Skip to main content
Rosie Walters

Dr Rosie Walters


Lecturer in International Relations

School of Law and Politics

+44 29206 88594
Law Building, Room 2.19, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Available for postgraduate supervision


My research analyses girls’ negotiation of girl power discourses in international politics. My most recent research analysed how girls participating in an international development campaign to fund girls’ education in the Global South adapted it to fit their more radical vision of what girls’ empowerment might look like.  I adopt a feminist, postcolonial and poststructuralist theoretical approach to explore how girls’ opportunities and capabilities are constructed in the Global North and South, and the agency and creativity they show in expanding those opportunities.  My previous research has also analysed the activism of Malala Yousafzai and her resistance to attempts to co-opt her story into dominant, post-9/11 discourses about Pakistan and Islam.

I am currently collaborating with leading girls' rights charity Plan International UK on the Real Choices Real Lives longitudinal, qualitative study with adolescent girls in nine countries (Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Philippines, Togo, Uganda and Vietnam).  We have been working on various impact projects to embed findings from the study into Plan's policy and programming work with girls in those countries.

I am on the editorial board of E-International Relations, which is the world’s leading open access site for students and scholars of international politics, attracting over 5 million visitors each year. I have been central to some of the site’s recent innovations, including a range of open access textbooks for students who are new to the study of International Relations. I co-edited the open access textbook on International Relations theory, and recently wrote the chapter on gender and sexuality in world politics for Foundations of International Relations, published by Bloomsbury in 2022.

You can read more about my work with girls in the UK, US and Malawi on the Oxfam Views and Voices website here.  To find out more about my recent work analysing corporate social responsibility and 'gender washing' - what it is, what forms it takes and why it matters - read my explainer piece in The Conversation. Finally, you can read my piece here on girls' activism and why girl activists need support from adults and organisations to achieve the change they are advocating.










Adrannau llyfrau





Collaboration with Plan International

Since 2019, I have been collaborating with leading girls' rights charity, Plan International.  In particular, I have been involved in the Real Choices Real Lives qualitative, longitudinal study with girls in nine countries.  The study has been following the lives of over 100 girls and their families since they were born in 2006, and will conclude in 2024 when the girls turn 18.  The study explores the impact of gendered norms and expectations on the girls' lives and the opportunities available to them.  I have helped with recent analysis, reports, academic papers and a journal article exploring how the girls themselves - now that they are adolescents - are finding ways to push back against gender inequalities in their communities.  In 2021, we were awarded GCRF funding to run a series of workshops with Plan staff in all nine countries to help embed findings from the study into advocacy, policy and programming work.  Building on that work, we recently worked with Plan staff in Benin to co-produce a series of radio programmes on girls' sexual and reproductive health and rights with young people in two communities, responding to findings from the study that girls would like to talk more with adults about their bodies, health and rights.

Gender Washing

As part of my interest in the growing momentum behind girl power discourses in international development, I spent some time exploring corporate sponsorship of girl power campaigns.  This led to my interest in the phenomenon of corporate 'gender washing' - when corporations engage in social responsibility and marketing activities to present themselves as women- or girl-friendly despite their supply chains, products or employment practices having harmful impacts on women and girls.  I recently published an article in Review of International Political Economy, which proposes a framework for analysing the different forms that gender washing takes.  I also wrote an explainer piece on this topic in The Conversation.  I'm currently working with Dr Natalie Jester (University of Gloucestershire) on a piece exploring how this framework might be applied in International Security, using a case study of the International Women's Day tweets of global arms manufacturers.

Girls, Power and International Development

My PhD research, which was funded by the ESRC, explored girls' participation in the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up campaign.  While the campaign encourages girls in the Global North to set up clubs and fundraise for girls' education programmes in the Global South, my research explored how girls in the Global North and South set up clubs in order to take action on inequalities in their own communities.  I wrote a blog for Oxfam about some of the findings here.  I will be publishing a book about the findings - entitled Girls, Power and International Development: Activism and Agency in the Global North and South - with Bristol University Press in 2025.

Qualitative Research Methods

I have a long-standing interest in feminist approaches to qualitative research methods, especially focus groups.  I am interested in how feminist researchers might use participatory methods to try to address hierarchical power relations with research participants, especially young women.  I really enjoy bringing wider discussions of how we understand the political world and the power relations inherent in conducting political research to my teaching on research methods.

Collaborations, Community Engagement and Impact

I am passionate about conducting research that benefits communities and about sharing the findings of research with relevant audiences.  As well as the ongoing work with Plan International, I have previously presented alongside, collaborated with, or conducted consultations for: a Bristol charity supporting female street-based sex workers, Muslim Engagement and Development, Oxfam, the Association for Women's Rights in Development, Integrate UK, various schools and the University of Bristol Student Union.


I convene and teach the second-year module "Doing Political Research" and the third-year module "Representing Development."

With the research methods module, my aim is to provide an overview of some of the theoretical, ethical and practical considerations involved in planning a research project, as well as an introduction to a range of methods for researching politics and IR.  

Representing Development is a module based on some of my own research into representations of the Global South in international development campaigns.  The module interrogates the concept of ‘development’ as a guiding principle in international politics.  It explores the ways in which entire peoples, cultures and continents have come to be understood as in an earlier phase of development to white Europeans, and how such representations help to perpetuate unequal power relations.  We apply a postcolonial lens to images of the Global South – from colonial propaganda, to Band Aid videos of starving children – in order to analyse what they can tell us about the Global North and its self-perceived role in the world.  In teaching, I draw on my own research as well as my background working in international development, and I also try to bring in guest speakers from relevant NGOs to offer their insights and perspectives.  I am currently working with a team of current and former students to set up a blog to showcase some of the critical analyses they have written as part of the module.


I have a BA in French and Italian, an MSc in Gender and International Relations, an MSc in Social Science Research Methods (Politics) and a PhD, all from the University of Bristol.  I have previously worked for the British Red Cross, Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Plan International UK.


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • gender and international development.
  • girlhood, childhood and youth studies.
  • youth politics.
  • gender and corporate social responsibility.

Current supervision


  • Gender studies
  • Youth studies
  • Gender and politics
  • International relations
  • International development