Monday, August 10, 2009
UN Youth ConferenCe Retake
Last week the United Nations held a three conference for the world's young leaders who are currently contributing to reach the Millenium Development Goals and who intend to have an active role in their fullfillment in the future. Solutions Across Borders was sponsored by the United African Congress.
The content of the first day fell slightly bellow expectation. I was expecting more of "these are the issues" and "how to go about fullfilling them", instead the conference received enpowerment speech adter enpowerment speech. Yet as was pointed out to me by Stacey (our fealess leader): It is importment that the first day be inspiring to the congregation of youth and for the UN to truley instill in their minds that they should enpower themselves, success stories by young people should be shared to raise the moral and the 'yes we can' mentality of youth. I suppose as an American, the message of the last presidential campaign left no need for me to hear it again.
It is not fair to say that there was no content at all the first day. During the special program sessions, we learned about two very important organizations that are benefiting the world, one project at a time. Roots&Shoots and Garmeen Bank . The former was started by world famous primatologist Jane Goodall and has succeeeded in creating sanctuaries for both primates and trees in the face of deforastation in Africa. On September 20th, the international Day of Peace, Roots&Shoots encourages all their chapters and members to create doves and fly them as a symbol of our support for peace. A wonderful project that can be flown off the 8th floor of the Vertical Campus in Baruch!
Garmeen bank was started by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Prize winning economist from Bangladesh who through his idea is eliviaiting povery through microoans to people without credit or collateral i.e. the population of the world living on less than a dollar a day. Garmeen bank as also more recently opened up a chapter in America and has been loaning money to people in Jackson Heights and other parts of New York City. This is definitately an organization Baruch College students should get involved with!
The second day was MUCH more content loaded and informational. The first speaker of the day that was truly an inspiration was Ravi Karkara. Representing UNICEF, Mr. Karkara was there to teach us about Women Enpowerment and Gender Equality. Before his break out session, a young man came up to him and asked, "What are you, as a man, doing with female enpowerment?" Mr. Karkara used this poignant question to start off his discussion. As a young boy, he answered, I saw a lot of domestic abuse, both physical and psychological, at home. Fathers abusing wives, uncles abusing aunts, and sisters getting sexually harassed. In short, if you love your mother or sister, why wouldn't any man also strive for gender equality. Whatmore, he said, in studies done in developing countries of where a girl felt physically safe, whether at schoo, in the market, or anywhere, the answer was nowhere, not even at home. Ravi Karkara works so that girls and women do not have to live in constant fear. The message is that one does not have to share an X chromosome to fight for this as well.
Young people, boys and girls, ought to be taught each others right and see each other as partners. I believe, however, that even the education of young men and boy will not be enough to stop violence against women. In order to enpower women, one needs to enpower men, as most of the abuse against women is caused by frustration of being powerless themselves.
Mr. Karkara made the room to pledge to read CEDAW and the CRCs. Take a look!
More later about the third day.