Navneet Gidda visited the U.S Capitol Building during her internship in Washington, D.C. this summer. (Contributed)

Red Deer graduate interns in Washington

Researching women’s rights violations in Saudi Arabia

A former Lindsay Thurber student says working as an intern for an NGO, or non-governmental organization, in Washington, D.C. this summer was an eye-opener.

University of Alberta student Navneet Gidda not only had an opportunity to contribute to efforts to protect human rights. She regularly saw Americans practising their democratic rights to march in the streets.

“In D.C. there is always a protest going on,” said Gidda who lived about 10 minutes away from the U.S. Capitol.

Gidda, 20, completed a 10-week internship earlier this month with the NGO Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain organized through the Washington Centre.

“I know a lot of people are kind of jaded about (politics), especially after all the Trump stuff. Being in D.C. showed me that politics is also more than just Trump and elections.”

There are many organizations and departments working behind the scenes on a national and international level, she said.

During her internship her biggest project was drafting a report on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The report gave examples of human rights infringements against women, including examples of women who have been arbitrarily detained or disappeared, and actions by government against those fighting for women’s rights.

“Saudi Arabia is the only country in the whole world that has a ban on driving for women and that was very surprising.”

The reaction to the ban by other countries was also interesting, said the political science student who wants to work in government.

“None of the other countries are doing anything about it because they have relationships with this oil rich country. It was kind of eye opening for me how much the international community makes itself look good on the news but then in reality they’re not actually helping to prevent any of these human rights violations.”

Gidda’s experience this summer has made her a big fan of the Washington Centre.

“I’m mostly just excited to come back and tell everyone about it so they can apply.”

She did her internship with the help of the University of Alberta’s Go Aboard scholarship program.

For more information on the Washington Centre visit

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