MMU students advocate for social justice, women’s equality

By NATALIE GUYETTE
guyetten@mtmary.edu

Eight students in Professor Julie Tatlock’s United Nations class last fall will now be able to observe the development of policy-changing discussions that will help improve women’s lives across the globe.

A week at the United Nations headquarters will be the culmination of their semester-long study as they attend meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women, March 8-15, in New York City.

The course is a requirement for international studies majors but is offered to everyone as a humanities credit. The class is offered every other fall semester with the U.N. trip following in the spring.A wrapped GA Building

Sophomore Irma Nayeli Rondin-Valle, an international studies and Spanish major, is excited about the trip, which will include her first experience on an airplane. She said she hopes students will get some inside information about how the U.N. works and operates.

The trip takes place during the CSW’s 57th annual two-week sessions at the U.N. The CSW, founded under the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council, was designed to keep the women’s voice at the U.N. table as clear as the men’s. The women of CSW write reports and present recommendations based on the needs they see and hear in their countries.

Additionally, the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for action, a document that established gender equality and women empowerment, will be reviewed.

The diversity of the women involved and the contrasting cultural backgrounds is key in calling attention to real world issues across the globe.

“It’s a life-changing experience,” Tatlock said. “I talk from my students’ perspective. Perspective requires reference points. The more reference points you have, the better you can place your own life in context with the rest of the world.”

Tatlock hinted that such an experience can lend to the development of your whole person, part of Mount Mary University’s mission statement.

According to U.N. Women, the U.N. organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, the focus of the 57th gathering is the “elimination and prevention against all forms of violence for women and girls.” The CSW chose this theme to highlight human rights violations. It will establish tactics of violence prevention and aid programs for survivors.

Participants in the assembly will include women like Beatrice Some Mwimbele of Venezuela, a female genital mutilation survivor, who is working to put an end to female genital mutilation through her work with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides. Human rights activists, survivors of traumatic violence and those closely involved with prevention of women’s abuse will also share their stories.

Many of these sessions will produce proposals and programs to put an end to violence against women and girls around the globe.

Joining the CSW and Mount Mary students are U.N. representatives from various backgrounds, including many non-governmental organizations by invitation only who balance out the conversation. Mount Mary’s own non-government organization, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, are invited to send a representative each year. Sister Eileen Riley is the current representative.

Heather Thomas-Flores, an international studies and Spanish major, is one of the eight attending. Thomas-Flores admitted the class is heavy on reading, though the positive opportunity outweighed the difficult workload.

“I want to teach international studies to kids and work in that arena,” Thomas-Flores said. “I think this trip will help me focus on my goal and expand upon my knowledge of the U.N.”

Professor Tatlock encourages students of all majors to take the class and emphasizes the appeal of the trip has on resumes, while offering opportunities for networking.

“You get the chance to meet women from all over the world,” Tatlock said. “In my third trip, I look forward to learning more about the world and myself.”

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