Model World Conference on Women's and Girls' Rights

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Model World Conference on Women's and Girls' Rights

The Model World Conference on Women’s and Girls’ Rights is a multi-faceted project that brings Chicago public high school students together with UIC undergraduate and graduate students to explore the lives of women and girls worldwide and to propose solutions to the challenges they face. The Model World Conference on Women’s and Girls’ Rights is based on the popular Model UN concept, however, it uniquely focuses on women’s and girls’ rights in all of their many manifestations. This year our tagline is “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.”

Scheduled to take place for the sixth time on January 11, 2014 on the UIC campus, MWC is based on the popular Model United Nations concept but focuses on women's and girls' rights in all of their many manifestations. The format of the conference follows loosely the example of the World Conference on Women's Rights that took place in Beijing, China, in 1995. Although Model UN Conferences are very popular on campuses throughout the country, the Model World Conference on Women’s and Girls’ Rights is the only such project to focus exclusively on women’s and girls’ rights. Moreover, unlike standard Model UN programs which are often quite expensive for students and high schools, the Model World Conference on Women's and Girls' Rights will be offered at no charge to participants.

MWC is a multilayered program involving close collaboration between UIC students and high school students and faculty. Beginning in January of 2012, groups of five to seven participating high school student delegates will be assigned a country which they will represent at the April conference. Delegates will work with UIC undergraduate and graduate students, in collaboration with high school faculty and administration, to develop a knowledge base and policy-oriented resolutions that they can bring to the conference. High school faculty may opt to assign the project to an entire class, select a few students to participate in the UIC conference, or they may designate delegations that would participate as an extracurricular activity. Both male and female students are encouraged to participate.

Over a period of eight to ten weeks, high school delegates, guided by UIC student mentors, will learn about women's and girls' political rights, economic rights, educational rights, religious issues, health and reproductive issues, and security issues within the context of their assigned country or region. Students will make use of a wide range of printed and web-based sources to conduct their research. Delegates will prepare resolutions and develop reasoned arguments based on their own research in support of their initiatives. On January 11, 2014, all delegations, along with their UIC student advisers, will attend a day-long conference at UIC. At the conference, delegates will engage in discussion, make presentations, and debate the various proposals and resolutions put forth by the different countries.

The broader goals of this project are several: First and foremost, MWC claims to stimulate high school and college students' interest in women's lives throughout the world. Second, the project encourages students to think about how and why political agendas and priorities are formed and what is at stake in pursuing particular goals. Third, the project brings energetic and engaged local high school students to UIC, introducing them to the possibility of pursuing their studies at UIC or a similar institution. Fourth, the project takes UIC students outside the confines of the university into the community. The conference will provide high school students with an opportunity to engage in a structured and multi-disciplinary inquiry into the lives of women world-wide and a venue for presenting their ideas and research in a formal conference setting. Moreover, over the course of the several weeks preceding the actual conference, these high school students will develop meaningful relationships with UIC students and their faculty advisers, relationships that will be nurtured in the ensuing months by UIC Gender and Women's Studies faculty and students.

The Model World Conference on Women’s and Girls’ Rights has tremendous potential for stimulating creative thinking about the challenges faced by women throughout the world and the ways that people positioned differently think about those challenges.