IPED’s Bianca Vinoya Champions Women’s Rights with MADRE

By Bianca Nicole Vinoya

This summer, I worked as an intern at the Policy and Campaigns team of MADRE, an international women’s nonprofit organization based in New York. Over last spring, I deliberately chose to apply for organizations that focused on women’s issues: I knew that I wanted to continue conducting research on gender, and I wanted to improve my skills in policy analysis. This internship presented the best opportunity for me, and I was fortunate enough that the team selected me for the position. 

Most of our work focused on US foreign policy: how do these policies affect women worldwide, and what can we do to make them more progressive and feminist? One of my main projects over the summer was assisting in MADRE’s webinar on COVID-19 and Indigenous women: how were Indigenous women experiencing the impacts of the pandemic? What are Indigenous women leaders doing on the ground to combat the pandemic and the other crises that came with it? And what can the US Congress do to respond to these urgent needs? We hosted this webinar with leaders from our partner Indigenous women’s grassroots organizations from Nepal, Tanzania, and the US, and the Office of Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1), one of the first Native American women to be elected to the US Congress. Aside from this project, I also did analyses on US climate policies and COVID-19 relief packages, and we conducted several meetings with congressional offices to give them updates on the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen – and what women leaders and peacebuilders are doing to respond.

It is even more glaring now, with a pandemic in place, how important and undervalued women’s work is in all corners of the world. We see how women are impacted differently by this pandemic, and how gender intersects with other parts of their identities such as race, class, sexuality, ability, immigration status, and the like. Women continue to do the work that is ‘invisible,’ but women do them nonetheless: the world would collapse without women’s work. At MADRE, we try to make this work visible and call on US leaders to help form a care-based economy, a feminist foreign policy, and ultimately, a just world for women.