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Introducing delegates to the Commission on Status of Women!

Welcome our newest Agents of Change! 

The SustainUS youth delegation to the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-57) will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from March 4-15, 2013. The commission is dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. More information on the Commission can be found on their website. The following delegates will be following the conference, writing about their experiences, and meeting with other people working on the conference's theme, which is the "Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls."


Delegation Leader Emma Gaalaas Mullaney grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was here in the Midwest – whether through conversation with her extended family of Norwegian farmers, reconstructing animals skeletons found in the woods, or training horses and teaching riding lessons – that she cultivated the fascination with relationships between humans and environments that guides her to this day. Since she began as an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College, she has drawn on theories and methodologies from a wide range of disciplines in both the natural and social sciences to study questions of agriculture, livelihoods, and environmental justice. Field work beginning in 2002 has taken her from Lake Michigan, to the Bronx River, to the Long Island Sound, to small farms in Mexico, Ecuador, and Dominica. She has also collected testimony from female veterans of the East Timorese Resistance movement as a Research Associate with the Foundation for Post Conflict Development. Her academic work is intimately connected to her political engagement, and Emma remains devoted to community projects in several contexts. She helped to found and lead a local food rescue and redistribution program, and taught ecology to elementary students in the South Bronx, NY. Emma received an M.A. in Geography from Miami University for her work on indigenous land rights and management practices in the Carib Territory of Dominica. Since 2010, she has helped to coordinate and lead SustainUS youth delegations to the United Nations Conventions on Biological Diversity and Commissions on the Status of Women.

Emma is currently a PhD candidate pursuing a dual-degree in Geography and Women’s Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation explores maize diversity, agricultural modernization, and the everyday experience of agricultural workers in Mexico’s Central Highland region.



Anna is a young scholar and a student activist in international development. She is currently a senior at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. In the past, she worked as a youth spokesperson on climate issues with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. She is a G(irls)20 Summit Ambassador for her country of origin, Russia. Anna initiated and implemented a number of community service projects with the International Research and Exchanges Board of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and Winrock International, sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Last summer she worked in Nepal as an independent researcher with the Nepal Development Research Institute. She is an online columnist for the Voice of America Student Union and a deputy director at Voice for Human Rights. Anna aspires to the position of World Bank Chief Economist. 



I am Jessa Garibay from the Philippines. I am currently participating as an International Fellow in a program based here in Seattle with a non-government environmental organization. Back in the Philippines, I mainly do lectures with fisher folks and coastal communities regarding environmental awareness, and has worked extensively with children in providing them with a good experience of learning about the environment by doing acts to protect it. I am affiliated with Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE)-Philippines. We mainly do programs with the youth involving a lot of student leaders from the grassroots level and train them to be more aware in issues surrounding gender equality, sexuality and prostitution. Over the years, my organization has worked on campaigning against domestic violence and promoting reproductive health for women in our community by conducting seminars and trainings, as well as organizing parades and setting up informational booths in universities throughout my province.

I am highly interested in attending the Commission on the status of Women because I believe that there is a lot to learn, and that I can gain inspiration to better improve our projects back at home. It is also a good network to share experiences and empower other leaders by sharing personal insights from our places of origin and the struggles that we have to face especially coming from a developing country. Also, my interest revolves around the optimism of striving to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls. Growing up in a province set-up in the Philippines, I have seen violence happen in my community and even as close to my own circle of friends and family. I have a good understanding of what it is like to be in the shoes of women whom their rights have been violated and the continued struggles they face because of double standardization and continued gender inequalities.



Elizabeth Tang grew up in Los Angeles, CA and graduated from Harvard College in 2011 with a B.A. in Economics. She is currently pursuing a JD/MBA at the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, she was an investment banker and a strategic consultant for an anti-trafficking non-profit serving the red light area of Mumbai, India.





