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Human Rights Advocacy: Working and Learning at MADRE

When I began my internship this summer, I was eager to apply what I learned in the classroom to the office, but as a student of Mount Holyoke College, I felt even more compelled to combine the skills I had learned at a women’s institution to the MADRE cause: using human rights to advance social justice for women worldwide.

MADRE, a well-respected women’s organization, introduced me to the world of human rights advocacy. As an intern for the Human Rights Legal Advocacy team, I learned how to coordinate tasks in response to humanitarian crises, how to use grassroots campaigning to advocate for women, and how issue-based advocacy can be used as a mode of social reform. MADRE staff work around the clock to meet urgent needs. On my first day, I was encouraged to directly jump into the work of MADRE, reporting on protests in Turkey and analyzing reviews of violence against women in Guatemala. From there, my learning experience continued: reviewing legislation to advance women’s rights in Haiti, drafting work for a documentation training manual in Iraq, and researching transitional justice in Colombia. I became inspired by the work I was doing and as time went on, I began to understand what makes MADRE an exceptional institution.

Much like my academic environment, MADRE is an all-female staff in which women work tirelessly for their partners. This is an environment where women seek challenges and assume leadership roles, where women are not afraid to speak their minds and argue, where women are committed to working in partnership. As a previous intern had said, MADRE demonstrates the true meaning of a working family. In crisis at home or abroad, these women support one another and do not let difficulty define them. They move forward, using the present to build the future.

My internship this summer has been an incredibly formative experience. From the advocacy team, I learn that law, research and active reporting are key aspects in identifying what needs to be done to alleviate human rights abuses. On a professional level, I am on my way to making a career in global advocacy for marginalized communities. I want to thank the MADRE staff for teaching me the value of working towards a cause and for renewing my belief that women really do have the power to demand rights, resources and results not just for women, but for all people worldwide.

September 20, 2013