Issue date: 04 April 2014
Catherine Phillips, an MA Human Rights student from UWE Bristol has secured a prestigious internship in New York with UN Women. Catherine has been busy raising funds to make the trip happen and so far has managed to secure free flights from Virgin Atlantic as well as working at two jobs to earn the money.
Enterprising Catherine writes a blog www.walkingwithwomen.com where she shares her experiences as a student, a mother and a freelance blogger and writer. Her trip will mean six weeks away from her family which she admits will be a huge wrench but this once in a life time opportunity will enable her to gain invaluable insight into the highest profile organisation campaigning for better lives for women globally. Catherine will set off for New York at the end of May and needs to raise an additional £3,000 to make the trip happen.
UN Women work towards promoting, protecting and enforcing women's rights on the following issues: Leadership and Political Participation, Economic Empowerment, Ending Violence against Women, Peace and Security, Governance and National Planning, Post-2015 Development Agenda and HIV and AIDS.
Catherine Phillips said, “Working at UN Women is my dream job. When I saw the internship I went for it not really believing that it would be possible, but it was too good an opportunity not to at least try. I'll be a web intern, predominantly doing editorial for the website on campaigns, activity and events. I love writing and telling women's stories, so being able to do this in the capacity of the UN is the perfect fit for me.
“The application was done online and then I was selected for a skype interview. Originally the internship was for web and media. As a mature student I have a great deal of experience behind me, specifically in PR and media, and it's this experience that I think helped me stand out from the other applicants. I was able to apply my professional experience to the questions they asked and demonstrate my passion for women's rights through all I've learnt on the MA.
Catherine will work as a web intern creating and writing copy for the website. She said, “I'm very ambitious so, ideally, I'd like to gain employment at UN Women and help to promote / raise the issue of women's rights on a global scale. I also want to create a strong editorial portfolio on international development and, specifically, women's issues.”
Catherine says that she expects criticism because she will need to leave her family for six weeks when they will join her. “I think it's a little unorthodox for a mother to elect any kind of prolonged separation from her family, even in today's society. Generally the support I've had from family and friends has been amazing and genuinely heartfelt; however there have been moments where the duration I'll be away for has been met with shock.
I'm fully expecting the internship to be both the best and worst time of my life. When I think of how much I'll miss my children my heart aches but I keep telling myself to put it into perspective. It's six weeks out of mine and their lives and I hope that by reaching for my dreams, it'll encourage them to go for theirs and never believe in the barriers that they, or anyone else, attempt to put in their way.”
Speaking about her experience of the UWE Bristol MA Human Rights Catherine explains that she came to the course through quite an unorthodox route. She said, I left school when I was 17, then returned to college to do an Access Course to go to university but I fell pregnant with my eldest son. I applied for the MA without an undergraduate degree so it's been a very steep academic learning curve. Passing each of my modules, especially the law module where I felt I was learning another language, has given me a real sense of pride.
“I've loved the MA. I've always been passionate about Human Rights but being able to actually learn what they are and about the legal and humanitarian context has been amazing. It's brought my passion to the forefront of my professional choices and has, ultimately, led me here. It's also given me more confidence in my abilities and to pursue a career as a humanitarian.”
Catherine is still £3,000 short of the target funds she needs to make the trip happen. Anyone who would like to help out can get in touch via Catherine's blog www.walkingwithwomen.com