Category Archives: Other Events

101 Years of Progress: International Women’s Day 2012

Today, Thursday, March 8, the world celebrates the 101st anniversary of the International Women’s Day, honoring the lives of all women and girls. Here at UNA-GB, we kicked off the celebrations a little early with our annual film screening and panel discussion on Monday, March 5th.  We had more than 100 members of the community come together for War Redefined, the final film in the Women, War & Peace series. The film was followed by an enthusiastic and informative conversation among our wonderful panelists: The series executive producer Abigail E. Disney, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Dr. Amani El Jack and Sahana Dharmapuri. Take a look here for some pictures of our event.

War Redefined challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace constitute a man’s sphere. The film features insightful conversations with Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic, the founder of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi, globalization expert Moisés Naím, and Cynthia Enloe of Clark University.

Today, many more wars are fought within countries with failing states compared to wars fought across borders. The proliferation of the use of small arms in the aftermath of the Cold War has transformed the landscape of war. War is no longer fought among the uniformed military forces of two or more countries. In this post-Cold War era, civilians have become the primary victims of war, with women being the foremost targets, and suffering unprecedented casualty rates.

One of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against women during and in the aftermath of wars is sexual violence. Rape and other forms of sexual violence have become major strategies used in modern wars. War Redefined portrays how millions of women and children have been victimized in civil wars ranging from Bosnia to Rwanda. This has brought into sharp relief the concept of human security as contrasted with national security. Even though women and children constitute the overwhelming number of the victims of war, people tasked with peacemaking have traditionally been men.

Recognizing this paradox, United Nations Security Council in the year 2000 passed Resolution 1325 which called for peace agreements to take into account the special needs of women and girls, to support women’s peace initiatives, and implement international humanitarian and human rights law concerning rights of women and girls. The resolution further urged all parties to take action to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, and to respect their special needs in humanitarian and refugee emergencies.

Accordingly, War Redefined portrays how the United States military has begun to task women soldiers to work closely with Afghani women to address their needs such as health care and food security. Humanity is slowly but surely recognizing Harriet Beecher Stowe’s observation that “Women are the real architects of society.” Women can only achieve security, happiness and true liberation when they themselves take the initiative, and raise their voices against inequality and violence. Only then will the world come to celebrate the Women’s Day in its full glory.

The conversation held on Monday between the panelists and the audience was rousing, provactive and inspiring – I look forward to seeing how the Boston community continues to engage with gender justice and equity issues!

HAPPY 101st INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!  Click here for our blog post detailing additional events around Boston – there are still some to come!

-Smriti K.

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.

UNA-GB Presents our Newly Formed Advocacy Committee: Meet our Leaders!

UNA-GB is excited to announce the formation of a new volunteer Advocacy Committee! Nathaniel Watson and Heather Cochran, who are co-chairing the committee along with Alma Morrison, are looking forward to working with UNA-GB and it’s global network and dedicated members.

Over the coming months we will be working to help keep you abreast of all the important issues that you need to be aware of and that need our support. It is important that we remain vigilant and work with other organizations, both public and private, to promote the goals of the United Nations.

With so many worthy causes, we need your help. The more involvement and support we garner from you the more we can get done. Whether it be reaching out to your local town officials, writing a letter to your Governor or simply joining the conversation and helping us find ways to make our world a better place, we’re counting on you! Over the coming months we will be highlighting different issues that need your support.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry pictured here with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Currently, the future of America’s relationship with the UN is at stake. H.R. 2829 is a bill offered by Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) that would change the United States funding of the UN from a percentage of GDP to a voluntary basis. This would not only diminish the United States representation in the UN but it would set a precedent that could compromise the overall effectiveness of the UN as a whole. On Thursday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a companion bill that would allow the U.S. to fund only those UN programs that is supports. This could severely undermine the equitability of the UN and put the interests of smaller Nations in jeopardy that would strain multi-national relations outside of the UN.

