Name: CHAN Wai Yat
Master of Social Science (Contemporary China Studies)
Hong Kong Baptist University
Position: Gender Intern at United Nations Population Fund China Office
Duration: 1 September 2017 – 28 February 2018 (6 months)
Sponsorship: United Nations Peace and Development Foundation
Supervisor: WEN Hua
Time flies and my internship has come to end. It is now time to reflect on this wonderful 6-month journey.
Work in UNFPA
Interning for UNFPA entails being involved in a multitude of challenging yet immensely interesting tasks. In retrospect, I am lucky to have had the opportunity to:
(1) Support concept note development
A month after I arrived in the office, I was delegated to be part of the team to formulate a concept note to approach Ford Foundation, one of our donors, for funding. After rounds of discussion, we had the research area decided and detailed in the proposal the theoretical framework, project goals and practical operationalisation, etc.
It was a tall order especially for me as a newcomer, but at the same time valuable and eye-opening. Without previous experience when I was in University doing research, it was the first time I immersed myself hands-on into non-academic research projects, with many administrative proceedings needing to be clearly defined and clarified.
(2) Participate in UN Day on behalf of UNFPA
With a view to ensure active participation of UNFPA in the UN Day event and showcase the work we do, myself and my fellow interns were assigned to work at one of the many SDG booths related to UNFPA’s mandate. I was at the Gender Equality (SDG 5) stall and in order to attract audience, I compiled a quiz about gender equality for them to win prizes. It turned out a successful stratagem through which I equipped people with basic knowledge of gender equality, got to communicate with people from all walks of life and to know their takes on gender equality.
(3) Devise resource mobilization strategy for gender team
As funding shrinks under the Trump administration, redesigning the way UNFPA mobilises resources is of paramount importance. I was in this regard held responsible for drafting a plan for supporting gender programs and projects. It allows me to acquire a fuller picture of how cooperation is fostered in UNFPA and how we can effectively tap into the expertise of other organisations in the state of shortage of resources.
(4) Draft speeches to be delivered by leaders
I have prepared draft opening remarks for superiors to present at the fifth China White Ribbon Volunteer Annual Meeting, a male-led network to at least prevent gender-based violence from growing, if not eradicate it. Another one in the case is the opening remarks for the “International Day of the Girl Child” and “Care For Girls Volunteer Action” Celebration Meeting, stressing UNFPA’s response to disaster-stricken regions and success in addressing imbalanced sex ratio at birth at certain parts of China.
Similar efforts included outlining talking points for International Forum on Gender Equality and Sustainable Development, on which our representative elaborated and explained why education is so essential for girls and, with that in mind, what UNFPA has done to curtail cases of child marriage, teenage pregnancy and sexual and gender-based violence targeted at adolescent girls.
These are by no means easy tasks. Plentiful of hard facts are required as evidence to prove our arguments and put forward our agenda. There were times when I come across unfamiliar issues and had to navigate my way on the internet for a longer period of time. No matter what, in conducting research and looking up for information online, I have gained a great deal of knowledge which widened my horizons and deepened my understanding of the social problems of which China is in the face, the predicament that some people got dragged into and what has to be done by non-governmental or international organisations like UNFPA.
(5) Attend meetings, ceremonies and conferences
I had the honour to take part in a meeting organized by the UN Theme Group on Gender (UNTGG) gathering an array of stakeholders, mainly UN agencies, whose works are on gender. In the meeting, organisations shared progress, concerns and limitations on furthering gender equality, as well as raised questions for further clarification. This very occasion was when I understood how joint effort is coordinated within the UN system. A similar meeting of the kind which I attended was the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting, which involved government organs with which UNFPA has partnership.
In addition, I had great fun at the opening ceremony of ’16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ in
I was also an attendee of the ‘International Conference on Population Dynamics in Sustainable Development Era: Fertility Transition and Social Policy Responses’. Although not so much pertinent to gender, the conference, well attended by members from research institutes and the academia, did provide insightful demographic information for beginners like myself.
(6) Take part in promotional campaigns
I actively preoccupy myself in UNFPA’s publicity initiative for the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’, which was an entertaining and at the same time educational thing to do.
Upon invitation by UNAIDS, I was engaged in the promotional activities of the World AIDS Day along with my fellow interns, which is again as meaningful.
(7) Provide administrative support to the office
From time to time, I provided translation for easy reference by non-Chinese staff, government officials. Both from Chinese to English and the other way around, I have translated a wide variety of documents including, but not limited to, speeches, policy briefs, seminar reports, meeting minutes, etc. I have also sorted out transportation arrangement for attendees of the aforementioned China White Ribbon Volunteer Annual Meeting.
In general, the working environment in UNFPA China office is harmonious. I have fully enjoyed the entire 6 months in which I learn as I work.
A few Tips for Prospective Interns
Be proactive. Seize every possible learning opportunities.
One of the interns, Mr. Per Emil Svare, has kindly prepared a number of documents for prospective UNFPA interns (and staff) to help them adapt and excel at work as new members of the office, namely List of Acronyms, China Office Organisation Chart and Other Useful Information. If possible, take a look at these documents before you start getting on with your job. They will most certainly stand you in good stead.
Accommodation near workplace is usually more expensive. I have personally lived in Shuangjing and Jingsong, both of which are comfortable neighborhoods to live in. The only hassle is the need to travel back and forth from work, but still Metro and buses (Route 300) are readily available and convenient, and shall take no more than 1 hour one way.
Have all your apps (esp. VPN) up and ready on your mobile phone before arriving in mainland China because Internet can be at times problematic.
Here I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to my supervisor, Ms. Wen Hua, who has been willing to teach and advise me all the way through. And also other lovely members of UNFPA China office including Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, Ms. Soyoltuya Bayaraa, Ms. Suren Navchaa, Ms. Sae-Ryo Kim, Mr. Peng Jiong, Mr. Jia Guoping, Ms. Wang Ye, Ms. Jin Hua, Ms. Gao Cuiling, Ms. Li Jing, Ms. Fu Zhaohui who have provided me with necessary assistance from time to time. I am glad to have established rapport with my fellow interns, Per Emil, Jes, Xiao Shen, Xinyi and Xiao Li. Last but not least, many thanks to Josie and other PDF staff for the opportunity and support they have offered me during my internship.