Posted by: atho46 | January 15, 2012

Intern Report: IWRAW-AP

By Amanda Thompson, Global Intern at International Women’s Rights Action Watch – Asia Pacific, Kuala Lumpur

My name is Amanda and I have just started my internship program at International Women’s Rights Action Watch – Asia Pacific, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I will be here for 2 and a half months, with a 3 week stint at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland in between.

My first two weeks in KL have been packed with enthralling adventures and meeting what seems like a never ending stream of new people.

I am lucky to be the only intern in the 13-strong IWRAW-AP office and this combined with the extreme-open-plan layout of their new office means I received a warm welcome and already feel quite settled and happy. I say ‘extreme-open-plan’ because there are no dividers between the clusters of desks and considering the space is full of passionately vocal feminists and human rights campaigners, the format invariably leads to vibrant, very, very loud group discussions and debates. The group debates are even more dynamic given the international and ethnically diverse workforce, which means not only are there multiple types of English spoken (in addition to Malay) but each person brings a different cultural perspective.

The work I have been undertaking so far, mainly in preparation for the Global to Local Program at the UN in Geneva, is providing an eye-opening account of the international human rights movement and mechanisms. The magnitude of IWRAW-AP’s authority on CEDAW is evident in it’s simplest form by observing the general email inbox. Every morning I sign in to find hundreds of emails have been pumping in around the clock, all night from all around the world and in different languages. Another indicator is the way these women in the office travel! They attend the CEDAW country reporting sessions every year in Geneva and New York and in the two weeks I have been here, program officers have attended meetings in  Indonesia and toured the pacific islands. I am really looking forward to the coming months and everything I can learn and experience, not only from my inspiring colleagues, but all the people they come into contact with.

Finally, I cannot end my first post without expressing how much I am enjoying living in Malaysia. Everyone told me it would be hot, the food amazing and the place extremely cheap and I am quite surprised at how right they were! It is blissfully hot in comparison to our recent mediocre summers, local and hawker street food is abundant and delicious and vegetarianism is taken very seriously – its fantastic!

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