Ban Ki-moon in conversation with die Furche: “We need more Global Citizens”

The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens Co-chair Ban Ki-moon was interviewed by Die Furche for its January Edition about the impact the United Nations had during his upbringing in Korea, his time as United Nations Secretary-General, his expectations for President-Elect Joe Biden, and how the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Climate Agreement and Global Citizenship are the road maps to achieve a better future for all.

Read the full English version below.

Access the full German Version here:

2021.1a Ban Ki-moon ITV 

2021.1b Ban Ki-moon ITV


“We need more Global Citizens”

Die Furche, 7 January 2021

1. Former UN Secretary General, may I start with a personal question: You come from a country that has been divided by war to this day – how did that shape you for your later role as the world’s top peacemaker and peacekeeper? 

When I was born before the end of the Second World War, everybody was poor. Soon after, South Korea was attacked by North Korea. At that time, the United Nations had sent troops and humanitarian aid. As a child growing up during the Korean War my family received food ratios and I studied with either kerosene lamps or with candlelight from schoolbooks that were provided by UNESCO. These are my first memories of the UN. Later it was the United Nations’ efforts that substantially helped rebuild and recover South Korea from the Korean War. Observing the incredible impact of the UN in supporting a divided country and assisting on the road to peace and prosperity has influenced me in my various roles. On many occasions, I have emphasized the importance of multilateralism in peacekeeping and I still believe in the role of the United Nations and the other global players in steering the peace between North and South Korea.

In the first months of this year, while the number of individuals infected by the virus and death tolls rose sharply, many trivialized Covid-19 by comparing it to the annual wave of influenza. On the other hand, others over-dramatized the situation and overstated the actual number of victims. Slowly, a more realistic picture has emerged.

2. 75 years after the end of the Second World War, 75 years after the founding of the United Nations, with the aim of “saving future generations from the scourge of war”, it looks in many places as if politicians and peoples have become “tired of peace”. Do you share this impression and how can the willingness to work for peace be rekindled?

Yes – in 2020 the UN was celebrating its 75th anniversary. It has been a great privilege for me to serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations for two terms. My motto was that I will make this “most impossible job”, as the first UNSG Trygvie Lie said, into a “possible mission.” I have been trying this during my ten years tenure, devoting all my time, passion and energy.

But frankly speaking we need to have much more sense of unity and collaboration amongst states of the world, much more global solidarity and compassion. The unanimous adoption of the 2030 Agenda by the 193 UN member states and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 were steps in the right direction. This still gives me hope. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a clear path towards creating equal, prosperous, and peaceful societies around the globe. By pledging to implement the global goals by 2030, governments, businesses, civil society, and academia are showing their will to join forces in the fight against poverty, hunger, inequality, corruption, human rights abuses and climate change to achieve a peaceful world.  

This is therefore not the time to be “tired of peace”, on the contrary, it is the time to recommit to the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement for our future generations.

3. In a CNBC interview, you were unusually harshly on trial with today’s generation of politicians. You said: “I do not have much expectation on current global leaders – they are all aiming for short time political gains – this is shameful.” Why is that so? How can we as society counteract this? Or is the saying true: people get the politicians they deserve? 

Solidarity, empathy, and cooperation are the foundations on which societies can thrive. Especially in times of crisis, global leaders must portray these values and work together in the common interest of all humanity. However, today we see global leaders who have lost their focus and who do not base their policies on inclusive human rights. We see leaders who are favouring personal interest and profit over the well-being and safety of their own people.

To counteract destructive, exploitative, and unsustainable policies we need to empower a generation of politicians who are passionate and compassionate global citizens and who are living up to leaving no one behind. We can only create these leaders by fostering Global Citizenship Education and by promoting knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals. The global citizenship mindset encompasses global citizen values, knowledge about the sustainable development goals and their implementation and 21st century skills.

