Last Thursday’s Fourth Annual Emerging Markets Symposium was a morning of critical discussion and inspiration as business leaders and academics tackled the topic of “Winning in Emerging Markets”. The symposium, held by Northeastern University’s Center for Emerging Markets and led by director and professor Ravi Ramamurthi, focused on sharing lessons from experience in order to look to a future of economic collaboration in rapidly growing economies around the world. The speakers came from various sectors and experience levels, from seasoned CEOs to students currently building start-ups abroad; this made for a dynamic and interesting morning.
The symposium began with an inauguration by Governor Deval Patrick. In his remarks he focused on education, innovation, and infrastructure as the drivers of a developing economy, adding that Massachusetts has been and is developing in all of these key areas. He stated that eastern Massachusetts has the highest concentration of colleges and universities worldwide, that the Commonwealth is a center for innovation, and touched on infrastructure projects that are ongoing in the western part of the state. He urged that now is the time for Massachusetts to become even more involved in the global economy, beginning with our universities, saying “This globalized economy is all about an explosion of knowledge, and we have that in spades.” According to the Governor, committing to investment in education and innovation in the Commonwealth creates a “platform for future growth” and makes Massachusetts an enticing business partner for cities and countries with emerging markets.
After Governor Patrick gave his remarks, the symposium opened up for a question and answer period during which he answered frankly to questions about future trade missions, specifically on the African continent, and job creation. The rest of the morning was filled with engaging presentations from a diverse group of speakers, all building on Patrick’s key points of education, innovation, and collaboration.
Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO and COO for EMC Corp. Centers of Excellence spoke to the strength of collaboration throughout global offices and stressed the importance of working with and hiring local staff to tailor one’s business to emerging markets’ standards. Working in emerging markets means being willing to liaise between local and global, Sao Paulo and Boston. In a CEO panel, Luis Bonell of Liberty International and Giri Chakravarthi of Emhart-Asia, Stanley Black & Decker presented on “Capturing Business in Emerging Markets”.
Despite the differences in their sectors, insurance and household tools/ fasteners respectively, both underscored the importance of having a deep understanding of market dynamics and local cultures as a key to success. Ventia Kontogouris, of Venkon Group, LLC., talked about creating businesses from scratch in emerging markets, speaking from her 20+ years of experience in venture capital investments in India. Again, she highlighted local to local collaboration as paramount in doing good business across the globe. Nigel Burton, Chief Marketing Officer at Colgate-Palmolive, was the luncheon keynote, focusing his remarks on marketing challenges in various local contexts and giving voice to the perspective of a large multinational corporation with a larger presence in emerging markets than in traditional, western markets.
A definite highlight of the morning for many were two wonderful presentations from Northeastern students on their personal experiences in Cameroon and Uganda, and the work they’ve undertaken in these regions. Michael Cantalino presented the business model for his start-up, Jola Venture, a company that provides solar powered food dehydrators for farmers. Elizabeth Cherchia shared her experience with Northeastern’s Engineers Without Borders and her water security projects in a Ugandan village. Their dedication was inspiring and garnered praise from the distinguished speakers for ensuring us that our future in emerging markets will be a bright one.
The key words of the day were education, innovation, collaboration and cultural competency- words we live by here at UNA-GB. Our Model UN and classroom programming serve nearly 3,000 students in the greater Boston area, teaching them valuable skills in problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking through various cultural lenses. While corporations are making their mark on emerging markets, we’re doing work right here in Boston to prepare young leaders for a promising future in a globalized world.
And stay tuned… exciting news to come about one emerging market in particular and our 2012 UN Day Luncheon!!
As temperatures rose in New England last week, 44 middle and high school students convened in the air conditioned classrooms of the Harvard Business School for a week of intensive global diplomacy training at the UNA-GB’s Model United Nations Summer Institute. These budding global leaders chose to trade in traditional camp activities like archery, swimming and horse-back riding in order to debate, negotiate, and create resolutions to the world’s most pressing issues, honing the skills they will need as global citizens and leaders in the 21st century.
The students kicked off the week with ice breakers and activities geared towards understanding the UN and learning about the complexities of human rights law. These activities taught the students effective debate skills, such as listening to each other and learning to respect and draw attention from the other delegates during the simulations. Throughout the week, students were introduced to international relations and critical 21st century skills like negotiation, public speaking and problem-solving through the lens of Model United Nations curriculum and simulations focused on terrorism and Human Rights. They had the unique opportunity to learn about the UN’s parliamentary procedure, formal debate vocabulary and how to complete high-level research through actual simulated debate and role play.
For the full simulation on Friday, the students teamed up in pairs to represent a UN member state in the General Assembly, allowing them the unique opportunity to step into the shoes of UN delegates and present their country’s position on conflict diamonds. This involved significant group work and alliance building among countries in order to come up with possible solutions. These solutions were translated into UN resolutions that were then debated and voted on by all countries.
In order to create a resolution, the students had to recognize and understand the complexity of each global issue and they had to take into account the various economic and political implications a resolution would have on different countries. They also had to reach a compromise amid widely conflicting country interests, from Zimbabwe to the UK to China.
The dedication, seriousness and excitement exhibited by the students throughout the week was impressive and inspiring to all staff and adults in attendance. It was a real treat to see how realistic and impressive the debates were, and how the youth, no matter their age, were cooperative, motivated and committed to crafting feasible resolutions to modern day global challenges of terrorism and conflict diamonds.
We want to thank all of these future global leaders for giving up a week of their summer vacation to tackle the world’s pressing global challenges and to learn critical 21st century skills, all while having fun and building valuable friendships. We hope to see some familiar faces next summer and at the Model UN programs during the year!
Stay tuned for student testimonies and additional feedback from the second session, to be held from July 9-July 13, serving 45 more young global advocates!
– Julia Kuperminc and Catherine Schrage
Despite the dreary weather on Monday, UNA-GB launched a fantastic week of programming. Staff and interns took a field trip to Harvard Business School where the 2012 Model UN Summer Institute’s first session kicked off, with nearly 50 6th-12th grade students from around Boston and the country coming together for an intensive week-long program focused on global diplomacy and leadership.
Across the quad, in Spangler Hall, UNA-GB staff, Advisory Council members, and Board officers gathered for our annual Advisory Council luncheon. This year we were pleased and honored to welcome Ambassador Robert Pelletreau and his wife Pamela as our special guests.
Pelletreau has impressive and timely expertise in the Middle East, having served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs as well as Ambassador to Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain throughout his 35 year career in the Foreign Service. Upon leaving government, he joined the international law firm of Afridi & Angell , and in 2002, along with his wife, became Co-Director, of Search for Common Ground in the Middle East. Mrs. Pelletreau was an active volunteer of UNA in New York, and since moving to the Cape this year, has become more involved with UNA-GB.
The luncheon opened with an energizing introduction from UNA-GB President Richard Golob, who spoke enthusiastically about the Advisory Council and their role as ambassadors to the Boston community. Council Member Peter Smith echoed Richard’s comments, describing the crucial role of the Advisory Council as not only spokespeople for UNA-GB overall, but also specifically as avid supporters of our Model UN global education programming.
Ambassador Pelletreau spoke next, giving all those gathered at the table a clear, organized and engaging update on the current status of political changes in the Middle East, while also bringing in charming personal anecdotes; he opened with a story about playing squash with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. During his remarks, he shared 4 general observations on political uprisings in the last year or so:
- globalization of communications
- the key role of a slumped global economy
- a shift in demographics due to a huge youth population
- and the rise and influence of Islamist parties.
Pelletreau stated that a combination of these factors was the catalyst for the uprisings, pointing out that in an increasingly globalized world where news access is everywhere and stories can spread like wildfire, it is harder to cut your citizens off from the rest of the world. Ambassador Pelletreau gave his take on what the future may look like in this region, and in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria specifically, saying that while much is unclear, fighting is likely to continue. As a final wrap up to his informed commentary, Pelletreau shared another anecdote, this time about Henry Kissinger’s legendary trip to China in 1971, during which Premier Zhou was asked about the implications of the French Revolution – he replied that it was “too early to say”. All those in attendance laughed at the irony, and with understanding that issues as complicated as those currently faced in the Arab world will indeed take time.
After a brief time of Q&A, Executive Director Lena Granberg updated the Council on UNA-GB programming so far this year, particularly highlighting the successes of our Model UN program, now serving almost 3,000 6th-12th grade students in the greater Boston area. (To catch up on recent UNA-GB events or upcoming programs visit the website). Ann Kirby, who works on educational development at UNA-GB, gave a brief introduction to the Model UN Summer Institute, which teaches 6th-12th graders the values of debate, teamwork, and public speaking while engaging in simulated negotiations on real-world global challenges.
The Advisory Council members then had a chance to sit in on one of the Institute’s sessions to experience the impact of this transformative college-preparatory program firsthand. The students were finishing up an exercise through which they established a working definition of human rights for use in their simulations. This was followed up by an engaging and entertaining public speaking exercise where they had to go around the circle, state their name, the names of those before them, and an activity/like they have. It provided much fodder for discussion about the importance of active listening and ways to remember key facts when speaking.
It was great to see various aspects of UNA-GB come together in one place, and to see our mission come alive through the Summer Institute. Teens from the Greater Boston Area as well as active community members, professionals, and former ambassadors were all laughing and learning together. And no amount of torrential rain could dampen the inspiration felt around both the work of the UN and UNA-GB’s work to empower the next generation of global leaders that afternoon!
Wondering how you can join in? Check out how to get involved on our website!
The UNA-GB team celebrated UN World Environment Day in full force on Tuesday! We spent the morning at John Hancock Financial’s 601 Congress St. offices recognizing them on their LEED platinum certification and spreading the word about the UN Environment Programme’s transformative work locally and globally. We then headed to Carson Beach and Dorchester Shores Reservation for a spirited beach clean-up. Our event began at John Hancock’s atrium where Jim Boyle, President, kicked off the speaking program. He shared how the 40th anniversary of WED fittingly coincided with the 150th anniversary of John Hancock and acknowledged this year’s WED theme, “Green Economy: Does It Include You?” He presented how John Hancock has long recognized the important role they must play in establishing a green economy by having not only respect for our planet but also concern for future generations. They have implemented many environmental initiatives, use resources wisely, and engage in sustainable investing. Jim Boyle saluted the work that the UN has undertaken globally in addressing this critical issue and further recognized UNA-GB for translating global causes into local action. He then passed the microphone to Richard Golob, the President of the Board at UNA-GB and a committed member of the corporate environmental community. Richard remarked that although Tuesday marked four decades of the important work that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has done, there is much more progress to be made. The UN understands that establishing a green economy is the pathway to a healthier environment and Richard hoped that our event would encourage other corporations and all of us as global citizens to engage collectively in tackling environmental issues. Richard also echoed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s call for “governments, businesses and all members of society to make the holistic choices that will ensure a sustainable future”. As an example of UNA-GB’s holistic approach, Richard talked about our Model UN programs through which middle to high school students come together to discuss and learn about world issues including clean water, sustainable development, and environmental stewardship. He noted that Model UN is a viable solution to fill an educational gap. MUN reaches 3,000 students in greater Boston.
Although Tuesday’s event had a corporate emphasis, Richard and the UNA-GB underscored the importance of a collective effort from corporations, government, and citizens to take concrete steps towards real change. Bobbi Kates-Garnick, State Undersecretary for Energy, spoke on behalf of the Patrick administration and Richard K. Sullivan about environmental leadership in Boston. We learned that Massachusetts is the #1 state in energy efficiency and that the state hopes to claim 100 green communities by the end of the summer. She stressed Massachusetts’ commitment to a green economy, through clean energy advancements, and environmental education, such as Model UN programming.
Next, Brian Glascock, Director of the Environment Department, City of Boston added to Bobbi’s comments recognizing 100 LEED buildings in Boston and explaining green initiatives that Menino’s and his administration have taken on. Boston’s growing tree canopy is an example. He celebrated Boston as an international city and cited this as even more reason to take action and step up to our environmental responsibilities.
Finally, Jennifer Taranto of U.S. Green Building Council’s Massachusetts Chapter presented John Hancock Financial with a plaque officiating their platinum achievement and mentioned their 3 other gold-certified buildings in Back Bay. Afterwards guests were welcome to peruse the green expo that John Hancock Financial hosted which included vendors who focused on recycling, composting, energy, and organic food.
After a quick wardrobe change into rain-gear, UNA-GB staff and John Hancock employees along with Vivian from the Boston Harbor Association ventured to Carson Beach in South Boston to clean garbage alongside the beach and walkway. In an hour we made quite an impact, reaching all the way to Dorchester Shores Reservation and returning with 10 bags filled with litter.
How did you celebrate World Environment Day yesterday? What steps will you take to support sustainability at global and local levels? WED may be just one day but supporting our environment is a daily commitment. Not only was it a fantastic way to strengthen our relationships with John Hancock and the BHA but also created opportunities of bonding among our staff and interns. And of course, we brightened up the beach area and helped our environment with a simple, concrete step. Changing the world really is up to each of us!
The United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNA-GB) hosted our annual Consuls Ball – an elegant, high-spirited international event that gives tribute to the city’s global leaders of today while benefiting the global leaders of tomorrow – at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston on this past Friday evening, April 27. Nearly 400 guests and 34 consuls who facilitate business, trade, education, and other linkages in the state came out to celebrate the international community in Boston. The day was also a celebration of Governor Deval Patrick’s proclamation of April 27 as the official Consuls Day in Massachusetts.
The Consuls Ball commenced as the 34 members of the Consular Corps of Boston in attendance, from Belgium to the UK, processed into the packed Ballroom for acknowledgment. A toast was given by Dr. Arese Carrington, UNA-GB Board Vice President, recognizing the lasting economic and cultural impact of the Corps, which now numbers almost 60 Consulates in Boston, or nearly one third of UN Member States.
“Today, so-called ‘democratic space’ has expanded to all corners of the world; a development never witnessed before in the history of mankind,”shared Ambassador Kazuo Kodama, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, who gave keynote remarks at the Ball. “Yet, one of the most difficult challenges confronting the UN at this juncture is how to assist countries in transition in rooting democracy and the rule of law in their home soil… I can provide full assurances that Japan is committed to extending our continued support in cooperation with the efforts of the international community at large.” See Ambassador Kodama’s full remarks here.
The night had a special focus on Japan, with the Ball falling at the end of the first week of the new nonstop flight linking Boston to Tokyo and the rest of Asia, an event certain to extend Boston’s global footprint and strengthen economic and cultural ties not only between Boston and Japan, but between all of New England and Asia. The Ball also coincided with the Cherry Blossom Centennial, as well as the one year marker of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. Along with Ambassador Kodama’s remarks, the night showcased the best of Japanese culture, from Taiko drumming to stunning Ikebana centerpieces to sushi and a special Cherry Blossom Cosmo. The night was capped by a raffle drawing of a dream trip on the new JAL Dreamliner direct flight to Tokyo (retail value $5,000), which was won by Calvin Williams, resident of Arlington. Roy Chase, of Hyannisport, was the other lucky winner of our second raffle drawing – a gorgeous 18 Karat White Gold Pearl and Diamond bracelet (retail value $2,500) donated by Shreve, Crump and Low and designed by Mastoloni Pearls.
Not only did the Consuls Ball recognize current global leadership, but it also raised money for the future global leaders in Boston area schools, who are preparing to live and work in an ever more globalized world. The Consuls Ball supports UNA-GB’s Model UN programs, which teach 6th-12th grade students in local public schools to think critically about complex global issues, increase their understanding of diversity and the world beyond our borders, and provide them with conflict resolution and public speaking skills.
“[Model UN] is an opportunity to have a voice, to jump out of your comfort zone, and most importantly take that experience into the future such as in college, the working place, and society in general”,shared Stephanie Thermora, a senior at Boston Latin Academy and active Model UN participant. “Every student should have an opportunity to participate in a Model UN program because every student has in something they can share with the world and the capability to change the world.”
In the 2011-2012 school year, close to 3,000 students — more than half from urban schools — participated in nearly 100 schools throughout the Greater Boston area.
The evening’s events were closed with a final toast by our fearless Board President, Richard Golob, in recognition of the next generation of global leaders, our youth participants in Model UN. It was a beautiful night of international celebration and support, and we are deeply grateful for all the support and energy provided by our sponsors, table hosts, guests and volunteers!
