Last summer, Amanda Stone used the monies attached to her Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award to work in Kampala, Uganda, as an intern with the Family Life Programme, a Community Dialogue partner of the country's Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.
Researching women's rights through group discussions with women in three rural districts, Amanda focused on household decision-making power, property ownership, and educational opportunities. She interviewed government employees, non-governmental organization workers, and university faculty. Sadly, she found "a great disparity between legal and actual rights."
Cultural change must occur before women's rights are to be realized. Ugandan women themselves are working to increase awareness of these issues, some of which many American women still face. Says Amanda, "It gave me a much greater sense of the interconnectedness of women's movements around the globe."
To explore different ways that feminism can be infused into societies, and whether women's rights are universal or culturally relative, Amanda will combine her field research in Uganda with her upcoming Honors in the Major thesis in Political Science. "Thus," she says, "adding meaning and context to classroom learning." Amanda has excelled in classroom learning—with a 4.0 GPA (appearing on the President's List every semester), and as a member of the Honors Council, Garnet and Gold Key, Leadership Advisory Board, and Service Scholars Program.
To discern why one town in the eastern district of Kapchorwa seemed more progressive with regard to women's rights than its neighbors, she will examine "how social transformations are created and identify how traditions can be broadened to include equality for women without destroying the cultural fabric of the nation."
Of the women of Uganda, she says, "To see the world as those women do was both emotionally powerful and intellectually stimulating. After being a part of their lives, I am more committed than ever to making a difference in the lives of women."
For her efforts on behalf of others, Amanda has been honored with the Service Achievement Award and the Student Profiles of Service Award. "Service is a way of thinking," she says. "Every person can make the world a better place in small or large ways each day—an empowering realization that adds purpose and worth to every life."[Close Button]