Please take the time to let your opinion be heard and contact your congressmen and women. 

Click here for a complete list of Massachusetts Representatives and their contact information!

Want to read more about this bill and its consequences? Click here!

Meet our Leaders:

Nathaniel (you may call him Nat) studied Political Science at Boston University and now works in the financial industry downtown. He has only been a member of UNAGB for just 6 months but has a passion for international relations and is a strong believer in the importance of the UN’s role both globally and locally.

Heather studied International Human Rights and has a Master’s degree
in Social Work. She currently works in the nonprofit industry. She has
a strong passion for human rights and women’s rights. She would like
to continue to work towards helping to advocate for the UN’s
millennium goals.

2011 Annual Member Meeting: The Success of the Past Meets the Potential of the Future!

Fall has officially kicked off here at UNA-GB. Over the past few weeks, UNA-GB was hard at work planning our Annual Member Meeting and Kimball Lecture, held Wednesday, September 28, and boy, was it a success!

Every year, we hold an Annual Meeting to communicate all that we’re doing with our members and friends. In addition this year, UNA-GB’s annual Kimball Lecture was held after the meeting. This year, not only did we showcase all that we have accomplished so far, but we presented our exciting plans for the rest of the year!

Newly elected Board Member Hakan Satiroglu (second from left) with UNA-GB Board and Advisory Council members.

The evening started off with our Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors, which was open to the public, during which Officers, Board Members, and Advisory Council Members were elected. Among the newly elected were Nate Tassinari, Hakan Satiroglu and Roger Berry. We look forward to seeing what these new faces can bring to our already fantastic Board of Directors!

With an ambitious agenda, the Annual Meeting of Members began almost immediately following the Board of Directors Meeting. The program began with opening remarks from UNA-GB’s Executive Director, Lena Granberg, who played the role of Sec-Gen throughout the night, complete with a gavel and all.  President Richard Golob gave a very inspiring speech laying out the success of UNA-GB during 2010 and the first half of 2011. From the Women’s Forum, to the Young Professionals Network, to our Signature Events including the annual Consuls Ball, Richard presented our enormous impact on the greater Boston community – in the past year alone, more than 5,000 people have been served with UNA-GB’s classroom and community based programming!

The expectations for the upcoming months were only raised higher after the next part of the evening.

Nate Tassinari sharing our Young Professionals upcoming events!

A panel of our staff and volunteers took the stage to detail our various groups, our upcoming events, and easy ways for UNA-GB members to get involved. Among speakers were Rebecca Corcoran for our Model UN Program, Natalie Prolman for our Campus Ambassadors, Nate Tassinari for our Young Professionals Group, Elizabeth Grealy for our Women’s Forum, and Kaitlin Hasseler for our Signature Events and Advocacy/Communications.  It wasn’t just pure presentation though – audience members had a chance to win big by answering trivia questions like “the world’s population will hit _____ billion in October 2011” and “what do ABC’s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Seacrest and Supreme Court Justice Breyer have in common?”  (Answers??  Seven and Model UN, respectively!)

For those who weren’t at the Meeting, click here to learn more about our upcoming events, and also find out how YOU can get involved with our programs and events here!  2 easy ways to get involved right now? Become a member today! Also, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep updated with our latest news and upcoming events!

Ambassador Walter Carrington

Following our panel of speakers, attendees had the chance to hear Ambassador Walter Carrington give the Kimball Lecture keynote address, focused on Africa and the War on Terrorism. Carrington served as US Ambassador to Nigeria and Senegal, and is currently an Associate of Harvard’s DuBois Institute while working on a book on Nigeria and another on Islam in Africa. And during his introduction given by Richard Golob, UNA-GB President, we even learned that Carrington was Martin Luther King Jr.’s big brother in their Fraternity at Harvard University!

