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UC Student to Serve as Delegate at UN Conference on Women

With a dedication to combat the issue of female genital mutilation, UC International Affairs major Taiwo Adeoye has been selected to take part in the next UN Commission on the Status of Women conference.

Date: 2/25/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Jay Yocis

UC ingot   When the United Nations convenes its next Commission on the Status of Women event on March 1, University of Cincinnati student Taiwo Adeoye will be in the notable – and unusual – position as one of the session’s official delegates.

Adeoye is one of 20 students from across the United States selected to participate in the UN’s 54th annual session to examine issues of concern to women from around the world, which runs from March 1-12. Adeoye, an International Affairs major who grew up in Nigeria, has a particular interest in working to combat the practice of female genital mutilation that is common in some tribal regions across Africa.
Taiwo Adeoye
Taiwo Adeoye

To hear an audio clip of Taiwo Adeoye discussing the issue of female genital mutilation, click on the YouTube video link at the bottom of this story.

She and the other students will be given temporary delegate status to the conference, titled “Beijing+15.” It will offer a chance to review progress made since the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was produced at the 1995 Commission on the Status of Women event.

“When I first heard about the opportunity, I thought it sounded perfect for me and I applied,” says Adeoye. “It’s at the United Nations, which is one of the future places I’d like to work, and it involved the Commission on the Status of Women, which is the area I want to focus on. Living in Nigeria, I can say the situation for women is much worse than it is here. The inequalities are huge.”

Adeoye hopes to eventually work in a position related to women’s and children’s human rights.

The experience will allow Adeoye to attend official events and those being put on by non-governmental organizations in conjunction with the session. She will see how international issues that require multilateral engagement and coordinated action are addressed in the world of diplomacy.

“I think it’s going to be interesting to go to the side events that will be put on after the opening session,” says Adeoye, currently a junior at UC and a Darwin T. Turner Scholarship recipient. “I’m looking forward to making my voice heard and discussing this issue (female genital mutilation) that is something I am passionate about.”

The World Health Organization describes female genital mutilation as procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons and have no health benefits for girls and women. In Africa, it’s estimated that at least 92 million girls and women have gone through this trauma, which is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights.

“It is not a rite of passage, which communities that practice this claim, saying women can grow into womanhood and be ready for marriage (because of it). To me, it’s just the opposite,” says Adeoye. “I can’t understand how people think this is beneficial for a human being. The World Health Organization and other groups have done a lot of work on this subject, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to help stop this problem.”
Taiwo Adeoye
Taiwo Adeoye

Among the terms of participating as a student in this opportunity, which is being coordinated by Suffolk University, Adeoye will be creating an advocacy project about this issue when she returns to UC. Her participation will have her in New York from Feb. 26-March 7.

Adeoye was born in Toledo, Ohio, to Nigerian parents who were studying at the University of Toledo, but spent most of her childhood in Lagos, Nigeria. Four years ago, she came to the United States to pursue her education and landed in Cincinnati because of a cousin who was already living in the city.

She already knew that she was interested in International Affairs as a means to a career in advocacy with a human rights focus.

“When I started, I hit the ground running (at UC),” Adeoye says. “I have really close mentors here who urged me to get involved in things as early as I could.”

That same attitude will now be taking her to New York and a spot among the leading experts in the world on the issues of most importance facing women across the globe.