Monday, May 30, 2011

I see it everyday...

A few years ago a family friend gave me a very sweet gift. This gift, a small ceramic tile that reads "She believed she could so she did," sits next to my bed. I see it every morning when I first wake up, and again each night before I go to sleep. Although this tile was given to me in high school, it still rings true every day. No matter what we put our minds to, it can be achieved.

This tile definitely stands true with WomenNC. Since coming on board with this organization, this little saying has stuck with me. No matter what we, as an organization, put our mind to, it can happen. Every member of WomenNC is working hard to raise awareness, gain support, and support the CSW. We also work extremely hard to ratify CEDAW in the United States. These are achievable goals. With all of us believing in ourselves, in each other, in WomenNC, CSW, and CEDAW, we can make a huge impact. We can make a difference. "We believed we could so we did." We have to believe that these changes will happen and that each person involved with WomenNC will make a difference. If we believe, it will happen.

On another small note, I am going to follow Devi and tell you a little about myself. I am a rising Junior at UNC and am double majoring in Peace, War, and Defense and Women's Studies. I'm also on the pre-law track. I just came back to North Carolina after a semester in Washington, DC and am extremely interested in Women's Rights, domestic policy, and international policy. I am a huge supporter of WomenNC and am very excited to be interning with this wonderful group of people for the summer! I look forward to all of the great things to happen in the upcoming months!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Beginning

Yesterday afternoon was my first opportunity to really dive in with WomenNC. I'm an intern here for the summer, but didn't really know what to expect. I'd met with Anita and knew my assigned tasks, but was a bit anxious to begin. However, when first walking into the meeting, I was greeted with a huge hug from Beth, several questions from members of WomeNC, and a LOT of enthusiasm. As we sat down to the meeting, I could sense that these individuals, coming from all different backgrounds, all have one common passion: to truly make a difference in the ratification of CEDAW and to leave a lasting impact on CSW. I had read articles discussing these two topics and knew that WomenNC was founded on these values, but these women and men feel it in their bones. The passion, enthusiasm, and excitement these folks have make me want to work hard this summer in order to leave my mark on WomenNC and to benefit this organization in as many ways as possible. Our meeting was filled with new ideas, great discussion, and a lot of support. To this organization, it's not just about putting these ideas out there; it's about putting them into practice. I look forward to working with this amazing team and cannot wait to see what all we produce. In many internships, it seems that the interns are doing work that is never really noted. With WomenNC, I know that the work I'm completing is beneficial to the organization and that what I'm doing matters. That's what is great about WomenNC: they believe in the younger generation, and believe that the young, elderly, women, men, and anyone from any background can unite and truly make a difference.

I look forward to my time here at WomenNC and the many experiences that are ahead of me this summer. I cannot wait to get started!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Feminist fortune cookies

At my recent Women's Studies graduation ceremony, our professors gave all of us feminist fortune cookies. I'm always hopeful, but generally disappointed when I open fortune cookies because they always seem to contain ridiculously obvious statements rather than exciting fortunes. The feminist fortune cookies did not disappoint, however. They said things like "You will see many women as presidents and leaders" and "You will never be inhibited by the size or shape of your body." I wanted to do that same sort of encouraging exercise for WomenNC as a final reflection from my fellowship experience. Below you can see some of my fortunes for the organization and for women's and gender issues overall.

WomenNC will educate people of various backgrounds and ages in North Carolina and beyond about gender, women's rights, and international human rights.

WomenNC will play a major role in the ratification of CEDAW in the United States.

WomenNC's Fellowship Program will serve as a model so that younger people can attend and participate at CSW each year.

WomenNC will develop chapters at local universities that conduct educational outreach to elementary, middle, and high school students.

Women's and gender studies will become integrated into primary educational programs and will be paired with creative, applied opportunities for students to be involved in their communities.

Thank you all for following our blog and to WomenNC for providing me with this amazing opportunity! Happy summers to all of you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bringing CSW to North Carolinians and intersectional analyses to all

Throughout April, the 2011 WomenNC CSW Fellows and I gave presentations to North Carolinians about what we had seen and heard at the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. We each discussed sessions we attended in relation to our topics, as well as interactions we had with others present at the meetings. We did our best to bring the content and sentiments from individual sessions to our North Carolina audience so that they could better understand the relevance of CEDAW and national and international women's rights advocacy. As I sat in both of the presentations we gave in Raleigh, I realized how much more comfortable we had become speaking about our specific topics and fielding the tough questions that arise about sex trafficking and sex education policies. I thought again about how important the applied experience of attending and presenting at CSW 55 was and how it was so much more meaningful because we were totally immersed in it as attendees and presenters.

I also realized the importance of informing North Carolinians about CEDAW and women's and gender issues in North Carolina, the U.S., and internationally more frequently throughout the year and to more audiences. It is unacceptable that the issues we're talking about today have been going on for hundreds of years and that people seem surprised about rates of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and adolescent pregnancy. Because history is taught from the vantage point of men and positive discussions about sexuality and women are generally silenced, the topics that we discussed in our presentations were likely surprising and alarming. Yet, because these are historical issues, some people may have not found our musings that shocking. The point is that we need to begin educating people about multiple forms of identity and inequality on the basis of gender, race, socioeconomic status, nationality, ability, and age beginning at younger ages. My engagement in Women's Studies and involvement with various organizations that focus on minority rights have made me extremely aware of intersectional identities and inequalities, but this only occurs within a small portion of people's educational experiences. We must work to create more opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to increase their knowledge of and/or experience with the aforementioned issues and utilize organizations like WomenNC to make this a reality.

If you'd like to learn more about our experiences at CSW and subsequent reflections, please see the following:

Look at our reflection papers and PowerPoints here:

See clips from our presentations here:

And view pictures from our presentations here: