Blog Archives

Assist the Old, Develop the New & Plan for the Future: Week of 8/15 News Roundup

This week started and  ended with events aiding those in need throughout the world leading right to today’s World Humanitarian Day 2011.Some great achievements were made throughout the week.

 The week started with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Rights (OCHA)‘s efforts in Pakistan after monsoon floods effected the living situation of thousands of people. This organization also helped in the return this week of thousands of refugees to Southern Sudan after its strive for resources followings its independence. However, support is still needed in the world as those in regions within Darfur are still in need. Other parts of the continent still suffering from the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Many UN associated organizations came together this week during a meeting to organize an approach to help in any way they can.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a point about the progress of the UN mentioning that there are a lot of situations and crisis in need of the UN’s assistance and resources. As 2015 gets closer and closer, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explains the importance of working now for the future. He mentions that besides looking towards the Millennium Goals for 2015, the UN must also recognize goals for after 2015.  With focus on future generations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Citizen Ambassador’s Contest continues as it looks for future global leaders to pitch their ideas for the progress of the UN’s future. The future brings new ideas and changes, as well as preserving the past which includes this week’s decision to help specifically endangered species. The UN’s focus this week, as always, remains to help now for the future.

We look forward to what the UN’s progress next week will bring to the world!

-Cara

A Humanitarian’s World

“Let those we honour today inspire us to start our own journey to make the world a better place and bring our human family more closely together.”         -UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Today is World Humanitarian Day, which was established on December 11, 2008 in honor of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, an outstanding humanitarian that tragically lost his life in Baghdad, along with 21 other U.N. personnel, on this day in 2003. Along with the United Nations and governments all over the world, this day is recognized to pay tribute to the hard work, perseverance and dedication of humanitarian workers as they continue to sacrifice their lives to ease the suffering of people in crises. This year’s theme is “people helping people”, encouraging more involvement throughout the world. Check out some amazing stories from humanitarians helping around the world and artists spreading the word through music in a special music video made for this year’s recognition day.

Looking back, this past year has been plagued with humanitarian crises. Newspaper headlines all over the world tell stories from soldiers in Afghanistan to children suffering through the famine in East Africa and more. But what you don’t see in the front page are the people behind the scenes who have risked everything to assist the citizens of countries going through economic and political crises. They are the humanitarian workers who have gone beyond their call of duty to assure victims that there is hope and that they are not alone. During this World Humanitarian Day, the world recognizes the humanitarian workers that have gone through extraordinary measures to aid the victims of these crises. From Haiti to Somalia, their presence around the world have touched countless lives and helped save millions. You can make a difference in many ways which could include helping them raise awareness on the many humanitarian issues plaguing our global community and  the Millennium Development Goals or volunteering. The International Institute of Boston also welcomes you to celebrate this day with them through volunteer work. Whatever you choose to do, whichever cause you wish to undertake, know that you are making a difference.

-Lorainne Marie S. Lopez

The Rural Challenge

Another week has just begun and today we have our weekly blog post from our Get Educated, One Topic At A Time blog series. This week learn about rural development in today’s world, including the benefits and challenges it introduces to areas around the world in rural areas with the need for development for a brighter future. Check out our other blog posts in the series, including: “Creating A Road To Democracy”, “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest”, “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”, “A Necessary Priority” and “A Reform For The World”.  Check back next Monday for a new post on a whole new topic to ‘get educated’ on!

Approximately 1.7 billion people live in absolute poverty today. According to the World Bank, about 75% of the world’s poorest live in rural areas. Rural development is an important international step, not only to reduce poverty, but also to ensure food security and foster agricultural growth worldwide.

The World Bank defines rural development as “improving the living standards of the low-income population residing in rural areas and making the process of their development self-sustaining.” This definition is driven by concerns over the increasing of rural poverty and the increased focus on improving the socioeconomic well-being of the poor through sustainable improvements. However, rural development faces structural problems such as proper transportation of food, lack of physical and social infrastructure, and underemployment in the rural workforce. This impedes growth, development, and poverty reduction in rural areas.

In 1990, the World Bank adopted an economic strategy of “poverty reducing growth” that created opportunities to earn income and improve services for the poor. This leads to a diversity of local services that will in turn lead to “balanced and sustainable rural economic growth and food security.” There is also a need to promote equal opportunity for competition, by favoring small enterprise over large, urban-based enterprise and to concentrate on rural communities.

Rural women in many countries, like in Kenya, play a central role in managing natural resources.

