Name: ZHANG Chi
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Position: Intern of Gender Programme of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Duration: June 2018 – October 2018 (5 months)
Sponsorship: United Nations Peace Development Foundation
Supervisor: Wen Hua
Six years after I left Beijing to pursue further studies, I returned to this city for a wonderful internship experience, from summer, the blooming season of lotus flowers in Liang Ma River, to late autumn, when the gingko trees turned golden. Throughout this five-month experience in UNFPA Country Office in China, I came across and got to know inspiring people, engaged in productive discussions and knowledge exchanges, besides delivering various tasks assigned. As a PhD candidate working on gender studies, I feel fortunate to have such an opportunity to really “do something” beyond academia, no matter how modest it is, to contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment in the society.
One major project that I intensively involved was the organization of the international workshop Addressing Gender-biased Sex Selection (GBSS): Experience Sharing among Countries along the Belt and Road Initiative held on 25-26 October 2018. From July to October 2018, I served as the focal point of this event and undertook a substantial amount of preparation work. I prepared and sent invitation letters to workshop participants, conducted market research for potential service suppliers, coordinated flight tickets and accommodation booking, translations and printing, and prepared Logistic Notes and Workshop Handbook as well as facilitated the composition of Workshop Report. This event turned out to be a huge success, and I learned not only how to work in an UN agency, but also obtained a better understanding on GBSS related issues.
In the meanwhile, I supported the organization of Violence against Women (VAW) Data Collection Sensitization Workshop, held on 1-2 November 2018, co-organized by UNFPA, UN Women and China Women’s University. Preparing and proof-reading the translated training materials provided such a good opportunity to learn about internationally recognized approaches of VAW data collection. Besides, at the workshop, I felt very happy to meet and get to know a number of national experts, researchers and practitioners in the areas of gender studies/gender-based violence, who I hadn’t had the opportunity to know but had been always wanting to. The discussions at the workshop were very interesting and inspiring, especially the debates between international experts and national experts.
As a postgraduate student in gender issues, what made me feel especially fulfilling was the tasks which requires technical knowledge. I proofread and edited the research report on Sino-Vietnamese Cross-border Marriage in the context of Gender Imbalance, which again was an interesting experience to learn not only the study itself but also a bit about the national research in this area. It was even more intriguing that this research has a “twin” study that is done by Vietnamese researchers which focuses on the same topic but from very different perspectives.
In addition, I worked with the Resource Mobilization Team and conducted gender donor mapping research focusing on private sector rather than traditional donors, based on which a “Case for Support” was designed for future use when outreaching to potential donors.
Apart from the abovementioned, I also supported the facilitation of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth’s Visit and participated in the dialogue with the Youth Envoy, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, which I found very thought-provoking. Besides, I also undertook ad hoc tasks upon requests, such as meeting preparation, meeting minutes taking, translation, PPT preparation for presentations/speeches, preliminary literature review on Sexual and Reproductive Health of Tibetan Youth and Women, advocacy materials proofreading, among many others.
Here is a summary of the events attended which I found very meaningful:
The Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth’s Visit to UNFPA Country Office
Launch of the Chinese Language Edition of the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (Revised) & National Workshop on Comprehensive Sexuality Education co-organized by UNESCO and UNFPA
International Workshop on GBSS (Aforementioned)
VAW Data Collection Sensitization Workshop (Aforementioned)
Quarterly UN Theme Group Meeting on Gender Meeting (“UNTGG”)
UN Working Group Meeting on Domestic Violence Law Implementation
Launch of 2018 State of World Population (SWOP) Report, both English and Chinese versions
Here I would like to extend my special gratefulness to my supervisor, Ms. Wen Hua, Gender Programme Officer at UNFPA, for her patient coaching and generosity in offering good opportunities for my learning and growth. Since we were/are both PhD candidates on relevant disciplines, I also cherished a lot the open sharing between us beyond daily work, e.g. PhD experiences, and viewpoints about social/gender issues. I felt intellectually less alone around her. I enjoyed very much working in UNFPA Country Office and appreciate every moment spent with the colleagues including peer interns here. Last but not least, I’m also very grateful that United Nations Peace Development Foundation sponsors this internship, and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, my home university, nominated me for this wonderful opportunity.