UN Commission on the Status of Women scholarship applications now open

1 August 2018

Zoe Neill representing Australia as the 2018 Global Voices delegate to the OECD Forum in Paris
Zoe Neill representing Australia as the 2018 Global Voices delegate to the OECD Forum in Paris

The University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is supporting an all-expenses paid scholarship for one lucky student to attend the 2019 Commission on the Status of Women in March, 2019. As well as travelling to New York, the successful student will take part in private meetings with policy experts, civil-society organisations, department secretaries, ministers and journalists.

We caught up with this year's scholarship recipient, Bachelor of International Global Studies student, Zoe Neill, who recently returned from her trip to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Forum in Paris. Zoe got the rare chance to work closely with international leaders and experts, looking at how she can affect change in humanitarian and development policy; an area she's extremely passionate about.

What was the OECD forum like?

The forum schedule was jam packed! There were large sessions with panel discussions including a few hundred people and special guests (foreign ministers, trade ministers etc), and smaller sessions with a book author or an entrepreneur which included about 20 or 30 people. One of the major highlights was all the people I met, especially my fellow delegate who are all superstars in their own right!

What were the key things you learnt from the experience?

One thing that really stood out for me was the multilevel engagement that the OECD has with a country before they make any policy recommendations. They have a very through process for ensuring that any recommendations they make have a good chance of being implemented. They will go and visit local governments in the country they are writing about and spend time in communities to discuss what policy changes would be achievable. They take the feedback of the government seriously and aim to only make feasible suggestions.

Another interesting thing I didn't know was that the OECD has a lot of initiatives to engage with non-OECD countries. For example, the OECD actively engages with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other Asian countries.

Do you think the experience has helped your career prospects?

Definitely, it was incredible to speak with people currently working at the OECD and to talk about their work within the organisation. This brought home that fact that there are multiple ways to follow whatever career path you want and there are also many different ways that you can create an impact, a very important thing to remember! I think it's important not to over glorify working in a place such as the OECD or the UN as many students do, there are many fantastic and rewarding jobs out there which perhaps might even be more suitable for you!

What would you say to someone considering applying for the scholarship?

I would encourage them to thoroughly research the organisation. Most international organisations are incredibly multifaceted and it is imperative that you at lease have rudimentary understanding before applying. I would also suggest that you do some research on the theme and the big payers taking part in the discussion. Additionally, I would say have a think about the conference itself, and see if you have any experience that can demonstrate that you are capable of conducting yourself in a professional manner. You will be representing your country after all and this is very important!

Applications for the UN Commission on the Status of Women scholarship require a policy proposal and close on Monday, 13 August. Get your entries in now.