Blog Archives

An Afternoon with Dr. Brimmer

photoYesterday, UNA-GB held a teatime discussion with Dr. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. In her role as Assistant Secretary, Dr. Brimmer leads the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which strives to advance U.S. interests through international organizations in areas including human rights, peacekeeping, food security, humanitarian relief, and climate change.

photo copy 6During the discussion, Dr. Brimmer spoke about the role of the U.S. in conflicts such as Libya, Mali, and Syria, to name a few. She also spoke about the changing nature of women and conflict. For example, there has been an increase in the number of women involved in peacekeeping operations. She also spoke about the creation of UN Women, which strives for gender equality. UN Women also deals with issues of human trafficking, human rights, humanitarian action, and peace and security.

photo copy 4Dr. Brimmer also offered insight on her personal experience working in her current position. She said that her most rewarding experience was in September 2009 when she spoke at the Human Rights Council on behalf of the U.S.  It was at this session that the U.S. pledged to advance human rights and strengthen the Human Rights Council.

We would like to thank Dr. Brimmer for giving her time to talk to UNA-GB members. We are very lucky to have had her give her insight on her current role. Thank you, Dr. Brimmer!

Our next event is in a few days! Join Women’s Forum @ UNA-GB on Monday, March 4 for International Women’s Day. For more details, check out this link: http://wfiwd2013.eventbrite.com

NO to violence against women

1139441099-2Around 15 to 76 percent of women around the world experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime. This staggering statistic has called the attention of people, organizations, and governments around the world to take action and put an end to such vehement behavior.

UN Women has been taking serious measures to stop such violence. It created the COMMIT campaign to which 18 countries have pledged to “take initiatives to stop gender-based violence.”

In 2008, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, launched UNiTE to End Violence against Women, a campaign that aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world.  Some of the aims of this campaign include: “adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls, increase public awareness and social mobilization, address sexual violence in conflict,” to name a few.

VAW_eng_0

On February 14, 2013, UN officials met to take a stance against such violence. In his message calling everyone to unite to end violence against women and girls, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged everyone to speak out. “The global pandemic of violence against women and girls thrives in a culture of discrimination and impunity.”

Other efforts include those of the One Billion Rising campaign which invites “ONE BILLION women to walk out, dance, rise up, and demand an end to this violence.” These events take place all over every February 14.

Want to help put an end to violence against women? Then ask Congress to pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by following this link:http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=519249&msource=W1302EAWMN2

Is human trafficking and violence a ‘hot button’ topic for you? Then you should join Women’s Forum @ UNA-GB for International Women’s Day on Monday, March 4. We will be screening “Not My Life” and have a great panel discussion following the film. For more information, check out the registration page.

Introducing International Women’s Day 2012

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s when it was originally celebrated as International Working Women’s Day. It is recognized on March 8th every year and honors women’s economic, political, and social achievements.

Gender equality is a huge focus for the UN community, with Millennium Development Goal #3 specifically designed to empower women and girls, and dozens of the agencies and entities focused on gender-based initiatives.  In fact, this year honors the official one year anniversary of the creation of UN Women, a more powerful UN entity designed to help spread gender equality and women’s rights empowerment.

International Women’s Day is near and dear to UNA-GB, as we have celebrated it with an annual film screening and panel for the past few years.  This screening is the biggest event of our Women’s Forum, which was created in 2006 to raise awareness about women’s issues in developing countries and engage men and women in Boston on solutions.  You can learn more about this year’s screening below, and make sure to check out last year’s blog post on our screening event.

We hope you can join us at some (or all!) of the events listed below.  We will continue to update the blog as we learn of more events, so check back!  It’s important that we continue to work together towards eliminating discrimination and improving the lives of women all across the world.

International Women’s Day Film Screening and Panel

War Redefined with Series Producer Abigail E. Disney

When: Monday, March 5; 5:30 – 8:30 PM
Where:
MCLE Auditorium, 10 Winter Pl, Boston

Don’t miss UNA-GB’s annual International Women’s Day Celebration, featuring a film screening of War Redefined, the last of the Women, War & Peace series, produced by series executive producer Abigail E. Disney.  A panel discussion on the role of women in peace building and war will follow the film, featuring Abigail E. Disney, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Dr. Amani El Jack and Sahana Dharmapuri.  This is an incredibly timely topic, with 3 women peace-builders winning the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the Obama Administration’s December announcement of the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, and Secretary Clinton’s recent comments on the lack of women at high-level security talks.

