Daily Archives: January 31, 2014

Westwood Women Unite Against FGM – WF 2014 Kick-off Event

On Tuesday, January 28th, the Women’s Forum held the first of many exciting events of 2014! Attendees gathered at the home of a Women’s Forum Steering Committee member to learn more about Women’s Forum, hear from current members, network, win prizes, and enjoy mouth-watering international cuisine!  The night also included a screening of the maternal mortality segment of the film “Half the Sky” followed by a lively and inspirational discussion of this vital women’s issue.

“Half the Sky” is  a documentary by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WyDunn based on the best-selling book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The film and book focus on central issues that women and girls face in communities around the world.

sky2

One area that the maternal health segment focuses on is female genital mutilation in Somaliland and the health implications of such practices. The film addresses the cultural practice as well as the economic necessity for women cutters whose livelihood and survival depends on the tradition. Attendees of the event questioned what it would take to end the practice, as it was mentioned that Westerners telling a community such as the one in Somalia that it needs to end a long-standing tradition is ineffective. Many attendees agreed that education, as was mentioned in the film, plays an important role in establishing lasting and sustainable change.

The film presented one example of education and sustainable change through Edna Adan Ismail. Edna’s passion for the women of Somaliland led her to establish a maternal hospital whose mission is to not only to care for women giving birth and train midwives and health professionals, but to train peers to educate the current and next generation of mothers and fathers on female genital mutilation.

The Women’s Forum chose this segment of the film to screen, as maternal mortality is a pervasive issue that is not getting the attention and resources it deserves. As a UN Millennium Development Goal, nations have only achieved a 47% (2010) decrease in maternal mortality rates since 1990, far from the original goal of 75% by 2015. The screening was intended to start a dialogue on what we can do as individuals and as a collective whole to continue to raise awareness and create solutions to maternal mortality and other preventable health issues women face around the world.

SAF_wwdo_childsurvival

Some facts about maternal mortality:

  • “Maternal mortality has declined by about two-thirds in Eastern Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Asia.”
  • “Complications during pregnancy or childbirth are one of the leading causes of death for adolescent girls.”
  • “Most maternal deaths in developing countries are preventable through adequate nutrition, proper health care, including access to family planning, the presence of a skilled birth attendant during delivery and emergency obstetric care”

With International Women’s Day around the corner stay tuned for the UNAGB Women’s Forum next event! We hope to see you there!

– Kendall, WF Steering Committee Member

Sources:

http://www.halftheskymovement.org/

http://www.ednahospital.org

http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/maternal.shtml

http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Goal_5_fs.pdf

The Global Fund: A Decade Later and Still Providing Hope

A decade ago on January 28, 2002, The Global Fund was created in order to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  The Global Fund is an international financing organization that was designated to raise and distribute money to combat these life-threatening diseases in developing countries.

According to an article from the Huffington Post, the Global Fund has provided 6.6 million people with life-saving antiretrovirals for AIDS, has prevented 4.1 million deaths from tuberculosis, and has decreased deaths of malaria by 25% in developing countries in the past ten years.

The President of the United Nations Foundation, Timothy E, Wirth, released a statement last week praising the Global Fund for all of their hard work and success over the last decade, saying:

‘The UN Foundation has been proud to partner with Product (RED) to raise more than $57 million for the Global Fund, and with the United Methodist Church in its Imagine No Malaria campaign, as well as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Lutheran World Relief in their Lutheran Malaria Initiative, which could result in up to $41 million for the Global Fund.”

Wirth went on to say that by reconfirming our commitment to help those in need, we must support their efforts to treat people battling AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in the most affected areas of the world.

“Investing in the Global Fund is in the best interest of us all. It will help improve the lives of millions of people and help ensure global stability and progress” said Wirth.

While the Global Fund has helped millions of people over the last ten years, the Global Fund board has canceled the next round of funding and needs donors to step up because any set back in their progress could be detrimental to millions of lives.