Amanda Nesheiwat currently works as an Environmental Coordinator for the town of Secaucus. She serves as a Commissioner as well as the town's Chairwoman of the Environmental Committee.  Amanda works with young people all around NJ as the State Leader for the Energy Action Coalition and the founder of a group called New Jersey Sustainable Collegiate Partners- a group of over 300 students representing 14 colleges in NJ. She is a UN youth representative for the Foundation for Post Conflict Development and graduated with an Environmental Science Degree from Ramapo College. Amanda has been an activist for 3 years now and is vocal on issues like climate justice, and women's empowerment.  After attending Rio+20 in Brazil and COP18 in Qatar, Amanda has been particularly interested in sustainability and climate justice. Amanda's involvement with local and international environmental initiatives has landed her a spot on Hudson County's 50 most influential people of 2012.




I am Aditi Bhowmick, a Freshman at the College Of Arts & Science at Cornell University. I am studying Economics and Government and am pursuing a Minor in International  Relations. I am a keen debater and an ardent lover of art, literature and poetry. I write as a columnist in the Opinion section of The Cornell Daily Sun. I am the Secretary of the South Asian Council at Cornell. Like most students studying in liberal arts institutions, I am very uncertain about where my life is going. However, I do know that I want to be a “thought leader”. I believe true leadership is contingent on courage of conviction and compassion for others. I believe that the need of the hour is ethical and enlightened leadership. As a direct result of my MUN experiences and participation in student exchanges and various leadership summits during High School, I already feel greatly drawn towards an international and a multicultural community. Learning in such a community enriches and gives a deeper meaning to the entire experience. When we study with students from every part of the world, be it Syria or Sierra Leone, we realize the relevance of ethnic harmony surpassing ethnic strife. We will truly grasp the greater dimension of international peace and will become responsible global citizens. Education is the key to getting rid of bigotry, violence, terror, the Eurozone crisis, famines and most vices that plague our social milieu. I want to be a teacher and an economist after I formally finish my higher education while the stream of informal information will inevitably continue.



Navreet Deo is a first generation Sikh-American from Fairfax, Virginia. She is a senior pursuing dual degrees in Environmental Policy & Planning and Political Science at Virginia Tech. For the past several years she has devoted her time and energy to championing environmental conservation and resource management across several college campuses and surrounding communities. As a Project Manager in the Virginia Tech Office of Energy and Sustainability Navreet is responsible for leading environmental initiatives directed towards increasing campus sustainability. She has previously worked in the environmental non-profit sector as a grassroots campaign leader with The Alliance for Climate Protection, advocating for environmental legislation, lobbying the offices of Senators Warner and Webb, engaging community members in direct action initiatives, and organizing educational outreach. Her extracurricular interests lie in studying ecological agriculture and promoting sustainable cultivating practices among rural and small scale farmers. Outside her work as an environmental activist, Navreet enjoys hiking and traveling. After completing her undergraduate education she aims to study environmental law or sustainable land use and development. 



Olivia Pecora: I was President of the Westfield High School Chapter and the Junior Board Chair for the non-profit organization Girls Learn International, a program of the Feminist Majority Foundation. I have worked with GLI for 7 years planning fundraisers, advocacy projects, and corresponding with partner schools overseas. Through my connection with GLI, I have developed a passion advocating for women’s right to education. This passion was cultivated by attendance at and participation in various conferences where I spoke about my experiences as a young activist and the GLI program. As a youth delegate at the CSW 56, I was a girl journalist for Plan International. I worked with nine girls from rural Africa and Asia to aid them in writing their personal stories, which were then presented during the CSW.

Currently, I am a freshman in the Schreyer Honors College at The Pennsylvania State University, double majoring in Women’s Studies and Community, Environment, and Development. At Penn State, I am involved in the largest student-run philanthropy, THON, a 46 hour dance marathon that raises money for the Four Diamonds Foundation and Hershey Medical Center, in hopes of finding a cure for pediatric cancer.




