Humphrey Fellow Spotlight: Amy Avellano and Elizabeth Sussekind

Humphrey Fellow alum Amy Avellano recently wrote an article for the University of Minnesota Law School’s Fall 2012 e-Perspectives Newsletter.  Amy is an NGO lawyer specializing in domestic violence law in the Philippines.  From 2008-2009, she participated in the Humphrey Fellowship Program hosted by the Human Rights Center at the UMN Law School.  In the article, Amy writes about her experiences reconnecting with Humphrey Alum Elizabeth Sussekind (2009-2009) in Brazil.  She describes the continuing impact of the Humphrey Fellowship Program and how it has enabled her to be a more effective human rights advocate.  Read the full article here.

Humphrey Fellow Spotlight: Parul Sheth

Parul Sheth believes strongly in the power of education to strengthen societies, especially in disadvantaged communities. In 1994, Parul and her husband founded Shaishav in Bhavnagar city and district located in Saurashtra, India.   At the time of Shaishav’s creation, there were no organizations working for underprivileged children in Saurashtra, although studies conducted by Shaishav and the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centre (SPARC) showed that there were more than 8,000 child workers in Bhavnagar.  While various forms of child  labor is illegal in India according to The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (1986) and certain provisions in the Indian Constitution , it remains a persistent problem that is difficult to quantify.  The United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child and other international treaties have been instrumental for providing an international framework for child rights advocates such as Shaishav.

Meaning “Childhood,” Shaishav trains local teachers and offers innovative support for schools and the local community.  This model effectively engages all aspects of the community in advocating against child labor, creating a sustainable program that continues to function even after Shaishav has withdrawn its support.  Shaishav combines grassroots organizing with international standards of human rights to create programs that directly engage children and discourage them from working.  Examples of their programs include: the Quality Education Program, Play for Peace, Children’s Rights Training Center, and Circle Point.

In 2011, Parul was awarded a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship to study at the University of Minnesota Law School.  As a fellow, Parul has continued her dedication to children’s rights, researching the prevalence and effects of youth participation with advocacy organizations across the United States.  Aided by Professor Michael Baizerman, Professor Ross VeLure Roholt, and University of Minnesota undergraduate student Kayleen Jacobson, Parul explored ways in which organizations involve youth in documenting, researching, evaluating or assessing programs or services. To compile this data, Parul visited nine organizations in seven different cities.

Parul is currently in the editing phase of her research and more information regarding her report will be forthcoming.

 

Woman (Poem)

A poem by 2012-13 Humphrey Fellow Cheryl L. Daytec (Philippines) in honor of the 16 Days to End Violence Against Women.

Woman

 by Cheryl L.  Daytec

 

In fairy tales, they stole your strength

Made you

A wispy figure

Whose salvation is

In the kiss of a prince

In holy discourses

You have been targeted

For stoning, for burning`

A prostitute

A widow purged of essence

A rambling witch

A wife defiled

An unwed mother

An uncircumcised virgin

 

You have been dragged

Through the corridors of sorrow

A grieving mother

A hurting wife

An ignored daughter

 

You have been built

To a prototype

Scared of your power:

A mind shorn of will of its own

A head for nodding

To your father and husband

Eyes for weeping

A tongue for talking balderdash

And singing men’s accolades

Arms for holding infants

And drying laundry

Legs for moving around the kitchen,

Or for toddling behind patriarchy

 

Come. Sprint to higher ground

From the depths of submission

Jump off the pages of fairy tales

Bolt the pigeonhole’s door

Be as a butterfly emerging

From the cocoon

Soaring to heights

Seeking its metamorphosis

Awing the world

 

For there are struggles

To lose without your strength

There are problems

Unsolved without your wisdom

History is a narrative of lies

Without your story

 

For truth cannot be half of itself

 

First published in Muse India, 2009

Election Results Resonate Internationally

Election Day Breakfast at the U.S. Embassy in Armenia

On the morning of November 7, 2012, Humphrey Alumnus Edmon Marukyan was part of a diverse group of students, civil society representatives, educators, government officials, and  members of the press who joined Ambassador Heffern and U.S. Embassy staff for an Election Day Breakfast event at the U.S. Embassy in Armenia.

Attendees watched as live election results from the U.S. were shown on a large screen and posed for photos next to life-sized cut-outs of President Obama and Governor Romney. The event also featured informational booths on the Democratic and Republican Parties, the Electoral College, and the democratic transition of power. A mock voting booth was set up to allow the audience to cast votes for their favorite candidate.

Edmon Marukyan (Armenia, 2009-2010) is no stranger to the world of elections. Edmon is currently the only independent MP in the Armenian National Assembly. In his dual roles a prominent human rights advocate and an MP, Edmon Marukyan spoke at the Congress Hotel Picasso earlier this year on October 25, 2012, informing a meeting room filled with young and eager attendees about “how to become a member of parliament”. His advice was to hone in on certain “skills” to win the election.

Edmon’s victory can be considered a victory of the multiplier effect, where each voter is not just contributing a vote, but also contributing by informing others about the candidate. This technique allowed Edmon to publicize his candidacy and his plans to city residents without requiring excessive financial investments. A relatively low amount of materials were produced and distributed by the campaign, including 500 posters and a few thousand booklets. A couple of TV debates were also organized. Edmon participated in all of the TV debates, unlike other candidates. 80 people, a vast majority of them being family, friends, and like-minded volunteers, worked at the campaign’s sole headquarter in central Vandazor city. In what has been considered a victory for civil society in Armenia, Edmon defeated his rival by 2400 votes.

Information on U.S. Elections from: http://armenia.usembassy.gov/news110712.html

Humphrey Fellowship Cultural Presentations: Amraa Davjayev and Firmine Bouity

Humphrey Fellows Amraa Davjayev (Mongolia) and Firmine Bouity (Republic of Congo) presenting on their countries at the Minnesota Community & Technical College.

Human Trafficking: International Perspectives on Policing, Legal and Field Intervention

On November 9, over fifty people gathered at the University of Minnesota Law School to hear past and present Humphrey Fellows present on human trafficking.  The night began with Dr. Veerendra Mishra and Viresh Kumar Bhawra speaking on Trafficking and Policing in India.  Following a brief discussion, Legal and Judicial approaches were iterated by Amarjargal Davjayev* and Judge Philip Acosta Aguinaldo. Finally,  Zohir Navjuvonov**, Dr. Hari Paudel and Dr. Kirill Boychenko presented on Trafficking and Field Approaches.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines human trafficking as a crime against humanity that, “involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.”  While the UNODC has taken measures to combat human trafficking, they are thwarted by misrepresentation of data, lack of transnational communication and collaboration, and law enforcement corruption.

Throughout the event, the speakers posed questions exploring the magnitude of international collaboration, the manifestation of human trafficking in various countries and the international and national legal measures currently in place.   Specifically, the speakers highlighted the economic root of human trafficking.  The presenters stressed the lack of transnational cooperation, which cripples human trafficking enforcement. Suggestions were made to assign high priority to the issue, enforce domestic and international laws, include trafficking as a crime against humanity, empower NGOs, and strengthen the implementation of the UN treaty body system.

*Amarjargal Davjayev has worked with the Thailand Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women.

**Zohir Navjuvonov is the National Program Coordinator at the International Organization for Migration.

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