The Kimball Lecture is given annually in memory of Professors Chase and Mary Lee Evans Kimball. Chase and Mary Lee were lifelong supporters and promoters of United States participation and responsible leadership in international organizations, starting with fervent advocacy of the United States entry in the League of Nations. Chase, a lawyer and professor of international relations, and Mary Lee, a professor of French, were enthusiastic and loyal supporters and generous donors to UNA-GB and the UN Council of the South Shore.

The evening ended with a Wine and Cheese Around the World ReceptionThe Robert F. Meagher Wine & Cheese Around the World Reception was started this year as an annual event to recognize the contributions and legacy of long-time UNA-GB Board Member Bob Meagher who passed away in 2007 at the age of 80. Our reception included cheese from all over the world including Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, and France, and our wine selection spanned from Chile, to New Zealand, and California to Hungary!

We even had a few famous faces join us at the Meeting this year, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Goodwill Ambassador (and Boston darling) Giselle Bündchen.  New to this year’s Annual Member Meeting was a photo-booth with key United Nations individuals, which provided a great form of entertainment during registration.

Overall, 2011 Annual Member Meeting was a HUGE success! From the interactive photo-booth, to our panel of speakers, and our Kimball Lecture to the Wine and Cheese Around the World Reception, our guests felt engaged, informed, and excited about the upcoming months!

Weren’t able to attend this event? Click here to check out photos from the evening!  And join us at our upcoming events!

-Jennifer J.

A Year of New Horizons: Review of 66th UN General Assembly Opening

It’s been a busy couple of weeks as the United Nations welcomed the opening of its 66th General Assembly. The General Assembly opened its 66th session formally this week at its Headquarters in New York. Former permanent representative of Qatar to the UN, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, was elected as General Assembly president in June and gave the opening speech.

In his opening speech Al-Nasser stressed that the General Assembly is an opportunity for the international community to “define our place in this decisive moment in history,” and to “prove that we have the courage, wisdom and tenacity to seek creative and visionary solutions.” He also said that he was “deeply committed” to working with each member state to “build bridges for a united global partnership.”

On Wednesday Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff became the first woman to ever open a round of UN General Assembly speeches. In her speech President Rousseff touched on a wide range of topics including social inclusion and human rights guarantees. She also spoke about the need to reform the UN Security Council and supporting sustainable development – with a reminder that in June 2012 Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the next world conference on climate change.

On Monday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability held its fourth meeting in New York. The Panel was established in 2010 to examine how the globe can reduce poverty and increase sustainability development while protecting our planet.

On Wednesday President Obama spoke at the UN Security Council saying that although he believes there can be peace between Israel and Palestine, there is no shortcut to that peace. He also commented on the US’ opposition to the Palestinian’s bid. “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN,” President Obama declared. “If it were that easy it would have been accomplished by now.” Rather, President Obama suggested that the international community should keep pushing Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four impassable issues that have presented problems since 1979.

Despite President Obama’s speech, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, submitted an application for Palestine to become a United Nations Member State today. Mr. Abbas submitted the application to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Headquarters in New York this morning.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the release of Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal from an Iranian prison on Wednesday. Bauer and Fattal had been hiking near the Iranian-Iraqi border and a month later were convicted and jailed for spying allegations more than two years ago.

On Thursday, UNICEF welcomed a new agreement between the Republic of the Congo and Benin to protect children from child trafficking which has been a large problem in the region in recent years.

“With the signing of the agreement, a framework is now in place to assist the two countries to prevent, identify and assist child trafficking victims as well as to prosecute offenders,” Marianne Flach, UNICEF Country Representative in the Republic of the Congo said.

It is hard for UNICEF to come up with an exact number of children trafficked, but in 2007 the organization roughly estimated the number to be 1,800. Experts today say that the figure is actually much higher.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all remaining States today to “seize the moment” and sign and ratify the global treaty banning nuclear tests – with the goal of bringing it into force by 2012. Of the total 195 states, 182 have so far signed the treaty and 155 have ratified it. For the treaty to enter into force, ratification is required from the “Annex 2 States.” Of these States, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the U.S. have yet to ratify it.

