Anamika Goyal, M.Arch. ’17, spoke on a panel at the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) March 13-14, one of the largest annual gatherings of global leaders, nongovernmental organizations, private sector officials, United Nations partners and activists focusing on the status of rights and empowerment of all women and girls.
The theme of the session, held at U.N. headquarters in New York City, was “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.” Goyal’s participation was sponsored by Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) and Voices of African Mothers (VAM).
Goyal gave several examples of low-tech supporting high-tech from her work with CUSD on building the VAM Village Girls’ Academy in Sogakope, Ghana. In addition to two semesters of design work with CUSD and a recent research-focused site visit to Ghana, Goyal is now designing the bathroom blocks at the school.
“So many girls in developing countries drop out of school around age 10-12, right when they begin menstruation,” Goyal said. “Providing a safe, clean, adequately private bathroom facility that can help keep girls in school will have a tremendously positive ripple effect at a national level.”
Other Cornell panelists included N’Dri Assie-Lumumba, professor of African and diaspora education, comparative and international education, social institutions, African social history, and the study of gender in the Africana Studies and Research Center, and Ndunge Kiiti, visiting professor in International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
As a first-generation woman in the U.S., Goyal says she had a particularly meaningful experience at CSW61. She is increasingly passionate about promoting women in architecture and about education gender equality in parts of Asia, Africa and South America, where she has traveled during her time at Cornell. She hopes to attend the annual event in future and to see more men in attendance.
“The status of women and the status of men are parts of a whole, inextricably connected and interdependent,” Goyal said. “It is time for more people to realize that women are not a ‘minority group.’ We are half of the planet, and it is in the best interest of people of all genders to actively engage in discussions about women’s issues.”
Patti Witten is a writer for the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.