Empowering Women Around the World
Angeline Martyn is passionate about women’s issues. As the communications manager to Americans for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, she promotes the health and dignity of women throughout the world.
“Human rights, in particular the rights of women, have always been important to me” explains Martyn. “In my undergraduate days my research was focused on leadership development and empowerment of women, and I am still incredibly passionate about this angle. However, sexual violence and women’s reproductive health are topics that most people resist talking about, which to me makes it all the more important to stay at the forefront of this work.”
UNFPA provides women’s health care and promotes women’s rights. Americans for UNFPA is specifically dedicated to building American support for the work of UNFPA and restoring the United States’ moral, political, and financial contribution to the organization.
Martyn’s interest in intercultural communication and women’s issues was kindled when she learned that the world’s first female prime minister, Sirimavo Bandarnaike, was from Sri Lanka, the birthplace of Martyn’s parents. As part of her senior honors project she set out for Sri Lanka in 1998, a country that had been embroiled in a civil war for more than two decades.
Although Martyn’s URI professors’ worried about her decision to travel to Sri Lanka, they ultimately supported her. “I remember Agnes Doody writing in my letter of support that ‘as terrified as we all are, we know we have to let her go because there is no stopping her,‘” laughed Martyn.
Martyn credits her research with giving her a whole new outlook about women in leadership positions. “I believe my most powerful writing piece is my undergraduate thesis, Seeing Through the Glass Ceiling: Empowerment & Leadership Development of Women in Sri Lanka, said Martyn. “It helped to shape who I am.”
And so today, she is giving voice to those who cannot easily be heard.
—Jennifer Sherwood ’89