and Tatiana Mamonova. Many smaller files of correspondence and writings from individual members offer a profile of SIGI's international constituency drawn from over 70 countries.
One of the smallest folder groups, the Correspondence Series offers a sampling of routine requests and expressions of interest from individuals writing to the Sisterhood is Global Institute. Several folders house petitions and protest letters initiated by SIGI. There is also a group of exchanges related to the New Zealand "girlcott" organized in part by Marilyn Waring, president of SIGI at the time.
The largest series in the collection, the Administrative Files Series is divided into five subseries: Membership Files, Greta Hofmann Nemiroff, Financial Papers, Funding Files, and Other Records. The series offers an extensive profile of SIGI’s international constituency which in 2002 included members from over 70 countries worldwide. More extensive records are available for some eminent international figures such as Robin Morgan and Tatyana Mamonova, as well as for Marilyn Waring who acted as Executive Director of SIGI in New Zealand. The files of Greta Hofmann Nemiroff, the Financial Files, and the Other Records Subseries provide a record of the administrative management of SIGI’s resources, with the most detailed records dating from the period between 1996 and 2002. The funding history of SIGI, together with the documentation of grants and donors, is located in the Funding Files subseries, which also contains correspondence and financial reports on SIGI’s core projects like the Human Rights Education Program (HRE) and the Project on Eliminating the Violence Against Women (VAW).
The Project Files Series documents the stages and implementation of the HRE Program and the development of new projects, among which VAW, the Learning Partnership Projects, and the Building Local Leaders Initiative. The HRE Program, a reflection of the continuous work of SIGI on the issue of women’s human rights, is a series of 12 workshops whose aim is to promote the concept of women’s rights in Islamic cultures and provide women strategies and networking skills for the assertion of these rights. The series contains reports and correspondence with facilitators from nine countries where these workshops have been conducted, as well as materials on other countries considered for the extension of the project. Included in the series is also a record of SIGI Urgent Action Alerts, a system of immediate alerts and global calls for actions in response to discriminatory practices and cases of abuse in different regions of the world.
The Publications Series contains drafts, editions, and translations of workshop manuals, part of SIGI programs, as well as records related to anthologies edited by SIGI members, such as the volumes Muslim Women and the Politics of Participation and Strategizing for Safety. A large portion of the series is comprised of various translations of Claiming Our Rights, a manual containing definitions and learning exercises designed to illustrate the concept of women’s rights in different social contexts and to stimulate discussions on the status of women in Muslim societies. Other publications presented in the series include Safe and Secure, a manual designed for SIGI workshops on violence against women, and In Our Own Words, a companion guide with strategies for workshop facilitators. The series also contains all the issues of SIGI News, a biannual newsletter covering SIGI’s activities and providing a venue for announcements of different events.
The Conferences and Programs Series is divided into SIGI and Other Events subseries and contains records of the preparation and logistics for conferences organized by SIGI, as well as materials from major international meetings on subjects related to women’s rights. SIGI’s two conferences "Religion, Culture, and Women’s Rights in the Muslim World" (1994) and "Beijing and Beyond" (1996) were specifically organized in connection to the 4th World Conference on Women which took place in Beijing, which is also covered in the series. Other SIGI conferences extensively represented in the series include "Rights of Passage" (1997) and the Expert Group Meeting on Eliminating Violence against Girls and Women (1998) which evolved from the preparation for a conference with the same title, initially scheduled to take place in Jordan. Materials on the two World Conferences on Women, in Nairobi and Beijing, as well as other global events such as the UN conference on human rights in 1993 and the World March of Women in 2000, is found in the Other Events Subseries.
The Photographic Materials Series depicts moments from conferences attended or organized by SIGI, visits, and some of the workshops conducted by SIGI in different countries.
The Subject Files Series contains materials collected by SIGI on a wide range of subjects related to women, from reproductive rights and motherhood to the consequences of armed conflicts. A large section of papers and studies in the series, mostly dating from the late 1980s and early 1990s, is devoted to the socio-economic status of women and their situation in developing countries and rural areas. Another large group of materials, whose time range extends beyond the 1990s, reflects on SIGI’s development of new projects, and the materials focus increasingly on the legal status of women, the concept of women’s human rights, and the subject of violence against women which includes extensive collection of reports and article on domestic violence, prostitution, rape, and war crimes.
The Organizations Series contains information gathered by SIGI staff about numerous international and regional organizations and networks working in the sphere of women’s and human rights, development, and law. Highlighted organizations include the Association of Women in Development, the Canadian Council for Refugees, Equality Now, Feminist Majority, Isis International, the International Women's Health Coalition, the National Council for Research on Women, the Women's Environment and Development Organization, and the United Nations. There is some correspondence with former First Lady Hilary Clinton.
Like the Subject Files Series, the Geographic Files Series also functions as a vertical file created by SIGI staff for internal use, containing informative articles, clippings, reports, many newsletters, and other materials on women's issues in over 100 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Countries with the most materials are Pakistan, Phillippines, and Malaysia.
The Audiovisual Materials Series contains over 20 videocassettes and audio recordings of SIGI events or programs originating in other countries. Topics and events include a forum on "feminist family values," conferences on women's issues, women's rights in Muslim societies, domestic violence, politics and power in the Phillippines and in other countries, and educational programming on money and job training. Use copies are available for most of these items; otherwise Technical Services staff will need to arrange to have use copies made. Please contact reference staff before coming to use this series.
Finally, the boxes in the Memorabilia Series house several large and small protest banners.
The collection includes some financial records, webpage content, and translations of published material in electronic form, found listed in the Electronic Formats Series under the appropriate series. The documents are maintained on the electronic records server. Consult a reference archivist for access to them.
Addition (2009-0070) (5850 items; 7.8 lin. ft.; dated 1985-2003) contains administrative records and correspondence, financial reports and documents, legal documents, membership information, annual reports, and publicity files. Also included are 20 cassette tapes recording the Sisterhood is Global Strategy Meeting (1984), founding the Institute, and 11 floppy discs that have been transferred to Duke's Electronic Records server. This addition has not been processed; materials have been reboxed but not incorporated into the remainder of the collection. Please see a reference archivist if you have questions.
Addition (2015-01480) (1500 items; 3 lin. ft.; dated 1982-2010) contains administrative records and correspondence.