Already, supporters from around the world have vowed to assist the Global Fund during their new grant period. According to the New York Times, on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Bill Gates donated $750 million on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Even Japan, after a devastating year with the tsunami and earthquake, donated $800 million to the fund in efforts to challenge others donors to take a stand for a good cause.

Get motivated to do what you can to make an impact on these absolutely preventable diseases by watching the video below and share with us some of the ideas you have in our comments section.

-Alyson R.

United Nations Day 2011: Celebrating the past, present and future

It has been 66 years since the creation of United Nations. That number is quite substantive – it not only indicates how young the United Nations is but also how much it has accomplished within the short period time and how its accomplishments are affecting our everyday lives in various places.

This past Monday, October 24, we had the chance to celebrate the past, present and future impact of the UN here in Boston.  First, UNA-GB went to City Hall to raise the flag of United Nations over the city of Boston.  Two dozen boys and girls from the Academy of Pacific Rim and Shrewsbury Montessori School joined us to hear Mayor Menino’s proclamation for UN Day at the event and when it finally was time to raise the UN flag, all of the students took turns winding the flag up the pole.

As the flag went up, people’s head started to tilt back and their eyes began to squint.  The UN flag was waving right next to the U.S flag and the children were cheering. As I tried to capture the moment in my camera, I saw the hopeful future of global citizenship. People now have witnessed through UN that we have common purposes as human beings and that we can work together to face global challenges.  This idea of globalized world is being passed on to the youngest generation, which is inspiring and reassuring.

After the flag-raising event, the procession moved to the State House for UNA-GB’s UN Day MUN simulation focused on Gender Equality (provided at no cost to the students, thanks to the generosity of our 66 for 66 donors!).  The participants were 6th-11th graders from 8 different area schools and they came ready to talk seriously about gender inequality and solutions, not only in depth but from the many different perspectives of diverse countries and cultures.  Thinking back to my own childhood, I marveled at the intelligence of the youth.

UNA-GB President Richard Golob, ED Lena Granberg and MA UN Day Chair Carol Fulp with MUN leader Bianca Diaz.

As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in his 2011 UN Day address and Carol Fulp, MA UN Day Chair, reiterated to the students at the MUN simulation, “In these turbulent times, there is only one answer: unity of purpose. Global problems demand global solutions.”

The world in the 21st century faces many old and new challenges including genocide, gender inequality, population growth, and energy crisis. Despite the continuing problems of the world, looking at how we as global citizens have come so far via the UN day, I reaffirm my dream of making differences in the world and see clearer view of our hopeful future, reflected especially in the faces of the youth we serve through UNA-GB’s Model UN program.  It is important that we continue to support and uplift these youth and our fellow citizens as we work towards a better future together.  I hope you join us!

– Jun Il Hwang

France Plays Host to the G8 Summit 2011

The 2011 summit of the Group of 8 industrialized countries was held in the resort town of Deauville in Normandy, France on May 26 and May 27, 2011.  The G8 is one of the most important international forums for dealing with global issues. Its membership comprises Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, the United States, Canada and Russia. Notable people in attendance included the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

Mr. Ban’s work at the summit focused on the pro-democracy movements in the Arab world, the current crises in Africa, and  women’s and children’s health. In particular, Mr. Ban continued to emphasize the importance of women’s and children’s health as  prerequisites for international development.

Reflecting the current range of challenges faced by the world, this year’s summit addressed a broad range of issues. At the top of the agenda was the Euro crisis and Greece’s renewed economic problems. Closely related was the matter of the selection of the next IMF chief. The reduction of the U.S. budget deficit, and nuclear safety issues following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan were also discussed.

