Connecting Young Women Toward a Sustainable Africa

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The Ghana Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa hosted today’s meeting. Established in 2004 as a Women’s Initiative for Empowerment and Leadership Development (WIELD) Foundation, it is a non-profit organization that pursues proactive strategies to develop and empower young women to take on leadership roles in their communities. Despite the increasing potential in Africa, the majority of women still lack access to equal opportunities and resources for leadership development. Ms.Adwoa Bame, the program director and founding member of Moremi Initiative, spoke briefly about the organization’s goals in the future. She stated that the investment in young women’s leadership will provide double dividends to make the world a better place for all, and that the strategies that seek to improve the lives of young women significantly affect the population. In 2009, Moremi Initiative started the process of having young women across the continent come together and meet, to become young women leaders and discuss pertinent issues. This program is known as the Milead fellowship.

After Ms. Bame spoke about the organization, she introduced various young members of Milead Fellowship, who spoke about their passions, goals, and experiences in their countries. The first member was Ms. Hadeye Maiga from Mali, and she discussed her experience as an engineer, and the need for more women engineers. She explained that although engineering work does take a lot of time, she has a strong passion for the field. Another member was Ms. Baba Jackson from Ghana, and she mentioned the importance of support, and encouraging more programs like Milead Fellowship where young women can meet. She noted that the only way we can richer definition of feminism is when we meet new people and experience different perspectives. After various members of the fellowship spoke about their experiences, Ms. Bame gave a closing statement.

Meeting: Enhancing Young Women’s Voices for Women’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development: A Multi-generational Dialogue with Emerging African Women Leaders

Date/Location: Wednesday March 16, 2016, 10:00 –11:15; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Ms. Adwoa Bame, Program Director and Founding Member of Ghana Moremi Initiative; Ms. Hadeye Maiga, Milead Fellowship member from Mali; Ms. Baba Jackson, Milead fellowship member from Ghana; Milead Fellowship member from Botswana; Milead Fellowship member from Kenya; Milead Fellowship member from Uganda; Milead Fellowship from Benin

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Youth Independent

The Introduction of Planet 50-50

womens_rights

Today, Ms. Falk introduced the agenda for the event concerning making gender equality a reality by 2030, as well as, Ms. Amor, who sang “I Am a Girl.” Then, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke of the need to end harmful practices against women, which was reinforced by H.E. Mr. Lykketoft and Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, who added that concrete steps aiming at further integrating women in politics and in the workforce need to be explored. H.E. Mr. Patriota stressed that CSW needs to work harder to implement gender equality as no country has yet achieved it.  H.E. Ms. Nusseibeh mentioned that central to UAE’s development policy has been focusing on integrating women into politics and urging girls to follow careers in STEM fields.  Next, Ms. Adams spoke of the need to tackle obstacles in financing gender equality, which was reinforced by Ms. Nathan, who mentioned the importance of public-private partnerships in this area.  Then Ms. Ptacek spoke of the need for better education for girls, while Ms. Singh gave her account of being an acid attack survivor.

In the second part of the event, H.E. Ms. Hamamoto mentioned the Gender Champions Initiative, to which over 100 heads of institutions in Geneva have signed gender parity pledges for. Next, Ms. Wainaina, Mr. Drennan, and Ms. Gallach mentioned that their reasons for being advocates for gender equality were rooted in their individual observations of the traditional roles of women in their childhood, in the criminal justice system, and in the field of journalism. Then, Ms. Terada and Dr. Dahlerup respectively spoke of the need to have greater instruments for monitoring the hiring processes at workplaces. Lastly, Ms. Fleming and Ms. Montgomery performed “How Can I Keep From Singing,” which was followed by Ms. Dora, Ms. Greene, Ms. Hardon, Ms. Frasier, and Messrs. Blake’s performance of “One Woman.”

