When someone asks me “What is your job?” I usually smile and answer, “I work for the UN and sometimes I get paid”. Wonderful. Most recently, my unpaid job includes being the Chair of the Non-Government Organization Committee on the Status of Women in New York. The NGO CSW/NY is a 99.9% volunteer-based organization that provides a forum for the international women’s movement to interact with the United Nations. I help my organization weave the world’s women together during UN events such as the meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Indigenous People’s Forum, the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Annual Ministerial Review of the UN Economic and Social Commission.
My “paid” UN work has involved travel to all regions of the world, working for UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and other UN agencies like the International Labour Organization and UNFPA. It is a dream job for an anthropologist whose subject matter is the study of culture and human evolution—past and present. Yes, that is pretty much the entire world and its people.
The UN has opened opportunities for me to be a participant observer in social movements, development projects, treaty processes, and political change. I have contributed to creating UN documents like the Beijing Platform for Action –which is probably why I think they have something to offer. UN agreements help set international standards of governance, shift social norms, and express the civilized world’s consensus about how we should treat one another.
My other “paid” job includes writing, doing research and teaching at universities. I encourage all students of human behaviour to follow their curiosity even beyond their specialization. To see the big picture, a multidisciplinary eye on the subject matter is a great advantage. That explains my journey down many different paths. I have written papers and reports on gender and tobacco, climate change, rural women and microcredit, child labor, clean water and sanitation, traditional health culture, primary health care, and HIV/AIDS. And I’m still learning.
This TEDx talk explains how it feels to be a global citizen.
I’m an onion with layers of different identities.