Tarleton nursing student selected as delegate for UN women’s conference

Tarleton State University sophomore Hollee Martinez
Tarleton State University sophomore Hollee Martinez

Sport: TEPHENVILLE (January 28, 2015) — Tarleton State University sophomore Hollee Martinez will soon join several thousand representatives from around the globe at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City during the upcoming 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a functional commission of the UN’s Economic and Social Council.

Martinez, a 20-year-old nursing student from League City, Texas, was selected as part of a 20-member delegation representing the Episcopal Church during the CSW, which organizers expect will be attended by more than 6,000 individuals representing 800-plus organizations from 190 nations worldwide, including delegates from UN-member states, UN entities and accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to attend,” said Martinez, who will travel to the UN, March 9-20. “I want to learn from the women who attend this meeting. I want to hear their stories, to see Christ in them and (to learn) how I can allow Christ to work through me so I can help his people.”

An active member of St. Christopher Episcopal Church in League City, Martinez enrolled in Tarleton’s nursing program in response to her desire to serve in the foreign mission field, specifically in the area of women’s health. During this time, she also familiarized herself with issues of health and human rights violations against women worldwide.

This past summer, Martinez attended Why Serve in Berkley, Calif., an Episcopal conference for young adults of color discerning diverse calls to vocation. Her attendance deepened her commitment to mission work and advocating for women’s rights in developing nations.

“I’m particularly concerned with women’s health. It is so underrepresented in developing countries because women are disenfranchised across the globe,” said Martinez. “It doesn’t just end on the African continent, but in Asia where many women are sold and forced into the sex slave trade.”

The upcoming United Nations CSW will review progress in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Program for Action, two decades after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference for Women. The session will review and discuss challenges that affect the declaration’s implementation and achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The CSW review also will include the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the UN General Assembly, the first five-year assessment conducted after the adoption of the Platform for Action, which highlighted further actions and initiatives. Martinez and other members of the delegation will hear testimony from women around the world, which she says will help “educate herself and others about ways to help end these atrocities” and form a deeper understanding of the hurdles that prevent equality for women.

“We’ve come really far in many areas that the Commission has been working on,” said Martinez, who will be the youngest member among the church’s delegation. “The church is a major advocate for women’s rights and has an office in the UN headquarters. Our main goal will be to attend, be educated and return to further educate others on issues women face around the world.

“I’m studying nursing but ultimately want to become a midwife and work with NGOs and missions in whatever way I can to work with women in developing countries. I feel that so much of society begins with women and mothers, and when they’re empowered they will empower their children—ultimately changing society,” added Martinez. “Being a woman myself, I really do care. And as an American woman, I want to go abroad and empower and encourage others. I feel that God put that calling in my heart and that’s what I want to pursue.”

Every year, representatives of member states gather at UN headquarters to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate policies to promote women’s empowerment worldwide. The Commission was established June 21, 1946 to prepare recommendations and reports to the Council to promote women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.

“I love Tarleton and definitely have met a lot of women here who have been great influences on me … professors who are powerful and empowering, especially in the nursing department,” said Martinez. “It will be awesome to see the reach of the delegation because it’s inspired so many and continues to change the lives of women everywhere.”

For more information about the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, visit www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015.

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