Erin Aylward

Study program:
Political Science
Current affiliation:
University of Toronto

Erin Aylward (political science, University of Toronto) is analyzing the influence of advocacy and international diplomacy on public opinion and political action in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Project title

Consented Rights: Examining the Polarization of LGBT Rights and Reproductive Rights within the UN

Erin’s research explores how polarizing human rights claims develop into international human rights norms. In particular, her research examines how international norms not only emerge, but may also experience sustained backlash by way of two case studies: LGBT rights and reproductive rights (particularly abortion). By comparing the levels of support, institutionalization, and backlash that these two issues have experienced within the UN, Erin’s research highlights some of the more effective strategies and enabling conditions that facilitate contentious human rights issues’ advancement. Her research documents the possible outcomes for emergent and contentious human rights issues within international diplomacy, including backlash, institutionalization, and uptake by UN agencies.

Erin Aylward is a practitioner and researcher of transnational advocacy, gender equality, and LGBTI human rights. Asa doctoral candidate in Political Science at the University of Toronto, Erin’s research examines the polarization of sexual rights within international relations.

In addition to her current doctoral research, Erin has advocated in support of women’s rights and LGBT rights through a variety of leadership roles in the non-profit sector. Prior to her doctoral studies, Erin created, funded and filled the position of Gender Advisor to Engineers Without Borders Canada, working primarily with the organizations' ventures in Ghana. She also worked as a Public Outreach Officer with the women’ rights organization, Oxfam Canada, during which time she coordinated a delegation of Oxfam International partners from around the world during WorldPride 2014 in Toronto.

More recently, Erin was hired to coordinate a global coalition focused on advancing LGBTI rights on behalf of the Government of Canada. During her resultant professional leave from academia, Erin worked with the Equal Rights Coalition’s 40 member states, civil society, and UN agencies to design platforms and strategies for coordinating diplomatic engagement and advancing LGBTI-inclusive development assistance and programming.

During the early years of her doctoral studies, Erin also served as a Gender Advisor to the social enterprise Viamo, with whom she helped develop, fund and implement a €345,000.00 project on school-based sexual violence in Ghana. Erin has also served as a Research Lead (2014-2015) and as an advisory committee member (2019 - present) with the Dignity Network, a Canadian working group focused on advancing foreign policy and refugee policy related to LGBTI rights. She is also a proud to serve on the Board of Directors of Equitas International Centre for Human Rights Education.