Unlocking Technology’s Potential: the Social Good Summit 2017

Every September, the world’s leaders gather together at the United Nations to debate on the world’s most pressing issues and present their points of view to the world for a week. This year, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is focusing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, which were adopted in 2015.  

One of the biggest events of the week is The Social Good Summit, which is held annually. It’s goal is to bring together a community of global citizens and progressive leaders to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. This year, the Social Good Summit will focus on how we can use technology to achieve these goals and make the world a better place. The Summit is particularly special this year because it’s the first global virtual summit exploring social innovation, disruptive technology, and the power of mobilizing networks to address some of today’s most challenging issues.

Since Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, the Summit will include a panel on Women in Activism with Carmen Perez, Executive Director of The Gathering for Justice. She is the co-founder of Justice League NYC and founder of Justice League CA, two state-based task forces for advancing criminal justice reform agenda. She has organized numerous national campaigns and protests, including Growing Up Locked Down conferences and the March2Justice. She’s currently the National Co-Chair of the Women’s March on Washington.

In total, the Summit selected 33 women to speak throughout the event, from artists to CEOs to activists. The fact that more than half of the speakers are women (there are 28 male speakers) already shows the UN’s commitment to gender equality by implementing this principle in their own event.

I’m certainly looking forward to what will be said throughout the Summit about how to achieve gender equality by 2030. Being able to hear from so many empowered women will surely be empowering to those of us in the audience who are at the beginning of our careers and trying to find a way to make a difference in the world. I’m looking forward to being inspired by these world leaders to do my part for my community.

If you’re interested in being part of the global conversation online, here’s the Facebook event

Women In Politics: Moving From the Periphery Toward Peace, Justice, & Strong Institutions

With our sights and Twitter feeds plugged into #2030NOW, the UN has amplified not only the Sustainable Development Goals but also asked us to consider the world we want to live in in 2030. Regardless of our political affiliations, government is highly influential in shaping our world and governance is reflective of societal norms and power dynamics. A low representation of women in government does not lend itself to the inclusive, transparent, and just governance systems we have pledged to achieve by 2030 via Sustainable Development Goal 16, which calls for Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

In excluding women from government, women’s preferences, voices, and citizenship are all disempowered. However, women advocates, UN organizations and others have stepped up and voiced these concerns and are actively working to increase female participation in government.

For example, UN Women’s primary goal is to empower women and girls and has used the platform of Goal 16 to elevate the importance of transparent, inclusive governance in empowerment. Their solution involves developing the capacity to conduct gender analysis, monitoring systems to track good governance and women in government and collecting adequate sex disaggregated data to assess gender equality and empowerment in nations around the world.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark spoke on increased government transparency for the betterment of women in September: “Advancing SDG 16 helps advance progress on all the other goals as effective institutions are central, for example, to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership.”

Clark herself has held a number of positions in government, not only as the head of UNDP, but also as the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand, and a forerunner in the appointment of the next UN Secretary General. At the +SocialGood Summit, Clark spoke on her Secretary General aspirations with fellow female leader, Former President of Malawi Joyce Banda, “There is a job to be done here. That is going to take leadership and someone with a profile like mine. So I am standing my ground and hoping that I can be the one to get it done.”

Helen Clark’s confidence in her abilities and pursuit of leadership positions inspires young girls and women globally. Seventeen-year-old Sarah Gulley, New Zealand native, is inspired by Clark. As a young person, and girl advocate Ms. Gulley hopes women politicians be criticized for their politics rather their hair, hemlines and husbands, and in shifting the dialogue around women in politics young girls are inclined to become politically active and aware.

Rwanda has the highest percentage of female politicians with 64% of the Lower House and 39% of the Upper House, and one of only two countries with greater than 50% female participation in government. The First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, however, believes female participation is necessary in not only the politics but also the economics of government, saying,

“A global female leader, perhaps correctly, stated, ‘too many women, in too many countries speak the same language: silence.’ We see several girls lacking confidence, preferring to remain on the periphery of economic progress.”

Kagame has further refuted that economic success be hindered because of African culture, and stressed the importance of employing economic opportunities for female empowerment.

Former U.S.  Secretary of State Madeline K. Albright, famously said, “Every country deserves to have the best possible leader and that means that women have to be given a chance to compete. If they’re never allowed to compete in the electoral process then the countries are really robbing themselves of a great deal of talent.”

As a girl interested in politics, I of course hope to see more women and girls become political leaders. And by 2030, I do not doubt that we will have the first female leader of America, the UN, and all other major countries, but I am concerned that they will be the first and also the last. Besides electing women to politics, I hope we continue to inspire and empower young women and girls to becoming female leaders.

