Getting to know UN Women staff

Date: Monday, February 8, 2021

Gemma Collier, former UN Women Timor-Leste’s Communications and Advocacy Intern

Gemma joined UN Women Timor-Leste’s Communications and Advocacy Internship program for 6 months. This program is designed for enrolled university or higher education students and recent graduates that aims to increase their knowledge on the work of UN Women in the areas of gender equality and women empowerment. Successful candidates can also learn about the UN system as well as experience a bigger picture of being in the development sector.

Having been a part of UN Women Timor-Leste mission in promoting and advocating gender equality and women’s empowerment, Gemma plans to “work towards advocating for the most vulnerable and marginalized women who don’t have a voice in their community” in the future.

Reflecting on her time with UN Women Timor-Leste, Gemma shares her experiences:

How do you find working with UN Women Timor-Leste? 
Working with UN Women has been an amazing experience. I have enjoyed the variety of the work and gained some valuable insights into working in the development sector and on gender issues more specifically.

What is the most interesting part of your work or engagement with UN Women office? 
I had the opportunity to support the development of UN Women Timor-Leste’s 5-year Strategic Note. Collaborating with the team on strategy and planning and seeing that whole process come together was really interesting and a unique learning experience. I also really enjoyed working on communications and UN Women’s different programmatic areas.

What do you think makes UN Women a unique organization? 
I think what makes UN Women unique is that everyone is very passionate about gender equality and women’s empowerment and they have a strong drive to make a difference. It’s really inspiring to work in that atmosphere. It’s also interesting to see how UN Women, through close partnerships with the government, civil society, development partners etc. can address some major issues in Timor-Leste and make real changes to strengthen the movement for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country.

Remote working increased during the COVID-19 outbreak as a means of practicing social distance. Workplaces started implementing this regulation with the hopes to decrease the spread of the virus. As a result, Gemma worked remotely in the United Kingdom during her internship for UN Women Timor-Leste.

How do you feel about working virtually and what do you think would be different if you could have been in the office?
The COVID-19 situation and working remotely had its challenges, including working with a team on the other side of the world with a significant time difference and not being able to communicate as often. However, it didn’t take long to adapt to the situation and develop a good routine. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming, and I was able to stay in touch with the team and meet with them virtually. I feel so lucky that I was still able to do the internship remotely, but of course, I do think the experience would have been different in the office. I would have loved to have experienced life in Timor-Leste and learn even more about the country, immersing myself in the local culture, and of course, the opportunity to meet in person the country office team I have been working with for months.

Would you like to come to Timor for work? I would love to work in Timor-Leste and hope to visit this beautiful country some day! Despite the pandemic, she gained a valuable experience in which helped as a steppingstone for her future aspirations.       

What has been your favorite part at UN Women? 
I really enjoyed having the opportunity to contribute to meaningful work and causes that are important to me. For example, I produced a brief on women and girls’ needs and gender issues in the context of COVID-19, which was very rewarding work. Continuously learning new things and collaborating with the country office team have also been highlights of my experience.

If you could describe UN Women Timor-Leste in one word, what that would be? 
Dedicated.

What is your biggest dream of gender equality advocacy that you would like to do in the future? 
I would love to work towards advocating for some of the most vulnerable and marginalized women who don’t have a voice in their communities, ensuring that their voices are heard and that they can be empowered to take decisions into their own hands.