Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

International Women’s Day Pledge for Parity

International Women's Day logo with women in crowdHappy International Women’s Day.

This day of celebration of the global women’s community happens every March 8. It was established in 1911 as a day of recognition for the progress in every field of life and livelihood of women across all cultural lines. In China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, it is even a national holiday.

Womens’ rights, stepped on in so many societies, are HUMAN RIGHTS, and can be nothing but a priority for all.

There are thousands of events today around the world—the Global United Nations theme for today (and for celebrating women throughout the month of March) is: Pledge for Parity. The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women AND men and celebrate achievements. “A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities, and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatrical performances, fashion parades, and more.”

Make every day International Women’s Day and find ways to celebrate women and girls, strive to narrow the gap between all persons, and promise to make equality for all achievable in our lifetime. Just because it has never been done doesn’t mean it cannot be done. It both can and will–we’ve grown far too intelligent to still believe the falsehoods of our past that suggested any person is less than another.

W.E.D. Raise Your Voice Not the Sea Level

WED_2014_EN_LNow that summer has unofficially kicked off with Memorial Day, there’s another red-letter day to heed before we get to the Fourth of July. The warm weather canon of holidays now includes World Environment Day on June 5, and it is a big ol’ green ol’ deal. Earmarked by the United Nations as  a day to raise awareness of and action for the ecosystem, it has grown to be celebrated in over 100 nations.

In that good bumper-sticker-as-a-roadmap-for-life vein, this World Environment Day (W.E.D.), consider ways to “Think Globally. Act Locally.” The theme this year is all about islands–2014 is the “Year of the Small Island Developing States.” It is particularly poignant as a theme, since if the planet’s sea levels rise, just a bit, islands begin to be overcome by rising tides. The Maldives, for instance, are the most vulnerable nation, since many of that archipelago’s multi-island land masses are mere feet above sea level. Small islands are the canary in the coal mine for the rest of us–it isn’t a huge step from low-lying islands being swamped to our coastal cities flooding.

How will you make your voice heard for the environment this year? You can create and register an event in your community or look for people near you that are already planning action days: clean up campaigns, food waste reduction initiatives, walk-to-work days, plastic bans, art exhibits, tree-planting drives, concerts, dance recitals, recycling drives, social media campaigns, and different contests  — every action counts. Check out the website (, you might be surprised at how many of your neighbors care as much as you do. Even celebrities are in on it. UNEP GOODWILL AMBASSADORS Giselle Bündchen, Don Cheadle, Ian Somerhalder, and Yaya Touré are leading big action challenges. So jump in, the water’s fine…so far…

5 Minutes. 10 Bucks. Lives Saved.



Every charitable organization is fired up this holiday time with year-end funding drives and pushes for donations. Many of us are well matched for them as we need to get our tax-deductions in before December 31. I hope you’ve been giving with the spirit of the season to support the causes for which you care.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s another quick and easy (and cheap) way to make a real difference. Nothing But Nets provides malaria-stopping mosquito nets for families in regions threatened by this killer disease in Sub-Saharan Africa. For a mere ten dollars, you can give a net large enough for a family of four to sleep under and actually save lives. The program is run via the United Nations, and nets delivered to communities (with training on how to effectively block mosquitoes with their use) by UN teams. It is such a simple barrier to a debilitating, often fatal illness. Medicine and treatment are so much more expensive than prevention–and you can do it in the name of folks on your gift list, so they take ownership in saving lives as well.

Win Win.

Ho Ho Ho.

World Humanitarian Day

whd-2013Today, August 19, is World Humanitarian Day. This day is designated by the United Nations to recognize and honor aid workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Humanitarians carry out often dangerous work in unstable regions around the world every day, and it is a job or calling that can take your life in exchange for selfless service.

While the UN is facing a lot of scrutiny for the debacle of UN forces bringing cholera to Haiti after the earthquake, which has also cost the lives of so many, the positive work of the organization should not be lost.

This August 19 is a decade since the date when UN Headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq was bombed, claiming 22 lives of people trying to make the world a better, safer place. This day also commemorates the spirit of those willing to give of themselves in service to others, and this year’s theme is: THE WORLD NEEDS MORE… letting you fill in the blank with your thoughts–and your volunteer time and efforts, too.

Happy Malala Day!

970414_10151734091869002_574390124_nRemember Malala Yousafzai? She is the teen girl in Pakistan who was shot in the face by the Taliban when she dared to speak publicly about the need for education for all, including, (gasp) girls…

Today is Malala’s 16th birthday, and today she addressed the United Nations General Assembly where she, appropriately, received a standing ovation. Today, the U.N. has declared, is Malala Day. In honor of this amazing young woman, we must rededicate ourselves to the cause of providing education for all. There are over 57 million young people not in school–more than half of them girls. For the cost of two nuclear power plants….just two….we could educate every single young person in the world up through grade 9. How crazy is that?

Sign this Stand With Malala Petition to advocate for equal education opportunities for all. You needn’t risk your life, like Malala did…just refuse to accept NO as an answer.

Today is International Volunteer Day

479975_10151357140625820_117472574_nSo here’s to YOU, you intrepid, life-changing, paradigm-shifting, good will-making, adversity-inviting, challenge-rocking, limitation-busting volunteers!

