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Sawitri Saharso is Professor of Citizenship and Moral Diversity at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht and Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology of the VU Amsterdam and member of the VU Sociology research group Identity, Diversity and Inclusion.  She is editor-in-Chief  of the Open Access journal Comparative Migration Studies. https://comparativemigrationstudies.springeropen.com/

She is trained as a sociologist and combines this with an expertise in gender studies, political philosophy and (bio)ethics.

Former positions include a professorship in Intercultural Governance at the School of Management and Governance of the University of Twente (Enschede, the Netherlands) an assistant professorship at the Department of Education of the VU Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam, and later at the Department of Political Sciences of the VU Amsterdam. In 2006-2007 she was visiting professor ‘Democracy and Difference in Europe’, at the Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Universität Wien (Austria).


Sawitri's curent research interest is in issues around gender, cultural value difference and (sexual) health. She has publicized extensively on so-called harmful cultural practices and women's autonomy.

Recently completed projects (at UvH): Taking care of caregivers (ZonMW Memorabel). This project asked for (usually female) caregivers of migrant background caring for a person with dementia: What are elements for successful sharing of care and how could these be stimulated and improved? What tools and interventions are needed to achieve awareness and improvement of sharing care?;

Toward a healthy psychosocial adjustment of diverse foster children: Practical guidance with religious normative dilemmas in Dutch foster care (ZonMW Ethiek & Gezondheid)(Co-applicant. Programleader: dr. D. van Bergen, UHD Interculturele Pedagogiek, RUG.) This project examined how the best interest of foster children who grow up in non-matched religious placements can be safeguarded in order to provide them with a healthy psychosocial adjustment.

Current research projects:

Harmful cultural practices in the general practitioner’s consultation room (VU, 1 Sept 2021-1 Sept 2024)

This project studies general practitioners (GPs) and migrant women’s moral perspectives and dilemmas regarding medical intervention related to harmful cultural practices (HCPs). These are cultural practices that harm the rights and well-being of a person, because of that person’s gender. The theoretical objective is to develop an empirically grounded ethical framework based on a new theoretical conception of autonomy under coercive conditions and thus go beyond the state of the art in both feminist ethics and bioethics.

The societal objective is to improve the quality of healthcare for the women concerned and stimulate debate among health practitioners and migrant women about HCPs, gender and (sexual) health. Therefore, tools for medical education and for grassroots migrant women’s organizations will be developed.

This project is funded by NWO OC.


Solidarity in Diversity. Promoting solidarities across ethnic-cultural boundaries (Solidi) (UvH, 1 Sept 2022-1 Sept 2025 ) https://www.solidi.eu/

SOLiDi is an innovative training network consisting of 10 Academic Beneficiaries and 23 Partner Organisations in 8 European countries, envisioned to provide a specialised training to 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in a range of different approaches to generate solidarity in diversity and be able to apply these in different geographical, policy and organisational contexts. 

Sawitri supervises PhD- project 13: Competing solidarities: sexual justice versus cultural justice in social work?

Social workers are increasingly confronted with culturally inspired (risk of) family violence in families of migrant background. This project studies social workers’ encounters with these harmful gender and sexuality related practices, the moral dilemmas these create for professionals and clients and professionals’ actual interventions.

Solidi is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions - Innovation Training Network (MSCA ITN), funded by the EU. 

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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


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