Rural women and children are significantly affected by poverty. In developing countries, women make up about 43% of the agriculture labour force. They work as wage labourers, sell produce, and participate in small-scale trading. In developing countries such as Africa, Asia and the Pacific, women work an average of 12 more hours each week than men. However, women are held back by low education, unequal property right laws and limited access to resources. Rural children are affected by child labour. 70% of all child labour in the world, which is equal to about 150 million children, takes place in agriculture. Child labour is often difficult to track or underreported and there is no clear defined difference between child labour and children working to help their families. It is also difficult to directly challenge and eliminate when children make up about one-third of the agriculture work force. Thus, policies attempt to improve overall working conditions and reduce safety hazards, as well as improve access to education for children. Nevertheless, the main root of child labour lies in rural poverty.

Currently, changes in agricultural markets are providing new opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their productivity, especially in developing countries. But, the 2011 Rural Poverty Report of the IFAD says that there still remains “an urgent need…to invest more and better in agriculture and rural areas.” International actions by the World Bank, the International Labour Organization and the UN Millennium Development Goals stress the challenges in rural development, but also provide frameworks to increase rural employment and smallholder agriculture and reiterate the goal of halving the number of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

-Yun-Hee

A Youthful Week: Week of 7/25 News Roundup

A lot of focus was on the global leaders of our future throughout this week as the week started with the UN high-level meeting dedicated to the development of youth. The theme of the meeting was “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”, just in time as the International Year of Youth is coming to an end this summer.

Along with the topic of youth, came a new report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at a side event of the UN high-level meeting, the report titled “Securing the Future Today“. This report and discussion focused on the youth’s actions to fight against the disease of AIDS. This will be a step in the right direction for our future, and the future goals in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals as goal #6 focuses on the global fight against the disease, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases including malaria.

Disease was also a big topic this week, as millions of children received the measles vaccination in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The UN World Health Organization helped in coordinating this great achievement, as there has been a measles epidemic that many people have lost their lives to and the funding was needed to make this event a great success. In efforts to globally fight against more diseases, the UN marked July 27th World Hepatitis Day as a day to recognize the fight and prevention of the disease. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the soccer team FC Barcelona have joined this week in the fight against disease to create a campaign against polio, called “More than a Goal. End Polio”. With a said 1 percent left in the fight against the disease and its eradication, the organizations are determined to put an end to it.

Along with disease, comes the support of resources and nutrition throughout the world so that people can survive with access to basic needs and children can develop and prosper. The crisis in the Horn of Africa continued this week as the drought is causing a lack of water and therefore threat of nutrition to people throughout the continent’s nations. More support is needed, as there are also many children suffering from this crisis, causing malnutrition and this threatening their survival in the crisis for all, with a said $1.4 billion in funding appealed by the UN to support the cause.

Efforts continue to assist globally in the fights against disease, malnutrition, resources and overall the availability of safe living conditions around the world. Support and funding is needed to continue to allow for these wonderful projects to develop and you can get involved in the action! In time for August 2nd, you can contact Congress representatives to share your voice towards the budget cuts that will unfortunately help support programs like these, specifically programs that help support women and girls throughout the world have availability to resources.

Join in the support and action to help the people of today in any way you can and the global leaders of tomorrow in our youth today!

-Cara

A Necessary Priority

Check out this week’s blog post from our Get Educated, One Topic At A Time blog series. This week, learn about the importance of women in the world of politics and pursuing political careers. Check out our last four blog posts from the series, as well: “Creating A Road To Democracy”, “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest” and “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”. Check back next Monday for a new post!

“With one-half the population, there is simply no reason women should only be represented at one-fifth of the seats at the table.”– U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

In June of 2011, United Nations Women identified women’s political participation and leadership as one of its top five priorities in its first Strategic Plan. Despite the fact that women constitute a little over 50% of the world population, their representation and participation in politics are vastly underrepresented. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, only 20% of parliamentary seats worldwide are currently held by women. Despite being a historic high, it is still far from the Beijing Platform for Action’s target goal of 30% in political participation, said to be the “minimum percentage necessary to ensure a critical mass of women who can influence the decision making processes and political agendas.” The current participation percentage is even further from the United Nations Millennium Goal target for gender parity, which lies between 40 and 60%. Unfortunately, UNIFEM predicts that the critical mass of 30% will not be achieved by 2015.

Egyptian women are also demanding a greater role in their government.

Female underrepresentation in politics and many more institutions can be traced back to the world’s patriarchal legacy. Historically, societies were male dominated, male identified and male centered. The majority of positions in all fields were naturally reserved for men and core cultural ideas and media were centered on male identities. One important movement in response to women oppression was the Feminist movement that began with its first wave in the 19th century, focusing on obtaining women’s right to vote. This was followed by second and third waves that concentrated on wider issues such as inequalities in the workplace, political inequalities, and educational disparity. Another important progress was made in 1979, when the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. This women’s bill of rights suggests measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, including in the political field.

Women in Bangladesh are often pushed into a subordinate role by their social system, resulting in an unfavorable attitude towards women in politics.