The United Nations declares December 5 as International Volunteer Day, and this year’s theme is “Celebrate Volunteering!” giving us all a chance to celebrate our commitment to a better world.


Native Media: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Today is the United Nations declared International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day celebrated each year on August 9, and this year dedicated to “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices.” I count myself so blessed to have the opportunity to work with Native American youth, mentoring in playwriting and creativity, as together we discover young, marginalized voices…so this theme is particularly close to me (see lots of previous posts about MAPP: Mentor Artists Playwrights Project).

Sourcing news and current events directly from Native media is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of our nation’s first people. Some (by no means all) online resources for Indigenous Media in the US are (links below):

Indian Country Today Media Network

American Indian News Service

Native American Times

The Circle

You can also find spectacular radio stations online and across the country broadcasting music, talk, and news that matters to tribal communities. Take some time to break away from the stronghold of TV networks and mainstream newspapers, to see how closely your priorities jibe with native community concerns near where you live. It’s a perspective we miss, or can tragically even forget is there…don’t turn your back, dig down and learn.

World Refugee Day, Angelina Jolie, and Taking Action

Angelina Jolie was just displaced (by Kristen Stewart) from the number one spot on the list of the highest grossing female entertainers…but her position there has afforded her to address, in a huge way, displacement that actually means something. Jolie has long had a vocal presence in the fight for support and recognition of refugees of war, and yesterday, on World Refugee Day as recognized by the United Nations and UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), the activist/actress donated $100,000 to help Syrian refugees.

Around the world, every minute, another eight people are displaced from their homes, families, villages, cities, nations…no one chooses to be displaced. From a press release, Jolie is quoted:

“We risk forgetting the individual when we speak in numbers, but the numbers tell an important story. In the past year 4.3 million people have become displaced. There are still 2.7 million refugees from Afghanistan. 12 million people are stateless. And for the fifth consecutive year the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide exceeded 42 million.

“Sadly, a person who becomes a refugee is likely to remain one for many years – often stuck in a camp or living precariously in the city of a developing nation. 70 per cent of refugees under UNHCR’s protection have been in this situation for more than five years. Their safety and well-being depend on the continued generosity of those countries who have kept their borders open to refugees, and on the vital efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance wherever and whenever it is necessary.

“Unfortunately, the world is producing displaced people faster than it is producing solutions to displacement. And the solutions are not exclusively humanitarian – they are also political. The international community should rededicate itself to preventing conflict, addressing it when it erupts, and solving it more quickly, for that is the only way to create durable solutions for the refugees whose strength inspires us on this World Refugee Day.”

How, and where, do you put your money where your mouth is, supporting the things that inspire or defeating the things that horrify you? Give me some ideas of movements that matter to you in the comments section below–I’m sure we all want to know more.

Happy World Tourism Day

Today, September 27, is the United Nations World Tourism Day…so where are you going next? The United Nations and the powers-that-be of most destinations, the business world, the philanthropic and charity hemispheres, and hopefully each of us know, from personal experience, the veracity of that terrific Mark Twain quote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

Travel brings economic growth to regions that suffer without it, cultural awareness for both visitor and visited, and it more tightly knits our global community. Of course, travel must be done with respect and care, a keen focus on sustainability and cultural awareness, and a wide open heart. What you experience away from home is simply never going to be available to you if you remain close to your own hearth.

For the U.N. events, this year’s theme is: “Tourism—Linking Cultures.” Think about the ways you are an ambassador for your home (town/city/state/nation) when you travel. It is easy to feel, as tourists, going to all the official sites and eating at the touristy restaurants, that we are simply consumers when we travel, absorbing. In addition to being a sponge and trying to fit as many memories onto your camera’s memory card and into your brain, you are also a source of so much knowledge and information about the wider world, for the people you encounter (and it must be said, a source of super-important dollars being spent in the communities you visit as well). How will you show up the next time you travel? If you’ve had an itinerary on hold or vaguely planned, go back and get it onto your calendar. Commit to getting out into the wider arena of life.

The world is an amazing place—you should go there.

Clooney Can Afford Malaria–Nothing But Nets for the Rest

In just a couple of days I’ll start popping Malarone pills–a prophylactic anti-malaria medicine–for my trip to South Africa. Fortunately, I can afford the preventative medicine. George Clooney contracted malaria, for the second time, when he was in Sudan recently for the elections that we hope will lead to a free and seceded Southern Sudan. Malaria is a pretty brutal, flu-like disease, easily gotten over by those with access to medicine and who are strong and well-nourished before they get sick…like George. For so many others, it can be fatal. A mosquito-borne illness, the best passive resistance to malaria is a simple bug net for the bed, keeping mosquitoes at bay through the night. Nothing But Nets campaigns to send bed nets to malaria zones around the world. A simple $10 donation buys a net that can literally save the lives of several members of every family (in many targeted nations, several people crowd into/share a bed or mat). The United Nations facilitates distribution to the countries in Africa so nets get from airports to rural villages, in conjunction with their visits for their measles vaccination programs. Consider getting involved, and saving lives. You can do it from home, and make a significant difference in every single home to which you help bring a net.