Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”

Hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the MOFA
12th of February, 09:30 – 13:45
Location: Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, Kuwait

Dear Ban Ki-moon,

Your Excellency Mariam Al-Aqeel, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs,

Your Excellency Khaled Mahdi, Secretary-General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development,

Your Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I want to say that it is a great pleasure and honour for the delegation of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens to be here in this wonderful country and to participate in the Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”.

My first intensive contact to Kuwait was in 1981 when I accompanied Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky on his State visit to Kuwait.

I was able to visit Kuwait for a state visit exactly ten years ago, in February 2009, when I learned to appreciate the great hospitality from His Royal Highnesses Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

I took away great memories from this visit.

Today’s Symposium about Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship clearly underscores the vision of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.

Our work at the Centre seeks to empower women and youth to strive as global citizens in a peaceful and prosperous world.

This work cannot be done without a dedicated Board that serves as the backbone of our organization and of course our partners, such as the State of Kuwait, who support us and contribute to the resources that we need to be successful.

Leadership, mediation, advocacy, education, and also compassion are cornerstones and mechanisms that we have identified to be most valuable in the implementation of our goals.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Women represent 50% of the population globally. Nevertheless, the history of civilization is coined by the discrimination of women in various cultures and eras.

Women’s rights have been infringed and the burdens of life have been lying much heavier on women’s shoulders than on men’s.

In the 18th century, during the period of Enlightenment, Europe finally started to have serious discussions about women’s rights and equality.

The idea of universal fundamental and human rights based on human dignity and to be granted regardless of origin, race, sex or religion etc. was introduced to politics and incorporated in the goals of progressive movements and in the texts of modern constitutions.

Documents of the French Revolution and the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America did pioneer work in that regard.

The 20th century was characterized by movements towards the political equality of human beings.

In 1918 and 1919 Germany, Austria and other European countries introduced women’s active and passive right to vote.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations was passed in 1948 and the European Human Rights Convention followed five years later in 1953.

In the last 50 years the question of equal rights for women and men is less a legal question, but a question of practice and reality.

More and more legal regulations in politics, economy and society seek to decrease the gap between theoretical equality and practical discrimination of women.

A central initiative for that purpose are the Sustainable Development Goals, especially with Goal 5 for Gender Equality.

Global initiatives against the discrimination of women and for women’s empowerment bring people together to raise awareness.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

History shows that we have come a long way. We achieved a lot but there remains a lot that is to be done.

It is estimated that an alarming 1 in 3 women globally will suffer from violence during their lifetime. Violence against women continues to persist and to pose an extreme obstacle to their ability to live in dignity and to their general well-being.

In the political sphere, female heads of states or heads of government are somewhat present but continue to be a very rare minority.

We need more women in parliaments and as political leaders because politics concerns women as much as it concerns men.

To achieve full gender equality in our societies, politics must serve as an example: women belong in leadership positions because we cannot afford to forget the skills and competencies of the female half of our populations.

The economy also demonstrates various aspects in which women are disadvantaged.

In Europe, for instance, women’s salaries are up to one third less than men’s salaries. This must be adjusted and rectified. Fairness and equality mean that women’s work is valued just as much as men’s work.

Europe has made major progress in the field of education.

In the 50s, while I was studying, the percentage of female students was 20%. Then, in the 80s, when I served as the Austrian Minister for Science and Research, more than a third of all students were female.

Today, in Austria, women make up over 50% of all students and this also goes for many other European States.

Men have a clear advantage over women when it comes to university professor positions, showing the obstacles that women face to access leadership positions.

Women’s empowerment must also be regarded as a global issue and put into the bigger picture. It is a key to peace, to eliminating all forms of violence, and to enable families, communities, and nations to thrive

Today, it is particularly interesting to us that we shed light on the advancement of women’s empowerment in the State of Kuwait.

Preparing for this visit, I learned that when it comes to women’s empowerment in the region of the Gulf states and even the whole Middle East, Kuwait has an indeed pioneering role.

Women in Kuwait are amongst the most emancipated in the whole region.

Especially the last 50 years brought significant change for women in Kuwait. Women’s political rights are increasingly respected, giving us hope that we are on the right path.

The General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development of Kuwait is the entity in charge of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and thus, also of Goal Number 5.

Under the directorship of Khaled A. Mahdi, the Secretariat has been keen on implementing the Global Goals.

Today’s Symposium on Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship reflects this commendable ambition and gives us the chance to discuss the steps that have been done already to make this world a more peaceful and prosperous place for all.

Thanks to you and your Secretariat, experts from around the world are gathered here today to exchange ideas and concrete action plans to implement the SDGs and promote the concept of Global Citizenship.

My deep appreciation also goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Ahmad Al Sabah who are generously hosting today’s third Board Meeting of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.

