International Women’s Day celebrated in grand style

08 March 2014

With over 300 participants ranging from one month old baby to 86 years old lady; and comprising of sixteen secondary schools, twenty-three Non-governmental Organizations, nine media houses and four UN Agencies, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), in Lagos, in collaboration with Women Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF) celebrated the International Women’s Day (IWD) with pageantry.

The 2014 IWD event which recorded an unprecedented inspiring presentations on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by eight schools, held the audience spell-bound as the schools offered different creatively refreshing approaches to the MDGs.

Every school was unique in their presentations: from dramatic performance to poetic presentation and screening of a TV documentary on Goal 4 produced and narrated by the students of Vivian Fowler College, Lagos.

In addition, another eight schools conducted an environment scan to fish out people in the society who are impacting lives concerning the eight MDGs. From their submission, the ‘Rare Gems’ were selected for recognition.

Exhibiting a grasp of the MDGs and the theme of this year’s IWD, the students communicated their messages with creative flair and elicited an intermittent thunderous applause from the audience.

The IWD event started on a lively note when the message of the Secretary-General was jointly read by Raul Kotikella of British International School and Chisom Frederick of New Era Secondary School, Lagos.

Welcoming the audience, the National Coordinator of Women Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF), Mrs Bimbo Oloyede, thanked UNIC Lagos for keeping faith in WODEF as both organizations have been collaborating for the past fourteen years and would continue to promote equality for women and the girl child. She urged the audience to spare a thought for women around the world who are challenged with fear, poverty and hunger; and whose children probably had an uncertain future.

 

In her remark, the Senior UNIC Public Information Officer, urged the students to uphold gender equality and respect women and the girl-child explaining that equality for women is progress for all. She added that the future of a society depended on its attitude to issues that pertain to women and the girl-child. The issues, she said further, included rights of women, girl-child education, and women’s health, among others. 

The Head of Office, World Health Organisation (WHO) Lagos, urged the audience to help a child to live to adulthood by spreading the words about immunization. She noted that vaccines save lives, save money and build nations.

Enlightening the audience about the danger of drugs, the Head of Office, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Lagos, urged the students and other participants to avoid drugs and crime like a plague in order not to jeopardize their future.

Speaking on the reality of HIV/AIDS, the State Programme Manager, UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS Office, Lagos, called on youths to stop indulging in unprotected sex as this could lead to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) as well as HIV infections. 

She urged all participants to voluntarily go for counselling and testing for HIV infections; adding that early detection saves lives.

"UN a Strong Champion for Women and Girls"

07 March 2014

“The United Nations is committed to being a strong and dynamic champion for women and girls, providing them with a powerful voice at the global, regional and local levels, and for that reason I am pleased to be here in Raipur, to celebrate International Women’s Day with the Chhattisgarh UN Association, the Rotary Club and the Inner Wheel Club, Raipur”, said UNIC New Delhi Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman at an event on 7 March. She thanked Sanat Jain, Secretary General of the Chhattisgarh UN Association, for having organized the event “on an important global issue”.

Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman said that the UN Secretary-General has emphasized the importance of partnerships in achieving goals. “It takes all of us,” she quoted, “women and men, girls and boys, friends and neighbours, networks and organizations from every part of society working together.” And it is up to civil society, people like yourselves,” she added, “to monitor policies, assess their impact, draw attention to best practice, but also point out flaws, and call for accountability, so that governments and public bodies are able to understand public needs and streamline their work accordingly.”

She told the audience that the United Nations would rely on their support, and in turn, lend its voice to help make their voices stronger. 

The event brought together youth, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, journalists, teachers, artists, poets and government officials, several invited guests shared their thoughts, including Satyanarayan Sharma, former minister and MLA and President of the Chhattisgarh UN Association;  Dr. Kiranmayee Nayak, Mayor of Raipur; Justice Shambhunath Shrivastava, Pramukh Lokayukta of Chhattisgarh; acclaimed Pandavani artist Teejan Bai; social activist Meenakshi Tuteja; and Rakesh Chaturvedi, Rotary District Governor.

The Mayor reminded everyone that India is near the top of the list of countries having the highest number of women leaders while Teejan Bai recounted a sad truth when she said that women can face everything, but when it comes to violence, it can really break them. We need to take a firm stand against violence. “Get out from under your tortoise shell and show your face”, she said. “Don’t shed tears but become strong and fight against injustice”.

Excise Commissioner Ajay Pandey talked about the favourable sex ratio in Chhattisgarh, which he said was the third highest in the country. He explained that many women were being given health training and infant mortality rates had fallen dramatically as a result. Justice Shrivastava shed light on voting rights and spoke of the history of laws for women in India. We need to raise awareness of national schemes, which, if properly used, will ensure that “no woman is left un-empowered,” he said. Mr. Sharma explained how women leaders have emerged in rural India and awareness among women has increased. “Women are better workers”, he said, “who don’t lose a moment as they multi-task”.

Journalist and special guest Ramesh Nayar said he had observed during his travels abroad, that women in Europe, for instance, felt secure even late at night. A quick and fair judicial process is essential in dealing with crimes against women, he added.

UNIC Canberra's educational outreach as part of Cowra's Festival of Understanding

07 March 2014

On 7 March, as part of being the guest organisation at the Cowra Festival of Understanding, UNIC Canberra delivered educational outreach programs to two primary schools.

At both schools, the National Information Officer, Julia Dean spoke with the students about climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, how the United Nations works and food waste.

The students also played the World Food Program's Freerice game and voted in the the MYWorldSurvey.

After seeing the video with Beyonce participating in the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs "World Needs More" campaign the students from both schools also picked a word and filled in their forms describing what they thought the world needs more of. 

After much deliberation, Cowra Primary School decided that the world needed more peace.

On the same day, the National Information Officer also spoke at the Cowra View Club monthly meeting. As part of her presentation she spoke about what work that her colleagues have been doing around the world in the last week, which included work in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Vietnam and Thailand.

Interfaith prayer meeting for Women’s Day

06 March 2014

“Together, let us work for women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality as we strive to eliminate poverty and promote sustainable development, said UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, quoting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for International Women’s Day. “We are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it,” she told assembled guests at the Guild for Service and War Widows Association’s celebration of International Women’s Day at a Global Interfaith Peace Prayer, led by Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The commemoration was held at Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti which provided a perfect symbolic location.

Social activist Mohini Giri has been the backbone of this annual celebration which is an initiative towards paying tribute and homage to brave martyrs and their war widows. Ms. Kaur lauded the courage of these women to rebuild a meaningful life for themselves and their families. Former Ambassadors P.A. Nazareth and Ashok Sajjanhar also spoke on the occasion.

People from different faiths – Sikhs, Baha’is, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus – came together to offer their prayers to mark the International Women’s Day and reaffirm the importance of women’s rights and equality in society.

Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman presented Ms. Kaur with a prototype of an LED dynamo torch, which was created with the aim of helping women, especially in rural areas, feel secure while navigating unlit areas or in any situation where they might feel unsafe.