4. In 1962 you took a trip to Washington, D.C. for an English competition. A meeting with US President John F. Kennedy during this trip led you, according to your biography, to become a diplomat. Almost 60 years later: Do you think the incoming US President Biden could also motivate young people to stand up for diplomacy and cooperation worldwide?

I will always cherish the memory of this trip to the US as a young man, meeting JFK. It was a turning point in my life. I do believe the new President-elect of the US, Joe Biden will also be an inspiration to a lot of young people around the world. Not only will he motivate youth to stand up for inclusive policies and international cooperation but once President-elect Joe Biden renews America’s commitment to Paris Climate Agreement, he also has a unique role to turn climate ambition into global climate action for the new generation. Also, by joining forces with Kamala Harris as the first female Vice President-elect, he has set an example for inclusive policies and that anything is possible. Despite facing so many challenges at the start of their term, I believe they can inspire next generations, influence their ambition and commitment to make this a better future for all.

5. And beyond that – what do you expect from President Biden and his administration for international cooperation in general and for the United Nations in particular?

The promise of President-elect Joe Biden to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement, as he takes office on 20 January 2021, will hopefully not only restore faith in the United States as an international team player, but will also strengthen cooperation with the United Nations. Not abandoning a commitment made 5 years ago and valuing fundamental rights and freedoms in their international leadership role, will result in the revival of the importance of the US in multilateralism, striving towards global solutions for global challenges.

6. In 2021 we hope to get the health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic under control with vaccinations – what lessons should the global community learn from Corona, in particular for global solidarity and cooperation?

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the global community unexpectedly hard. The pandemic exacerbated existing challenges such as climate change, humanitarian crises, widening disparity and strengthening authoritarian regimes. The tasks we are now facing are enormous, but not impossible to achieve if we work together and act in solidarity. The key notions that matter during and after the pandemic are cooperation, solidarity, responsibility, discipline, and compassion for the most vulnerable. The global situation also requires a strong commitment by all stakeholders to the Agenda 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Covid-19 sheds light on the many profound inequalities that persist on our planet. Therefore, the verbal and theoretical commitments to solidarity must also be reflected in concrete actions supporting vulnerable groups such as refugees, migrants and racial minorities.

It is up to us to chart the right course for a better future for all. The pandemic showed us that we all have a responsibility as global citizens to stay vigilant. If the global community can show courage and empathic leadership today, we will all benefit from it by being equipped with tools to tackle equally grave challenges tomorrow.

7. I started with a personal question. May I end the conversation with another one: How was the feeling when you were no longer UN Secretary-General on the first day and the pressure was gone: Pride? Disappointment? Relief? 

Whatever successes or achievements there may be associated to my tenure, they are the outcome of joint efforts – not by me alone. The Secretary-General, however capable or willing, cannot achieve anything alone. No single country or person can do it alone without support. In that regard, I am deeply grateful to UN´s dedicated staff an all the partners around the globe, who have been working day and night – in many cases, in very dangerous circumstances. Without their hard work, we would not have achieved the Paris Agreement on climate change, we would not have had the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Both compounds serve as blueprints for humankind efforts towards the path to peace, prosperity and to building sustainable societies, a greener economy, and empowering the most vulnerable, leaving no one behind.

During my ten years serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I was always guided by four principals: setting priorities, never giving up, focusing on the people, and standing up for those who are left behind. No longer the Secretary-General, I am still guided by these principals. I continue my work by advocating the mindset of global citizenship and the importance of multilateralism.


Global Citizen Scholar Samuel Afadu & Global Citizen Fellow Horia Sardarzada at VEF

The VEF Virtual Series “Empowering Women and Youth to Accelerate the Clean Energy Transition”, on January 12-13, invited women and young leaders to discuss how we can ensure a clean energy transition that is just and leaves no one behind.

For this year’s first virtual VEF session, we were excited to see our Global Citizen Scholar (2019) Samuel Kofi Afadu & Global Citizen Fellow (2019) Horia Sardarzada participate in the January Edition, focused on gender, youth and equity.