Meeting: International Women’s Day Special Event: “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, March 8, 2016; 10:00-12:45; Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Ms. Pamela Falk, Mistress of Ceremonies (MC), United Nations (UN) Resident Correspondent, and CBS News, TV, and Radio Correspondent; Ms. Tennille Amor, Singer; Secretary-General (SG) Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General (SG) of the United Nations (UN); His Excellency (H.E.) Mogens Lykketoft, President of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA); Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women); His Excellency (H.E.) Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations (UN) and Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW); Her Excellency (H.E.) Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the United Nations (UN); Ms. Barbara Adams, Chair of the Board of the Global Policy Forum (GPF); Ms. Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at MasterCard; Ms. Fátima Ptacek, Youth Activist and the Voice of “Dora the Explorer”; Ms. Monica Singh, Activist and Acid Attack Survivor; Ms. Renée Fleming, Opera Singer; Ms. Jessie Montgomery, Violinist, Music Composer, and Educator at the Albany Symphony Orchestra; Her Excellency (H.E.) Pamela Hamamoto, Permanent Representative of the United States (U.S.) to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva; Ms. Carole Wainaina, the United Nations (UN) Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Human Resources (HR); Mr. Peter Thomas Drennan, United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General  (USG) for Safety and Security; Ms. Cristina Gallach, United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Communications and Public Information; Ms. Saori Terada, Adviser for Gender Integration to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Dr. Drude Dahlerup, Professor of Political Science at Stockholm University; Ms Andrea Dora, Ms. Alexa Greene, Ms. Imari Hardon, Ms. Ann Frasier, Mr. Thomas Blake, and Mr. William Blake (Broadway Singers)

Written By: WIT Representative Shubhangi Shukla

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: 50/50 x 2020

 

Mind The Gap: Bridging Gender Pay Divides

Ms Dininage’s opening discussion focused on what business can do to ensure there’s no gender pay gap, which is the percentage in difference between male and female average earnings. Mckinsey estimates 0.6 trillion pounds extra in UK’s GDP if that pay gap could be bridged. Women often end up in occupations that are narrow in scope – too many hairdressers, not enough engineers – so the key is getting girls into these high-paid sectors. Businesses also need to make sure they have programs in place to retrain and keep maternity leave workers, and to get away from this “culture of presenteeism”, where people are judged by how many hours they are at their desk rather than the work they do. The UK aims to eliminate gender pay gap within a generation, and so will require greater efforts of transparency. Businesses with over 250 employees will be required to publish their pay and bonus gap data. 30 hours of free childcare per week will also be mandated.

Ms. Kiviniemi offered a presentation showing that there are more working women in OECD countries than at any point in history. The price of motherhood is often too high, due to childcare, work interruptions, and lower wages. The Average pay gap is 22% in families with one children, compared with 7% in couples with no children. Unequal sharing of family responsibilities, wage-sharing policies and union coverage, and discrimination are factors that affect the pay gap to some degree. OECD recommends employment-protected well-paid maternity leave to working parents (especially fathers), more access to food, and affordable childcare and long-term care, as the lack of these frequently reduces the amount of time women are available to work. We must encourage women towards leadership roles.

Meeting: The Gender Pay Gap: What is it, why does it still exist and how do we get rid of it?

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, March 15, 2016; 10:00 – 11:30; Conference Room B

Speakers: Ms. Helene Reardon Bond, Deputy Director Head of Gender Equality, Government Equalities Office; Ms. Caroline Dininage, Prime Minister for Women in the United Kingdom Government; Ms. Louise McSorley, Head, Office for Women, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Australia;  Ms. Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General of OECD; Ms. Emer Timmons, President, British Telecom (BT) Global Services, UK

Written By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Behind The Scenes: The Lack of Women Working on Film

Sofia Coppola

Today, Ms. Baassiri began the discussion with introducing the topic of the meeting concerning the role and depiction of women in the mass media.  Then, Ms. Schulman spoke of her experiences as a Hollywood film producer and as the president of “Women in Film,” which is an organization that seeks to raise awareness about gender equality in the mass media and to gather statistical data concerning this issue. She mentioned that a lack of representation of women in the mass media is often rooted in the fact that most of the boards of film studios are not gender-balanced and most films are directed by and catered to men. In order to change this pattern, “Women in Film” recently organized a retreat to which various members of the film industry were invited to discuss ways of bringing systematic change and gender equality in the mass media.  Additionally, she stated that current projects that the organization is working on include organizing gender-balanced peer groups that meet with studio executives to closely examine their hiring of staff and creating an accreditation system for evaluating the nature of the output of film and television companies.

