Illustration from Habitat for Humanity of a school class learning about Menstruation

Dispatch from UNESCO India: Aleyna Aygor’s second blog from the virtual field

Photo credit: Habitat for Humanity Australia

By Aleyna Agor, MIPP

I have been working as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) at UNESCO New Delhi for about two months now. Under the supervision of the Head of the Education Unit and Programme Specialist, I meet the New Delhi team remotely and provide them support in the areas of gender analysis and education. This blog intends to give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to intern for a specialized agency of the United Nations!

The education sector in UNESCO New Delhi carries the cluster office title, serving six countries in South Asia. This means I have the privilege of engaging in work that can help strengthen the efforts of multiple member states to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensuring all children and adults have access to quality education and learning opportunities.

The most recent project I assisted as a JPC specifically targets keeping girls in school. Unfortunately, many young people around the globe, including those residing in India, are negatively impacted by social, cultural, and religious taboos placed on menstruation. Lack of menstrual knowledge, inaccessible school environments, and poor access to sanitary products are some reasons that cause girls to drop out of school. UNESCO recognizes that this important topic is often neglected in the school curriculum and aims to raise awareness of menstrual health and hygiene management through their Keep Girls in School programme.

One aspect of this project is the development of student and teacher training modules that tackle topics related to menstruation and personal hygiene. Alongside my fellow JPC colleagues, I was given the responsibility of editing multiple modules, providing technical support, and offering content recommendations. Over the last few weeks, this task felt particularly rewarding to me, as I was able to apply the skills I learned in an academic setting to my work at the office. In addition to assisting in project management, I find that I am also given the opportunity to get creative with the support I provide in project launches.

For example, my supervisor requested JPCs to brainstorm ideas for a social media campaign to celebrate an upcoming international day. Ever since International Women’s Day was first celebrated on March 8th, 1975, UNESCO has used this occasion to recognize and celebrate women and girls worldwide. This year’s theme is DigitALL, which focuses on innovation and technological change for gender equality. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digitalization and revealed a digital gender gap, the celebration of Women’s Day in 2023 aims to highlight the importance of improving access to digital tools. The planning of this special occasion at the cluster office led me to coordinate with other UNESCO staff to create a unique digital campaign. In fact, there was an opportunity in last week’s meeting to present our proposal to a supervisor!

Although this project is still in the works and further details cannot be shared at the moment, the possibility of turning ideas provided by JPCs into a successful campaign is really exciting. Make sure to tune in for my next blog if you want to read about how this campaign turned out!

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