After introductory remarks, the session diverged into four Breakout Sessions on different themes. The session “Enabling Environment for Youth,” featured Global Citizen Scholar Samuel Kofi Afadu Co-founder of Light my World International, an NGO that is working to promote access to clean energy solutions to off-grid communities in Ghana. The session also featured Israel FaleyeMYSOLARBID LTD, Jichen Liu Clear Plate®, Pontsho Moletsane – GCIP South Africa 2017 Youth Winner, Esther Wanza – SDG7 Youth Constituency, Tracey CroweSeforAll, Anurag MalooSeedstars Asia-Pacific , and David OutRural Electrification Agency (REA).

Global Citizen Scholar Samuel commented how including youth is a prerequisite to a successful clean energy transition. He also highlighted that there is a need for youth to take action and that their actions should be taken seriously by decision-makers. “It is time for the youth to take action. The youth of today and the world will benefit or suffer from our actions and in-actions. Let’s take action in solving problems and connecting them with our passions, creating a sustainable and equitable world for all.”  

 

Global Citizen Fellow Horia Sardarzada, who is currently serving as Director-General of Early Childhood Care and Education ECCE/Kindergartens at Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Afghanistan, participated in the Breakout Session “Enabling Environment for Women,” alongside Sheila OparaochaENERGIA/Hivos, Abir El SaadiMinistry of Trade and Industry Egypt, Kerry MaxGlobal Affairs Canada, Kavita SinhaGreen Climate Fund, Marta Luca- SNAM, Jasmin Haider – Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation & Technology, and Reuben James Barrete – Male Champions of Change.

Horia pointed to gender norms, social and cultural practices, the lack of financial funds, and limited access to networks and partnerships as the main challenges women entrepreneurs face in equally leading, contributing to and benefiting from the clean energy transition.    

“Through the platform Women’s Initiatives for Sustainable Energy (WISE) we started to provide input, access to information for female fresh graduates who want to invest in green energy or do partnerships. We provided them with access to information, training, advocacy, where they could meet with financial organizations.”

Horia Sardarzada is founder of the organization Women’s Initiatives for Sustainable Energy (WISE), which is aiming to economically empower women in Afghanistan to invest in clean energy sector. 

Credits: https://twitter.com/ForumVienna/status/1350056114260504576

 

To watch a recap of the session, visit VEF Virtual Series

For more information about the VEF, visit VIENNA ENERGY FORUM

Launch of Mission 4.7 at the Vatican Youth Symposium

On December 16th, the Ban Ki-moon Centre, along with UNESCO, the SDSN, and the Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) at Columbia University, launched a new initiative – Mission 4.7 – at the Vatican Youth Symposium.

The Vatican Youth Symposium is an intergenerational gathering Co-hosted by SDSN Youth and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS), bringing together leaders in global development to catalyze solutions and partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The first day of the symposium was dedicated to the Launch of Mission 4.7. This new initiative brings together leaders from around the world to highlight the critical importance of quality education for all and of education for sustainable development and global citizenship.

Mission 4.7 will build on and draw upon UNESCO’s expertise in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED), as well as of its responsibility for monitoring SDG 4 on Quality Education and its target SDG 4.7.

The launch event consisted of 3 sessions. The opening session featured a special video message from His Holiness Pope Francis, stating his support for the new initiative:

Mission 4.7 is part of a, “New wave of educational opportunities based on social justice and mutual love, an act of hope amidst the globalization of indifference.”

“The Global Compact on Education and Mission 4.7 will work together for the civilization of love, beauty and unity.”

Following the statement by His Holiness Pope Francis, the Patrons of Mission 4.7, Director General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay and Co-chair of the BKMC Ban Ki-moon, shared remarks. Ban Ki-moon shared a call to action:

 

“It is a critical time to share a call to action and to launch this initiative (Mission 4.7) aimed to advocate for, inspire and mobilize governmental and non-governmental actors to prioritize education for sustainable development.”