“My message is clear: Do not wait for others to move first. Take the initiative. Lead. The time for waiting has passed,” Ban Ki-moon said. “We must make the most of existing – and potentially short-lived – opportunities,” he added.

As demonstrated throughout this week, the UN is an extremely important organization to global security and equity across the board. As a result it is important for us to continue supporting the organization in any way we can. Don’t forget to visit Let US Lead and tell Congress to oppose bill H.R. 2829 which threatens to cut U.S. funding to the UN. Want to go a step beyond signing a petition? Schedule an appointment to meet with your local representative over the Columbus Day recess!

Here at UNA-GB we are celebrating the opening of the 66th General Assembly as well with our 66 for 66 Campaign! Help us raise $3,300 to fund 66 students in honor of this anniversary of the UN. Only $50 provides food and materials for one child to change their perspective, engage in international issues, and build skills that will be relevant in college and their future career path. Help us nurture the next generation of global leaders! Donate today!

-Alexandra

Join UNA-GB’s 66 for 66 Campaign

As world leaders prepare to gather today for the United Nations General Assembly’s opening session, here at UNA-GB a brand new 66 for 66 Campaign has been launched.  In connection with the opening of the 66th session of the General Assembly and in honor of the 66th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, our campaign focuses on providing 66 Boston-area high school students the unique opportunity to step into the shoes of diplomats at the annual UN Day Model UN Simulation at the Massachusetts State House on October 24.

“Now more than ever we need to invest in and nurture the next generation of global leaders” says Jennifer Irizarry, Education Director at UNA-GB.  “Unfortunately, too many urban students do not have access to the life-changing resources offered through Model UN, so this campaign allows us to offer more students an opportunity to broaden their perspective, engage in international issues, and build skills that will be critical for college and workplace success.”

UNA-GB’s Model UN program is a college-preparatory program that exposes public school students to the work of the United Nations, the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and topics such as international economics, development and sustainability, while building leadership and negotiation skills, critical reading and writing ability, and public speaking prowess.

It only costs $50 to support one student’s participation in a Model UN, so the 66 for 66 Campaign’s total goal is to raise $3,300 to serve 66 students.  The campaign will run up through Monday, October 24, when dozens of Boston-area public school students will come together at the Massachusetts State House in honor of the 66th anniversary of the UN to solve a critical issue in international development. Students representing diverse nations such as Afghanistan, Paraguay, and South Africa will participate in a Model UN simulation to debate solutions to gender inequality and answer the question: Why do global inequalities for women in education and employment persist and what can be done about it?

Want to learn more about and to support the 66 for 66 Campaign? Visit http://ow.ly/6sdrB!  And invite your friends and family to join you today in investing in the global leaders of tomorrow!

-UNA-GB Education

From Main Street to Capitol Hill: 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting Recap

Last week I joined UNA-USA members and staff from more than 60 chapters across the country to raise awareness about the United Nations and the critical role it plays in advancing American national security and foreign policy goals during UNA-USA’s Annual Meeting in Washington DC.  The Annual Meeting agenda focused on how we can continue to strengthen support for the work of the UN at the grassroots level.

UN Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and UNA-USA Executive Director Patrick Madden at the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting.

The week’s meetings were particularly exciting, because it was the first Annual Meeting since UNA-USA officially joined the United Nations Foundation family.  A number of new faces were on hand, including former Senator Timothy Wirth, President of UN Foundation, and Kathy Calvin, CEO of UN Foundation.

Conversations emphasizing “focus” and “change” dominated the Annual Meeting.  Many of the speakers drove home the need to focus on the work of the UN and how we can better advocate for a strong US role in promoting global cooperation.  Our support for the UN is imperative to peace.  As Ambassador Rice so eloquently put it, “Now more than ever, Americans’ security and wellbeing are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems. And that is why the U.S. is so much better off—so much stronger, so much safer and more secure—in a world with the United Nations than we would be in a world without it.”  In her keynote address at the conference, Ambassador Rice also highlighted the immense change going on in the world, seen most clearly in the Middle East.  She encouraged everyone to “break out of old habits and find new answers to 21st-century challenges.”