Then Dr. Smith spoke of her research concerning the role of women in cinema and focused her discussion on the impediments that females face in securing behind-the-scenes work in the film industry.  She also elaborated on the idea of the fiscal cliff for female filmmakers, which is the notion that as the financial risk or budget of a project increases, opportunities for women to direct decrease.  Additionally, after performing various interviews with members of the film industry, she found that many studio executives feel that there is a lack of female directors due to the perception that they are uninterested or inexperienced in directing big-budget films or projects.

Meeting: Women’s International Forum: Cathy Schulman’s Lecture on Gender Equality in Hollywood

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, March 8, 2016; 13:15-14:30; Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Ms. Sahar Baassiri, Moderator and Journalist; Ms. Cathy Schulman, the Academy Award Winning Producer of “Crash” and the President of “Women in Film”; Dr. Stacey L. Smith, Associate Professor and the Director of the Media Diversity and Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Written By: WIT Representative Shubhangi Shukla

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Giant Leaps for Women-Kind

The 60th Commission on the Status of Women held its first ever youth forum today. Importance was placed on training a new generation of youth to become leaders. This generation will include young women, but also men who will be allies in initiatives such as “HeforShe.”

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka noted that an alliance has been struck between women and youth with the potential to change the world. Currently, women are found globally at the bottom of economic ladders and it is thus crucial for Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda to be met. It is young women who must take charge of the agenda for change to be actualized. The agenda does not call for baby steps, it calls for giant leaps.

Next, Mr. Alhendawi stressed the importance of youth inclusion in UN discussions. It is time we make noise and make it be known that we can no longer just do business as usual. We must take big steps towards protecting gender equality. SDG #5 is at the heart of all we do.

Mr. Karkara noted that we are about to transform the world. Year 2015 was a giant leap for women, year 2016 will be a great leap for young women-kind. It is time for young women to take their destinies within their own hands. With the advent of the “LEAP’s” framework of Leadership, Economic Empowerment, Action, Participation, Partnerships, and Inter-generational participation, both young men and women can be empowered as allies to achieve gender equality.

Ms. Banerjee further evoked the promising future of the 2030 SDG’s. Unlike the MDG’s which sought improvement, the SDG’s will transform the world and leave no one behind. Equipped with 17 goals and 169 targets, young people must mobilize together to achieve Planet 5050 by the year 2030.

Meeting: “Youth Forum at the 60th Commission on Status of Women.”

Date/Location: 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Friday, March 11, 2016; Salvation Army

Speakers: Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director; Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbodzvanda, Secretary General World YMCA; Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth; Ms. Anita Tiessen, CEO of WAGGGS; Mr. Ravi Karkara, Senior Advisor Strategic Partnership and Advocacy UN Women; Ms. Lopa Banerjee, Representative of the UN Women

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: 盘磬

Celebrating World Wildlife Day

World's Most Beautiful Fish

On March 3, UN member states and civil societies gathered in the ECOSOC Chamber to celebrate World Wildlife Day 2016. Under the theme “The future of wildlife is in our hands,” wildlife conservation was a recurring topic of discussion. Ms. Gallach opened the conference with statements in support of protection for African and Asian elephants. She also called for stronger law enforcement and government participation to fight wildlife crime. Following, Mr. Harris emphasized the need for outreach and communication, which are essential to inspiring people to engage in activity to end illegal trade. As poaching is reaching unprecedented proportions, the continuation of raising awareness particularly to consumers of wildlife products is important.

Ms. Monasebian introduced a stricter tone and pointed out weak international law enforcements and under-equipped agencies. She then listed ways that the UNODC is combatting wildlife crime, including working with law enforcement to build judicial capacity and providing alternative livelihoods. A video statement from Mr. Vella continued this sentiment and highlighted the need for cooperation and collaboration.

Later, Mr. Sekhran gave a powerful statement on how there is no economy without nature, and humans depend upon the planet for our existence. He underscored how protecting nature is crucial as the population will grow by another one billion people prior to 2030, and statisticians have said that the world will not stabilize until population hits 11.2 billion.

Finally, Ms. Paratian wrapped up the presentations with examples of awareness in regards to wildlife protection. She cited the Chi Campaign in Vietnam, which is directed towards businessmen purchasing rhino horns as status symbols. Although it is difficult to be fully knowledgeable on the true impacts of these campaigns, she advocated for further involvement in these endeavors for wildlife conservation.

