Commission on the Status of Women

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Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the Commission on the Status of Women!  My name is Grace Sullivan, and I am thrilled to be serving as your Director for HNMUN 2019.

I am a sophomore at Harvard College concentrating in Social Studies.  I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. In high school, I was very invested in government simulations and debate.  I competed in public forum debate, student congress, and mock trial in addition to running a statewide program called Youth and Government where high school students held a mock legislative session at the state capital.  I only participated in a little Model United Nations when I was a high schooler, but the experience clearly left an impression on me, as Model United Nations has become my favorite activity at Harvard. My freshman year, I assistant directed the Historical Security Council at our high school conference HMUN and assistant directed the Historical General Assembly at HNMUN.  I also serve as a deputy director for Harvard’s competive intercollegiate travel team and plan on directing the Commission on the Status of Women at HMUN China in March. I love the incredible delegates, teammates, and friends Model United Nations has brought into my life, and I hope I get to share some of my passion with you at conference. In addition to Model United Nations, I teach civics class to fifth graders in Boston public schools and spend my free time doing political work.

I am particularly excited to be working with you on this Commission on the Status of Women.  My hope is that you gain an increased passion for the cause of women’s rights and a newfound appreciation for the contentious process of finding solutions to these problems.  One thing Model United Nations has taught me is that even a room full of people sharing a well-intentioned goal can be painfully divided over the best policy pathways towards achieving that goal.  I hope to see you embrace your country positions with respect and empathy as you tackle this challenge.

I cannot wait to meet you all and hear both your personal thoughts on these topics and the thoughts of the nations you represent.  In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


Grace Sullivan
Director, Commission on the Status of Women
Harvard National Model United Nations 2019

Topic Area A: Trafficking of Women and Girls

According to Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of the book Half the Sky, there are ten times as many women today effectively missing from the population than there were enslaved persons at the peak of the African slave trade in the 1780s.  Thus, gendercide is the moral outrage of our century. Sex trafficking and labor trafficking of women and girls are key factors of the equation by which female lives are constantly being subtracted.  These issues affect countries from the United States to Somalia, Slovakia to Thailand.

On July 30, 2010, the General Assembly adopted the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  Most notably, this action created a fund to be used for the women and children who are victims of trafficking. Despite this action, the UN still estimates that somewhere between 1 and 4 million individuals are currently in sex slavery.  The vast variability in these estimates indicates the difficulty of facing a problem that exists so effectively in the space between the shadows and state permissiveness. As obviously abhorrent as trafficking in persons may seem, contention surrounding solutions runs deep and will drive debate in this committee.

Topic Area B: Healthcare Inequality

In the United States, abortion access is restricted and women pay higher healthcare premiums than men.  In the Democratic Republic of Congo, sexual violence leaves women suffering from fistulas, and with only 1 physician per 10,000 people, too few women ever get the chance to be healed.  Some women, however, never get the chance to live at all as sex selective abortions reduce the female population in the People’s Republic of China. Thus, healthcare inequality is yet another factor of gendercide that is truly a worldwide phenomenon.

In 1995, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was initially adopted.  In Paragraph 277 c, the platform calls for an end to prenatal sex selection and female infanticide.  While the moral outrage informing this UN action is well placed, I would like to see this committee develop stronger policy solutions to affect actual change on this issue and the plethora of other healthcare inequalities women face.  Until then, the promise of the Beijing Declaration will remain unfulfilled.