The partnership between UNA-USA and UN Foundation seems well-positioned to find new ways to leverage the strengths of each organization, creating a powerful synergy and focus of missions.  UNA’s grassroots outreach, combined with UNF’s grasstops mobilizing and campaigning, creates a real opportunity for progress. While it’s true that change never comes without growing pains, UNA members and leaders expressed excitement about gaining access to strong UNF campaigns like GirlUp and Nothing But Nets, and the elevated co-branding opportunities that exist between the two organizations.

In addition to meeting the UNF key players, those in attendance heard from UNA-USA’s new Executive Director, Patrick Madden.  Madden set forth a strong vision for the future of UNA’s work and partnerships.  He also challenged us to grow our local membership, engage young professionals in our programming, and expand our advocacy efforts.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the chance to take up Madden’s call to action to advocate for the UN, and foreign affairs as a whole.  On Tuesday, all of us UNA members went to the Hill to meet with our respective congressional members My Massachusetts counterpart, Alma Morrison, and I deftly navigated all 3 House buildings and 2 of the 3 Senate buildings to meet with staffers from the offices of Reps. McGovern, Capuano, and Lynch, and Sens. Brown and Kerry.  We shared our concerns and wishes regarding US engagement on global issues and made sure our elected officials knew these issues are important to us and our fellow UNA-GB members, their constituents.  It was clear that with drastic budget cuts looming, now more than ever our elected officials needed to hear about our values and priorities directly from us.

I came away from the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting inspired to take action more concretely and to continue to mobilize the greater Boston community on the issues that matter to the UN.  As the oft-repeated mantra goes, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”   It is imperative for us to act now.  I look forward to more fully engaging with UNA-USA, UNF, and the UN, as we work together towards stronger and more successful action and messaging!  I sincerely hope you join us!

-Kaitlin Hasseler, UNA-GB Program Manager

Get Your Green On!

After a long cold winter here in Boston and with a much-needed boost of warm weather marking the promise of summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to consider how we can positively impact our surroundings!  This Sunday June 5th is World Environment Day, coordinated by the United Nations’ Environment Programme, and is a great opportunity to get involved in a variety of different activities to help our planet.

World Environment Day started in 1972 and has grown to be an important environmental action supported by the United Nations for people in the world to reunite on this day for the environment. This year the Global Host of World Environment Day 2011 in India, focusing on forest development called “Forests: Nature at Your Service” and its continued support as a nation of global sustainable living.

Whether you’re in India or around the world, there is plenty going on. From the Biofestival 2011 concert in Costa Rica to the biodiversity press conference in Canada to a music concert in Belgium, to beach-cleaning and tree-planting in Bahrain, there are so many ways to get involved all around the world.  All of these activities link back to the efforts of the UN’s Millennium Development Goal #7, which focuses on educating countries about the benefits of sustainable development and use of resources in protecting the environment.  As we work to educate as many people as possible about protecting our environment on the microlevel, the UN is working on the macrolevel with governments to be environmentally sustainable.  Just yesterday, UN officials discussed having political representatives get involved in working towards a globally “green economy” during a debate on the General Assembly floor.  They discussed both the importance and the challenges involved in making government officials aware of the importance of the environment and sustainability.  Included in discussions was the point that while developed countries have the technology to make a difference, they still need political and social support in order to have an impact.

Some high-profile celebrities are looking to increase the political and social support: UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors’ Gisele Bundchen and Don Cheadle are competing in the WED Challenge to get as many people to support  World Environment Day, and environmental sustainability as possible. For each person that votes for either of them, a tree will be planted to support this year’s focus on forest development and support.

