IWD 2019: New Colombo Plan scholar's global commitment to female participation in democracy

07 March 2019

Grace Corcoran is a 2018 New Colombo Plan Scholar in the Federated States of Micronesia. This International Women’s Day Week, she shared her internship experience through the scholarship. 

For my New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholarship Program, I have had the opportunity to undertake an internship with the organisation Women and Democracy, in Male’, Maldives.

Women and Democracy work towards women’s economic and political participation by promoting strong democratic institutions and governance.

The organisation has created the first ever Gender Manifesto in the Maldives and conducted a series of workshops aimed at empowering women to participate in politics, parliament and power.

Women and Democracy observed the most recent election in the Maldives with over 200 observers, most of them female. These observations helped ensure a fair and democratic election process.

Within my role here, I have led as Project Executive a youth empowerment project called Youth Transforming Tomorrow. The project is a series of conversations between youth and leaders in the local community on a variety of topics including girls and young women. This is a unique and unequalled opportunity for the voices of youth in the Maldives to be heard by key government and non-government decision makers.

Before I arrived in the Maldives, I was studying at The College of Micronesia (COM) in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. This experience was different in every way to my time in the Maldives and challenging in ways I had never expected. I had the opportunity to learn so much about both myself and this country, and it was one of the most educational and empowering experiences of my life.

At COM I was able to help organise the first ever LGBTQ+ Pride Walk in Micronesia with around 70-80 people, a mix of locals and ex-pats, taking part and showing their support. The atmosphere on the day was so full of joy and love and I have never been more inspired or empowered by such a fantastic group of people. There were many tears, laughs and celebratory screams and dances shared along the walk. My time in Micronesia showed me that regardless of where I am, it is okay to stand up for my belief in equality.

I would encourage students in Australia to consider applying through their University for a 2020 New Colombo Plan Scholarship. The opportunity has allowed me to experience something that few in the world get to, has taught me so much and I have met so many fantastic people. It has given me a new perspective on the experiences of girls and women and opened my eyes to new cultures and ways of thinking.

 

Scope Global implements the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program on behalf of the Australian Government. 

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