“Intersectionality oppression across borders is very much apparent. No matter where you are, women share similar experiences and issues — be it violence against women, gender pay gap, or underrepresentation. Therefore, the responses or strategies should be built on women’s solidarity, women’s collectivities, exercising one’s agency, building relationship not only among women but also with men, investment in research, and most importantly cultivating or mentoring young blood.” This was the reflection note of Melanie Reyes who was among the 15 delegates to the International Visitors’ Leadership Program (IVLP) held last April 7 to 27 in the USA. Reyes is a faculty of Miriam College’s International Studies Department and Program Coordinator of the Women and Gender Institute.
The IVLP is the US Department of State’s premier professional exchange program that provides opportunity for selected individuals from all over the world to visit the US and interact and engage with current and emerging leaders involved in various fields. The theme for this this multi-regional project is “Women in Politics and Civil Society” which aims to examine the US experience in promoting women’s contributions to the workplace and public life. The delegates were able to examine the political system in the US both at the federal and state level. During the three week program, the delegates were able to visit and meet with women political leaders such as Mayor Joyce Craig, the first woman Mayor of Manchester; Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Representative Karen Kwan, the first openly gay mayor and first Chinese American representative of Salt Lake City, respectively; and Felicia Kahn, a lifelong political activist in New Orleans, among others.
Reyes was joined by other women delegates from Algeria, Chile, Kyrgyzstan, India, Gambia, Jordan, Macedonia, Morocco, Nepal, Poland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and Sierra Leone.