Thursday, April 15, 2010

Practicum Wrap-Up Discussion

I have now had some time to think over the Practicum, my experiences at the CSW, and what I have learned. Most important to note are the difficulties faced engaging in women's rights dialogues across cultures and geographic locations. Differences in economics, social practices and more make it difficult to find consensus on what is practical, desirable, or even possible. Despite all of these challenges, activists from around the world still come together to share experiences, exchange ideas, advocate for their concerns, and find sites of compromise. It is far from a perfect system, but it seems better than not coming together to discuss. In addition to noting the challenges faced discussing women's rights, I also was able to see how women's NGOs strategically came to the table not only to overcome the aforementioned challenges, but also to advocate for issue of particular concern. Much emphasis was placed on providing context so that persons coming from other backgrounds could understand the issue and be a part of the discussion. This is not to say that all NGOs were successful, or even that all were willing to concede to the advocacy concerns of other NGOs, but what did happen was framing of discussions in such a way as to allow individuals who might be protective of their organizations concern to be able to at least see how other activists viewed and addressed a different, similar, or even the same issue.

The opportunity to see activists from around the world discussing, debating, and at times aggressively arguing about women's rights impacted how I view the work of the UN and the role of NGOs in the UN. There were certain things that were confirmed after seeing the real world practice of NGO and UN advocacy, but there were also many unexpected observations. Seeing how advocacy and debate about women's rights occurs in practice definitely illuminates my reading, and promises to enlighten my future research.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CSW - Day 6

This was the last day of the Practicum. There were fewer sessions as well because it was the weekend. In the morning I attended a session discussion the impact of Beijing on rural women, with emphasis on rural women in the U.S. This was a very interesting panel, and following this I took some time to wrap things up. The following day I flew out of New York and (obviously) arrived safely back in Lincoln on Sunday night. An additional post wrapping up the experience is forthcoming, so stay tuned.

Friday, March 5, 2010

CSW - Day 5

Today we got a briefing from women with the New England Women's Forum talk with us. Later I attended the CSW Panel Commemorating 30 Years of CEDAW. This evening we also got to see the WILPF panel on women as peace-makers, featuring WILPF President Angie, a woman from the DRC, and a woman from Sudan. The Sudanese Ambassador to the UN also came. We finished the day with a farewell dinner. It was yet another good day! The Practicum is officially over tomorrow morning, but I am in town until Sunday afternoon so I will be attending some more panels and possibly doing my one touristy thing: seeing the Statue of Liberty. That is not guaranteed though because there are still many panels I am interested in so it may have to wait for my next trip to New York. Again, I shall have to leave you with another brief update. Perhaps tomorrow I will finally be able to elaborate more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

CSW - Day 4

Today was quite a long day. We met with a representative of the US delegation to the UN this morning to start the day off. Then I went to a really interesting titled ''Changing Fortunes: Post War Political & Economic Opportunities & Their Implications for Women's Participation & Empowerment in Countries Emerging from Conflict" featuring speakers from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and the DRC. I later attended a panel on the effect of the financial crisis on women, particularly Chinese women. The final panel of the day was put on by Femmes Africa Solidarite and discussed the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign. I got the opportunity to meet the president of Pro-Femmes/Twese Hamwe at this panel. This evening we went to a showing of "Half the Sky Live," and then I returned home. It was a very good day, but I cannot elaborate more because I really need to get to sleep. There are many promising panels I must get to tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

CSW - Day 3

A very quick update tonight since we are meeting very important persons early in the morning. I went to a panel by ISIS today discussing women rebuilding in post-conflict societies, one on addressing demand for sex trafficking, and later a training in advocacy by WILPF. Very interesting topics. WIPLF is hoping to get a majority of UN member states to reduce military spending by 2015, which is the organization's 100th anniversary. Again, another very good and busy day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CSW - Day 2

This mornings adoption of a declaration reaffirming the Beijing Platform at the UNCSW was very interesting. Also fun were the comments from various member state representatives. In the afternoon I went to a panel by Social Watch discussing regional gender impacts of the financial crisis. It was definitely a good panel and included great audience participation. I also went to a panel on women, faith and development featuring a talk by Mary Robinson. The evening was filled with a reception at the Turkish Center, though sadly there was no Turkish food. We made up for it by getting some Turkish coffee and baklava later. Overall another good day with great conversation during the reception! Now off to rest for tomorrow.
I am listening to a presentation from Mary Robinson.
At there is a petition addressed to heads of state to ensure repeal or amend laws which discriminate against women.
I am currently at an NGO Briefing at the Salvation Army, then on to the CSW, then to a panel on regional perspectives of the financial crisis. Tonight I will go to a reception at the Turkish Center.

