For the four Northeastern students volunteering at the United Nation commission this year, it is more than just a course assignment. It is a chance for, an opportunity to represent their country in front of the whole world. Barbara Alcena, Movlan Aliyev, Aislinn Mangan, and Juan Ning, graduate students in Dr. Tatjana Kobb’s public diplomacy class at Northeastern University, are volunteering at the 63rd annual United Nations Commission on the status of women at UN headquarters in New York City through March 22. Northeastern students have a platform to represent what they feel about the issue.
The UN commission founded in 1946 is the principal global diplomatic body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. In her class Kobb tries to engage as many students as she can. She offered students a chance to volunteer at the two week long summit if they could make a compelling case. While Alcena, who is a social worker at Massachusetts department of children and families, always finds herself playing the advocate where things are unequal.
You will always find women at the bottom of social hierarchy and it makes things worse when you are a woman of colour. This problem is around the world and steps need to be taken. This commission is a chance for them to shed light on the challenges faced by women of colour. They all are here to talk about the problems faced by women all over world.
Ning says that she has experienced a similar dearth of opportunity growing up in China.
“Women’s empowerment is growing in China, but we’re still expected to get married and stay home,” she says. “Women have the consciousness to fight back against this, but they need some guidance.”
Ning previously worked as an English teacher in Malaysia and is hoping that through this commission she can provide guidance.
Mangan, a current registered nurse who has worked in the Middle East and a former wildland firefighter, sees empowering women as a form of sustainable development.
“People need the opportunity to become the people they’re meant to be,” she says. “Without access to basic needs, this possibility is limited.”
When people have their basic needs met, they will be able to focus on bigger issues like women empowerment. It’s a fight happening across globe for equality.