Clara Basasingohe is a global citizen who is passionate about women's rights. She is an activist interested in women's empowerment and international development - from fighting to end violence against women to making sure that rape is taken seriously. She is a feminist who hopes to pursue a career advocating for reproductive justice. In the past she has worked with different youth in marginalized areas. She is currently an active human rights ambassador.

""Be the change you would like to see in the world"" by Gandhi is one of her favorite quotes."




Stacy Justo was born in Santiago, Chile, but now currently lives in Bethlehem, PA. She's a freshman currently planning to triple major in Philosophy, International Politics with a concentration in International Relations, and French and Francophone studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her love of languages and her dreams to go to law school has led her to pursue these interests. Over the summer of 2012, she has worked in one of the law firm offices of Baurkot & Baurkot in Easton, PA and now is involved in organizations such as Ohana, an organization dedicated to raising money for pediatric cancer, and a sister of the Sigma Sigma Sigma, Beta Upsilon Chapter at Penn State. During her free time, she loves to cook (especially crêpes), travel around the world with her family, and cruise through manhattan.




Maneesha Chitanvis was born and raised in Northern New Mexico.  At Cornell University, she is a Cornell Tradition Fellow majoring in Biology and Society with concentrations in Global Health and Nutrition. She serves as editor-in-chief of the Ivy Journal of Ethics, a student-run journal that publishes bioethics-related works of undergraduates from across the country. She has also spent time researching and working within the non-profit sector of medical care in Mumbai, India.  In addition, Maneesha was a four-year starter and senior captain of the Cornell Women’s Soccer Team, where she has received All-Conference and All-Ivy Academic accolades.  At CSW57, she is particularly interested in engaging in discussions concerning the negative reproductive health outcomes of women and young girls in resource-poor settings.




Eva Drago graduated from Cornell University in May 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. As an undergraduate, Eva devoted much of her time to advocating for women’s rights. Through the Cornell Women’s Resource Center, Eva pushed for change within the University’s system for handling sexual violence, organized a multitude of events around International Women’s Day, enhanced Cornell’s late night transportation system, and facilitated a weekly feminist discussion group. As a Cornell Rawlings Presidential Scholar, Eva conducted research on female undergraduates in STEM fields, and later received funding to travel to Iceland in 2012 to complete research for her honors thesis, “Lessons from the North: The Icelandic Women’s Alliance (1982-1999)”. Following an internship at the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, an NGO based in south India, Eva helped establish a Global Service Learning Program which enables students to volunteer and study through the organization each summer. Eva’s passion and extensive coursework in disability rights led to an internship at the QuadPara Association of South Africa, where she designed and delivered a series of employment skills trainings for people with mobility impairments. Eva now lives and works in New York City, where she enjoys taking long coffee-fueled strolls through the city. 




Emilie Litsas recently packed her bags from her home in Long Island, New York to attend school at American University's School of International Service in Washington, DC. She spent two years of high school researching the repercussions of civil war on the Liberian people and their access to health resources. She is particularly struck by the unjust treatment of women in various societies, specifically the social-accepted practice of rape and human trafficking, and she aspires to lift the voices of suppressed victims. Emilie's commitments include serving the Regional Council of Compass Partners and working with a team to start a vertical urban garden in a food desert of Washington, DC. In 2012, Emilie was a Bank of America Student Leader, an intern at the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, an Opportunity Nation Scholar, and a facilitator of her local Rotary district's Youth Leadership Awards. If you cannot find her hunched over a laptop or talking to a new friend, Emilie may be happily lost in a foreign language, a jazz standard, a philosophical debate, or a baking recipe. She is ecstatic and honored to serve in the SustainUS Commission on the Status of Women!




Sarah Handler is currently a freshman at Bradley University, where she is studying Industrial Engineering and Political Science. A lover of both science and the arts, she is interested in utilizing both in order to find creative ways to solve pressing environmental and social problems. In her free time, Sarah enjoys hiking in the woods, making art, reading, and spending time with friends and family. Incredibly passionate about gender equality and women's issues, she is ecstatic to be a part of SustainUS's delegation to CSW-57 and is eager to address pressing issues facing women and girls today. She has a particular interest in sexual and reproductive rights, stopping violence against women, disability rights, and increasing educational opportunities for women and girls, and she hopes to spend her time at CSW-57 advocating for and focusing on these topics. She is also currently SustainUS's Outreach Coordinator.


