Women in International Security Canada is the Canadian branch of a global network promoting women’s leadership in the field of international security. The main objective of WIIS is to advance women’s leadership at every stage of their careers in international peace and security. To support this objective, WIIS-Canada organizes conferences and workshop to promote women’s contributions in academia, the policy community and the private sector.

Women in International Security Canada est la branche canadienne d’un réseau international faisant la promotion du rôle et de la place des femmes en sécurité internationale. WIIS-Canada fait la promotion du leadership des femmes au différentes étapes de leur carrière. Afin d’atteindre cet objectif, WIIS-Canada organise des conférences et des ateliers soulignant la contribution des femmes à la paix et à la sécurité internationales dans les domaines de la recherche, des affaires publiques et au sein des entreprises privées.



Picture1Dr. Cassandra Steer
Executive Director and President, WIIS Canada

Dr. Cassandra Steer is the Erin J.C. Arsenault Fellow at the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law, and the former Executive Director of the Centre for Research in the same institute. Her main research interest is the application of the law of armed conflict to military uses of outer space, and it is this interest in emerging issues of international security that brought her to WIIS. Prior to coming to Canada at the beginning of 2015, Cassandra was a Junior Professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands for 8 years, teaching criminal law, international criminal law, public international law, and legal research methods.

She holds a B.A. (Philosophy) from the University of New South Wales, undergraduate and LLM degrees in Dutch Law and International Law from the University of Amsterdam, and a PhD in International Criminal Law. She has interned at the International Criminal Court under Judge Navi Pillay in 2004, and was a researcher for the Dutch Council of State (Raad van State), before returning to academia. She has been a Visiting Researcher at universities in Argentina, Canada, Germany and the USA, where she was also a Fulbright Scholar. Currently she is the member for Canada on the International Law Association Space Law Committee, the Secretary of the IAF Space Security Committee, and a member of the International Institute of Space Law, Women in Aerospace, the American Society of International Law, the NATO Association of Canada, and the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War.


SVHDr. Stéfanie von Hlatky
Chair of the Board

Stéfanie von Hlatky is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University and Director of the Centre for International and Defence Policy. Prior to her appointment at Queen’s, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Dartmouth College and a Senior Researcher at ETH Zurich’s Center for Security Studies. She recently published a book called American Allies in Times of War: The Great Asymmetry (Oxford University Press, 2013). She lives in Kingston with her husband and two children.Stefanie is the founder of WIIS Canada and Chair of the Board of Directors for WIIS Canada  and can be reached at


Meaghan Shoemaker

Program Assistant, WIIS Canada

Meaghan Shoemaker is the Program Assistant for WIIS Canada. She is currently completing her Master of Arts Degree in Political Studies at Queen's University, Kingston. Meaghan's research interests include international security studies, gender in NATO militaries, and conflict and conflict resolution.

Meaghan aims to further the mandate of WIIS Canada through increased member engagement and stakeholder outreach. She firmly believes in supporting leadership roles of women, especially in non-traditional roles.

Meaghan can be reached at


 Advisory Board

ReneeRenée Vaugeois

Renée Vaugeois brings twenty years of experience working in the areas of human rights in relation to development, peace and post-conflict rehabilitation, immigration, and indigenous issues. She has her Masters in political science from the University of Alberta where she was instrumental in setting up the Peace and Post-Conflict Studies program.

As the Executive Director of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, Renée has focused on education around critical human rights issues and instruments locally and globally, for over ten years. She is the Founding President of Ainembabazi Children’s Project, and is an executive member of the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee, helping to spearhead a coalition of law enforcement, government, academics and NGOs.

Her commitment to the work of advancing peace and human rights in Western Canada and the world has lead to her involvement as a part of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and won her the inaugural Top 40 under 40 Award in Edmonton with Avenue Magazine. She was recognized by the Aboriginal Commission for Human Rights and Justice and Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women with the Good Relations Award as well as was awarded Daughter of the Year in 2012. In 2013, the University of Alberta awarded her with their inaugural Community Advocacy award.