 

Following the remarks by the Patrons, Jeffrey Sachs (President of the SDSN and BKMC Board Member) along with the other Co-chairs of the initiative – Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO, Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, Founder and Chairman, Sunway Group, and Monsignor Marcel Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences) – were introduced and offered remarks.

After the opening session, CEO of the BKMC Monika Froehler moderated a session focused on ‘Education for Sustainable Development in Primary and Secondary Schools.’

The speakers for the session included Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO, Amanda Abrom and Sam Loni, Global Schools, SDSN, Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills, OECD, Siva Kumari, Director-General, International Baccalaureate Organization, Mustafa Ozturk, Professor, Hacettepe University, and Professor Abdulkerim Marzouk, Director, Executive Education Center, Al Akhawayn University.

The session focused on how education can be reimagined and transformed to embed the concepts of ESD and GCED. It also reflected on the impacts of Covid-19 on education and what will be necessary moving forward as well as the role of youth in sustainable development.

 

“If you give young people the tools, the platform, they will drive change.” – Sam Loni, Program Director, SDSN and Director, Global Schools

 

Finally, to close the launch event, Chandrika Bahadur, Director of the SDG Academy, moderated a session on ‘Education for Sustainable Development in Tertiary and Professional Settings.’

During the session, former Director-General of UNESCO and BKMC Board Member Irina Bokova offered her insights:

“When we speak about higher education, it is very important to mention that the complexity of our world needs a different approach to University education. An intersectional approach.”

 

The BKMC looks forward to continuing work on this important mission in the coming year! Thank you to all partners involved and champions for the mission who have committed their time and energy to this important initiative.

 

To watch the recording of the launch event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH9JYp8NFm8&feature=youtu.be

To learn more about the mission: https://www.mission4point7.org/

Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholars 2020 – Closing Ceremony

On December 15, 2020, the Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholarship Program 2020’s Closing Ceremony took place. The BKMC, together with RELX & University of Bordeaux awarded, six extraordinary African Global Citizen Scholars – Akosua PepraOduor Kevin, Hikmat Baba Dua, Tafadzwa Sachikonye, Barbara Nakijoba, and Ruvimbo Samangafor successfully completing the scholarship program and implementing outstanding SDG Micro-Projects in their communities 

The Ceremony was opened by Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, who greeted participants in a video statement and welcomed the scholars to the alumni family of the BKMC, expressing support and gratitude for the scholars’ contributions to the Agenda 2030: More than ever the world needs young leaders like yourselves. It makes me proud that you have chosen to be ambassadors of global citizenship and that we can consider you as a valued member of the BKMC family. 

Márcia Balisciano, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility at RELX Group and a valued member of the BKMC Board, also addressed the audience.  Márcia Balisciano expressed RELX’s enthusiasm for funding the Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholarship Program 2020 while sharing exciting news, We are thrilled to have participated in this program and we would like to announce that we would like to fund this program again next year.”  

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler also congratulated the scholars and emphasized the impact they have created with their projects: This is exactly what a global citizen mindset is about: global citizen values and 21st-century skills. We are honored that we had the chance to have worked with you.  

The University of Bordeaux, represented by Vice President for External Relations Stéphanie Debette, shared her words of congratulations and also positive feedback from professors at the university who mentored the scholars during their SDG Micro-project implementation.

The highlight of the ceremony was the presentations by our GC scholars where they shared the impact they have created in their communities. 

To improve the livelihoods of widows and orphans involved in farming, GC Scholar Akosua Pepra developed the SDG Micro-Project “Climate Resilient Agriculture for Widows and Orphans in Rural Communities in Ghana” (SDGs 1, 2, 5 and 13).  