Currently, there are only 31 female leaders out of the 192 member states of the United Nations. As of two years ago, women successfully hold 33% or more representation in parliaments in only twelve countries. Worldwide, the ratio of men to women is 4 to 1 in legislatures. Significant progress has been made on international, national and local levels to improve and increase women’s political participation and leadership. Unfortunately, this progress has been slow and has faced resistance in governments historically dominated by men. Women are especially affected in poverty-stricken nations, and they are often the victims of social and cultural factors that prioritize men in education. This expresses the extent that women’s rights and equality is crucial in overall international development, as well as to the successes of all the UN Millennium Development Goals.

-Yun-Hee

From Reports to Tweets: Week of 7/4 News Roundup

The week started off with one of our national holidays, as we celebrated our Independence on July 4th. This holiday is both filled with a lot of history and celebrated each year with fireworks and events throughout the country.

As we reflected on our 225 years of independence, we also look towards the pending and/or newfound independence of other countries. Following in the footsteps of a variety of countries around the world that declared their own independence, comes a new addition. Southern Sudan will officially declare and celebrate it’s independence tomorrow, July 9th.

In between our Independence Day and the independence of Southern Sudan, a lot has and continues to happen. Two major reports were released this week focusing on key goals/priorities of the United Nations. UN Women released a report this week titled: “Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice”.

This report discussed the progress of women’s rights and gender equality around the world. The UN also released a report this week, “MDG Report 2011” analyzing the progress being made toward the MDG Goals for 2015. There has been a lot of progress specifically related to poverty through these goals, but there is still a lot to be done to make the 2015 deadline, including more support of equality of all genders and ages and helping those in need throughout the world.

For our technology-savvy future leaders, our leaders starting from tomorrow to 2015 and beyond, this week brought about a lot of opportunity. Twitter had a “Townhall @ The White House” which featured President Obama answering a variety of questions that were “tweeted” by the public. Next, came Facebook‘s “Open for Questions: Youth and International Development”, featuring USAID‘s Administrator Dr. Raj Shah discussing how the youth specifically can get involvement in international development.

With technology the way of the future, this week also brought about the development of an agreement between The United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Asian standards developers that will allow the opportunity for technology to be developed quicker and at a lower cost.

With this in mind, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also opened a new United Nations information and telecommunications facility in Valenica, Spain with hopes that this facility will increase communications and the services of The United Nations around the world.

Stay posted to see what impact technology will continue to have and how we can continue to advance the rights of women, as well as democracy for all peoples.

-Cara

Reflections on the UN Day Luncheon 2010

The morning of October 26th greeted us with unexpected warmth and sunshine that carried through to the inside of the Boston Harbor Hotel at the UN Day Luncheon where we gathered to celebrate the sixty five years of service the UN has provided to the international community.

Boston Latin Academy sophomore Bianca Diaz (and UNA-GB intern)

Guests were serenaded as they walked into the Wharf Room with traditional Irish tunes from accordion player Dan Gurney, and flutist Jimmy Noonan. The luncheon began with a welcome introduction from UNA-GB President, Richard Golob, followed by Bianca Diaz, a Boston Latin Academy Sophomore who shared her experience with Model UN.

At this year’s luncheon, we had the honor of hosting Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Anne Anderson. Ambassador Anderson’s address, “Our Collective Challenge: Restoring the Authority of the United Nations,” emphasized the collective responsibility of member States and their civil societies have in maintaining and improving the United Nations and its role and relevance in the international community.

From L-R: Ambassador Anderson; Dan Gurney, Accordian; Jimmy Noonan, Flute; Michael Lonergan, Consul General of Ireland in Boston.

Ambassador Anderson said that despite criticism of the UN over recent years, successful gains of the Millennium Development Goals highlighted at September’s Millennium Development Summit, the establishment of UN Women, and the recent elections to the Security Council are all ways that the UN has already begun to reclaim its authority. Although the UN has started to make great strides in Anderson’s opinion, she acknowledged that there is still much more to do, and it will not happen overnight. Her challenge to the audience was to find ways to participate in that change and forward movement of strengthening and rebuilding the UN. The address concluded with a brief question and answer period.

Ambassador Anderson meets with MUN students.

Following the Luncheon, Ambassador Anderson met with local students from Dorchester that are representing Ireland in UNA-GB’s upcoming Fall Middle School Model UN Conference. The students had the unique opportunity to get direct answers about Ireland’s position on migrant workers and the environment before their simulation takes place. It was a once in the lifetime chance for these students, and represents everything we try to uplift and support here at the UNA-GB. In fact, money raised at the Luncheon goes to support the critical global education work of the UNA-GB, with a particular focus on the Model UN program implemented throughout Boston schools, giving opportunities like this to students in and around Boston.

All in all, the Luncheon was a great success!

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See more photos here.
Photos courtesy of Dan Watkins

-Alex.