Joan Soto is from Puerto Rico. She is studying Public Relations and Advertising at University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. Since 2007, she was a peer facilitator to promote family planning and prevent unwanted pregnancies and other risks, among young adolescents. Nowadays, she is a Director in the Board of Directors of Puertorican Association of Family Wellbeing (Profamilia) . She developed initiatives through different workshops and a blog: www.joanmsoto.wordpress.com. These efforts have the focus to empower young people about sexual health and Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Her interest in sexuality topics, was the inspiration to participate in various conferences, such as: 2nd International Conference on Family Planning in Senegal Africa, International Conference on AIDS 2012 in Washington, D.C. and others. Recently, she received a Fellowship of Sierra Club to participated in One Voice Summit on Reproductive Health and Environment. At CSW57, she is interested in the linking between the importance of real sex education to promote Sexual and Reproductive Rights of woman and girls and eradicate violence.



Sarah Gengler graduated from Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN, in May 2012, with degrees in Social Justice and Conflict Studies and a minor in Political Science. She has always felt a need to improve the livelihoods of others and has spent time in Honduras working on two development projects as well as spending a summer working in a malnutrition center for children. This vision of the future lead her to join her university’s Model United Nations team throughout her undergraduate career, which participates in the National MUN conference every spring in New York City. In addition to her own participation in MUN, she interned and worked for the Global Classrooms Program in Minnesota (UNA-USA) for three years, teaching middle and high school students of the Twin Cities-Metro area skills ranging from research to negotiation and resolution and then facilitating MUN simulations. The understanding of global discourse garnered through her degrees and extracurriculars led her to spend a month studying the history of and current situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Israel and Palestine.

In light of these experiences, Sarah plans to pursue a Masters in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University in 2016. She is currently living in her hometown of Le Mars, Iowa, while awaiting departure to Burkina Faso in June, where she will be working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the area of Education with a focus on gender empowerment through education and working with her host community to implement practices for quality education.



Hamsa Fayed is a Paterno Fellows Scholar at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science and Business with a minor in Arabic. In Penn State, she holds executive positions in Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Egyptian Student Association (ESA). She is now in the developing stages of creating the first ever Muslim Sorority in Penn State and has been elected interim president. This summer, she has plans to participate in an internship for Human Rights and Environmentalism Public Interest Campaign. Her passion for women’s issues began as a student in an introductory Women’s Studies course. Now as an Arab and Muslim Feminist, she understands the importance of respect and preservation of cultural differences across the globe. For this reason she has joined the CSW 57 to contribute cultural insight and to create awareness for women of third-world countries who are often perceived as "different." She hopes to explore the policy-implementation side of a grass-roots operation. 


Rachel Bradford is currently a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences at Cornell University. She will complete her bachelor's degree in History this May. Her studies in history have led her to do extensive research on the status of women during genocides and how society treats them after incidences of mass violence. Rachel's academic background focuses primarily on European History and International Humanitarianism.  Rachel exercises her passion for politics and international affairs through her extensive involvement in Model United Nations. She has had the privilege of travelling with the Cornell International Affairs Society across the North America to participate in collegiate Model United Nations Conferences. While home in New Jersey, Rachel has done work with the Global Classroom's Program through the United Nations Association of the US- she served as a Chair of the UN Environmental Commission for their Middle School Model United Nations Conference.  Outside of more serious affairs, Rachel is a resident advisor to first year students at Cornell University and volunteer manager to the Cornell Men's Varsity Soccer Team. In the summer of 2012, she had the amazing opportunity to exercise her love of art working in Education and External Affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  Other delegates (bios forthcoming):
  Ritika Gopal
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