Barbara Nakijoba, deeply passionate about youth empowerment, conceptualized the “Youth take the lead”  in the Rugaba Division in Uganda to create a more peaceful society by reducing crime by 2021 (SDG 16). 


Action4Periods by Hikmat Baba Dua, created a safe space for 60 women and girls in rural communities in Mbanaailiy (Ghana) by engaging elders, women and girls to discuss the stigma of menstrual hygiene and produced 60-70 reusable pads, improving access to menstrual products (SDG 3, 4, 5 and 13).  


 

GC scholar Oduor Kevin founded INFO4FOOD, as he realized that food waste was dumped on the roads by vendors contributing to environmental degradation. With his project he prevented post-harvest losses, reaching 87 households in Kenya.


 

Ruvimbo Samanga’s project Agrispace, helps farmers in Zimbabwe gather missing agricultural data by using satellite technology to monitor agricultural productivity, leading to more sustainable and climate-resilient practices. The program can map different agricultural zones providing soil data, weather soil analysis, and monitoring crop health and irrigation, allowing farmers to have better time and yield tools for crops. Agrispace contributes to many SDGs, particularly SDG 2 for “zero hunger” and target 2.1.2 for “food insecurity”.


Tafadzwa Sachikonye raised public and private awareness for improved urban wastewater system in Zimbabwe with her project Waterclix for sustainable urban water systems in Zimbabwe (SDG 6 and also 3, 5, 13).  

   

In the last part of the evening, Program Officer Julia Zimmerman awarded the scholars with their certificate of achievement, and Co-chair Heinz Fischer offered closing remarks, commending all GC scholars 2020 on their efforts, You showed resilience, passion and transformed challenges into opportunities. 

We want to congratulate all of our GC scholars 2020! We are immensely proud of the results of your hard work and look forward to seeing what you do next! Additionally, we want to thank our partners RELX Group and the University of Bordeaux again for their wonderful support and collaboration for the program this year! 

The Earth is Running a Fever

Today, on December 12th, 2020, we are commemorating the 5th year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement and the leaders who worked vigorously to bring it to life. In 2007, when Ban Ki-moon first assumed his position as the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, he positioned global action on climate change as a guiding priority of his mandate. He remembers how many people were surprised by this, “but immediately raising this issue of critical significance was necessary to set the tone for my leadership and policy priorities from the outset.”

During his tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon hosted five major climate change summits and worked tirelessly to place climate action as a priority for national governments. Being the first Secretary-General to attend all the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) sessions, he reflects on COP15 (the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC) “…even though there was no binding agreement, a “political accord” drafted by US, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil was issued. This document would serve as the basis for continuing the COPs until the 2015 Paris Agreement.”

Working up to COP21 in Paris, Ban Ki-moon went on several on-the-ground visits around the world to see the immense impact caused by climate change on communities, countries, and the planet’s entirety. He recalls, “…these travels reinforced my belief that climate change represented humankind’s biggest challenge.”

   

The UNFCCC’s COP21 in 2015 signified a milestone for global climate action. This was the conference where the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted by world leaders representing 195 nations. This was a remarkable moment in history when all countries unanimously came to a consensus on committing to slow down the rise in temperatures, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and elevate climate-resilient development and adaptation. Ban Ki-moon to this day is still “incredibly proud of the fact that we unanimously achieved this landmark goal, and the Paris Agreement was adopted by consensus in Paris on December 12th, 2015. This was a resounding triumph not only for our earth but for multilateralism as well.”

As we are in the final stretch of a truly unprecedented year 2020, on this anniversary of the landmark agreement, we are reminded of the commitments made five years ago by global leaders on behalf of humanity. The Paris Agreement was the starting point, a valuable blueprint to mitigate the serious threats to our planet.

We need to prepare for our future.

Now, more than ever we need to invest in our collective efforts to break the earth’s fever.

