Canberra: Free Yoga Lessons on International Day of Yoga

21 June 2016

Canberra embraced the second International Day of Yoga with free Yoga lessons throughout the city and a seminar reflecting on the topic “Yoga: More than Physical”. The event was opened by the President of the Canberra chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, Dr. Rakesh Malhotra who organized the evening in conjunction with UNIC Canberra.

In his address, the Indian High Commissioner, H.E. Navdeep Suri, spoke of how the initial resolution by the General Assembly to adopt the Day had received more sponsors than any prior resolution and that this gave a true picture of the global appreciation of the benefits of Yoga. This was further demonstrated by the many events being held to mark the Day this year, starting in Fiji and then on through Australia and across the World. In prefacing the message of the Secretary-General, UNIC Director, Christopher Woodthorpe spoke of how the universal support for promotion of Yoga, with its holistic nature, echoed that of the unilateral commitment by nations to the new Sustainable Development Agenda, which also is holistic in character as it charts the way to a better world for all.

Following his keynote speech on the history of Yoga, Dr. Greg Bailey from La Trobe University, joined the panel debate, with Dr. Shameem Black of the ANU, Alan Goode, Director of Yoga Mandir, and Ms. Leanne Davis, President of Yoga Australia. While recognizing the growing influence of Yoga across the world and appreciating that for many this is seen as a physical activity, all three argued the importance of Yoga teaching not losing its cultural roots, for as only through the unity of mind and body can the full benefits of Yoga be gained – both for the individual and for the betterment of society as a whole.

Windhoek primary school students eager to learn about poverty in Namibia and the world take a pledge: “I pledge to end poverty”

20 June 2016

June 15th marked yet another exciting day at the United Nations House in Windhoek. UNICEF in conjunction with UNIC Windhoek hosted thirty-five young, vibrant students from Windhoek International School during which they were briefed on poverty in Namibia and the world.

The resident coordinator of the UN, Ms. Kiki Gbeho warmly welcomed the children, ranging from eight to ten years old, and introduced them to the work of the United Nations and its goals of combating poverty nationally and on a global scale. The students showed great interest throughout Ms. Gbeho’s opening and were eager to ask questions and share their thoughts on creative solutions to help those in need. The UN staff was visibly impressed by the children’s keen participation, and Ms. Gbeho encouraged them to keep their spirit and drive and eventually turn their ideas into reality in the future.

Following the discussion, the UNIC team briefed the students in more detail on facts and statistics on childhood poverty, why it exists and what more can be done to eradicate it.

The presentation addressed in detail indicators that play a key role in a country’s ability to combat and eradicate poverty, also referred to as the five ‘Ps’ – Place, Past, People, Politics, Peace. Using this criterion, the students learned that Namibia, due to its location, semi-arid climate, the long struggle for independence and lastly its diverse population was and still is facing high poverty rates in all parts of the country and through all parts of society. However, as new generations are enjoying both better social welfare and school education, the situation for children and adults in Namibia is gradually improving. The students were already well versed on most of the information and so the presentation was quite interactive, with many of the children practically finishing the sentences of the presenters. It was really an amazing sight to see just how knowledgeable the young are about their country and the world at large.

The rowdy bunch learned the hard facts, like 1. Every third child in Namibia is poor, does not have enough food, clothes and a safe house to live in 2. Another devastating factor is although most Namibians can read and write, many don’t finish school and only 5% go to University. At the end of this unique outreach, each student received an individual “I pledge to help end poverty” certificate to remind them of their participation in the event and of their potential to make this world we share a better place.  The UN family is firmly convinced, that with the help of highly motivated and well-educated young students, the challenges to eradicating poverty can be overcome.

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Report on the Official Ceremony of 2016 World Refugee Day

20 June 2016


The Ministry of External Relations and the United Nation System in Cameroon, organized the official ceremony marking the 2016 World Refugee Day on Monday, 20 June 2016 at the Yaounde City Council. The 2016 commemoration was on the theme: “Dreams and hopes for a better future”.

This ceremony which was presided by His Excellency Lejeune Mbella Mbella; Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations, witnessed the presence of the UN Resident Coordinator; Mrs Najat Rochdi, Minister Issa Tchiroma of Communications and Minister Marie Therese Abena Ondoa of Women Empowerment and the Family, amongst other dignitaries.

Representatives of Refugees of the “Collectif des Réfugiés” and that of “Femmes Refugiées” in Cameroon each, in turn, expressed their desire to see that equal treatment in terms of medical assistance being given to refugees in the urban areas as is the case with those of the rural areas.

In his speech, Mr. Khassim Diagne of UNHCR declared that “Some 300000 refugees, mostly from the Central African Republic and Nigeria live in Cameroon and there is a need to keep hope alive among them”.

Mrs Rochdi reminded that the first humanitarians are the community and government for they are those who receive the refugees. She lauded Cameroon as a land of asylum, land of welcome, defender of International Humanitarian Law, and International Law. She then read the message of the UNSG on this occasion, in which Mr. Ban Ki-moon says that “…We must stand together with the millions of men, women and children who flee their homes each year, to ensure that their rights and dignity are protected wherever they are and that solidarity and compassion are at the heart of our collective response.”

