Working to Empower Women, Build Peace

December 17, 2012 | By Cathleen Brantley, Class of 2014, Recipient of Marjorie P. Maute Memorial Fellowship and David L. Boren and Molly Shi Boren Public Service Fellowship

I worked at the Institute for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Oklahoma City. The Institute’s mission is to promote peace by creating economically stable societies. I worked specifically with the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program, which selects 30 women from Rwanda and 30 women from Afghanistan to participate in an intensive business basics course in their home country. From those 60, the top 15 from each country are selected to come to America for a three-week business “boot camp” that consists of a week of further training at a university in Texas, a week of shadowing an American businesswoman, and finally, attendance at the International Women’s Economic Summit in Washington, D.C. 

As the programs intern, I was in charge of several different aspects related to planning the women’s trip to America and their arrangements while they were in the country. This included booking flights, planning meals, finding mentors all across America, and planning for a fashion show to display some of our fashion design students’ works. 

Once the women were in America, I traveled to both Texas and Washington to be able to participate in the training and the summit, and to help the women adjust to life in America. I was also in charge of helping plan the summit by contacting speakers, including several congresswomen and nationally known successful businesswomen, writing speaker’s notes, and organizing security. 

In between these duties, I was also able to contribute to a grant proposal to the United States Institute for Peace, as well as a proposal to the Rwandan government on exporting women’s goods from the country. 

IEEW helps these wonderful women further their businesses, grow their self-confidence, and have a life-changing experience in America. Their time here, which I helped coordinate, is something they will never forget, and the knowledge they gained will help shape the people in their home countries, too. 

I also made countless contacts through planning the Institute’s various events, so it was invaluable to my future. Our students and staff even got to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton! I worked over 300 hours in this unpaid position, so without the help of the fellowships provided by the law school, I simply would not have been able to have the amazing summer I did.

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