Hartford, Connecticut, April 11, 2017 – Trinity College students Hamna Tariq ’20 and Fatima Al Ansar ’17 participated in two separate events at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City during their spring break. Tariq was invited by Together for Girls to speak on a panel at “It Starts with Safety: Adding Girls to the Global Agenda,” hosted by Together for Girls, UNICEF USA, and the International Council for Jewish Women (ICJW). The event focused on both the progress and the work that still needs to be done to ensure that girls are safe around the world in all communities. Al Ansar was nominated and invited to be a speaker on a different panel event, “Breaking Barriers to Empowerment and Opportunities of Rural Women,” hosted by Women Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON).
Both students are active in advocating for women’s rights. Tariq promoted and taught gender equality and women’s rights to girls in her home country of Pakistan who were being forced into child marriage. She has also worked with the Girl Engagement Advisory Board for Advocates of Youth.
On the panel, Tariq discussed her work helping to end child marriage, a prominent issue in Pakistan. Tariq said, “It was very interesting to sit with people from all around the world. It was a very enlightening and rewarding experience. When you’re around such driven women you feel like you can do anything.”
Al Ansar, a MasterCard Foundation Scholar, is the founder of Tilwate School, an organization in her home country of Mali that provides education to girls. Al Ansar explained, “There is much conflict in Mali and women don’t receive the education they deserve in order to have a bright future.” The foundation works to empower women through entrepreneurship and give women the tools they need to start their own business.
At the event, Al Ansar described her experience working with women to become entrepreneurs. She said, “Entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to empower women. When women in African communities become successful they are able to then help other women in their communities.” Al Ansar was grateful that she got to participate in the event so she could share her experiences and expand her network with women who are passionate about improving women’s rights.
Al Ansar said that being able to be part of the UN Commission on the Status of Women enhances her experience at Trinity. As a human rights major, she is able to connect what she learns in the classroom to greater application through hands-on field experience. “I am able to come back and share my experiences with my peers at Trinity and make them aware that you don’t have to be graduated to start getting involved in movements like this and inspiring others,” she said.
Tariq hopes to use her Trinity education in international studies and her experience working in gender equality and women’s rights to work in the UN to support policies surrounding women’s rights. While Tariq’s involvement in women’s empowerment movements and organizations led to her to join the Women and Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC), she explained that WGRAC is “a small but necessary step to becoming involved and aware of what’s around us.” She said the experience at the event in NYC “makes me more confident in myself to see how passionate other people are. There are people in the world who are trying to make a change.”
Al Ansar wants to continue developing her organization in Mali, Tilwate School, to ensure its sustainability. In addition, she hopes to attain a position at an international organization that works with women’s issues in Africa and to eventually partner her own organization in Mali with larger international organizations.
Associate Professor of International Studies Janet Bauer said that in addition to these two students participating in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, a group of Trinity’s Human Right Studies students attended the UN-USA Day events in February. “These are amazing opportunities for our students to engage as global citizens and future leaders and to connect to international community networks, fulfilling important aspects of the college mission statement,” Bauer said. “These kinds of experiences complement academic coursework at Trinity, propelling students into the world of global dialogue.”
Written by Lorig Purutyan ’17