For us to achieve the objectives of Goal 16 and transform our government into transparent, inclusive institutions by 2030 we must empower young girls to be involved in every level of politics. And with the guidance of a generation of formidable female leaders like Madeline Albright, Jeanette Kagame, Helen Clark and many others, we can achieve #2030NOW.

Young Leaders and Johnson & Johnson Work Together to Reach Global Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require a lot of commitment and hard work, and young leaders have an essential role in making them a success. The private sector also has a big role to play, and many companies have already settled ambitious and specific plans on how to work with the SDGs. One of these companies is Johnson & Johnson – a private sector leader in advancing the health and rights of women and children around the world. For this year’s United Nations General Assembly, Johnson & Johnson invited young leaders from all over the world to inspire and lead for change.

Young leaders from Nepal, USA and Zambia speak what everyone can do to make a change in their communities and lead for a successful outcome of the SDGs by 2030.

In this next video, we get an insight into Johnson & Johnson’s plans and how companies can work efficiently and in partnership towards far-reaching goals.

Read more about Johnson & Johnson’s 2030 Promise here.

Girls’ Globe is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson to provide coverage during the Global Citizen Festival and to share the stories of the Young Leaders who are participating in the activities in New York. 

Featured photo credit: Sarah North / Girls’ Globe

Innovation & Partnership to Advance Global Goals in Health

It takes a little bit of innovation and creativity to use the same tools to solve a gray haired problem. Shirley Bejarano, Graduate Research Assistant at University of South Florida ,shared her thoughts on the various ways that innovation and technology have helped healthcare workers complete their jobs in a more culturally conclusive manner.

While chatting she highlighted the use of technology to track certain infectious diseases as well as aid in the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV.

Technological advances are present in almost every aspect of our lives, but they are so crucial in the global public health field. Health workers in rural areas are now able to use mobile applications to receive up to date information which in turn leads to healthier and happier patients. So our phones are more than Twitter tools and Instagram incubators they are amazing tools for change.

Johnson & Johnson and Caring Crowd provide funding for a unique combination of purpose based services.  Countless individuals throughout the world are able to help combat the spread of infectious diseases, provide quality maternal care and identify viruses as well as various other health related activities.

Girls’ Globe is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson to provide coverage during the Global Citizen Festival and to share the stories of the Young Leaders who are participating in the activities in New York. 

Featured image by Wynter Oshiberu.

Sisterhood Unfulfilled: How all the Eggs Ended up in Her Basket

This is the second blog post of a three part series: Written by Abby Tseggai

It was a beautiful summer morning as Fana and her older brother, Kifle, skipped to their neighboring town, happy, emitting a love that siblings who suffered together feel.

It was now two years since the stillbirth of the little sister Fana wanted so badly. On a brighter side, it was two years that solidified an unbreakable bond between Fana and her big brother. They were getting ready for another big change –Kifle would soon be moving to America to complete his senior year of high school with the hope of attending college there too. Fana and Kifle did not have any immediate blood-cousins, and since Kifle was the only living boy, their parents put all their eggs in his basket, to use a popular expression. They expected him to nurture their family name and legacy, and therefore encouraged his quest to attain a better education, far away from their homeland, Eritrea.

It was always Kifle’s responsibility to pick up fresh eggs for their family every Saturday morning, and that summery Saturday morning was no different. Knowing that her big brother would soon be leaving, Fana wanted to take advantage of all the memories they could create, so she happily joined him. One mile into their journey to the market, they decided to race. Much to their surprise, Fana won. Basking in the glory of her victory, Fana did not realize her brothers cough was abnormal. Kifle did not think anything of it either. He stopped running and skipping and took the opportunity in that time, to express to Fana the anxiousness and fear about moving to a foreign land so soon. Fana joked it off. “Shut up! You are lucky,” she said.

The whole next day, Sunday, Kifle didn’t feel well, but didn’t bring the weak feeling he was experiencing to his parents’ attention. On Monday morning at school, Kifle’s teacher found Fana in the courtyard where the students ate lunch and told her that her brother was not feeling well and that she needed her help getting in contact with their parents.

Fana did not panic initially, forgetting all about how badly he was coughing during their race. She assumed he must have had a tummy ache or headache. She did not understand the severity of his teachers concern until the teacher said “You need to leave right now and bring your parents to the school immediately. “ In a panic now, Fana told the teacher that their father was in another country and that her mom was probably home, in which the teacher responded with “Ok, run home and bring her here quickly.”