Minister Lejeune Mbella Mbella reaffirmed Cameroon’s commitment to International Humanitarian Laws, other International Laws and Conventions, and highlighted government’s support to persons displaced by wars and conflict.

Parade by children of refugees, dancers of the refugee communities from Chad and the Central African Republic graced the event and entertained the over 300 participants. Winners of the football matches presented their trophies. UNIC Yaounde provided UNHCR with billboards for various displays and also distributed copies of UNSG message to participants and the media.

#WCW: UNIC Windhoek celebrates UN Resident Coordinator to Namibia, Ms. Kiki Gbeho

15 June 2016

Each Wednesday, the United Nations Information Centre (Windhoek) celebrates women through its #WednesdayCelebrateWomen social media campaign. This week, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Ms. Kiki Gbeho, the UN Resident Coordinator to Namibia. Read UNIC Windhoek’s interview with Ms. Gbeho to learn more about her role as well as her thoughts on women’s empowerment and gender equality in Namibia.

Could you briefly describe your role as the UN Resident Coordinator to Namibia? What has been the most rewarding part of being in this position?

Key components of my work include to:

1.)    Ensure coordinated support to the Government of Namibia, when they request it, to deliver on their national development plans. The UN does this primarily through its partnership framework with the government. The focus is in four areas (Poverty, Health, Education and Environment) with gender and youth cutting across all activities.

2.)    Ensure effective advocacy with not only the highest level of Government but also the people of Namibia particularly on the global development agenda 2030/SDGs. Advocacy includes the four partnership areas. The idea is to get across key messages and share best practice and information from all over the globe with Namibia. I have noticed for example that information we share with statistical backing is appreciated on our social media accounts.

3.)    I also encourage and support national efforts in disaster risk reduction. For example, currently, the UN is supporting the Office of the Prime Minister to develop a national strategy for mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation into development planning. These efforts are in order to enhance national resilience to disasters. The UN is also supporting Government on Drought Preparedness, through the development of policy and guidelines for nutrition in emergencies. 

4.)    As the Designated Official, I ensure effective coordination of country-level security and the safety of all UN staff and dependants and lead the inter-agency Security Management Team.

Why is women’s empowerment important?

His Excellency the President has declared a war on Poverty, elaborated the HPP and announced that 2016 is the year of implantation. We will not accelerate development nor eradicate poverty if half the population (51.5% female) are not on board. There are numerous studies that demonstrate that women are great multipliers of development progress. African women are the pillars of the community whether because of the work they carry out as care givers or supporting their families by working on their farms. They are often held back because of lack of recognition and ‘rewards’ for the work they undertake; lack of education; and sometimes insufficient protection.

Africa will not grow, realise Agenda 2063, or the SDGs without investing in women. Women are a resource that is not fully tapped.

Could you please comment on gender inequality in Namibia? If you could take one step only to improve Gender Equality what would it be? How is the UN currently working on Namibia to promote gender equality?

Namibia once again is a leader when it comes to gender; they rank 4th in Africa when it comes to gender parity in parliament (at 47%) and rank number 9 globally. The government has demonstrated political will by rolling out Gender Responsive budgeting and an MA programme at UNAM both in partnership with the UN. Tremendous strides have been made in achieving gender parity in education. Half of the 90 percent of children staying in school until grade 5 are girls.  The top four leadership positions in Namibia are equally distributed between men and women. Despite these achievements, challenges remain, when it comes to poverty, incomes of female-headed households are 40% lower than in male headed households. We must, therefore, ensure that frameworks and laws are effective, and can empower and protect women and girls e.g. from gender-based violence, and in essence provide opportunities for them to flourish. 

If I could wave a magic wand; the first action would be to strengthen the collection of sex-disaggregated data, on which gender analysis can take place in order to ‘make the case’. This would provide a solid evidence base, drive decision making, action and ultimately to hold decision makers to account. 

Currently, the UN is, for example, supporting the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare to strengthen institutional capacity to accelerate implementation of the National Gender Plan of Action and the Gender-Based Violence Plan of Action, through stronger civil society engagement. We are also supporting the roll-out of a pilot Gender Responsive Procurement initiative aligned to the women’s economic empowerment.

What is your advice to the younger generation, and especially young girls, in pursuit of their dreams?

A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true. The three actions all young people, especially girls should remember are:

1.    Take space: The greatest innovations start with an idea that is acted upon. So how will you seek and seize opportunities, in order that you always have a ‘seat at the table’ on significant issues? We saw youth including Namibian youth participate actively in the drafting of the SDGs, how will you ensure ‘more of the same’ in order to influence the agenda?

2.    Be prepared: You never know when opportunity will come knocking. So how will you ensure that when you have that seat at the table, you have just the right message or idea?  It takes dedication and hard work to succeed, no matter what field you operate in.  

3.    And last but definitely not least dare to be different: change is never achieved without challenging yourself or the status quo. Believe your voice is valuable and that your experience counts. Seize an opportunity because you are prepared through an exploration of your unique talent or perspective. And remember one determined person can make a difference!

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