I had the good fortune to be selected as one of the first McLarty Scholars. As a Scholar, I served a two-year term as the Hillary Rodham Clinton Communications Fellow with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. I worked to build the Institute’s communications capacity to reach a wider audience. This allowed them to have greater impact in promoting women’s role in preventing conflict, building peace, and growing economies.
Though I had worked on issues of women’s rights before this time – and continue to do so today by working to increase women’s access to contraception in the U.S. – I was new to both communications work and the field of women, peace and security. During my time as a McLarty Scholar, I gained a whole host of tangible new skills – blogging, website development, photography, video, press and media relations, design, publishing, and more – but perhaps most valuable was the chance to learn from courageous women leaders making change in their communities and countries. By meeting and learning from these truly inspirational women, I saw time and time again the collective power of individual stories.
Take the story of May Sabe Phyu, a women’s rights advocate in Myanmar who worked to facilitate dialogue on gender equality between her community and the government to reduce conflict and promote peace. Or Linda Cabrera, a lawyer and activist working throughout Colombia’s peace process to amplify the voices of survivors of sexual violence during the country’s civil war. And Njeri Kabeberi, a Kenyan civil society leader who worked to ensure that women had a seat at the table in every dialogue to promote peace and unity in her country.
As a research institute, we focused on building the evidence-based case for women’s participation in public life. As the communications fellow, it was my job to translate this research to a wider audience in a thoughtful and compelling way. I saw first-hand how stories like May’s, Linda’s and Njeri’s connected people to our global work and demonstrated the clear power of women having a place at the table in peace and security.
As a young professional striving to have impact on issues of women’s rights, I’m proud that being a McLarty Scholar is piece of my individual story. It’s a piece that connects me to other Scholars who are doing passionate and impactful work across the country and the globe. I’m excited to see the collective impact that this network of McLarty Scholars will continue to have as we leverage the skills and experiences we’ve gained to advance women’s rights.