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A Day in the Life

"I was exposed to the vast initiatives and projects being developed and implemented by the Ministry in order to aid and empower women who have been incapacitated and rendered miserable as result of the sexism rife in the patriarchal Nigerian society."

Nancy Stephen '17 Johnson Opportunity Grant Winner Intern at the Federal Ministry for Women Affairs and Social Development in Abuja, Nigeria

From mid-June through early August, I interned with the Federal Ministry for Women Affairs and Social Development (FMWASD) in Abuja, Nigeria. More specifically, I worked hand-in-hand with the Director of the Women and Gender Affairs (WGA) Department of the Ministry, Mrs. Esther Mshelia. Prior to my experience, I was almost certain that the Ministry did little to nothing to address encumbrances encountered by the average Nigerian female on a daily basis. However, my perception of FMWASD's work changed during my internship. I was exposed to the vast initiatives and projects being developed and implemented by the Ministry in order to aid and empower women who have been incapacitated and rendered miserable as result of the sexism rife in the patriarchal Nigerian society.

Throughout the eight weeks I worked at FMWASD, my three areas of focus were physical abuse and sexual violence, women's economic empowerment and women in politics. Of all the work I carried out in these three fields, I most especially enjoyed supporting the creation of a policy brief on reversing poverty trends in Nigeria through women's empowerment initiatives. Creating this policy brief entailed research on past poverty initiatives adopted by the Nigerian government and their failures, and on the nexus between poverty and gender in Nigeria. It also required me to gain an understanding of the Ministry's proposed Safety Net program to the federal government to eradicate poverty. The policy brief took one week to assemble, and the typical routine for working on the brief during that week was as follows:

Given the deadline assigned by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, working hours for the week were extended by an hour. Mrs. Esther Mshelia (DWGA) headed the creation of the policy brief. My colleagues and I worked individually for four hours on our assigned roles in preparing the brief, and then met at noon in the conference room to present our progress to one another. After that, it was back to the drawing board to amend unsatisfactory areas in our work. After compiling 10 pages of information, we had to convert it all into a three-page policy brief for presentation to the Presidency after approval from the Permanent Secretary. The conversion process involved seeking the input of some of the Ministry's international partners, like UNDP and Action Aid.

Developing the brief was an amazing and informative experience that gave me the opportunity to discuss and even network with masterminds in the U.N. and other NGOs.

Global Experience

Lexington, Virginia, is a warm, welcoming and historic college town located in the Great Valley of Virginia. Yet Washington and Lee maintains a vibrant multicultural community, with global opportunities reaching far beyond the campus' borders.

In Action People and Programs

Lexington, Virginia, is a warm, welcoming and historic college town located in the Great Valley of Virginia between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Yet Washington and Lee maintains a vibrant multicultural community, with global opportunities reaching far beyond the campus' borders.

Students at Washington and Lee are encouraged to study abroad, whether it be for a year, a semester or a four-week, faculty-led Spring Term course. Some students seek out international programs for summer experiences and can find funding through Johnson Opportunity Grants or other institutional aid. Over 60 percent of our students study abroad at some point in their undergraduate experience, and students who show significant commitment to global interaction may apply to have their experiences recognized with a Certificate of International Immersion.

W&L's commitment to global learning extends to the faculty as well. Professors are encouraged to integrate international experiences and perspectives in their teaching and research. International students, scholars and performers bring new cultural perspectives to campus, while partnerships with a number of universities and programs abroad provide both students and faculty with valuable research opportunities.

In 2014, the University broke ground on the Center for Global Learning, a 26,000-square-foot facility that will house several language departments, classrooms, instructional labs and public spaces that will encourage student and faculty interaction.

Outside the classroom, students can to apply to live in one of two international theme houses and join a number of globally minded student organizations, which plan events and bring together students interested in a global undergraduate experience throughout the year.

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At a Glance Facts and Figures

Over 60% of the class of 2013 participated in an international experience during their  four years at W&L.
Last year, students studied, interned, did research or volunteered in 45 different countries.
W&L broke ground on the $13.5 million Center for Global Learning in 2014.
W&L students hail from 38 countries.
W&L offers 15-20 Spring Term Abroad courses offered annually.
W&L received $796 thousand in grant funds to support the development of new programs and projects in international education.

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Washington and Lee University provides a liberal arts education that develops students' capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.