Brigham Young University (BYU) students and alumni representing The WomenStats Project participated in the March 2015 UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, meeting with members of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), diplomats across the world, and UN staff to create a more extensive network for their research.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an event held for discussion on violence against women and prevention, prosecution, punishment, etc. Many internationally recognized women’s rights leaders meet to join resources for greater impact in their communities.
“Some [of the delegates] have even dropped their jaw when they heard that we represent the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women on the planet,” said Natalie Wright Romeri-Lewis, senior project associate for WomenStats, international development adjunct professor and international consultant and attorney. “The NGOs love that fact that it’s free because many cannot afford the luxury of good data.”
The students and alumni successfully expanded the Expert Bank of The WomanStats Project by 1200 percent. The Expert Bank is a network of professionals who can help WomenStats with more detailed international research. Some of the new additions to this bank include the President of the International Women’s Health Coalition, several Ministers of Women for countries across the world, the Head of Violence Against Women’s Commission in Mexico, and several other high ranking representatives, including royalty.
In addition to the Expert Bank, the number of people who have signed up to join the WomanStats Listserve increased over the course of the 2 week-long event. The President of Croatia, Former President Bill Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton walked out of an event holding copies of their brochure.
“We hope [this] will help name recognition and more use of the [WomenStats] site,” said Dr. Donna Lee Bowen, professor of political science at BYU and member of WomenStats’ Board of Directors. “We’ve put much work into our data collection and would like it to be used widely.”
When explaining why the WomenStats project is an important international resource, Wright Romeri-Lewis declared that, “Last, although a government might speak at an official meeting, it may not allow for questions or might prevent civil society from joining the panel. Audiences see these types of presentations as biased. The ‘official declaration’ is not the word on the street. We have to look behind the statements and stats the government produces and remember that they can be biased when collecting or reporting data.”
BYU’s David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and the Department of Political Science were the key foundational support to help students and alumni participate in the Commission.
The WomenStats website can be found here.
All photos copyright of Natalie Wright Romeri-Lewis. Used with permission.