War Redefined reframes our understanding of modern warfare through probing conversations with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic; Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International; globalization expert Moisés Naím; and Cynthia Enloe of Clark University, among others.

RSVP at http://iwd2012warredefined.eventbrite.com/

Along with hosting our annual International Women’s Day film screening and celebration, UNA-GB is also co-sponsoring some incredible International Women’s Day Events in Boston:

Ending Violence Against Women: Pathways to Power, Resilience and Leadership
International Women’s Day Breakfast

When: Thursday, March 8; 7:30-9:30 AM
Where: 
Simmons College, Linda K. Paresky Conference Center, Boston

Join UNA-GB and dozens of organizations around Boston in celebrating the city’s 15th Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast. Panel will include Purnima Mane, CEO and President of Pathfinder International, Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley, Audrey Porter of My Life My Choice and Ann Fleck Henderson from Simmons College.
RSVP at http://iwd2012.eventbrite.com/

Women for Women International’s Boston “Join Us at the Bridge” Event

When: March 8, 10am-12pm
Where:
Massachusetts Avenue Bridge Boston

Stand up with women around the world, honoring the strength of women working for equality, justice, and peace.

RSVP at http://joinmeonthebridge.org/events/massachusetts-ave-bridge

 Feeding Boston, Changing the World:  International Women’s Day 2012

When:  Saturday, March 10, 2012, 6-9pm
Where: 
Ballroom, Curry Student Center, Northeastern University
What
:  Panel discussion followed by a dinner celebration
Free and open to the public.  Spaces limited.  RSVP here.  

This International Women’s Day, Boston’s Oxfam Action Corps invites you to honor women who work the land, feed their families, and plow the way forward to more sustainable agricultural economies here and abroad.

 

Additional International Women’s Day Events around Boston:

End Impunity for Sexual Violence against Women and Girls

When: Thursday, March 8, 2012 5:00PM-7:30PM

Where: Old South Meeting House

In recognition of Int’l Women’s Day, this conference will take a critical look at international impunity for sexual violence and issue a resounding call to end it.

Latina Women’s Conference
Extraordinary Women fighting for Migration Justice

Where: MA State House
When:
Friday, March 9th, 2012 9:30- am- 3:00pm

Hosted by: Women in Solidarity Committee, whose network of Women in Solidarity is growing. 300 Latina women participated in 2011. Latina women advocated last year to opposed secure community program and create a community forum to reflect on violence and immigration issues.  Their goal is to create space for Latinas por el Cambio and expanded their reach to other places.  They founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers.
http://reddemujeres12.eventbrite.com/

Celebrate International Women’s Day Event at Gallery Kayafas

When: Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 7pm – 8:30pm

Where: Gallery Kayafas, 37 Thayer St. @450 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118

Learn about AI’s work defending women’s rights featuring Zainab Abdullah, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan who has recently returned from researching honor killings in Pakistan. She will be joined by Beena Sarwar, a leading Pakistani journalist and democracy, human rights, and peace advocate. Hosted by the Back Bay Amnesty Group. RSVP to Alexandra Prim by 3/5/12. Space is limited. Learn more.

Celebrate International Women’s Day at the Eritrean Community Center

Where: 590 Shawmut Ave, Boston
When:
Saturday, March 10th, 8-10pm

The Eritrean Community Center of Greater Boston works to promote social and cultural interactions among Eritrean-Americans as well as area residents and friends for mutual understanding and awareness, integration, economic self-sufficiency, Eritrean heritage, and youth leadership.

Click here

2012 International Women’s Day:

Rally & March

When: March 10, 12 PM

Where: Meet at the Boston Common at the Gazebo

Meet to kick of the rally and then we’ll take it to the streets with guest speakers at Court Street, State Street MBTA, and State House. All individuals and groups are encouraged to bring a banner or signs, instruments, and other creative forms of expression and march together in struggle for living wage jobs, universal healthcare and childcare for all.