We hope you can join us in April 2013 for the next Consuls Ball!
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.
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
Each year on October 24 we honor the the day in 1945 when the United Nations Charter came into effect. Each UN Day, throughout the globe, the efforts of the United Nations are recognized and celebrated.
This year, marking the 66th anniversary of the UN, the theme for UN Day is: “UN Day: In Everyone’s Interest.” The United Nations delivers everything from: peace and democracy with over 120,000 troops and personnel deployed to 15 peacekeeping missions; as well as, promoting human rights; to building economic prosperity; and, advancing global health.
Here at UNA-GB we too celebrate this special day each year. This year, beginning on Monday of next week we have several events you can attend to show your support for the important global organization. On October 24, UNA-GB will hold a UN Day Celebration and Model UN Simulation at the Massachusetts State House. The event will begin with UNA-GB raising the UN Flag at Boston City Hall to fly over Boston for the week and will read the City of Boston’s UN Day Proclamation, signed by Mayor Menino. Next, 100 Boston area middle and high school students and additional guests will head over to the Massachusetts State House for a Model UN simulation. The students will step into ambassadors’ shoes from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, China and Russia to debate the pervasive problem of gender inequality globally, and answer the question: Why do global inequalities for women in education and employment persist and what can be done about it?
Carol Fulp, 2011 Massachusetts UN Day Chair; SVP of Brand Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, John Hancock Financial; and US Representative to the 65th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (appointed by President Obama in Fall 2010) will give opening remarks at the Simulation and Governor Deval Patrick has been invited to read his 2011 UN Day Massachusetts proclamation.
You can also show your support on the 24th by heading into one of the award winning local bakery Sweet Cupcakes and purchase a specially made UN Day cupcake at one of Sweet’s four locations around Boston: Back Bay, 49 Massachusetts Ave; 225 Newbury Street; Harvard Square: Zero Brattle Street; Downtown: 11 School Street. Cupcakes will also be provided to students at the Model UN simulation!
Occurring simultaneously on the 24th, cities and towns throughout Massachusetts from Westwood to Yarmouth will be submitting proclamations supporting the UN. Proclamations range in content but all provide resounding support for the mission and work of the UN globally and the work UNA-GB is doing locally in the community.
Ending the week we will be holding our annual UN Day Luncheon on Friday, October 28 which gathers leaders from the business, policy, and academic communities in the Greater Boston area for an engaging dialogue on world affairs and an opportunity to network with other globally conscious individuals and organizations. This year our keynote speaker will be Gillian Sorensen, Senior Adviser at the United Nations Foundation and former Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations. Sorensen has distinguished career at the UN serving two Secretaries-General, Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. During her service Sorensen was responsible for 4,000 non-governmental organizations, and is also an ardent advocate to the US/UN relationship. Sorensen’s remarks will focus on “The UN and You: Global Citizenship in the 21st Century”.
This year at the Luncheon we will also be introducing our first-ever Global Corporate Citizenship honor roll recognizing the more than 30 Massachusetts-based companies who have signed on to key business principles through the UN Global Compact. We believe it is important to highlight the leaders in our community making a difference around sustainable development and corporate citizenship. Funds raised through ticket sales and sponsorships at the Luncheon directly support UNA-GB’s community events and class-room based programs, which serves more than 5,000 participants annually in greater Boston. This years sponsors include: Clark University Graduate School of Management; British School of Boston; GGA Software Services, LLC; New England College of Business and Finance; Ocean Spray; and our 2011-2012 Education Program sponsor National Grid.
Our Campus Ambassadors will also be celebrating UN Day at their respective universities throughout the month. At Northeastern University there is a two week celebration with events, starting already this past week including a movie screening of “The Whistleblower,” on Sunday, October 16 followed by a discussion of the importance of speaking up in difficult situations and possible resulting reforms. At the beginning of this week, there will be a screening of “Seeds of Peace,” which will kick off a week of various programs including panel discussions with the film maker. Positive Foundations at Brandeis University will be hosting a panel discussion on the importance of literacy and education in developing countries. Other universities such as Boston College, Tufts University and Suffolk University will also be holding celebratory events.
Help us celebrate 66 years of peace, justice and prosperity with the UN and the importance of thinking globally and acting locally!
