By Aniska Graver

COVID-19 has transformed many of our work environments, as many of us are now working from home. The bedroom, living room and dining room have become the new offices and zoom meetings have become the new meeting ground. I started my internship in late September from my virtual office – my living room in Toronto, Canada! I currently work at the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) as a Junior Professional Consultant/Gender Equality Intern.

I work with the Gender team, which consists of three amazing women who have extensive experiences in the gender and development, and humanitarian fields. Our team members are located in three different countries across the globe: Canada, the United Kingdom, and Nepal. Being located in three different time zones comes with its own challenges. It means that we have to be constantly sensitive to and considerate of the time differences, albeit sometimes conflicts are unavoidable. However, I am fortunate to be a part of a diverse team of inspiring and empowering women who have a wide range of experiences and are involved in different projects in the region. I am grateful to be working with this team, and I am excited to learn as much as I can from them. Hopefully, one day I will be able to meet them in person.

For the first month of my internship, my main task has been to support the GBV Specialist in developing and implementing the ROSA GBViE Virtual Learning Series. We have developed a three-part series that will run over the course of nine weeks consisting of weekly webinars and workshops. Working on the GBViE Learning Series has been exciting. I get to work closely with the GBV Specialist to design and deliver the learning series. ROSA UNICEF decided to do this learning series as there are only two country offices located in the South Asia region – one in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar and one in Afghanistan – that currently have GBViE implemented in their programming. Our aim is to strengthen the region’s knowledge of and capacity to implement GBViE activities across all sectors/clusters.

A typical day for me consists of checking my UNICEF email, emailing presenters and participants, scheduling meetings, having zoom meetings with the GBV consultant on content and daily to-dos, having practice sessions, as well as completing the organisational and logistical tasks for the learning series.

Of course, planning a virtual learning series can be frustrating and stressful. Working from home comes with a lot of challenges, the most obvious being the time difference between Nepal and Toronto. UNICEF ROSA is located in Kathmandu, Nepal, which is 10 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Toronto. This means that some of my meetings are in the middle of the night or in the early hours of the morning.

Despite these challenges, it has been a learning experience that I wouldn’t trade. I now understand the ins and outs of everything you need to have a successful virtual event/webinar. I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of meetings with global, regional and national GBV experts and specialists. I have learned about UNICEF’s principles, guidelines and standards for implementing GBViE in programming. You can check out session 1 on ROSA’s YouTube page.

So far, the learning series has been receiving positive feedback from the country offices staff and UNICEF partners. I am looking forward to working on this project for the remaining six weeks.