Gender Equality is Focus of Summer Internship at United Nations Women

Gender Equality is Focus of Summer Internship at United Nations Women-image

Claudia Ro is a second-year CIPA student who is concentrating her studies on human rights and social justice.  She describes herself as being “the beneficiary of a bilingual and bicultural upbringing spanning Korea and the USA.” Her interest in the relationship between the East and the West led her to pursue her undergraduate education in China. At CIPA, Claudia is studying the various aspects of human rights through the lens of public and social policy, with a focus on child protection and refugee minors. She was elected the president of CIPA’s student organization, the Cornell Public Affairs Society, at the end of her first semester at CIPA.   

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Following my interest and passion for human rights and social justice, I spent the summer of 2018 in Manhattan, New York, interning at the headquarters for United Nations Women. I took on the position as a communications assistant at the UN System Coordination Division, charged with producing and editing communications materials for various events hosted and/or organized by my division. The main task I assisted with was the launch of the UN System-Wide Action Plan (UN-SWAP) 2.0, which is the updated platform used across the UN system by 66 different entities to voluntarily report on their efforts and progress on incorporating gender equality into their work. I produced infographics to be distributed to each entity head for encouragement and continued implementation of gender-responsive measures in their work. Aside from the main task which consisted the majority of my time at the office, I was also asked to lead a project to fully update the division’s webpage on the UN Women website that will serve as a basic guideline and referral for all future communications materials produced by my division.

Taking on an unpaid internship in one of the most expensive cities in the world was not easy, to say the least. So, I wanted to make every minute to count. I was very proactive in seeking out additional learning opportunities within the organization, taking advantage of my location and position at the headquarters for the largest intergovernmental organization. I reached out to different organizations including UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Secretariat offices and country missions, for informational interviews and for any advice available. In addition, I have attended as many conferences I can that was held at the Secretariat, as well as inter-agency social gatherings to develop my network. Within UN Women, I volunteered to assist different divisions’ work where they needed help, especially with the Civil Society Division with design work, and to this day, they still reach out to me whenever my help is needed.

The chance to attend the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly was an immense privilege that I was able to enjoy being at the headquarters. Witnessing one of the most important annual meetings that aims to discuss international issues covering development, peace and security, and international law has given me the motivation to continue my dedication to addressing humanitarian emergencies.


One of the most valuable times for me was the inter-agency lunch-and-learn, where I was able to host a discussion amongst other interns from various UN agencies on the topic of violence against women and the urgency to raise awareness of wartime sex slaves. The shared experience and perspective on how to effectively address this issue that is still happening globally and how everyone perceived this problem in their own country was a lesson that can never be learned by book or in a classroom. This topic is of particular interest to me and having been able to share that with fellows from different countries with different interests in the humanitarian aid field was invaluable.

The UN was truly the haven for international networking, communicating and socializing with interns and delegates from numerous different countries and for building a strong friendship and connection with fellow civil servants and international leaders. My time, effort and skills were not wasted, and this experience has led me to utilize my skills I have honed during my time at CIPA, both personally and professionally. I strongly recommend fellow students to follow their passion in their chosen career path and make the most of the given opportunity.

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