Benefit Show

Where: Midway Café 3496 Washington St, Jamaica Plain 02130

When: March 10, 7 PM

Benefiting The Prison Birth Project & Girls Rock Campaign Boston  $5 at the door, 21+ event

To register email InternationalWomensDayBoston@gmail.com

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/events/245509598867806/

Harvard Kennedy School’s International Women’s Day Celebration 

When: March 8, 2012

Where: HKS campus, various locations

8:30 – 10:00am, Breakfast for faculty, students and staff

Allison Dining Room, Taubman building, 5th floor

The Women and Public Policy Program is hosting a breakfast with HKS Academic Dean, Iris Bohnet, women faculty from across Harvard, students, staff and other members of our community. All are welcome!

11:40am – 1:00pm, WAPPP Seminar: Women’s Health and Health System Reform: The Route to Transformational Development?

WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman Building, 102

Health system reform in the United States and globally holds the promise of improving the health and well-being of women and a major opportunity for development, particularlyin the developing world. Dr. Johnson will explore the intersection of health system reform and the opportunities for transformational development through improvements in women’s health status, workforce development, and advancing women’s rights.

6:00 – 8:00pm, Film Screening: Iron Jawed Angels

WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman Building, 102

“Iron Jawed Angels” tells the remarkable and little-known story of a group of passionate and dynamic young women who put their lives on the line to fight for American women’s right to vote.

http://hvrd.me/AuzJ1b

To learn more about even more events happening in your area, check out the International Women’s Day websiteLet us know if you find any other events in the Boston area to celebrate International Women’s Day, so that we can update this blog to help people stay connected and aware of how to get involved locally!

-Alyson R.

United Nations Day 2011: In Everyone’s Interest

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.

It’s not too late to get involved in many of our UN Day events! You can still purchase tickets to our UN Day Luncheon on the 28th and join us for the UN flag raising and mini-simulation on the 24th!

Help us celebrate 66 years of peace, justice and prosperity with the UN and the importance of thinking globally and acting locally!

-UNA-GB staff

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

100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day

 

 

Tuesday marked the Centennial Anniversary of International Women’s Day, a celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women past and present that is observed around the world. This year is also notable for being the first International Women’s Day for UN Women, created by the UN General Assembly on July 2010 and formally launched just last month.  The theme this year is “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All”.  Last week, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon highlighted the imperative need for the inclusion of women to achieve greater strides in meeting the Millenium Development Goals.

“Gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental to the global mission of the United Nations to achieve equal rights and dignity for all… But equality for women and girls is also an economic and social imperative. Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all our goals — peace, security, sustainable development — stand in jeopardy.”  – Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

The call to make equality a reality that was present in Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s Message was also present in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s, where she called for more ways to include women in the international dialogue and provide access for all women to live with access to education and free from violence.

At the 1995 Beijing Conference, Clinton famously asserted that “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”  This was further seen at Tuesday’s 14th Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast hosted by Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change, and co-sponsored by the United Nations Association of Greater Boston, with the theme “Unequal Treatment Under the Law: Women in the Criminal Justice System” which drew over 200 attendees from throughout the Boston area.

Karen Holmes Ward moderated the event and introduced panelists, Ph.D. Erika Kates, Representative Kay Khan, Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral, and Girl Scouts Beyond Bars past program participant and current manager Dawn Coleman. Each of the panelists offered a unique perspective as they educated the audience on the challenges women face due to current laws and policy. The statistics were shocking and reinforced the statements made by many attendees that this breakfast was addressing an invisible issue within our national community. The moving personal account of Coleman’s own oppression within the justice system made both the extremity of the inequality and the timeliness of the issues clear to audience members. To close, Sheriff Cabral recognized many of the programs designed to give women agency and voice in this arena while also emphasizing the importance of us all in bringing to action the work that still needs to be done.

With March also being Women’s History Month, there are events being held throughout the month that focus on education and advocacy surrounding women’s issues.  Check out this month’s events!

Tuesday March 8th

International Women’s Day Celebration

Hosted by: Women’s Information Network

Time: All Day

Location: Back Bay Sheraton

NERD International Women’s Day Mixer

Hosted by: New England Research and Development Center

Time: 6-8 pm

Location: Microsoft New England R&D Center, One Memorial Drive, Cambridge MA.

Ladies Who Launch Networking Mixer

Hosted by: Ladies Who Launch

Time: 5:30 PM

Location: Top of the Hub

Saturday March 12th

Run for Congo Women

Hosted by: Women for Women International

Time: 10 am

Location: Boston’s Esplanade

Contact for more details!

Monday, March 14th

International Women’s Day Film Screening, Reception, and Panel

Hosted by: UNA-GB and My Sister’s Keeper

Time: Reception at 6:00 pm, Film Screening at 6:30 pm.

