Name: Chan Wai Shan
Bachelor of Laws
The University of Hong Kong
Position: Research Assistant (Communications and Advocacy), UN Women China Office
Duration: August 2018 – February 2019 (6 months)
Sponsorship: United Nations Peace Development Foundation
Supervisor: Ms. YANG Ruikan, Programme Coordinator of UN Women China Office
A six-month internship at UN Women China Office and a challenging yet rewarding journey is dotted with a riot of colour of flowery summer as well as red and yellow autumn, and it came to an end with the snowy winter in Beijing. My sincere gratitude goes to my supervisors, friends and colleagues at UN Women for their guidance and generous support to me during the internship. I thank them for always sharing with me their insight and work experience, and offering me a wide range of learning opportunities to take part in project implementation and advocacy strategies development. And I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to donors and Peace and Development Foundation for their support which has made the internship possible, so today I can grab this opportunity to share with you the experience in being part of the forces to advance gender equality and promote women empowerment in China.
Stigma and gender inequalities which are deeply rooted in cultures still persist in many societies. They are the obstacles hindering many girls and women from going to schools, having access to basic sanitation facilities and healthcare services, having equal opportunities in the workplace, and even enjoying their rights to live a life with dignity and free from fear or violence. Despite the existence of national legal instruments and mechanisms, girls and women who have experienced violence and abuse may be reluctant to speak up for their rights because shame, fear and guilt are holding them back from seeking helps from others.
On 25 November 2018, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, our team in UN Women China Office in collaboration with the Embassy of the Netherlands organised a launch event for an international campaign - “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign”. Joining the global campaign “Orange The World”, the Embassy was lit up in orange which symbolised a brighter violence-free future for girls and women. I provided support to my team to organise the launch event where Ambassador, youth representative and leaders of civil society organisations took part in rounds of sharing and panel discussion to talk about future actions to put an end to gender-based violence. Together with a local media partner, I joined the UN Women’s advocacy team to launch a social media campaign in China, with the support of UN Women’s Ambassadors and KOLs, to call for an end to gender-based violence. The 16-day online campaign called on the public to break silence and encouraged the violence survivors to seek assistance. The fight against all forms of gender-based violence will never succeed without the efforts of everyone in the society. I am proud to be a part of global movement to raise public awareness of how and why we should challenge gender discrimination and take a clear stance against gender-based violence.
Another major project I was focused on was “2018 China Women’s Media Award Ceremony”, a project jointly organised with a local media partner. We celebrated remarkable achievement of female and male role models in China who have made immense contribution to overcome gender stereotypes and advance gender equality across different fields. The Ceremony paid tribute to the achievements of the awardees, and it also gave prominence to the crucial roles and influence of media in promoting gender equality, for example, breaking stigma and gender biases in TV shows and advertisements, and sharing with the public the inspiring stories of both women and men in challenging gender stereotypes and living up to their full potential.
To build a more inclusive and equal future for us and for generations to come, we must walk the talk and take real actions which go beyond merely acknowledging the gender gaps, just as what we can see the role model awardees have done to promote gender equality. Meanwhile, we must put together the voices and efforts of governments, businesses, civil society organizations, members of private and public sector to develop plans and social innovations which integrate the needs and experience of both women and men into responsive policies and development programmes. The internship has offered me opportunities to provide assistance to the teams at UN Women in drafting training materials for their capacity building workshops to support capacity and skills development of government bodies, leaders of local organisations and businesses in promoting gender equality.
The internship at UN Women has offered me incredibly diverse experience, ranging from administrative management in projects, organising women empowerment conferences and award ceremony, doing research, and to providing analytical support for potential collaborative partnership. Developing and implementing digital communications strategies, designing and disseminating advocacy materials on UN Women’s social media platforms is also one of the major areas of my day-to-day work. I am delighted that I was always encouraged to propose interesting ideas and self-initiated advocacy plans on how our team can make good use of the social media not only as a news channel to increase the visibility of the work of UN Women, but also a knowledge sharing platform which can engage the public to discuss gender issues and have reflection over unconscious biases and gender stereotypes which remain entrenched across every aspect of our life and work.
It was challenging navigating a new field of profession – communications and new media, but learning new skills and taking steps to develop expertise is truly a rewarding experience. I thank my supervisors for sharing with me their knowledge of digital communications management and for guiding me to understand the trend of public advocacy and media in China.
It is my great pleasure to have an internship with UN Women and to learn from every colleague that I have met in the UN in China. There is no more gratifying experience than feeling motivated to get up every morning to work for my passion and to work with a team of professionals who have a shared passion for gender equality and women empowerment. Again, thank you very much, my dear friends and colleagues in Beijing!