Breaking down the barriers

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Putting in: Hannah Callow spent most of last year as a skilled volunteer at the Women’s Resource Centre at Siem Reap, Cambodia. She is pictured with volunteers Vanthat and Pisey. Picture: Supplied

A MOUNT Martha woman living and volunteering in Cambodia over the past year will represent the Australian Youth Voice at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

Then, after returning from New York, she will head to Austria to complete an internship with the Australian Embassy and Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna.

The New York conference, originally to be held this month (March), was last week postponed until July because of the caronavirus outbreak.

Travel has become a constant factor in the life of Hannah Callow, who wants to use her Global Voices Youth Scholarship to inspire other young people in the community to “think globally”.

The 64th UN Commission on the Status of Women is a week-long scholarship program of discussions and side events at which Ms Callow will be able to discuss challenges facing women with leaders in the gender equality field.

Through a fellowship program, she will complete a policy paper on the power of informal financial literacy education aimed at improving rural women’s workforce participation through entrepreneurship.

Ms Callow spent most of last year as a skilled volunteer at the Women’s Resource Centre at Siem Reap, Cambodia. Through the Australian Volunteers Program she hopes to highlight the similarities of issues faced by women across the Indo-pacific region.

The resource centre offers free classes to disadvantaged women and women entrepreneurs on such topics as financial literacy, positive parenting, women’s health and women’s rights and gender.

Ms Callow said she was excited at the prospect of exploring the application of this model to rural communities in Australia. “I am studying a masters of sustainable tourism management because I’m interested in how one of the world’s largest industries can be used to create sustainable employment for marginalised groups,” she said.

“This policy fellowship is an excellent opportunity to examine female empowerment through the breaking down of barriers to workforce participation.”

Ms Callow has continued her studies via distance education through Central Queensland University, which is sponsoring her scholarship. She is an advocate for responsible volunteering. “Though well intentioned, Third World tourism and, in particular, ‘voluntourism’, often causes more harm than good to local communities,” she said.

“Studying sustainable tourism while participating in long-term skilled volunteering has taught me how we can best support developing countries through responsible volunteering.

“Staying for longer and focusing on building the capacity of local staff is key to sustainable development.”

Ms Callow said Global Voices was a youth-led Australian not-for profit committed to developing the next generation of leaders by providing practical experience in policymaking, international relations, and diplomacy.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 10 March 2020

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