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Penn Law establishes fellowships with UN Women and UN Global Compact

September 28, 2016

The University of Pennsylvania Law School has entered into Memoranda of Understanding with UN Women and the UN Global Compact to establish fellowships for Penn Law students to work with UN Women on issues of gender equality and the law and with the UN Global Compact on human rights and decent work.

“We are excited to be strengthening our ongoing partnerships with UN Women and the UN Global Compact, and we look forward to our students working with their organizations to strengthen the rights of people throughout the world,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of Penn Law.

“Penn Law students now have an opportunity to be part of two fellowship programs at the United Nations, with UN Women’s New York headquarters and in the Americas, and at the UN Global Compact,” said Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Associate Dean for International Programs at Penn Law. “These initiatives provide an unparalleled opportunity for our students to work on legal reform in the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and on the intersections of human rights and business.”

“Gender equality under law and practice globally remains one of the major challenges of the 21st century,” added de Silva de Alwis.

Throughout the year, Penn Law has been partnering with UN Women on issues of gender equality. In February, the two organizations held an event to highlight the vital role of law schools, law students, and lawyers in securing the full rights of women and girls around the globe.

The event included remarks from Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, and Ruger, and concluded with a panel discussion by de Silva de Alwis; Mejía Vélez, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations; Dubravka Šimonović, United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls; and William Burke-White, Penn Law professor and the inaugural director of the Perry World House.

In addition, in May of this year, Penn Law students from de Silva de Alwis’s seminar on International Women’s Rights presented a report to UN Women at UN Headquarters in New York. The report examined gender equality in lawmaking and constitutionmaking in emerging democracies.

Starting this fall, for the first time, two Penn Law students are working as externs at UN Women on policy research for the new four-year Strategic Plan for UN Women. They are supervised by de Silva de Alwis at Penn Law. 

UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, the organization was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. Among other issues, UN Women works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; empowerment of women; and achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action, and peace and security.

As the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the UN Global Compact helps corporations align strategies with human rights, environment protections, and labor regulations. With over 16,000 CEO commitments across 160 countries, the UN Global Compact sees businesses as a force for good. 

Penn Law traces its history to 1790 when James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, framer of the Constitution, and member of the first U.S. Supreme Court, delivered the University of Pennsylvania’s first lectures in law to President George Washington and members of his Cabinet. Today the hallmarks of the Penn Law experience are a cross-disciplinary, globally-focused legal education, and vibrant and collegial community. Penn Law prepares graduates to navigate an increasingly complex world as leaders and influential decision-makers in the law and related fields.