Africa had a special place in this year’s summit. First, the G8 considers it an issue of the highest importance to send a message of support for the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East. To this end, leaders of the Group of 8 pledged $20 billion in debt relief, loan guarantees, and aid for Egypt and Tunisia. Second, the G8 deliberated the challenges of invigorating Arab economies, and of creating jobs for Arab youth. Third, the leaders discussed economic opportunities in Africa, and ways to encourage the development of the private sector on the continent.  A sign of this summit’s focus on Africa was that the national leaders of Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia were also invited.

In a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, President Obama pledged US support in Japan’s recovery from the massive earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear disasters that followed.  In a separate meeting, President Obama and the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that the two countries would work jointly on a proposed European missile shield, boost anti-terrorism efforts, promote nuclear safety, and ease bilateral visa rules. President Medvedev also offered to mediate in the ongoing conflict between Libya and the West.

The sincere hope is to see these 48 hours of packed meetings, conferences and sessions result in concrete action and positive change for the many communities in need around the world.

–Smriti

Resolution 2011!

Our work here at UNA-GB is rooted in the founding principles of the United Nations – universal peace, international security, and respect for human rights, to name a few, and as we enter 2011, we are filled with hope and anticipation in this season of new beginnings.

It is our sincere wish that this coming year be filled with stories of healing, dignity, and international cooperation, and we will continue to do all that we can to inform, inspire and mobilize the greater Boston community around critical global issues.  You could call it our New Year’s Resolution, or Resolution 2011!

Since Resolutions are a big part of the work at the United Nations, we thought it quite fitting to highlight a few that were adopted in 2010.  Check out our list below and let us know what issues you hope to see the UN address in 2011!

Resolution 64/289 (adopted July 2, 2010) formally established the new agency UN Women.
In an historic move, the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to create a new entity to accelerate progress in meeting the needs of women and girls worldwide.  The establishment of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women — to be known as UN Women — is a result of years of negotiations between UN Member States and advocacy by the global women’s movement. It is part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact.

Resolution 1960 (adopted Dec 16, 2010) focused on sexual violence in conflict.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that will allow UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to list parties who have committed acts of sexual violence in reports to the 15-member body. The resolution cited “deep concern” that despite the Council’s “repeated condemnation of violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict,” such acts continue to occur and “in some situations have become systematic and widespread, reaching appalling levels of brutality.”  Read more here.

Resolution 1929 (adopted June 9, 2010) focused on non-proliferation with a particular emphasis on Iran.
This Security Council resolution is aimed at addressing the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.  The resolution offers the toughest sanctions to date for Iran, and included the creation of a supervision body to prevent delivery of nuclear material to Iran.  The resolution also encourages continued and renewed negotiations with Iran.

Resolution 65/4 (adopted October 18, 2010) reaffirmed Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace.
The General Assembly adopted a consensus resolution recognizing the potential of sport to help attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and foster an atmosphere of tolerance. The Assembly also acknowledged the need to strengthen efforts, including multi-stakeholder partnerships, at all levels, to maximize sport’s potential to contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and national peacebuilding priorities.  UNA-GB also focused on this issue at our 2010 Human Rights Day Luncheon.

Resolution 65/208 (adopted December 21, 2010) focused on condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – had a special focus on LGBT rights.
The Assembly strongly condemned once again all extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and demanded that all States ensure the practice is brought to an end. Prior to action, an amendment offered by the United States, which added the words “or because of their sexual orientation” to an operative paragraph, was adopted, after this language was removed during an earlier floor debate in November, causing a fair amount of controversy.

See the full list of Resolutions from the 65th and 64th General Assembly sessions and the Security Council.

You can also check out one of the best Resolutions written by some of the delegates at our Middle School Model UN Conference (further proof that 12 and 13 year olds really can make a difference in the peace-building process!) focused on rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

What Resolution would YOU write if you had the chance??

Thank you for all you’ve done to support our work this year and we look forward to all that 2011 has in store!

Happy New Year from the UNA-GB team –Lena, Kaitlin, Jennifer, Rebecca and our awesome interns!