Commission on the Status of Women
Class Year: 2015
Concentration: History and Literature
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Favorite MUN Moment: Dinner after committee with my delegates at HNMUN-LA
Favorite Indian Food/Beverage: Mango lassi
Favorite Bollywood Actor/Actress/Song/Movie: Señorita - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
What excites you most about traveling to India? I'm so excited to experience a new country with the excellent company of the delegates and staff of HMUN India.
Welcome to the Commission on the Status of Women!
My name is Madeline Connors and I am a rising junior at Harvard College where I study History and Literature. It is my distinct pleasure to serve as your chair for Harvard Model United Nations India 2013.
I grew up in Buffalo, New York and attended a small high school where my interest in international relations began. I joined the Model UN team in my freshman year and remained involved throughout high school. I loved competing at conferences but most of all I loved the extraordinary friendships I made on my team with some of the smartest and most interesting students I knew. Once I got to Harvard, I continued my involvement in Model UN, including staffing conferences and competing in other colleges’ conferences. I have served as a director at Harvard’s conferences in Boston and Latin America. Aside from academics, I enjoy desserts, travel, and watching movies when I should be doing homework.
The status of women in the world is an incredibly pertinent issue and one that I am eager to explore with you when we convene in Hyderabad in August. Poverty and violence are controversial topics within the framework of the status of women and will be the centerpiece of our discussion at HMUN India. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with questions about this committee, the conference, or Harvard, or just to introduce yourself. I hope you are ready for what is bound to be a challenging, exciting, and rewarding conference, and I am truly looking forward to meeting you in Hyderabad!
Women and Violence
Deeply rooted in societal norms and deep-seated systems of structural violence, violence against women is a complex problem whose remedy presents one of the most difficult challenges of our time. Both a form of discrimination and a violation of women’s human rights, violence against women is absolutely unacceptable, regardless of the actor—the state, family members, spouses, strangers—and the context— the public or private sphere, times of conflict or times of stability. Violence against women is not simply an accumulation of random, unrelated acts: it is the manifestation of gendered power imbalances and entrenched structures of gender inequality. Within the U.N. system, thirty-two entities work on violence against women in some capacity, whether it be domestic and interpersonal violence, violence against women in conflict and post-conflict settings, or trafficking in women: needless to say, much space for intra-system coordination. Increasingly, violence against women is being framed as an impediment to development due to its restriction of women’s choices and the limitations that it places on women’s ability to act. Its links with other global problems, such as HIV/AIDS, are also being drawn. It is imperative to explore the many nuanced causes of violence against women in order to resolve its many forms.
The Feminization of Poverty
The term “the feminization of poverty” refers to the increased prevalence of poverty among women and female-headed households as compared to men and male-headed households. It does not reference a static state; rather, it is a relative concept grounded in a comparison between women and men, where the important statistic is the difference in the level of poverty between men and women. Given its comparative nature, it does not by definition imply an absolute worsening of the economic status of women: if the economic status of men improved dramatically, while the economic status of women improved only marginally, the feminization of poverty would persist.
Today, the majority of the world’s poorest people—the 1.5 billion people living on less than one dollar per day—are female, while economic disparities between the sexes (the so-called feminization of poverty) have widened. Restricted in her geographic and occupational mobility by family and child-rearing responsibilities, the average women earns roughly half as much as her male counterpart. Despite females’ increased educational attainments, workplace participation, and on-the-job experience, the wage differential between men and women remained 77 cents on the dollar in 2005. These facts come with little surprise: more vulnerable than men due to deeply entrenched systems of discrimination, women are more likely to fall into poverty. In addition, poverty has different implications for women than it does for men. Impoverishment for women can mean increased involvement of women and children in the informal economy; differential treatment of girls and boys within the household; pressure for girls to marry at younger ages; higher school dropout rates for girls; restricted family planning options; and resorting to prostitution. The Commission on the Status of Women must address both the roots and implications of the feminization of poverty.