Families, Education and Well-Being

This briefing was co-organized by the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) and the Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organizations (DPI NGO) in observation of the International Day of Families on May 15th, 2017.

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The speakers discussed the vital role of early childhood education in a child’s development and the role of parental education to ensure family well-being. In addition, the relation between corporate responsibility, work-family balance, and the global home index was depicted. Furthermore, the speakers conveyed the role of media within a child’s development and within the promotion of parental involvement.

 

 

Eduardo Garcia Rolland conveyed how the relationship between genes and the environment is closer than ever before. He expressed that within the first year of life, the brain grows at a pace of 700/1000 new neural connections per second. The plasticity of the brain is greatest within the first year of life. This stage is considered as the most important for a child’s development. Rolland discussed how 204 million children are not developmentally on track. He cited an increase in attendance to early childhood education as a way to augment a child’s development.

Patricia Debeljuh discussed how parents working long hours in a job that lacks flexibility can cause damage to the quality of their life. She expressed the necessity of families for the maintenance of sustainable societies.  Diego Barroso depicted how parenting education is highly effective. He cited the importance of legislative support for families. Following this, Michael Robb discussed how media can impact the development of a child. Background television was cited as an issue which can have a negative impact on the quality and quantity of the interaction between a parent and a child.

Meeting: Briefing entitled “Families, Education and Well-Being”

Date/ Location: Thursday, May 18, 2017; 11:00-12:45; Conference Room 4
Speakers: Esuna Dugarova, Policy Specialist, UNDP; Eduardo Garcia Rolland, Early Childhood Development ECD-Specialist, UNICEF; Patricia Debeljuh, IAE Business School, Austral University; Diego Barroso, Director of Family Enrichment Courses. Coordination and Expansion, International Federation for Family Development; Michael Robb, Director of Research, Common Sense Media
Written By: WIT Representative Donna Sunny

 

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Educating Hearts and Minds: Parents’ Role in Helping Their Children Thrive

 

Celebrating the International Day of Families on 15 May, the Permanent Mission of Samoa and the NGO Committee on the Family co-organized an event entitled “Educating Hearts and Minds: Parents’ Role in Helping Their Children Thrive” on 18 May 2017. It served to remind stakeholders of how they could contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development at the individual level.

To open the event, His Excellency Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia discussed the role of families from the international agreements’ framework. He specifically brought attention to the Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR) on rights to marriage and family. Although parenting is perhaps the most challenging task, he said, it has the biggest impact on society as “charity starts at home.”

Despite the consent about the significance of parents, the panelist Prof. Mesurado’s research study on the relationship between family interaction and well-being raised questions during the meeting. Participants particularly asked whether the fact that 90 percent of her respondents were highly educated would generate biased results. A representative from a university in Africa also expressed strong disappointment over her conclusion about Africa’s unhappiness solely based on little data collected from Kenya.  Families are considered important in creating social impacts, but have seldom been addressed in the United Nations, said Elisaia. He hoped that more UN meetings would be held to address families in the future.

Meeting: Educating Hearts and Minds: Parents’ Role in Helping Their Children Thrive
Date/Location: Thursday, May 18, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 11, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Ryan Koch, LDS Charities; H.E. Mr. Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia, Permanent Representative of Samoa; Lynn Walsh, Universal Peace Federation; Prof. Maria Mesurado, National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Austral University, Argentina; Eve Sullivan, Parents Forum; Renata Kaczmarska, UN Focal Point on the Family
Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

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Holocaust Remembrance: Education Against Extremism & Building and Better Future

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In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events Section and the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, Outreach Division and the Department of Public Information organized a meeting to discuss the importance of education against extremism. Throughout the briefing, the curator of the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dr. Steven Luckert, continually placed special emphasis on the role that propaganda had during the rise of the Nazi party. The Nazi movement was a rapid rise of power. Within a few years, the Nazi party won 230 seats in parliament, becoming for the first time the largest party in parliament. It was advertised as a “party of youth, a party for the future.” Widespread propaganda was so efficiently distributed by the Nazis that it was one of the most effective factors leading German constituents to vote for an extremist party.