BKMC RAUN scholars present paper on “Global Citizenship Education in the European Union: Dimensions and Differences”

On 10 and 11 December, RAUN held its online closing event for this year’s program “Partnership and Cooperation for the Future: 75 Years of UN Action”. This event is particularly important as it highlights the results of each research group and gives them the opportunity to present their outcomes to their mentors and peers. At the end of the 2-day conference, the RAUN scholars received their well-deserved certificates, even if only virtually this time.

 

The Ban Ki-moon Centre participated in Session II called “Citizen and Community Education” on the first day of the conference. CEO Monika Froehler gave an input speech about the challenges and opportunities of quality education. She stressed that discrimination, nationalism, human rights abuses, and corruption can be fought through global citizenship education (GCED) and communal sports, referring to the topics of the session’s research groups.

 

 

The BKMC RAUN scholars presented the methodology and results of their paper on “Global Citizenship Education in the European Union: Dimensions and Differences”. With the creation of 114 qualitative indicators, Andreas, Helena, and Jülide tackled the blind spots of GCED and investigated its concrete application. They concluded that in GCED, the focus lies on the learning process, moral development within, dialogue, and empathy.

Jessica Besch, Executive Assistant to Co-Chairman Heinz Fischer, commented on the group’s work and her experience as a mentor.

The second group presentation on “Promoting Peace and Security through Sports: Lessons Learned from Selected Youth Programs (OSCE)” was followed by a panel discussion, opening the floor to the audience to ask questions about the respective research topics.

Innovative Initatives to Prevent Gender-Based Violence

As a part of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and the Orange the World Campaign, the Ban Ki-moon Centre hosted an interactive session during the  Education for Justice Global Dialogue Series organized by the United Nations Office of Drugs & Crime.

The event series, part of the Education for Justice initiative held between 1 – 4 December, was launched with a virtual high-level opening, where Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered his opening remarks, underlining the importance of youth education and rule of law for a more just world Empowering children & youth to understand & exercise their rights is what will bring us an equitable & sustainable future based on the universality of human rights” – Ban Ki-moon 

 

The interactive session hosted by the BKMC titled “Education, Empowerment and Effective Policies: Preventing Gender-Based Violence”  welcomed three experts and presentations of their innovative initiatives to prevent gender-based violence.

Setting the tone of the discussion, CEO Monika Froehler highlighted the urgency of the topic: Education, empowerment, and effective policies are key tools to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence. We must act now to create a long-term solution.” 

As the first intervention Humberto Carolo – Executive Director of White Ribbon Canada, shared his expertise on education for and inclusion of all, in particular men and boys, to address all forms of gender-based violence:  “Accountable, intersectional, human rights-based, feminist-informed primary prevention with men and boys is an important complementary approach to ending all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination. Men and boys have important roles to play as gender equality allies and change agents at the individual and systemic levels.  

Sabeeka Ahmad, BKMC Global Citizen Fellow, and Social Entrepreneur shared her expertise on women’s empowerment and the mission of her business. The Bahrain based social enterprise Warsha develops customized programs for survivors of violence and works with women in the long run especially on financial stability:  “We support survivors of GBV by listening to them. Only then we can design our intervention towards empowerment and recovery!” 

With regards to effective policies for #GBV, Kristina Lunz, Co-founder & Co-director of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy underlined how current ideas and concepts in the security and foreign policy sector are based on an idea of dominating other states and individuals. She claimed: “Domination always requires violence. Gender-based violence is an epidemic in our society – we will only be able to overcome male violence against women once we have created a society based on equality. An end to violence is always grounded in mutual respect. “

 

 

Following the presentations, the audience was invited to join three virtual booths with each expert (Education, Empowerment, and Effective Policies) to engage in a brainstorming session and discuss innovative initiatives to prevent gender-based violence.  

The education booth led by Humberto emphasized the need for a multi-stakeholder approach against backlashes to women’s rights. Sabeeka engaged her participants in the discussion via an online survey, discussing the complementing elements to financial empowerment such as education, trained health services, women’s clubs, etc. 