Monday, March 1, 2010

CSW - Day 1

Today I attended the Opening Ceremony of the UNCSW. It was very exciting. There was emphasis placed on progress made since Beijing, shared experiences, and good practices. Additionally, there was encouragent to add more action to commitments to the Beijing Platform. I was unable to stay for the entire session though because there was a scheduled tour of the UN. The tour went very well. We sadly did not get to see the General Assembly hall since it was closed for repairs, but instead we got to see the Security Council meeting room. There was a very cool picture of the UDHR in the shape of a person, which can also be seen at I later attended the Africa Caucus where the Beijing+15 Shadow Report for African States was discussed (access it at The meeting was very good, and VERY well attended. There was not a space left in the room or the spillover room. Gertrude Mongella explained the important role that the African caucus made at Beijing and how many of their proposals made it into the final Beijing Platform. I cannot stress how great of a meeting this was. Later in the evening, we had the great honor of having dinner with Senator Eve (Bazaiba Masudi Eve) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She told us her experience as 1 of 6 women in the Senate. It was a good night filled with lots of interesting discussion both at dinner and later with other Practicum students. Once again, I must cut this short since I am very tired.

Rwanda Summer Study Abroad Program

A couple of you have asked about the Rwanda Study Abroad Program. It is open to anyone, simply email Dr. Chantal Kalisa ( Click here for the Rwanda Summer Study Abroad Website, or click here for the Rwanda Summer Study Abroad PDF. Also, if you want to more from those of us who participated last year you can find us on Facebook at "Nebraska in Rwanda."

You can see a student-made video of the program by clicking on the following links:
15 Years - Part 1
15 Years - Part 2
15 Years - Part 3

The program, open to undergraduate and graduate students, is two-weeks long at the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center in Kigali. During the program there are memorial visits, meetings with NGOs (many women's NGOs), lectures from a wide variety of interesting persons, and visits to other places in the country. There is also time to do your own research, and you can make the program reflect your own research interests. You can see pictures on my Facebook (for those who have friended me) or I believe there are also some on the Facebook site. The travel days this year will be June 29 and July 15, and the program will take place from July 1-15 . You are able to stay longer and arrange your travel to fit your own needs.

I am at the UN for CSW Opening Ceremonies, along with women and men from all over the world.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

NGO Forum - Day 2

Today featured regional break-out sessions where NGOs separated to discuss regional plans of action. The event concluded with a call to action and a group song. An interesting day, and a tiring one. Each region had many serious concerns, and watching the regional dynamics was fascinating. Later in the day an introductino to the UN was provided for any that needed it. It was another great day, but very tiring so a more detailed blog will be added later. Tomorrow we have a tour of the UN scheduled, and many high-level and parallel events will be kicking off, so I will have a lot to discuss.
Between Rwanda and now the NGO Forum, the need for some French conversational skills is very apparent.
Quote to think about from Radhika Balakrishnan on econ crisis: ''What the government has done is privatized profit and socialized risk.''
WILPF Practicum participant Basma Alloush presented the regional outcome report for the Middle East as a way to signify the participation of younger generations in the region's NGOs.
There was an attempt to create an agreed upon regional emphasis for North America in an hour. Very interesting to observe so many issues raised so quickly.
Follow US acivities at the CSW. Statements: Twitter: Facebook:
The US Mission to the UN will focus on encouraging US ratification of CEDAW. Help by talking to UN delegates & your nat'l representatives.
US Mission Emphasis will be on CEDAW ratification by the US. Talk to US delegates, ask the question of Secretary Clinton at CSW and talk to your representatives
Report about European Implementation of Beijing - ''From Beijing to Brussels: An Unfinished Journey''
The audience was polled to see who were at Beijing. Many had been.
Interesting presentation from the Children's Theatre Workshop. It can be viewed, as can all of the NGO Forum, online on a webcast at

