In Her Words: My Summer Internship with United Nations Women in New York City

October 1, 2018 | By Meghan Dobbins, 3L
Meghan Dobbins

I had the amazing opportunity to spend my summer in New York City, interning in the Legal Division of UN Women. UN Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to the empowerment of women and gender equality. UN Women is at the forefront of the push toward closing the gender pay gap and securing equal rights for all women and girls around the world. It was exciting to have been involved in such an effort. While overall, the United Nations and UN Women are large international organizations, the legal division of UN Women was comprised of three attorneys, so there was always work to be done.

The Legal Division is instrumental in enabling the organization to advance the goal of eliminating discrimination against women and girls of all ages. I had the opportunity to assist in numerous projects that had global impacts. The Legal Division has the duty of providing legal advice to both the directorate of the organization and headquarters, as well as the regional and country offices. In order to support the UN Women attorneys in carrying out various contracts and agreement, I was expected to complete extensive research within the United Nations Dispute and Appeals Tribunal jurisprudence and New York jurisprudence. I was exposed to many different areas of law and developed critical skills. Much of the experience centered around contract law and involved learning how to review, negotiate and settle disputes arising from agreements.

In addition to the skill I received therein, I gained experience in the areas of privileges and immunities and disciplinary matters. I was also involved in drafting and interpreting organization policies and procedures. Throughout my internship, I found that the knowledge and skills I acquired in Professor Aswad’s International Law Foundations class and International Human Rights class contributed greatly to my success.

Meghan Dobbins' UN Women Internship

When I was not in the office, my supervisor encouraged me to attend as many meetings at the Secretariat as possible. One I will always remember was a discussion regarding the occurrence and effect of rape during conflicts and how to eliminate it. This was a powerful reminder of why we were all there — to honestly work toward making the world a better and safer place for all.

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park in New York City

Not all my days were spent in the office or in meetings. I had many opportunities to spend days exploring the city, and even got to watch France win the World Cup in the middle of a French street festival! Overall, this summer was one of the best experiences of my life; I was able to meet so many incredible individuals from all over the world who are working together to make a difference. This experience would not have been possible without my amazing professors and advisors at OU Law. It was during this summer that I truly felt the confirmation that I have made the right decision to pursue a legal career and, following graduation in May 2019, to move permanently to New York City.

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