Architecture Graduate Student Presents at U.N. Commission on the Status of Women

Four women seated at a table during a conference
Seated second from left, Anamika Goyal (M.Arch. '17) was invited to speak on a panel at the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) in New York City. photo / provided
A child and a women kneeling near a concrete building
Anamika Goyal (M.Arch. '17) on a site visit to the VAM Village Girls' Academy in Sogakope, Ghana. photo / Ana Moura-Cook
a village school building in Ghana
In Ghana, Goyal and her research group visited a project of the Sabre Charitable Trust to learn more about their work building sustainable schools in Ghana. photo / Ana Moura-Cook
March 23, 2017

Anamika Goyal (M.Arch. '17) recently spoke on a panel at the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), one of the largest annual gatherings of global leaders, NGOs, private sector actors, U.N. partners, and activists from around the world focusing on the status of rights and empowerment of all women and girls.

The theme of the session, which was held on March 13 and 14 at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, was "Women's Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work." Goyal's participation was made possible by Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) and Voices of African Mothers (VAM). Goyal was invited to speak on the CSW panel titled "African Women Using Technology" by Nana Fosu-Randall, VAM's founder and former CFO of the U.N.

During her presentation, 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 as well as 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 says. "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."

The other panelists were 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 at Cornell; Ndunge Kiiti, visiting professor in International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and Mary Olushoga, founder of AWP Network, Nigeria.

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. 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."

By Patti Witten