Renée is very excited to contribute in the expansion of WIIS Canada. She will be spearheading WIIS Canada initiatives in Western Canada and will focus on developing the corporation’s mentorship and chapter programming. Renée currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta.


VivianaViviana Fernandez

Viviana Fernandez is the Assistant Director at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) at the University of Ottawa. Her portfolio includes management of operations and implementation of strategic planning.

Prior to her position at the HRREC, Viviana served as Head of the Research Office at the Telfer School of Management. Earlier in her career Viviana has worked at the Agricultural Office of the Embassy of Chile in the United States, the Exporter’s Association, Asexma Bio-Bio Chile, and the Chilean Development Corporation.

Viviana completed her studies at the University of Concepción, Chile (Engineering), the SKEMA Business School in France (Master of Business Intelligence and Project Management), and the London School of Economics (Public Sector Planning and Organizational Strategy).

Viviana’s contributions will include corporate strategy, international relations, and the expansion of WIIS Canada across Francophone markets. Viviana currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario.



Marie-Joëlle Zahar

Marie-Joëlle Zahar is Professor of Political Science, Director of the Research Network on Peace Operations and Fellow at the Centre for International Research and Studies at the Université de Montréal. From March 2013 until August 2015, she served as Senior Expert on Power Sharing on the Standby Team of Mediation Experts at the UN Department of Political Affairs. Her research interests span the dynamics of civil war and the politics of conflict-resolution. She is a specialist of transition violence and post-conflict power sharing with strong regional experience in Middle East politics.

Marie-Joëlle’s career has been defined by a constant engagement with policy. She has consulted, among others, for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United States Institute of Peace, the Canadian Government as well as a range of non-governmental organizations working in post-conflict settings.

Marie-Joëlle believes mentorship is a key element in leadership and career building. She looks forward to contributing to WIIS Canada’s mentorship programming.



May 17-19, 2017:  WIIS Canada’s 10th Annual Workshop, taking place from 17 to 19 May 2017, in Montreal.  To mark our 10th anniversary, this year’s theme is The Next Generation of Women Leaders. It will be an occasion to celebrate WIIS Canada’s past achievements, and an opportunity to look at ways to better support gender mainstreaming in defence and international security for the years to come. Learn more here:

November 25-Dec 10, 2016: The 16 Days Campaign has been dedicated to advocacy and coordination of work in support of ending gender-based violence at the local, national, and international levels. The dates, November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and December 10 (International Human Rights Day), were chosen to emphasize the links between ending gender-based violence and human rights principles and highlight that gender-based violence is an international human rights violation. The 16 Days Campaign is used as an organizing strategy to call for the elimination of all forms of gender- based violence by individuals, groups, and institutions throughout the world.

November 25, 2015: On November 25, WIIS Canada, in conjunction with UNHCR Canada, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), Sexual Assault Services Centre (SASC) Ottawa, and the Immigrant Women Services of Ottawa (IWSO), launched a National Presentation of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. For more information, please visit WIIS Canada's website and see the Menu of Events.

September 28, 2015: How Does Violence Against Women Deter Sustainable Peace? 
Join the discussion as WIIS CanadaOttawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) and Women Peace and Security Network - Canada (WPSN-Canada) host a live Twitter chat for the 9th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. Use the hashtags #EndVAW and #PeaceIncludesWomen to weigh in about the role of women in sustainable peace. To learn more about this event, please click here.

May 2015: WIIS Canada will host an annual academic conference in May 2015 at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Keep an eye out for the upcoming call for proposals and papers

May 27-29, 2015: WIIS Canada is calling for papers for the 8th annual WIIS Canada Workshop. The theme is “Rethinking Foreign And Defence Policy in Canada: A Decade After The International Policy Statement.” Find more information about the workshop and the application process for papers here.
March 6, 2015: WIIS Canada will hold an event in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8). The event will include a discussion and arts exhibition (with four participating countries) on human trafficking. Partners include the Human Rights Research and Education Center at the University of Ottawa and UNHCR Canada. Find more information on their website.


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