Dr. Steven Luckert explained that Adolf Hitler was one of the first German politicians to craft a public persona by practicing and perfecting charismatic gestures, creating a trademark logo, and using slogans that appealed to mass mindsets. Dr. Luckert noted that Hitler recognized women’s influence in Germany. The majority of women voters were swayed by the party as well, although there were no promises of progress for women’s rights. Hitler’s campaign of propaganda was carefully curated. It included influencing children through boardgames and anti-semitic word problems in mathematics textbooks and the promise of protection from Jewish people rather than a war of aggression against them. Dr. Luckert’s in depth analysis of Hitler’s rapid rise to power called for a more careful consumption of widespread modern media and warned of the influences it has on societies today.

Meeting: “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating against Extremism, Building a Better Future” (In observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the victims of the Holocaust (27 January)) (organized by the NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events Section and the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information (DPI)

Date/ Time/Location: Thursday, 26 January 2017; 11:00 to 12:30; UN Headquarters Conference Room 1

Speakers: Kimberly Mann, Manager of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme; Steven Luckert; Curator of the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Jamey Fischer, Professor of German and Cinema and Digital Media, University of California, Davis and Director of the Davis Humanities Institute; Thomas Schieb, Minister Plenipotentiary of Germany to the United Nations; Virginie Ladisch, Head of the Children and Youth Programme at the International Center for Transitional Justice; Gillian Kitley, Senior Officer and Head of Office of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect

Written By: Janice Park, WIT Representative

Commemorating World AIDS Day

 

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To commemorate World AIDS Day, various NGOs discussed the significance of civil society’s role in responding to gloabl HIV/ AIDS. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cannot be eradicated without vaccines, and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) develops in some people after exposure to HIV. People living with HIV can avoid developing AIDS if they are tested and receive treatment early. Dr. Padmini Murthy, global health director/ professor at New York Medical College, considered AIDS as an issue of gender equality. Women are more prone to AIDS due to biological makeup. Getting tested is a high-priority following unprotected sex, or in cases of sexual assault. According to Dr. Murthy, women are less likely to be proactive in obtaining and initiating condom use during intercourse due to societal gender roles in heterosexual encounters. She sighted education and empowerment as key factors in discontinuing this pattern. Simon Bland, director of the UN AIDS office of New York, tested the audience’s knowledge on statistics surrounding HIV/AIDS. Currently, 37 million people live globally with AIDS. The majority of new HIV infections are in young women having heterosexual sex. Only 60% of individuals living with HIV are aware of their positive status.

Eric Sawyer, co- founder of ACT UP and the Housing Works and Health Gap organization, discussed initial responses to AIDS in 1981. There were extreme stigmas. Fear and neglect of diagnosed individuals made living with HIV/AIDS that much more frightening and isolating. Many who tested positive were fired, evicted, and shunned. Only two funeral homes in New York City were willing to embalm HIV positive bodies. However, 35 years later, Deborah Levine, executive director of Love Heals, happily announced that last year no child was born HIV positive in NYC. Molly McHugh, Communications Director of Grassroots Soccer (GRS), stated that GRS offers support to HIV positive youth by referring them to treatment and providing them with safe and supportive spaces.

Meeting: Briefing on “HIV and AIDS: How can civil society revitalize the response?” (on the occasion of the World AIDS Day) (organized by the NGO Relations, NGO Relations and Advocacy, and Special Events Section, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information (DPI))

Date/ Time/Location: Thursday, 1 December 2016; 13:15 to 14:30; United Nations Headquarters, Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Dr. Padmini Murthy, Global Health Director/Professor at New York Medical College and NGO representative; Simon Bland, Director of UN AIDS office of NY; Eric Sawyer, Co- Founder of ACT UP and Housing Works and Health Gap; Deborah Levine, Executive Director of Love Heals; Molly McHugh, Communications Director of Grassroots Soccer

Written By: Donna Sunny, WIT Representative

“We Will Stand Against Discrimination”

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In its 53rd and 54th meetings on November 21st, the Third Committee discussed actions on six draft resolutions: advancement of women; report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees, and displaced persons and humanitarian questions; report of the Human Rights Council; right of peoples to self-determination; promotion and protection of human rights, human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms; and crime prevention and criminal justice. The Committee passed all draft resolutions, with some needing revisions.

Holy See, Slovakia, the United States, and South Africa were among countries that approved the draft resolutions discussed. It was agreed that stigmas affecting pregnant women and children must end and that education is the best form of HIV/AIDS prevention. Additionally, the United Nations needs to use human rights based approaches regarding people with HIV/AIDS and their individuals struggles. Throughout the meeting, representatives emphasized discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in the form of gender identity and sexual orientation based violence that afflict non-cisgendered and non-heterosexual individuals globally. Several delegates claimed global campaigns and empowerment practices were only a few of the necessary approaches for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community to exercise and enjoy their full human rights.

