Creating Space for Local Involvement
Fadumo Osman is a second year Master of Public Policy student working towards graduate minors in Human Rights and Program Evaluation. This summer, she interned at the United Nations Human Settlement Programme in Nairobi, Kenya, funded by a generous fellowship from the Human Rights Program.
Human Rights Program (HRP): Tell us about where you interned this summer and what you worked on while you are there.
Fadumo: This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. I worked on the Human Rights Mainstreaming Programme, through the housing unit. I did preliminary research and advocacy on a number of human rights issues including forced evictions, homelessness, and advocating for the right to adequate housing for vulnerable populations. I also helped with two publications. "Alternative solutions to Forced Evictions and slum demolitions" looked at best practices and case studies from four coutnries; "Human Rights in Cities Handbook Series: The Human Rights-Based Approach to Housing and Slum Upgrading" is a guide for housing and practitioners on using a human rights-based approach in their interventions. I also helped host two of the monthly Brown Bag discussions on pressing human rights issues facing urban cities.
HRP: What were a few major takeaways or lessons that you learned this summer through your internship? Anything particularly surprising?
Fadumo: One of the main takeaways from this experience was that promoting a human rights agenda takes time and you must be patient when the work doesn’t get you immediate results. I have also realized the importance of creating spaces for local stakeholders to contribute to such work; only when we invited various stakeholders, including government representatives, civil society, other NGOs, and people who have been impacted by policies that are detrimental to human rights, were we able to have a more authentic discussion on best practices and the way forward.
HRP: How was the internship related to your course of study, and how do you think it will help you in your career?
Fadumo: I am a master of public policy student with a minor in human rights, I am interested in understanding policy through the lens of human rights. This internship provided me with an opportunity to get a better glimpse of how government policies can hinder or enhance human rights and what international organizations are doing to bridge this gap.
*Responses have been edited for clarity and length