Megan Couture FP '11 is headed to the United Nations. Couture, who is president of the Frances Perkins Scholars Association, has been selected as a delegate for the annual Commission on the Status of Women meetings that will be held at the organization’s New York headquarters February 22-March 4, 2011.
She will be just one of 23 women nationwide who will participate in the week-long Practicum in Advocacy at the United Nations program, which offers delegates the rare opportunity to observe how the UN works to address issues requiring multilateral engagement and coordinated action between governments and civil society groups.
The theme of this year’s program is access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology.
"This theme particularly resonates with me as a Frances Perkins Scholar since it was never anticipated that I would enter into the world of academia,” says Couture, who is majoring in Critical Social Thought. “Now that I am at Mount Holyoke, I can see how crucial it is to educate women, to give them the proper tools to successfully participate fully in society, and how important it is to be an advocate for women who may not have the chance to advocate for themselves."
Couture and the other delegates will learn how to network with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), sit in on high-level negotiations, meet government officials, and help turn proposals into documents that could eventually be adopted by UN bodies.
She says her MHC experience has both allowed her to grow and push for leadership opportunities like the conference.
"I am continually being encouraged by my professors to reach higher, to participate as much as I can, and to be a leader to my peers," Couture says. She received a Weissman Center Student Leadership Grant to defray the costs of her UN experience, she adds.
The Commission on the Status of Women focuses on gender equality and the advancement of women. The UN conference draws representatives from governments around the world, as well as thousands of staff from international NGOs.