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.

Doctoral research

Movements from the Margins: Examining the Impacts of Transnational LGBTQ Organizing in Zimbabwe and Ghana

Transnational organizing to advance LGBTQ human rights has grown substantially in visibility, funding, and reach over the past twenty years. Yet little research has examined the extent to which diplomacy and advocacy in favour of LGBTQ human rights has been effective in different contexts. 

Erin’s research project contributes to this gap by examining the influence and impacts of LGBTQ activism and diplomacy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research will trace the development of local and global LGBTQ advocacy movements in several Sub-Saharan African countries over the past twenty years and will examine the extent to which LGBTQ advocacy has or has not influenced public opinion and political actions regarding LGBTQ rights in different national contexts.

Erin Aylward is a practitioner and researcher of transnational advocacy, gender equality, and LGBTQ human rights.

During her BA in political science and Spanish at Memorial University, Erin volunteered with the United Nations Populations Fund, Oxfam Canada, and several Latin American women’s rights organizations. During this time, Erin also founded an NGO, the Global Citizenship Initiative, in her home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The organization promoted active citizenship and global awareness with the provincial Department of Education.

As an MA student at the University of Ottawa, Erin investigated the experiences of Indigenous youth and women in becoming leaders and active citizens. Her thesis about the experiential leadership program Northern Youth Abroad has since been converted into some of the only peer-reviewed publications in the world about leadership, citizenship, and Inuit youth (organizations like Northern Youth Abroad and many Inuit have of course developed expert knowledge in this area outside of academia). During her MA, Erin also worked with FemNorthNet, a SSHRC-funded project of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, which investigated the gendered impacts of resource development in Northern Canada.

In 2012, Erin created, funded, and filled the position of gender advisor to Engineers Without Borders Canada. Based in Ghana, Erin supported the organization in developing gender-sensitive policies and programming across four programs. Upon her return to Canada, Erin collaborated with the transnational network of gender experts Gender at Work in India, co-coordinating a global consultation with young feminist leaders.

Erin joined Oxfam Canada as its youth and campus outreach officer in November 2013. Under Erin's leadership, Oxfam hosted a global delegation of LGBTQ activists from Cuba, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe during WorldPride in Toronto.

In addition to her current doctoral studies in political science and gender and women’s studies at the University of Toronto, Erin is researching best practices for advancing LGBTI human rights globally in collaboration with Dignity Initiative, a Canadian LGBTI working group. Erin is also a member of the Board Program Committee for the human rights NGO Equitas, and is an avid volunteer/program design consultant for the social enterprise Voto Mobile