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Otago law student leads UN delegation

Friday 9 March 2018 1:23pm

Ihlara McIndoe, an accomplished musician and music teacher, is pursuing a degree in music, majoring in performance and composition. She plays the piano and loves to compose. She’s also a law student. This rare duo of interests is taking her all the way to New York, as the head of a New Zealand delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Ihlara McIndoe for webIhlara was selected to lead the delegation by the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute (AYLI), which trains and inspires new generations of leaders for New Zealand. It sends young people to organizations such as at the UN or the OECD, to discuss the world’s most pressing issues and bring back ideas for New Zealand.

Ihlara’s seven-strong delegation will be stationed at the UN’s New York headquarters for two weeks, from 12 to 23 March, for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Established in 1946, the CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

As well as attending training camps before the event, each delegate participates in a supervised research fellowship. Upon their return, delegates are encouraged to contribute new skills and knowledge to an organisation in their community.

This is where Ihlara’s passion for music comes in. Her experience in Dunedin’s music scene weaves in nicely with the focus of this year’s CSW: the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

“I’m very interested in how community groups can provide platforms for women to connect with each other,” says Ihlara, who is an ambassador for the New Zealand Symphany Orchestra and Chamber Music. When she returns from New York to undergo her volunteering work, she plans to work with women in the arts and classical music in the wider rural region.

Having already started a platform to give people in Dunedin greater access to classical music in Dunedin, she would like to extend this to rural women. She also aims to research statistics of gender imbalance in classical music, and processes used overseas to address imbalances.

Also exciting for Ihlara is the opportunity to participate in the UN’s fascinating process of debating and crafting UN articles. Working alongside the Minister for Women, Julie Ann-Genter, and representatives of the New Zealand Rural Women’s Organisation, will also be a great experience. 

Ihlara says her legal education is helping her take on leadership in issues she is passionate about.

“Studying law has enabled me to critically examine problems and think out of the box to find solutions. It has prepared me well to lead a delegation to the UN.”