She ran as fast as she could. Sadly Kifle died from pneumonia the following day. Never in a million years could Fana imagine, that the Saturday prior would be her last, amazing day with her brother. The last time she’d ever be someone’s sister. Her parents responded to the tremendous agony of losing another child – the fourth child they’d have to bury — by now placing all the eggs in Fana’s basket instead. The opportunity to attain an education in America to nurture her family’s legacy was now her duty to pursue. People in Fana’s village and some of her family had a difficult time respecting her parents’ decision; sending a girl to a foreign land was frowned upon.

This was a time in history where gender roles were very traditional and girls were raised to be women whose sole responsibility was to become great mothers and caregivers to the elderly. Education was an investment made in boys, so they could become the financial support for their families. Fana was the first girl amongst her peers to be afforded the same opportunity as the boys.

The irony that hindered her healing is she was only given the opportunity due to an infection that sacrificed her last sibling’s life.   Pneumonia is most common in younger children, particularly under the age 2; however adolescents may experience other constitutional symptoms, such as headaches and abdominal pain. Fana now, understood the same anxiety and fear Kifle tried to talk to her about. She never said, “Shut up” again.


Cover Photo Credit: Manzur Fahim, Flickr 




Integrated Development: A Response for Women & HIV

Sub-Saharan Africa is presently the most severely affected region by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to the UNAIDS GAP Report, of the total population of 36.7 million living with HIV or AIDS globally, 19 million (seven out of every ten people) live in Eastern and Sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women accounting for one in four new HIV infections in the region, therefore, every day in Sub-Saharan Africa 1000 girls and young women are infected with HIV.

South Africa, in particular, has one of the fastest growing rates of HIV infections in the world with an estimated 6.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2015, an increase from 5.4 million in 2014. A high proportion of young people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa are young women and adolescents aged 15-24, where 2000 new infections are reported from this vulnerable and at-risk population group every week.  HIV/AIDS also continues to be the highest leading cause of death amongst women and adolescents around the world. Failure to address the needs of women and girls living with and without HIV/AIDS in a holistic, comprehensive, coordinated and monitored manner, the global, regional and national health community will continue to be challenged in successfully accomplishing the overall mandate of reducing new HIV infections, HIV-related stigma and discrimination by 2030. Therefore, integrative development approaches to combating HIV/AIDS amongst women and girls is a key plausible solution to responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic to fast-track and accelerate efforts to ending HIV/AIDS by 2030. Below are eight approaches to help ensure success in reaching the most women and girls possible.

  • A combination of prevention approaches tailored for women are vital, to predispose people to engage in unsafe behaviours. The tailored package can be presented to the target group in the form of a portable, easily accessible and readily available technological device.
  • HIV related deaths result in financial difficulties and its burden to the lack of affordability of basic health care services, eventually leading to poverty, HIV/AIDS and poverty eradication should be given a specific task to tackle.
  • Lack of access to education is a deterrent for women when making informed decisions about SRH issues. Knowledge and awareness play a significant role in impacting on skills and behaviour, which have the ability to address gender inequality barriers, stigma and discrimination amongst vulnerable women and those not in education, training or employment.
  • Inequalities have an impact on sexual behaviour – impacting on health care, information, education – these economic and social inequalities put women at risk of engaging in exploitative sexual relationships, which put them at risk of contracting new HIV infections
  • 19 million people living HIV, around the world do not know their positive status. HIV/AIDS remains dormant for several years and asymptotic in the beginning stages, which allows for significant disease progression to go undetected and lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Therefore populations with higher counts of infected persons have to be capacitated and incentivised with information, to respond to early detection and treatment of the disease, to foster a longer and healthier life.
  • Mainstreaming HIV programs across sectors and industries to reach out to working women in various areas, nation and continental wide. The programs need to be cross-cutting and inclusive.
  • HIV program funding institutions funding organisations responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic need to concretely integrate sexual and reproductive health services with HIV testing, prevention and care.
  • HIV prevention, treatment, support, care and testing have to prioritize evidence-based strategies to monitor and evaluate impact, to ultimately reduce risk amongst women. Age appropriate and situation adherence to offering comprehensive sex education for women irrespective of age, ethnicity and beliefs, testing, counselling, support and care measures need to be institutionalized

“An AIDS-free generation is not something we can create, an AIDS-free generation is something we must empower young people to become and remain” – Charlize Theron (UN General Assembly High level Meeting on Ending AIDS, 2016)

Want to learn more? Follow #EndHIV4Her.


Cover Photo Credit: Dominic Chavez/World Bank, Flickr Creative Commons