On October 24 the world will celebrate the 66th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. As we near this anniversary it is important to revisit the key missions of the United Nations, which centers around finding solutions to critical global challenges.
In 2010 the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) concluded with the adoption of a global action plan, which laid out Eight Millennium Development Goals, ranging from extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/Aids. Another one of the goals that has many ties to the rest is MDG 3, which focuses on Gender Equality. Achieving equal rights for women and girls is a big focus on the global stage currently, and recent headline news reflects this.
Islamic states, Saudi Arabia and Iran have all recently been criticized for their records with women’s rights. In the recent UN Watch Testimony to UN Human Rights, Iran and Saudi Arabia were listed as countries where women are deprived of their human rights.
The legal system of The Islamic Republic of Iran discriminates against women. Similarly, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women cannot drive and women are denied the right to vote and be elected to high political positions. Women, who don’t have the right to drive, however may gain the right to vote.
Recently, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announced women will have the right to vote in local elections in 2015 and become members of the advisory Shura council. Two days after this announcement a court sentenced a woman to 10 whiplashes for violating the kingdom’s religious rules prohibiting women from driving. Usually police stop female drivers, and after they have them sign a pledge not to drive anymore, let them go. This is the first time when legal punishment has been ordered for the violation of driving ban in Saudi Arabia. The court acted after a women’s campaign launched on Facebook and Twitter emboldened by the Arab Spring that inspired women to get behind the wheel and drive. These contradictions are the results of an endless fight between the country’s conservatives and those who want to improve women’s situation.
The issue recalls a long time fight that still continues in Afghanistan. In 1928 King Amanulah and his wife introduced new reforms, which included: the abolition of burqa, mixed schools for boys and girls, and the country’s mullahs. Later, the country’s conservatives and mujahideen began attacking the government. Presently, the country’s conservatives continue rising up against reforms – which would give basic human rights to women in Afghanistan.
The presence of women in Afghan parliament is a show of democracy. In fact, women holding high-ranking political positions do not have the authorities provided by their positions. Women struggle to play a significant political role and they are continually excluded from peace and security processes as well as solving important issues. The most members of the parliament are warlords, the ethnic militias who fought against each other from 1992 to 1996, killing thousands of civilians. Human Rights Watch published a report called “Blood stained Hand” which referred to warlords as “the world’s most serious human rights offenders.”
Now the Afghan government is willing to sacrifice women’s rights in order to compromise with Taliban. According to Oxfam – women’s rights are at risk in Afghanistan. When the international troops withdraw, the government will continue its peace negotiations with Taliban, which will deprive women from some of their basic human rights, which they have regained in the past 10 years with the opening of schools for girls. The spread of insurgency, violence and a corrupted government have left, and will continue to lead, people with no hope of peace.
In Saudi Arabia, the voting rights itself can be a show. The country’s political system is not different from totalitarian regimes that have been overthrown by the Arab Spring revolution. Saudi Arabia was established in 1932 by King Abd-al-Aziz who united the country under his family’s rule. After his death in 1953 the political power has been in the hands of the royal family and thousands of its princes. For centuries the country has been isolated from the rest of the world and censored by the ruling monarchy. Now, through modern technologies, especially social media, people started have begun to realize that Islam has been used to impose the dynasty’s rules and to exploit the nation’s people.
The conversation about women’s rights in the Middle East, and throughout the entire globe, is an important one that we need to continue having. Our Women’s Forum focuses on many of these issues and will likely have some events coming up in the spring around women in the Middle East in particular so stay tuned!
In the near time, you can come celebrate the 66th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations with UNA-GB and help us keep the conversation going. One direct way to do this is to help support the next generation of global leaders learn about these important issues, with the UN Day Model UN mini-simulation at the Massachusetts State House on October 24 -where middle and high school students will debate Gender Inequality focusing on women’s education and employment opportunities worldwide. You can also hear a powerful UN advocate and female leader, Gillian Sorensen speak at our annual UN Day Luncheon on October 28. Tickets are on sale now!
Also, if you are more interested in focusing specifically on women’s equality join our Women’s Forum and come to our many interesting events held throughout the year!
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!
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.
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!
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 Reception. The 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!