Shoniqua Roach, an English major at Penn State Abington expected to graduate this spring, gained experience in the art of advocacy when the United Nations held sessions from Feb. 26 to March 6, in conjunction with meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations headquarters in New York City, N.Y.
Roach is one 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.
Roach obtained temporary delegate status, attended official and non-government organization (NGO) sessions and contributed to the official documentation of both official and NGO meetings.
In addition to learning about negotiation, advocacy points and networking, Roach must complete several assignments, the most important of which is to create an advocacy project when she returns to the Penn State Abington 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. Roskos and Amy Agigian, the Center’s founding director, serve as faculty for the practicum.
"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," continued Roskos. "This success empowers them to engage in successful civic campaigns in their home environments."
The Commission on the Status of Women focuses on gender equality and the advancement of women, with the United Nations 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 local, national and international issues affecting women.
For more information on the Commission on the Status of Women, go to the United Nations Web site at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/ online.