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.

At New Delhi Gender Congress, UNIC Director reiterates UN values

06 March 2014

Ahead of International Women’s Day, the Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University’s premier college for women, hosted a three-day Academic Congress entitled Gender Knowledge: Understanding Gender – Questions of Freedom and Justice. UNIC New Delhi Director, Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, an alumnus of the College, was Honoured Guest at the opening session of the Congress. 

The Congress – organized in collaboration with UN Women – was a riposte to “general” knowledge and “gendered” knowledge – by the community of “disobedient, enlightened women”, said College Principal Dr. Meenakshi Gopinath as she welcomed delegates. It was an attempt to bring to a shared forum – of scholars, practitioners, activists, change makers, artists – a revisited discourse that, in keeping with the traditions of the women’s movements in India, always linked praxis with theoretical engagement.

“The recognition of gender as being mediated along fault lines of class, caste, religion and region opens up new issues and concerns and also the methodological difficulties in treating “woman” as a homogenous or unproblematic category. There is today a much more nuanced understanding of how patriarchies operate in our society – in the family, in the community and in the state and the complicities between them,” Ms. Gopinath said.

These complex linkages were highlighted at the inaugural session by UNIC Director who, inspired by the Day’s theme this year – “Equality for women is progress for all!” – spoke about the work of the UN agencies in India and the work of UNIC in promoting women’s issues especially among the youth.

An inspiring keynote speech by Dr. Kamla Bhasin, feminist and founder-activist of the NGO Jagori and a performance, “Walk”, by theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao, made the inaugural session of the Gender Congress a riveting event and had the houseful audience of primarily female youth students completely absorbed.

The Congress also presented a fascinating installation of gender incongruities which were innovatively displayed in the college lobby. A crafts fair by women artisans and entrepreneurs added to the vitality of the event.

Launch of the 2013 INCB Report

04 March 2014

The annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2013 was successfully launched on 4 March at a special event organized by the UNIC Moscow at its premises. Taking part in it were 35 representatives of local expert community, Government officials and the media.

After a brief introduction, Vladimir Ibragimov, Head of Moscow office of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), offered an outline of the current situation in the world concerning illicit drug production and trafficking. According to him, Afghanistan, which remains the centre of illicit cultivation of opium poppy and the growing producer of cannabis, increased by 39 per cent, its drug production, as compared to the previous year. “In case of American troops withdrawal, we risk an even bigger growth of drug production”, Mr. Ibragimov warned. He then emphasized the need for the enforcement of border and sea ports control as a means of suppressing the illegal drug traffic, and noted his Agency’s call for tougher measures against money laundering.

The INCB Report 2013 was presented by Dr. Galina Korchagina, vice-president of INCB (and Director for Research at the Russian National Research Centre for Addiction). She started by outlining the structure of the Report, before turning to the document’s key topic – the economic effect of drug abuse. All in all, she offered a detailed and well-substantiated tour d’horizon of all the issues involved, such as public health costs, threat to public security and crime growth, labour productivity decline, ecological damages and the threat to specific population groups such as children, women and people with low income.

After this presentation, Dr. Evgenia Koshkina, Director of the Russian National Research Centre for Addiction, offered most recent statistics concerning the amount of drug users in Russia, frequency of HIV cases and the main causes of death among drug users.

In order to amplify the main message of the Report – the heavy economic burden that the drug abuse places on societies – the floor was given to Mrs. Larissa Popovich, Director of the Institute of Public Health Economy under the Moscow Higher School of Economics. She expanded on the issue of severe economic toll claimed by drug abuse, and said that drug-related net losses in Russia amounted to some 1.4 per cent of its GDP.

However, according to the speaker, the economic efficiency of the investment in drug user’s treatment and prevention was very impressive (what resonates well with the findings of the INCB document, arguing that every dollar spent on drug abuse prevention could save governments up to ten dollars in treatment-related costs). Mrs. Popovich stressed the need to mobilize public attention around this subject.

After the presentations, the floor was open for discussion, which addressed, among other things, the issues of de-criminalization of the drug use in some countries, the problem of abuse of drug prescriptions, the availability of analgesics and some other topics.

The launch was well covered by the media.

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