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NGO Forum - Day 1

After my first full day in New York I have been registered for the UN, have taken the Metro, and have seen many NGO representatives. NGOs that attend the UN CSW go to a forum and kick off the experience. To see more detailed information about the Forum, go to Since I was getting my UN badge, I regretably missed the panel which included Charlotte Bunch. Hopefully I will get another chance to hear her. The afternoon panel was very good, as you probably noticed from my afternoon blogs. I especially loved the challenging discourses that were beginning to take place and look forward to the many more to come. This evening we had the WILPF orientation for all WILPF members attending the UNCSW. It was a good meeting and allowed us the opportunity to get to know some of the WILPF members. Tomorrow will be day 2 of the NGO Forum, and as I am able I will blog the experience.


The GEAR (Gender Equality Architecture Reform) Campaign is urging the UN to create the new UN gender quality entity. For more information or to sign the petition, go to To join the GEAR campaign, email
Announcement made for funding info:
Currently there are many ideas being shared, since it is now the block of time for NGO Open Mic.
Completed registration for the NGO Forum, finished lunch (complete with a chocolate chip filled brownie), and now waiting for the next panel: The State of the World's Women: Patriarchy, Violence Against Women and Girls, Women's Health, and Climate Change.
All done registering at the UN. Currently having the NYC experience riding the subway, and headed to NGO forum events.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Arrival Day in New York

Though I got in closer to 6pm than the original 10:45am scheduled, it was a good arrival and I have gotten settled in nicely. I did learn some important things, like a single refers not to a room on your own but your own bed rather than sharing the bed itself. This is just fine though because my roommates are FANTASTIC! I couldn't be happier with them! And pairing participants in this way makes it so much easier to ensure that everyone gets to really know new people while here rather than sequestering off. I also got to meet the other participants in the Practicum tonight over a fun dinner in our Practicum community/headquarters room. There are so many great women with fascinating and diverse research /advocacy agendas participating! I am really looking forward to hearing more of their research and getting to know them as well as network with other amazing persons at the UNCSW. The first full day begins tomorrow, and I will continue updates as time permits. I am excited to get the day started and to go get my UN pass since it will be first time there. The only other UN building I have been in has been the ICTR Outreach Center, which will undoubtedly be discussed at some point in this blog. For now, sleep well; I certainly will be after such a long day of travel!
I have arrived in New York City!

Expectations for the WILPF Practicum

The first thing that Carrie Walker (last year's Practicum attendee also funded by the Transnational Feminism Kelly Fund Group) said about the Practicum is that it is exhausting but rewarding. Students' days are filled with attendance at multiple sessions, instruction in advocacy techniques, and making connections with many advocates. I am excited about the access this Practicum allows, and I hope to learn more about what is done at an international forum to advance the status of women. Attending this year is additionally exciting since many panels will be looking back at 15 years of Beijing in order to access its effects and determine where to go in the future. I am expecting an informative and invigorating experience that will find some indication of the successes and failures of Beijing, and point us in new directions to address the issues of women, both pre-existing and newly emerging.

Applying to the WILPF Practicum

The WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom) Practicum in Advocacy at the UNCSW (United Nations Commission on the Status of Women) offers students the opportunity to see international advocacy for women's concerns firsthand. Only about 20 students are selected, meaning that opportunities to interact with WILPF-connected NGOs and with other feminist students are ample. I have been interested i this Practicum since I first learned of it last academic year. Given my interests in gender, rights, and activism, I thought that this would be a rewarding experience for me. Students get to choose particular supplemental sessions to attend and get to witness UNCSW discussions themselves. I plan to attend sessions related to women's human rights, violence against women, and post-conflict status of women.
For those expecting me to be in NYC at this time, I am instead in Boston. Looks like I'll have a bit more time work on a longer blog!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pre-travel Preparation Underway

The Practicum begins tomorrow, Friday, February 26. For more information about WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom) or the Practicum in Advocacy, go to