For her Luce year, Aly Neel will work in Yangon with Akhaya Women, a local initiative led by and for women, providing tools and support mechanisms necessary for women in Myanmar to challenge gender stereotypes, to bring gender equality into their family homes and communities, and to campaign for a safer and more equal living environment for women. Akhaya Women is based on a model that seeks to empower women through experiential learning and small-sized support groups, to enable women to engage with the broader social environment with confidence and newly acquired knowledge.
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Aly is a feminist working on the forefront of gender and development. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Political Communication at Louisiana State University in 2010, she spent two and a half years in Istanbul, reporting on gender-based violence and discrimination for Today’s Zaman, the largest English-language daily in Turkey, and contributing to The Washington Post and other publications. She returned to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. There she conducted research for UN Women on the barriers female UN employees face, helped build a coalition to pass campus sexual assault legislation in Louisiana, and helped reform Princeton’s campus sexual assault policies and practices. She most recently worked as an adviser on civil society engagement to the UN Foundation’s Policy Team in New York, and a Women’s Policy, Inc. (WPI) Congressional Fellow, working on gender, economic, and health policy for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin. Aly enjoys shaking up her normal routine, whether in the form of morning dance parties (now a thing in New York, Washington and Los Angeles), farming (which she did in Turkey’s Black Sea region and Sardinia), or more recently, rocket yoga