Posted by: sallyharris11 | February 4, 2014

My first month at IWRAW

Kuala Lumpur is a city that captivates all your senses. It’s loud, hot, smelly, bustling and unique. Though I have been to KL a few times before as a tourist, living here is a whole different experience.

I’m interning at an NGO called IWRAW. Formally it’s called the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific but because that is such a huge mouthful everyone just calls it IWRAW. The office is made up of a bunch of feisty, smart and committed women who use the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to fight for women’s rights.

The major project I’ve been working on is called the From Global to Local Program. This is a training program that IWRAW runs in Geneva before every CEDAW review session. IWRAW helps women’s NGOs to get up in front of the CEDAW Committee and explain what is really happening in their country in terms of women’s rights. The CEDAW Committee can then ask the state representatives to explain why things are happening, or not happening, in their country.

As part of the From Global to Local Program I will be travelling to Geneva in February which I am really excited about. In preparation I’ve been reading through and summarising state reports and NGO shadow reports so we know what to expect. There are seven different countries reporting: Cameroon, Iraq, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Sierra Leone, Finland and Qatar. The issues that women face in these countries are obviously all very different but examples include female genital mutilation, honour killings, early marriage and sex trafficking. It will be incredibly interesting to hear the responses by the states when questioned about these issues by the CEDAW Committee.

Interning at IWRAW has been fantastic so far. The staff are very welcoming and are always bringing in local delicacies for me to try which is great. My tolerance to chilli is slowly increasing as well!

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