Kristina encouraged attendees with a provoking question to think about how to drive change: “What makes you furious and angry about current policies for GBV? “ . Effective policies are only so effective when more women are part of the decision-making process, all people are educated on the issue, and multi-stakeholders recognize and raise awareness on GBV. 

Tackling the Shadow Pandemic: Violence Against Women During COVID-19 Times

Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, data estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their lifetime. As countries went into lockdownreports on domestic violence have spiked 

Kicking off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and as part of the global Orange the World Campaign, the BKMC hosted virtual High-Level Roundtable titled “Tackling the Shadow Pandemic – Violence against Women During COVID-19 Times on 26 November 2020. The multi-stakeholder event aimed to highlight the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on violence against women and girls (VAWG).   

Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer, Co-chairs of the BKMC, opened the BKMC’s Orange the World event showing their support in emphasizing that VAWG violates our common values as humanity.

VAWG does not only affect victims, it impacts the entire society through multiple generations. We must engage in an open dialogue and bring all stakeholders to the table. Every field, every sector must be involved. – Ban Ki-moon

Heinz Fischer highlighted the life-threatening aspect of VAWG and underlined that women’s rights are also human rights: Only solidarity, empathy, and the will for action can turn this shadow pandemic around and give women and girls the rights and dignity they deserve.

In a special message, Phumzile Mlambo-NgcukaUnited Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director called for “all hands on deck” to address the silence around VAWG and the discrimination against survivors:We must engage as allies in this situation, and that includes men and boys.

The highlight of the OTW event was the high-level roundtable discussing how to tackle the Shadow Pandemic with the outstanding panelists Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New ZealandAngela Cretu, CEO of AvonMohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women Asia and Pacific & Trisha Shetty, women’s rights activist and founder of SheSays 

Helen Clark highlighted the need to have more women in leadership to formulate gender-responsive responses against VAWG, arguing that “More attention is paid to issues that address women when women are there to do something about it”. 

Along with raising awareness for domestic violence, Angela Cretu stressed that the private sector provides the necessary economic measures to empower women: “Only 10% of women report abusers to officials in fear of losing their children or livelihood. Businesses, together with governments need to create opportunities for women to gain financial freedom.”

With a unique perspective from the Asia & Pacific Region, Mohammad Naciri underscored that victims are not only trapped at home with their abusers, but digitalization has enabled the rise of online harassment and online misogyny: “We need to expand the legislation that criminalizes harassment as stalking. This does not exist in some countries.”  

Considering the dramatic increase of domestic violence cases, Trisha Shetty especially advocated taking action by investing in support services for survivors and advocating for leadership that celebrates women’s dignity and proactively acts against VAWG.  

Trisha emphasized,“…we are leaving far too many behind. It is costing us progress to our society and economy.” Ending violence concerns everyone!

Watch the whole event:

Special Message from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka:

To learn more about orange the world click here.

Turning challenges into opportunities – Global Citizen Scholars engage in inspiring talk with Arrey Obenson, CEO of Transformunity

 

Last week, our current Global Citizen Scholars and Alumni from the program had the chance to attend an expert workshop with Arrey Obenson, CEO of Transformunity. Transformunity is a consulting company that tackles the opportunities of organizations, drawing on expertise in movement building and citizens engagement to accelerate positive change and sustainable development for a better future.

Based on his experiences from the past 20 years, Arrey shared his personal theory of change, kicking off the workshop with an inspiring speech on how we can choose between two roles when we approach challenges: spectator or actor. He emphasized that only one role will lead to finding solutions and living a prosperous life.

“I choose to be an actor rather than a spectator. I see life as a stage where we have a choice to be in the audience cheering others on or can use the opportunity to play a role”.

During the workshop, Arrey prepared a thought-provoking exercise for our scholars and alumni and asked them to write down what challenges they saw standing in the way of their success. Afterwards he asked them to determine opportunities within those challenges.

