Michelle Pomerleau, a student in the Master of Arts in Women’s Health program, will gain experience in the art of advocacy as a delegate to the annual Commission on the Status of Women meetings to be held from Feb. 22-March 4, 2011, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Select group

Pomerleau is one of 23 women students chosen from across the nation to participate in the Practicum in Advocacy at the United Nations, a week-long program that offers an opportunity to observe how the U.N. works to address issues requiring multilateral engagement and coordinated action between governments and civil society groups.

This year, the Commission’s priority theme is “access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology.” It also will review last year’s theme of “the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against girl children.”

Citizen Engagement

Pomerleau’s temporary delegate status will allow her to attend official and non-government organization (NGO) sessions, and contribute to the official documentation of both official and NGO meetings.

The practicum on the Commission on the Status of Women is sponsored by the Center for Women's Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the National Women's Studies Association, with assistance from Physicians for Human Rights.

“We teach the women how important citizen engagement is,” said Laura Roskos, co-president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and activist-in-residence at the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights.

The participants will learn how to network with NGOs, observe high-level negotiations, meet government officials and participate in turning specific proposals into documents that can be adopted by U.N. bodies.

Bringing advocacy home

Pomerleau is blogging from the United Nations and also will create an advocacy project when she returns to the Suffolk University campus.

“This success empowers them to engage in successful civic campaigns on their campus and local communities,” said Roskos, who, with Connie Chow, executive director of Science Clubs for Girls, will serve as faculty for the 2011 practicum.