Meeting: Celebration of World Wildlife Day 2016

Date/Location: Thursday, March 3, 2016; ECOSOC Chamber; UN Headquarters; NYC

Speakers: John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General; Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General on behalf of UN Deputy Secretary-General; Virachai Plasai, Permanent Representative of Thailand; Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of NY Office of UNEP; Simone Monasebian, Director of NY Office of UNODC on behalf of UNODC Executive Director; Karmenu Vella, EC Commissioner of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; Heiko Thoms, Ambassador of Charge d’Affaires of Germany to UN; Robert Dreher, Associate Director of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Nik Sekhran, Chief of Practice & Director, Sustainable Development Cluster, Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, UNDP; John Robinson, Executive Vice President, Conservation and Science, WCS; Tania Paratian, Manager Intergovernmental Relations, WWF International

Written by: WIT Representatives Julianne Jeon and Olivia Gong

Edited by: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Sanctioning North Korea’s Nuclear Ballistic Programs

The Security Council Chamber had its 7638th meeting on the adoption of the agenda regarding non-proliferation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The resolution would tighten regimes of international sanctions with the DPRK to shut down financing of the nuclear ballistic programs. The council voted on the draft of the resolution, and it received 15 votes in favor. Thus, the draft has been adopted unanimously.

The floor was then given to Ms. Samantha Power, and she explained that when looking at North Korea, it could seem like looking at two different realities. The first is a country pursuing advanced technologies to build missiles capable of a nuclear strike a continent away. The second is a country where 25 percent of children under the age of 5 suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition. She said that while they may seem mutually exclusive, they have everything to do with one another. Therefore, the chronic suffering of the citizens of the DPRK is a direct result of the choice made by the North Korean government, prioritizing the nuclear weapons program over its people. In addition, Ms. Power said that the nuclear weapons program is also a growing threat for the world. North Korea is the only country in the world to conduct nuclear tests in the 21st century, and it has actually conducted 4 since 2000.

The resolution that the council has just adopted is much tougher than any other resolution before. The resolution altogether bans North Korea’s exports of specific natural resources like coal, making it tougher for North Korea to receive the funding they need. In addition, the resolution bans all imports of aviation and rocket fuel. After representatives of Japan, China, Russia, and Spain also made comments about the resolution, the President adjourned the meeting.

Meeting: Security Council: 7638th meeting

Date/Location: Wednesday March 2, 2016, 10:00 –11:30; Security Council Chamber

Speakers: H.E. Ms. Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

The SDGs and Negative Attitudes Towards Migrants

Fleeing persecution: The Syrian migrants run after crossing under the fence to Hungary at the Serbian border

The meeting was convened to discuss the measuring of sustainable development goals and targets related to migration. Attention was drawn towards the disproportion in recruitment and employment between migrant and non-migrant workers. Mr. Hovy argued that the task for 2017 is to desegregate such disparities.

In measuring targets related to human trafficking, Mr. Fowke cited targets 5.2 and 8.7 which address violence against women and children, respectively. He advocated for a global indicator that can apply to entire populations and aid in desegregation. Moreover, in order to adequately measure statistics of human trafficking, we must ensure the inclusion of hidden and undetected cases of trafficking victims. Right now, there is no existing methodology to accurately count the number of victims worldwide. He also noted that in terms of the prevalence of populations at risk, the focus of the SDGs on only beneficiaries does not accurately define the overall at-risk population. We need a numerator but also a denominator. We need a percentage and not just a total number.

Next, H.E. Mr. Eliasson recognized that large movement of people has become a prominent feature in the emerging global landscape. Through the 2030 commitment to confront challenges and improve lives, states must leave no one behind and help those farthest behind. Currently, the latter includes migrants, refugees, and displaced persons. H.E. noted the current negative regard for migrants that has pervaded throughout the International Community. We must move towards a positive global role and an appreciation for the beauty of diversity in societies. He concluded by calling on all states to uphold the provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 protocol. Managing and protecting the dignity and rights of migrants irrespective of their statuses could help bring an end to poverty and an increase in global prosperity.