Countries opposing some resolutions included the Russian Federation, Mexico, and Singapore. The Representative of  the Russian Federation argued that as a unique United Nations body with universal representation, the Third Committee must respect the disparate views of various countries. The Representative of Singapore agreed and added that delegations have the right to express the needs of their countries in the context of their cultures. H.E. Ambassador of Mexico stated that it is impossible to find a universal definition regarding this issue within the Committee.

Meeting: Third Committee, 53rd/54th Meetings (AM/PM), 71th General Assembly

Date/Time/Location: Monday, 21 November 2016; 10:00 to 13:00, 15:00; United Nations Headquarters

Speakers: Committee Secretary; Representative of the Holy See; Representative of Slovakia; Representative of Norway; Representative of Jamaica; Representative of Iceland; Representative of Senegal; Representative of Malaysia; Representative of Chile; Representative of Israel; Representative of Liechtenstein; Representative of the United Kingdom; Representative of Nauru; Representative of Uganda; Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania; Representative of South Africa; Representative of Spain; Representative of Argentina; Representative of Papua New Guinea; Representative of India; H.E. Ambassador of Botswana; Representative of South Africa; Representative of Yemen; Representative Russian Federation; Representative of Thailand; Representative of Congo; Representative of Singapore; Representative of Japan; Permanent Representative of Egypt; Representative of Brazil; Representative of the United States; H.E. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea; H.E. Ambassador of Mexico

Written By: Janet Lee, WIT Representative

 

Creating Spaces for Peace

 

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The Permanent Mission of Brazil and the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Section, the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI), and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) co-organized the discussion of the tenth anniversary of the Community Violence Reduction (CVR) programs in United Nations Peacekeeping Missions. Initially, member states expressed little interest in funding the programs. However, Norway tremendously bolstered the program and gave 200,000 dollars, which may set an important precedent for other worldwide donors. Hervé Ladsous stated that CVR programs protect citizens in several African countries north of Mali, as governmental presence is limited in many local communities.

Mr. Atul Khare expressed that the CVR is a positive precedent to similar programs that promote peacekeeping. Mr. Dmitry Titov added that CVR programs contributed to peaceful elections in central Africa and brought balance into the political process. Ms. Bintou Keita launched educational programs in North Darfur, which give students tools for peaceful interaction to counter violence in their surroundings. Mr. Rubem Cesar Fernandes stated that in areas with CVR programming, there were 16 deaths per every 100,000 people in the region. He expressed that this is an important decrease in unnecessary death and a progressive step towards peace. Ambassador H.E. Sergio de Queiroz Duarte closed the meeting and stated that CVR works to foster commuity stability. CVR is extremely helpful in peacekeeping operations running smoothly and fulfilling mandates successfully. H.E. Mr. Duarte expressed that it is time to build upon existing work for global peace.

Meeting: “Creating Space for Peace: Tenth anniversary of Community Violence Reduction (CVR) Programs in United Nations Peacekeeping Missions”

Date/ Location: Wednesday, 16 November 2016; 10:00 to 13:00; Conference Room 4

Speakers: Mr. Edmond Mulet, Chef De Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary, General (EOSG); Mr. Hervé Ladsous, Department of Peacekeeping Operations (USG DPKO); Mr. Atul Khare, Department of Field Support (USG DFS); Mr. Dmitry Titov, Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions Inside of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO OROLSI); Ms. Bintou Keita, Deputy Joint Special Representative United Nations Mission in Darfur (DJSR UNAMID); Mr. Rubem Cesar Fernandes, Viva Rio; H.E. Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, DPR Brazil

Written By: Sophia Kotik, WIT Representative

Women and Girls in STEM

 

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Wednesday, the Permanent Mission of Malta and the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) held a meeting concerning the advancement of women in science and the effects that media has on stereotypes in STEM. H.E. Mr. Carmelo Inguanez stated that the SDGs are founded on science, technology, and innovation. He emphasized that gender equality is vital to their success. He related the International Day for Women and Girls in Science to SDGs 4 and 5 and stressed that setting up a commission for gender equality ensures future progress in sustainable development. He then explained that Malta would hold a conference in February focusing on science, gender equality, and sustainable development with an emphasis on the effects of the media. Ms. Rola Dahlan followed by adding that the adoption of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda, if implemented properly, will lay ground for gender equality and women’s empowerment in science and technology. She stated that organizations can help by aligning their strategic direction to achieve full participation in science and access to high quality education.

