Won Sun (Flora) Baik, BSILR ‘13
International Labour Organization, Pretoria, South Africa
The way I think, do, and see things have been challenged from all different angles during my time in South Africa. I decided to set foot on this new democratic country because I wanted exposure to an international NGO as well as labor relations-related work.
As an intern at a field office of the International Labour Organization (ILO)—an agency of the United Nations—I partook responsibility in 3 varying projects and programs. My main assignment is to assist country of Lesotho revise their National Action Plan (NAP) towards elimination of child labor. I worked closely with Lesotho Department of Labor, traveled to Lesotho, and consulted with key stakeholders—such as government departments (labor and employment, agriculture, finance, & home affairs), Trade Unions, Employers Organizations, and other social partners. After a one-week workshop, a strategic action plan has been drafted. Now the only things pending are a validation workshop and an adoption from the Lesotho Cabinet.
I also worked with the South African Department of Trade and Industry to adopt a strategic framework for women entrepreneurship development. Gender inequality is a pressing issue in Africa. I assisted an external consultant to research barriers by geographic regions. If this future document passes through Cabinet, South Africa would be the one of three countries to have strategy specific to women.
My last assignment dealt with planning a networking event between Women in Finance and the girls who have been abused, trafficked, and neglected. The purpose of this event was to build businesswomen’s capacity to be life and career mentors and to provide educational sponsorships for the girls. It was in the ILO’s interest for these girls to break out of the poverty cycles and create “decent work” for the girls.
Addressing social and cultural differences was an ongoing struggle not only for me but also for South African citizens themselves. Racism is still strongly prevalent, and income equality is the topic of interest in all conversations. I want to work somewhere along the lines of youth employment, public service, and family policy.
This internship did three things:
1) It forced me to let go of my perceptions on different types of people,
2) it gave me exposure to different battles that countries are fighting, and
3) it gave me a future career direction.
I thank Brigid Beachler for opening doors as well as Vic van Vuuren—my boss and South African parent—for making my time in South Africa something to treasure for the rest of my life.
- Won Sun (Flora) Baik, BSILR ‘13