Do you want to get involved locally? You can choose to walk instead of driving or go as far as organizing clean-up activities in your communities. Hold a forest or river clean-up with your local community. Educate your community about how endangered species rely on having a healthy environment to live in or create a habitat for an endangered species by planting trees, praire grasses or a butterfly gardenAny ideas you may have, you can register online register online and officially become a part of the activities supported for World Environment Day.  If nothing else, you should spend the day enjoying the nature around you – for fellow Bostonians, it’s a great excuse to see the swan boats in the Boston Common, walk along the Charles River, or sit among the shade in the Arnold Arboretum.

Make sure your involvement doesn’t just end after this weekend too!  Another way to stay involved on a more long-term level is to join local organizations that have environmental missions.  Some options in the Boston area include the  Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM), Green Corps (Program) and Boston Youth Environmental Network. Celebrate the great beauty of your environment this weekend, and take action, whether globally or locally in any way you can to make sure that environment is maintained for years -and generations! – to come.  It’s up to each of us to ensure a plentiful and rich future for our planet.

-Cara

This Day’s For Africa!

On May 25, 2011, the world celebrated Africa Day. This year marked the 48th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963. On July 9, 2002, OAU was succeeded by the African Union, whose aim is to promote economic, social, and political integration, and democracy on the continent. Even though the Organisation of African Unity no longer exists, May 25th continues to be commemorated as Africa Day.

This year’s Africa Day came at a time of momentous political change on the continent, as evidenced by the recent events in North Africa and Côte d’Ivoire.  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon celebrated the Day in Ethiopia, where the African Union is headquartered. Emphasizing this year’s Africa Day theme, “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development,” Secretary-General Ban remarked that despite substantial progress in education and economic growth, inequalities are prevalent in Africa, and that the youth of Africa continues to face challenges when it comes to finding decent jobs and participating in the decision-making processes. The Secretary-General also emphasized that sustainable economic growth and the judicious management of the earth’s resources can only be achieved through the empowerment of young people.

In addition to S-G Ban Ki-moon, those present in the commemorative event at the African Union Headquarters included the Chairperson of the African Union, Mr. Teodoro Mbasogo, and the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. In celebration of Africa, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be offering a number of events, including film screenings, art exhibitions and debates, with special attention paid to the role of women and young people.

—Smriti

Celebrate Mothers Worldwide

Tomorrow people all over the world will celebrate Mother’s Day with gifts, namely roses, fine chocolates and lavish dinners.  But Mother’s Day does not just have to be about honoring your mother with presents or participating in the commercial aspect of this holiday – it can be so much richer than that; it can be about making the world a healthier and safer place for all mothers.  It’s makes a world of difference of us all!

Some Americans, for example, are going beyond the traditional Mother’s Day celebrations and commemorating motherhood by saving the lives of mothers around the world.  Alongside an inspirational woman named Edna Adan, they are changing the lives of women in an impoverished nook of Somaliland in the horn of Africa by making childbirth safer there, offering family planning services and trying to put an end to female genital mutilation.

Another group of women took up the challenge of helping to save mothers’ lives around the world by starting their own “Mothers’ Day Campaign.”   They hope that Americans will consecrate the mother in their lives not only with presents, but also by helping impoverished women and girls through a particular charity.

Furthermore, you can take action this Mother’s Day by supporting the efforts of Every Mother Counts, an advocacy and mobilization campaign to increase education and support for maternal and child health.  Consider hosting a watch party with friends and loved ones for their documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry,” which is premiering on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on Saturday, May 7 at 9:30pm and 12:30am EST & PST and 8:30pm & 11:30pm CST; and on Sunday, May 8 at 1pm EST & PST and noon CST.  In her documentary, Christy Turlington Burns shares the powerful stories of at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world, including a remote Maasai tribe in Tanzania, a slum of Bangladesh, a post-abortion care ward in Guatemala, and a prenatal clinic in the United States.  Check out the trailer here!

So this Sunday, make Mother’s Day more meaningful than ever before and consider not only honoring your own mom, but someone else’s mom as well!

-Hanna