Ms. Marie Roudil expressed that women account for only about 30% of researchers across the world, with the gender gap widening at higher levels of decision-making. She added that access to clean drinking water is necessary for dealing with climate change in a world with a constantly rising population. Mr. Maher Nasser explained that when young girls are put in an environment where stereotypes dominate, they do not perform as well as boys in STEM. However, when those stereotypes are not reinforced, girls perform just as well as boys. Mr. Navid Hanif concluded the meeting and expressed that the participation of women and girls in STEM varies dramatically by region. It should be noted that the terms “STEM” and “science” were used interchangeably throughout the meeting.

Meeting: Briefing on the “International Day for Women and Girls in Science” (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Malta and the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT))

 Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, 16 November 2016; 10:00 to 11:00; Conference Room 11

 Speakers: H.E. Mr. Carmelo Inguanez, Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations; Ms. Rola Dahlan, Secretary-General of Women in Science International League; Ms. Marie Paule Roudil, Special Representative and Director of UNESCO Liaison Office; Mr. Maher Nasser, Director of Outreach, UN DPI; Mr. Navid Hanif, Director, Office of ECOSOC Support and Coordination, UN DESA; Ms. Daniela Bas, Director, Division for Social Policy and Development, UN DESA

Written By: Anna Prisco, WIT Representative

 

1 + 4 = 16: Targeting Poverty and Education for Peace

 

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The DPI/NGO Youth-Led Briefing, “1 + 4 = 16” was conducted to promote Sustainability Development Goals 1 (eradicate poverty) and 4 (provide quality education), and their relationship to Goal 16 (attain peace and justice for inclusive societies and institutions), outlined in Agenda 2030.

Panelists shared their stories of activism in relation to each goal to convey that activism can start at a young age. Ms. Frances Simpson Allen and Mr. Sering Falu Njie emphasized that in order to for the SDGs to be successful, young people must be active and central in the SDG progress.

Ms. Pilar Harris, a NYU student and Urban Practice Fellow and Ms. Umazi Mvurya, Development Fellow of the African Leadership Foundation, both stressed that Goal 4 has influenced and motivated them in their personal activism. Ms. Harris worked on the “Lyrics on Lockdown,” an educational program that works with incarcerated women in Rikers Island Women’s Prison, located at New York City’s largest jail complex. Ms. Mvurya emphasized the need to focus on the quality of education, as students are not provided with adequate resources for success in her home area of Kenya. Mr. Austin Schiano, Partnership Director of the Give Me 5 Campaign, expressed that his campaign is integral to Goal 1. The Give Me 5 Campaign focuses on the fact that only 5% of global military funds are needed to help alleviate, and eventually eradicate, global poverty.

Each panelist highlighted the importance of their work in relation to achieving Goal 16, which is to promote peaceful and inclusive communities centered on sustainable development. By granting every child access to quality education and in working to eradicate poverty, Sustainability Goal 16 can move societies away from exclusive practices and towards a reality where all can prosper.

Meeting: DPI/NGO Youth-Led Briefing, “1 + 4 = 16, Targeting Poverty and Education for Peace.”

Date/Time/ Location: Thursday, 3 November, 2016; 11:00 to 13:00; United Nations Headquarters, ECOSOC Chamber

Speakers: Maxine Davila, Youth Representative, WAFUNIF; Jadayah Spencer, Youth Representative, New York Metropolitan Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolence; Jeff Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, Department of Public Information; Mitchell Toomey, Director, SDG Action Campaign, UNDP; Pilar Harris, NYU Student, Urban Practice Fellow; Sering Falu Njie, Deputy Director, Policy, UN Millennium Campaign; Austin Schiano, Partnerships Director, Give Me 5 Campaign and Member of Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs New Leaders Program; Umazi Mvurya, Development Fellow, African Leadership Foundation; Frances Simpson Allen Programme Management Officer, Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth at United Nations

Written By: Leticia Murillo and Donna Sunny, WIT Representatives

Taboos, Sanitation, and Women’s Rights

The meeting convened on the impact of sanitation and water supply to the empowerment of women. Sanitation, in toilets or menstrual hygiene management, has been defined by the General Assembly as an essential human right. Evidenced through the creation of SDG 6, achieving gender equality through WASH has become a priority.