Meeting: Fourteenth Annual Coordination Meeting on International Migration (organized by the Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA))   

Date/Location: Friday, February 26th, 2016; 10:00-13:00 and 15:00-18:00; Conference Room 11

Speakers: Ms. Yongyi Min, Chief of SDG Monitoring Unit, DESA; Mr. Martin Fowke, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime; Mr. Bela Hovy, Moderator; H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

More Aid, More Problems: How to Help the Helpers in the Middle East

Syria Agrees To Delivery Of Humanitarian Aid

Today, the Security Council ran two meetings, beginning with the adoption of the agenda and an introduction to the situation in the Middle East. A letter dated 22 January 2016 from the Panel of Experts on Yemen was read, discussing the significant challenges to the implementation of humanitarian aid and the destructive impact that the humanitarian situation in Yemen has had on civilians. The urgency to simplify the process of aiding others was stressed: to move a single truck, the UN team needs to go through repeated rounds of everything from the target location to the route and dates and times. This toiling process hinders the efficiency of the task at hand.

Recently, a WFP plane sent from the UN and its partners dropped some necessities in Syria that have reached 110 people in besieged places, with 230 more people that can be reached through airdrops, and an additional 170 people are in need. This month, aid was brought to 960 people, which is a 48% increase from January. It was stated that with the highest price of the Syrian conflict being paid by the men, women, and children who are witnessing their homes being torn apart, granting access should not be dependent on political situations.

Next, Dr. Ja’afari wanted to shed light on the brutality: some states impose unilateral measures on the Syrian people, which merely aggravate the suffering; some accuse the government of purposely seizing and starving the civilians. He disputed these claims by stating, “Only civilians are hungry, not terrorists. Terrorists do not go hungry. It is inevitable that only civilians go hungry. It has become clear that the improvement of the Syrian situation is necessary.” Finally, the President adjourned the meeting with an invitation to the council members for an informal discussion.

Meeting: Security Council: 7630th, 7631st Meetings

Date/Location: Wednesday, February 24th, 2016; 10:00-11:00; Security Council Chamber

Speakers: Rafael Ramirez, President of Security Council from Venezuela; the Panel of Experts on Yemen; H.E. Bashar Ja’afari, Ph.D., the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: United Nation Relief and Works Agency via Getty Images

Partnering for Impact to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

#17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

The meeting consisted of a panel discussion on the importance of partnerships in relation to the goal of achieving the SDGs. The panel discussion opened with Mr. Ibrahim Mayaki, and his organization NEPAD is the lead organization in Africa to implement programs across sectors. He explained that the organization is looking at the lens through wealth creation rather than poverty alleviation.  He stated that the emerging trends on which we can reflect are significant improvements in public finance management, prioritizing domestic resource mobilization, and engagement with the private sector. He concluded with the remark that a high participation of the civil society and private sector has a director effect on partnerships, and that the UN development system has to play a leading role to ensure partnerships are genuine and balanced.

The second speaker in the panel was Mr. Sayed Aga, and he said that partnership is an unquestionable and important part of the 2030 Agenda, as the SDGs require massive resources. He stated that the Islamic Development Bank is blending grand resources with banks, and that loan power will be the way forward to address challenges that the SDGs have identified. He also stated that significant investment in the youth is necessary to achieve sustainability. The future workforce will not look for employment alone, but also entrepreneurial opportunities.

Another notable speaker was Ms. Lise Kingo, who announced that over 8,000 companies participate in UN Global Compact, and that working with businesses can provide input into achieving the partnership’s goals. For example, she stated that the CEOs at last month’s meeting suggested that to scale partnerships, the UN should assume greater risks and speak the language of business. After the panelists spoke, the floor was open for delegates to comment and ask questions.

Meeting: Operational activities of the United Nations for international development cooperation: Follow-up to policy recommendations of the General Assembly and the Council. Panel discussion on “Partnership approaches: How to ensure accountability, coherence and evaluation of impact?”

Date/Location: Wednesday February 24, 2016, 10:00 – 13:00; Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Moderator Mr. Amir Dossal, Founder and Chairman, Global Partnerships Forum Panellists; Mr. Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, New Partnership for Africa’s Development, African Union; Mr. Sayed Aqa, Vice-President for Cooperation and Capacity Development, Islamic Development Bank; Ms. Lise Kingo, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact; Mr. Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and InterAgency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: United Nations