We all know how incredibly challenging this year has been, as our realities were significantly altered by the global pandemic Covid-19. But as Arrey and our global citizen scholars discussed, the crisis has also brought with it many opportunities, including new ways of learning through increased access to online education globally as well as opportunities for international cooperation and gatherings without burdening our resources, both in the financial sense as well as the environmental sense. These are just a few of the opportunities that were shared.

Instead of focusing on challenges alone, Arrey advocated looking at the possible opportunities and solutions. Arrey exemplified Africa as a case where challenges often overshadow the opportunities in the global dialogue. However, he sees so many opportunities! To Arrey, it is a “land of a billion opportunities”, vastly rich in 1.2 billion human resources.

Moreover, he illustrated how his theory has proven successful in his own work. After the outbreak of Covid-19 in Cameroon, Transformunity organized a massive education campaign on health and wellness: “Covid-19 was the challenge, but the opportunity was to build resilience in Cameroonian communities against infectious diseases”.

To conclude his presentation, Arrey encouraged everyone to turn every challenge into an opportunity.

Following the workshop, the scholars had the chance for peer-to-peer exchange with the alumni of the scholarship program who joined the call. After a round of introductions, the scholars were sorted into breakout rooms to connect and network.

At the end of the breakout room rotations, Program Officer Julia, thanked the scholars for their participation and shared ways for them to stay in contact!

We are very excited to celebrate the closing of this year’s scholarship program on December 15th! Stay tuned for information for how you can join the virtual event and watch our scholars present their SDG Micro-Projects!

Inspiration in focus at the Closing Ceremony of the 2020 Mentorship Program

This week, on November 17, 2020, the Ban Ki-moon Centre, in partnership with the Muslim Youth of Austria (MJÖ), successfully hosted its second closing ceremony of the mentorship program. The event was an online celebration for the partnerships built between the mentoring pairs and their successful completion of 20 SDG micro-projects over the past year. It was moderated by a former mentee from 2019, Nesrin El-Isa.

In their opening remarks, BKMC Co-chair and 11th Federal President of the Republic of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and CEO Monika Froehler congratulated the 20 mentees on their exceptional achievements.

CEO Monika Froehler spoke about what the results of the SDG micro-projects represent, stating that: “SDG micro-projects are like puzzle pieces of hope. They are expressions of the fact that we all believe that the world can be made a little better.”

Other high-profile speakers included Sonja Hammerschmidt – Member of the Austrian Parliament Social Democrats, and Sybille Hamann – Member of the Austrian Parliament Green Party, and Nermina Mumic – Co-chair of the Muslim Youth and CEO of Legitary. All speakers underlined the necessity of building a support network for young women and girls, particularly from the Muslim community in Austria, in order to create an equal, tolerant, and inclusive society.

Co-chair of the MJÖ Nermina Mumic, is also a former mentee of the program. In an anecdote, she shared that her mentor gave her the courage to build her own start-up which is now thriving. She also was recently honored by being named a Forbes “30 under 30.” She appealed to all mentees to dare to believe in themselves: “The mentoring project is just the nudge you need to have courage.”

 

Three mentees and mentors were selected to present their excellent SDG micro-projects:

1. Video for Little Helps: a video to encourage engagement with NGOs and volunteer work

2. Dreams – Youth – Covid-19: A study and webinar on the effects of the pandemic on the dreams of young people

3. “The Conference of Animals”: A theatre piece done with school children

The closing ceremony ended with words of appreciation from the mentors and mentees for the wonderful cooperation, emphasizing how the solidarity among the women led to inspiring outcomes.

The Ban Ki-moon Centre is very proud of this year’s mentoring pairs and looks forward to staying in touch and following the SDGs micro-projects that remain active! Together we can create a better and more sustainable future for all, leaving no one behind.

Click here to watch the closing ceremony of the mentorship program (German language).