Location: Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc
10 Winter Place. Boston, MA 02108

COST: $10 Member/Student | $15 Non-member

RSVP NOW!

Friday, March 18th

V-Day Boston 2011: Spotlight on Violence Against Women and Girls of Haiti

Hosted by: UNA-GB and Suffolk University’s Center for Women’s Health & Human Rights

Time: 6:00 PM- 8:00 PM

Location: Suffolk University, 73 Tremont St, Boston, MA

Learn more and RSVP now.

 

Tuesday, March 22nd

The Challenges of Practicing Law in Sharia Courts in Nigeria

Hosted by: UNA- GB’s Women’s Forum

Time: 4:00 PM- 6:00 PM

Location: Suffolk Law School, 120 Tremont St, Boston

Free

RSVP Now!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East

Time: Reception at 6:30 PM | Talk at 7:00 PM

Location: 6 Hilliard Pl. Cambridge, MA 02138

Cost: $15 Member Ticket | $20 Non-member Ticket

RSVP NOW – Limited Space Available!

 

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day either by coming to one of the events in the area or by learning more about your local and national policies and taking action within your community to ensure women’s voices are heard!

-Alex Teague & Katie Miles.

 

GEARING Up for the Launch of UN Women

I’m sipping coffee in the Vienna Café located in the North building of the United Nations.
To my right, an African Ambassador is conducting an interview on the struggle for women’s empowerment in Liberia. State delegations clad in colorful dress drift by en route to their sessions. It’s the third day of the fifty-fifth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and a potent moment in the history of women’s empowerment. Today will bring the official launch of UN Women and I’m sharing in this experience as a representative of Amnesty International’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group (WHRCG). The WHRCG is a newly formed consultative committee responsible for advising on AIUSA’s Women’s Human Rights campaign strategy in order to promote and protect women’s human rights around the world.

With the launch of UN Women happening tonight, an atmosphere of anticipation hangs heavily in the hallways, sessions and shared spaces. I’ve encountered both genuine excitement and optimistic realism in my conversations with delegates from member states. The number of NGO delegates in formal sessions is limited due to renovations of the U.N. facility, so not everyone is able to attend all of the sessions. To make up for this, there are approximately 250 parallel events happening simultaneously in locations near to the UN that delegates can choose to attend according to theme and interest.

On Tuesday, the first official day of the 55th CSW, I had the pleasure of meeting with Polly Truscott, AI’s Deputy Representative to the United Nations. Polly took excruciating care to share up-to-date information relative to the UN and AI’s women’s rights priorities. We discussed the issues most pertinent to the WHRCG priorities: I-VAWA, Indigenous Rights, CEDAW, Maternal Mortality and UN Council Resolution 1325.

During our meeting, I learned AI has is playing an important role in The Global Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign, which has advocated over the past five years for the creation of UN Women. Now that UN Women is established, GEAR exists to monitor how UN Women implements promises it has made, works to see that civil society participation is formalized and ensures women’s rights groups are consulted about the program and future of UN Women.  GEAR is calling for UN Women to implement an adequate system of consultation and is stepping up to say that women’s rights groups and NGO’s have not been adequately consulted on UN Women global strategy, as promised.

Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women and former president of Chile, has demonstrated exceptional commitment to women’s empowerment. Yet there is still critical work to be done. In the corridors, word is out that planning sessions on UN Women’s global strategy in the works, but no one is clear which women’s groups have been invited to be part of this process. Doesn’t the establishment of UN Women call for a new, collaborative paradigm? Isn’t the greatest strength of women’s solidarity expressed through sharing and exchange? Shouldn’t there be close consultation with women on the ground at such a crucial moment? When will their voices be heard? In the excitement and optimism of this historic day, my hope is that we do not lose sight of what really matters: ensuring accountability, efficacy and results from UN Women.

Make sure to tune in to tonight’s live webcast from UN Headquarters of the official launch of UN Women, featuring Michelle Bachelet and emceed by CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour, with other distinguished speakers and performers.

-Written by UNA-GB guest blogger Alisa Roadcup, former Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Coordinator for Amnesty International USA and PhD Student in International Psychology at The Chicago School for Professional Psychology.  Roadcup is a delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women this week.  She’s blogging about her experiences for Amnesty International USA, CounterQuo.org, and the United Nations Association of Greater Boston.

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.