Our good friend, his Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi has been a committed and generous Board member of the Ban Ki-moon Centre right from the very beginning and is a great partner for all initiatives to foster women’s empowerment. We are very grateful for your support.

We are looking forward to intensifying our work with Kuwait and in particular with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and to identifying further opportunities for cooperation.

Let us unite our efforts to reach the great and important goal, namely equal rights and chances for men and women globally in our present world.

Thank you very much.

 

Three Young Refugee Women Share Their Inspirational Stories at the BKMC

A multimedia event on “Global Citizenship in a Time of War” organized by Heather Wokusch, an educator who works in the field of women and youth empowerment through education and promotes the SDGs, was hosted at the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens on September 27th, 2018. Having gained international attention while addressing the plight of refugees, three young refugee women shared their experiences and inspirational stories during the event.

  • Nour Barakeh: With a background spanning scientific studies and artistic work, she supports the establishment of sustainable educational projects focused on empowering people to transcend the effects of war. She wrote a theater piece “Not Our Fate” that has been recently performed at European Forum Alpbach as well as at the Weltmuseum Wien hosted by Österreichisches Parlament. She also acted in the play herself.
  • Dooa Al Zamel: She is one of a few survivals from crossing the dangerous #sea from Syria to Europe relying on a boat filled with hundreds of migrants most of whom were killed when attackers sank the vessel. While surviving days alone at sea, Al Zamel also saved the life of an infant and became the subject of a best-selling book “A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea.”
  • Suad Mohamed: From Somalia, she has lived in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, and Austria. She speaks five languages and is currently learning her sixth: German. As a pharmacist, Mohamed works as an Assistant Consultant in the Österreichisches Rotes Kreuz and as an interpreter at Diakonie Österreich. Her aims are to spread awareness about refugee and migration issues, to improve the healthcare and pharmaceutical systems in developing countries, and to empower women.

An excerpt of the video “Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey” was screened during the event to show a journey of Rania Mustafa Ali who filmed her flee from Syria to Austria. On the way, Ali was cheated by smugglers, teargassed and beaten at the Macedonian border. She also risked drowning in the Mediterranean, travelling in a boat meant to hold 15 people but stuffed with 52. Mustafa was also supposed to deliver keynote at the Centre’s event but could not make it due to unexpected flight issues.

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler delivered welcome remarks and also facilitated a Q&A session. Guests from various different sectors such as media, international organization, NGO, etc actively involved themselves in the conversations on the refugee crisis and sought for ways to solve the global issue and to empower those in need of help. A ‘female empowerment’ segment of a video filmed during the European Forum Alpbach capturing “Not Our Fate” was also screened and touched the audience.

Watch the full video of Rania’s Odyssey here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDHwt-ooAi4

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon gets awarded “Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Leadership Award”

“I believe that we all share a common destiny. We are all in this together. There’s not a single country or single individual, however powerful and however resourceful, that can do it alone. We all have to work together. We have to pool our wisdom and energy. So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s work together to make this world better. And I count on your leadership and global vision,”
said Ban Ki-moon, Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens at the “Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Leadership Award” ceremony hosted by The Asia Foundation on September 11th, 2018.

The annual award honors the legacy of the late Dr. Chang-Lin Tien, an immigrant from Asia who rose to become a prominent engineer, educator, and internationalist, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, and chair of The Asia Foundation’s board of trustees. Co-chair Ban received the award from Chang-Lin Tien’s son, Dr. Norman Tien.

Ban was presented with the Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Leadership Award in recognition of his leadership in international development. He accepted the honor before political leaders, philanthropists, diplomats, and heads of business in San Francisco, the US.

During the ceremony, Ban added, “The Asia Foundation’s ongoing commitment to strengthening local communities and organizations, as well as empowering women and young people like the development fellows here, is harmonious with what I have just said. Indeed, these impactful efforts will secure better outcomes for Asia and our world. And the leadership and memory of Chang-Lin Tien is fully in line with these values and this spirit.”

Read more about the event and the speech here: https://asiafoundation.org/…/ban-ki-moon-accepts-chang-lin…/

Source & Photo by the Asia Foundation

Women Mediators Networks: Connecting for Inclusive Peace-making

As regional women mediator networks have emerged around the world, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution, and the Peace Research Institute Oslo organized a meeting with these networks from Africa, Mediterranean Sea, ASEAN and different regions of the world in Oslo, Norway in March 2018.

The Ban Ki-moon Centre participated and learnt from the expertise of the OSCE, the EU, the UN DPA Mediation Support Unit and many others. The meeting was to discuss cooperation and the possible establishment of a global alliance of women mediators. Now a video on the importance of building a global network said by the women mediators is available online.

