What Textiles, Wars and Earthquakes Have in Common

labores-patchworkOver 30.000 people displaced between August and October in the Centre of Italy due to several earthquakes, whose tremors are still threatening the life of its inhabitants. Experts asserted October 30th quake has been the strongest in 35 years, registering a 6.6 on the Richter scale.

One is man-made, the other is an uncontrollable – although predictable – phenomenon; both wars and earthquakes provoke victims and/or people’s displacements and do urge a quick and effective response. Not only at emergency level though. Continue reading

Project Inspire 2015: Progress for Women is Progress for All

Project Inspire 2015

Project Inspire 2015

“A new economic agenda will not only make the economy work for women, but also benefit the majority of men. Progress for women is progress for all.”

– UN Women Flagship Report “Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016”

As the international community is poised to agree on the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is a strong and growing global consensus on the need to achieve gender equality. While we have to acknowledge the significant strides made towards this goal, we have to also focus on where we need to redouble our efforts to achieve substantive equality and the realization of human rights for all women and girls.

To educate girls is to reduce poverty.

Now in its fifth edition, Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World seeks to highlight the efforts of entrepreneurial women in the less advantaged global regions and celebrates five years of supporting social entrepreneurs around the world. This is done in the hopes of emphasizing the right of all women and girls to a good job with equal pay and safe working conditions, which in the medium to long run should be brought into consideration during economic policymaking. Through Project Inspire, we hope that the increased support would enable these women to provide enough income to support a decent, sustainable standard of living for themselves and their families.

Little girls with dreams become women with vision.

Little girls with dreams become women with vision.

Previous notable projects have been those such as the 2014 Runner-up, Riverkids Project, which provides counselling, healthcare and vocational training for Cambodian sex workers, so they can transition out of the sex industry, and run their own small business; and the 2014 People’s Choice, Sinag Store Project, where financially disadvantaged girl students will gain marketable design skills and experience first-hand how to use those skills to launch a social enterprise project.

Launched in 2011 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 25th anniversary of MasterCard in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, “Project Inspire: 5 minutes to Change the World” is a global challenge that presents 18-35 year olds with a 5-minute platform to pitch their inspired idea to the world.

The fastest way to change society is to mobilise women of the world.

The fastest way to change society is to mobilise women of the world.

With a US$25,000 Grand Prize and US$10,000 Runner-Up Prize on offer to make their idea a reality, Project Inspire 2015 will take on the theme of ‘Technology or Design for Economic Empowerment’. Applicants will be asked to demonstrate how they use design or technology as a tool in the work they are doing to enable and empower women economically throughout Asia, the Pacific, Middle East & Africa.

As part of the youth community, let us take a stand and continue to support these youth initiatives and the projects and women that they support during the crowdfunding period. The Grand Finals will be held in Singapore on November 13, 2015. For more information, please go to http://www.ProjInspire.com.

The Balkan Floods Aftermath: Have the Institutions Done Their Job? No, They Should Learn From This for the Future

Floods in Brcko, Bosnia

Photo: Floods in Brcko, Bosnia; theguardian.com

It has been over a month since the catastrophic floods that hit Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia.

The water has receded but it left behind many problems, some of them classic for big floods – such as destroyed houses and farms, risks of sewer contamination, lack of drinking water; and some of them specific to the region – such as fields full of landmines still left from the Yugoslav civil war where the water has potentially moved the mines or removed warning signs thereby putting people at mine danger[1]. Some of the problems, however, seem to be purely institutional.

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Model United Nations must grow into the role of a simulation of the UN

WMUN1

Photo: Delegates at Harvard WorldMUN 2014. Rima-Maria Rahal

At ModelUN, we simulate the United Nations. A ModelUN conference is a hands-on way to learn how international relations work, how to behave as a diplomat, and – wherever you see your career path take you – a golden opportunity to learn how to be a global leader. After all, slipping into the role of a diplomat to a UN body not only requires you to put your knowledge of current affairs, international relations and the mechanics of being a diplomat into action while aiming to represent your nation’s views to your best ability. Being a MUNer also means trying to cut deals that are not only good for you, but good for the simulated international community as a whole, crafting your own network of cooperators and pulling through intrigue and competition.

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Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia hit by the worst floods in 120 years – millions displaced, billions in damages

Floods in Orasje, Bosnia

Photo: The Guardian

Zagreb, Croatia – Tuesday, May 20, 2014: Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Serbia, as well as parts of Croatia, have been hit by the worst floods in 120 years after more than 3 months’ worth of rain fell on the region in just a few days last week. This is the worst weather catastrophe to hit the region in over a century. The numbers are still changing hourly, but as of now, over a million people have been displaced, forced to flee their homes with little or no belongings, grasping to save their bare lives, and their children. On top of that, many of these people are farmers who live off of the land and have just lost their entire livelihoods in just a few days.

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Wanted: fresh views and participation

UNYANET Representatives at Palais des Nations, Geneva, in May 2013

UNYANET Representatives at Palais des Nations, Geneva, in May 2013

Having followed various meetings on the field of disarmament at the UN in Geneva during the spring 2013, I was surprised by the amount of times that the youth and especially the need for fresh views at the UN were mentioned. The issue actually came up in more informal occasions but still within the official discussions of for example the Meeting of National Directors on Mine Action and a seminar on Military Spending organized by the International Peace Bureau. And even if I call the speakers vaguely by ”one speaker” or ”someone”, these people were influential personalities within Geneva disarmament context, which makes it even more impressive: These people take a moment from their super busy schedule to promote the inclusion of youth!

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Youth Unemployment

UN Photo/Jean Pierre Laffont

UN Photo/Jean Pierre Laffont

Youth unemployment. This is one of the major concerns for young people all over the world today, especially in the countries going through major economic crises.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are 75 million youths looking for jobs around the world today [1]. However, it is not only unemployment that is affecting our fellow youngsters across the world.  The precarious conditions in which they work involve low salaries and long hours, with interns feeling lucky to be paid since the increase of unpaid internships in which one works as a slave with only a “thank you” and a whisper from the boss hoping that this job will help you find better future opportunities.  How are we, the younger generation, supposed to survive in a society ruled by plutocracy (money) if we cannot get a job?

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Belfast: The Microcosm of Northern Irish Dispute

Photo: Peter Kumer

Photo: Peter Kumer

To an average daily visitor Belfast is like any other British city. Tourists like to take part in one of the walking tours through city centre to have a glance at some of the most prominent works of Edwardian and Victorian architecture. After the shopping at Victoria Square it is essential to stop at Titanic Quarter to see the slipways where the “Unsinkable” was originally constructed. On the way to the most famous Northern Irish attraction, The Giant’s Causeway, only few decide to drive through Falls Road to see the murals on International Wall. But only a handful of people are aware of the real history of Belfast.

They drive to the suburbs to understand the extent of the ethnic conflict that has shaped the city. Most visitors are unaware of what makes Belfast special. It is one of the few, if not the only city, in the western World that is considered almost entirely ethnically divided.

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