UNT Women’s Studies Graduate Students Head to U.N. to Learn Advocacy Skills at Commission on the Status of Women Conference | Women's & Gender Studies

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February 16, 2012

UNT Women’s Studies Graduate Students Head to U.N. to Learn Advocacy Skills at Commission on the Status of Women Conference

Maryanne Owiti and Christine Schneider, graduate students in Women's Studies at the University of North Texas, will gain experience in the art of advocacy before the United Nations through sessions to be held Feb. 25th -March 3rd 2012, in conjunction with meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Owiti and Schneider are two of 20 women students chosen from across the nation to participate in the practicum, which offers an opportunity to observe how the United Nations works to address issues requiring multilateral engagement and coordinated action.

They will gain temporary delegate status, attend official and non-government organization (NGO) sessions, and contribute to the official documentation of both official and NGO meetings.

The practicum on the Commission on the Status of Women is sponsored by the Center for Women's Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University, Boston; the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the National Women's Studies Association.

In addition to learning about negotiation, advocacy points, and networking, Owiti and Schneider must complete several assignments, the most important of which is to create an advocacy project when they return to the University of North Texas campus.

"We teach the women how important citizen engagement is," said Laura Roskos, President of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and activist in residence at the Center for Women's Health and Human Rights. She and Amy Agigian the Center's founding director, serve as faculty. "They figure out the ropes, learn how to network with NGOs, meet government officials and participate in turning specific proposals into documents that can be adopted by U.N. bodies. This success empowers them to engage in successful civic campaigns in their home environments."

This will be the fourth practicum at the Commission on the Status of Women. The CSW focuses on gender equality and the advancement of women, with the U.N. drawing representatives of governments to address the problems facing women around the world. This year more than 4,000 registered representatives from NGOs will lobby the delegates about current issues and work to put new ideas on the table. The NGOs engage in hundreds of events, such as performances and panel discussions directed at the local, national and international issues affecting women.