“If we connect all the mediating networks, we can pull resources; we can exchange best practices; we can reinforce each other.”

  • Magda Zenon, Mediterranean Women Mediators Network (MWMN)

“All of us are different levels of development, different levels of violence, and different levels of peace. Women have been working in isolation for a number of years, but now we are realizing that we should be working together. And having a network like this brings together the women from all works of life on the continent to bring about peace and security, and stability.”

  • Stella Sabiiti, FemWise-Africa

“I think the networks that have been created over the last few years are incredibly important, and the reason is that they are linking together with each other, they are sharing good practice and experience, but also they are building a movement. And that is about insuring that mediators and member states know that women have this experience. They have this impact, and we need to look at their access to this process.”

  • Nahla Valji, Senior Gender Advisor Executive Office of UN SG

“[It is important] that different networks know about each other and that you can use women from across the globe in different mediation efforts.”

  • Hilde Salvesen, Nordic Women Mediators

Source: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/WY5vWfNKYS/files/fi-0a8250db-ee49-43a4-8c04-f187a56fcda2/fv-fd4d1fcb-6caf-4ebb-82c4-be119ec41e1d/0610_Noref1_v6.mp4

Women Mediator’s Networks Meeting in Oslo: Connecting for Inclusive Peace-Making

This past March 2018, the CEO of the Ban Ki-moon Centre Monika Froehler participated in the inaugural meeting of regional women mediators’ networks in Oslo, Norway. The gathering brought together members from the already established womens’ networks, including the Nordic Women Mediators Network (est. 2015), FemWise-Africa (est. 2017), and the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network (est. 2017). They were joined by representatives from the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Advisory Board on Mediation and UN entities including the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, the Department of Political Affairs and UN Women. In addition, representatives from the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as members of the Commonwealth Secretariat, civil society and academia, took part in the meeting to discuss the vital role of women in peace processes.

17 years have passed since the adaption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Since its adaption, the positive and decisive role played by women in peace processes has been widely acknowledged by the international community. The inclusion of women has been shown to be crucial, not only in matters of women’s rights, but also to improve operational effectiveness, build resilience, prevent and resolve conflicts, and to sustain peace. Despite this widespread knowledge supported by evidence and robust research, women remain drastically underrepresented in peace and security talks.

The gathering discussed ways to increase the representation of women in peace and security processes. The Nordic Women Mediators Network hosted the meeting along with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution (NOREF), and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, UN Under-Secretary-General Ana Maria Menendez, Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee, and former UN Under-Secretarty-General Noeleen Heyzer, all spoke at the event.

All attendees agreed to continue working together to promote the inclusion of women in peace processes by seeking-out synergies and looking into the option of creating a global network of women mediators. As a first step towards the goal of creating an alliance of regional women mediator networks, an initial contact group was formed.

Summarizing the goals and aspirations of the group, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Søreide stated,
“It is my hope that this initiative will contribute to progress in this field, and that the next reports of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security will show an increase in women’s participation in mediation, and an increase in women’s influence in peace processes.”

International Women’s Day 2018

March 8th is the International Women’s Day (IWD), a day to celebrate and empower women by reflecting on progress made in education, economics, politics, business, and many other aspects of society and calling for more changes to take a bigger step closer to gender parity. The Ban Ki-moon Centre works for empowering women as global citizens within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Women hold up more than half the sky and represent much of the world’s unrealized potential. They are the educators. They raise the children. They hold families together and increasingly drive economies. They are natural leaders. We need their full engagement … in government, business and civil society,” said former UNSG Ban Ki-moon.

Though there have been significant improvements achieved, unequal treatments and norms against women in different places still continue to exist. Such restrictions emasculate women, and it requires efforts from all people regardless of their gender and synergy from varied organizations, institutes, governments, and media to make further changes. It is not solely women’s or a single entity’s responsibility to make a progress, but everyone’s as a world-renowned feminist journalist and social and political activist

Gloria Steinem points out, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Following the #PressforProgress campaign by the IWD, Women at the UN – Accountability Buddy Network (WUNABN) hosted a conference in Vienna, Austria today to actively engage women in exchanging their experiences of achieving gender parity and to give out practical know-hows on job applications, interviews, and how to find the right path in their career plan. Find more information on their website: https://wunabn.org/womens-day-2018/conference

The IWD thus brings everyone, every entity, and every country together to celebrate the day and to make a progress from individual level to governmental and from local level to global. As the world has witnessed empowerment being contagious with butterfly effect for the past century, one can hope that soon the IWD will be celebrated with reflections on achievements without any need for a call to action. Watch the UN Women’s inspirational video on International Women’s Day 2018: “The Time is Now” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXCnHvQzoOU

Source: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

Photo: UN Photo by Ky Chung