Two Penn State students involved in the SustainUS delegation have been attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women over the past two weeks.
A nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, SustainUS works toward advancing sustainability through education of the United States’ youth.
Hamsa Fayed and Olivia Pecora were among the 20 individuals of SustainUS sent to attend the conference.
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is an annual two-week conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This year, it runs from March 4 to March 15. Each year the UN chooses a discussion theme, with this year being the “elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls,” development director of SustainUS Louise Yeung said.
Each day at the conference, the delegates observe the discussion between UN officials and have the opportunity to ask questions, Pecora (freshman-women’s studies) said. Starting at 9 a.m., the discussion continues to 6 p.m. There are other events and discussions that the delegates can attend throughout the day, Fayed (freshman-political science) said.
“[The UN officials] tell you what the theme means to them, but you are an observer,” Fayed said.
Pecora has attended six or seven conferences since middle school, and this year attended four days of the conference. She joined SustainUS because a teacher suggested she apply, she said.
After originally becoming interested in women’s empowerment because of the strong female role models in her life, she said it is impossible for her to separate herself from world issues.
“[I was] baffled and disturbed that girls were denied rights I take for granted… especially education,” Pecora said.
Fayed said she joined SustainUS because of her Egyptian origin, which established her interest in Arab views on women’s rights. During the past two weeks, Fayed said she has gained great networking opportunities, but also she has been inspired. She has been at the conference since the first day and intends to stay though the last.
The conference brings awareness of the injustices that are around the world and sparks activism to eliminate the wrong, Fayed said.