H.E. Ms. Lamilla stated that 2.5 billion people still lack suitable spaces to take care of their personal hygiene. According to the WSSCC, one billion people still resort to open defecation. H.E. contended that adequate sanitation is the minimum standard for a life of dignity. Access to water supply is also paramount.  According to WHO recommendations, an individual should intake a minimum of 5 liters of water/day, accessible to them within 1 km from home. In developing countries, women are oftentimes responsible for collecting water. When water access is far from home, women need to walk long distances to collect it. Consequently, this takes time away from their education and renders them prone to exhaustion and sexual abuse.  It is the obligation of the state to ensure public access to water; otherwise it is the poor who will suffer the most.

Panelists further discussed the importance of breaking social taboos around menstrual hygiene. As Ms. Agrawal noted, “The thing that we cannot speak of, is the thing that creates all human life.” Ms. Shrestha stressed that it is crucial to determine the root cause of such taboos. In western Nepal, menstruating girls practice “chaupadi” and remain secluded in sheds for fear of spreading illness and offending the gods. Taboos are often rooted in traditional beliefs.

Ms. Fry recommended forming partnerships with men, and educating girls on menstrual hygiene management before the onset of their periods which will help them avoid early pregnancies and marriages and keep them in school.

Meeting: “Achieving Gender Equality through WASH.”

Date/Location: Friday, March 18, 2016; 10:00 AM-1:00 PM; Conference Room E

Speakers: H.E. Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative, Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN; H.E. Ms. Anne Lammila, Ambassador for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland; Ms. Inga Winkler, Independent Expert on Human Rights, WSSCC; Ms. Liesl Gerntholtz, Human Rights Watch; Ms. Miki Agrawal, THINX; Ms. Cecile Shrestha, WaterAid America; Ms. Mbarou Gassama, UN Women and South Asia: “Leave No One Behind” WSSCC/FANSA; Ms. Ramatoulaye Dieng, Senegal Ministry of the Environment; Ms. Absa Wade, Ministry of Gender, Senegal; Ms. Sarah Fry, FHI360/USAID WASH Plus

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Nordic Gender Equality: Showing Reproductive Rights are Lucrative

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Today, there was a meeting held by the Nordic Council of Ministers about four fundamental goals for prosperity in gender equality, seen as essential in achieving the sustainable developmental goals. The six ministers discussed the challenges and successes in creating advances towards striving to achieve the sustainable development goals, specifically expanding on the role of gender equality and their individual Nordic experiences.

Ms. Regnér began, “We see gender equality not only as an issue of human rights, but also as a vehicle to develop the whole society.” Sweden received 106,000 refugees last year, and upon finding that some of the girls were married, the Swedish society reacted with outrage. Had a more global effort been made, less girls would have been forced to marry.

Next, Ms. Harðardóttir focused on the target achieving universal health coverage. She stated the cost-benefit for aiding reproductive rights is the one of the highest in the agenda: $120 returned for every dollar spent. She stressed that women should not go 150 years without gender equality, the projected time if progress is made at its current rate.

Ms. Horne and Ms. Nørby pushed for the implementation for education as a prerequisite for many of the other goals. Only 49% of all children attend secondary education; 65 million adolescents are out of school — they are being deprived of a future. Education is the most important investment towards empowering girls.

Mr. Rehula acknowledged the advances made by the Nordic countries in the workforce, but also stated that the gender pay gap and the lack of women in top corporate positions needs to be improved on. Good quality and productivity will result from this evolving workforce. Finally, Ms. Samuelsen, being from a small island, shared her perspective on promoting equality, specifically on out-migration and future sustainability.

Meeting: Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals – Nordic Ministerial Panel

Date/Location: March 16th, 2016, 11:30-12:45; Conference Room 11

Speakers: Eygló Harðardóttir, Minister of Social Affairs and Housing, Iceland; Solveig Horne, Minister of Children and Equality, Norway; Åsa Regnér, Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Sweden; Juha Rehula, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, Finland; Eyðgunn Samuelsen, Minister of Social Affairs, Faroe Islands; Ellen Trane Nørby, Minister for Children, Education and Gender Equality, Denmark

Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

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