This briefing is a first in a series of conversations on the priority and emerging themes of the Commission on the Status for Women (CSW65). The series, titled Women and Girls: Resilience and Strength for Gender Equality, aims beyond CSW65 discussions on issues that affect women and children, especially adolescent girls. Bringing into focus topics that impede the empowerment and full participation of women and girls in society, this inaugural conversation features discussants that will take a deeper dive into the challenges and opportunities and dialogue with participants towards solutions.
Organized in collaboration with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, Women on Film and Audiovisual Media of Spain, CIMA, NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, ManUp Campaign & Global Family
26 March 2021
9 - 11 a.m. EDT
Watch the Dialogue Breakout Rooms on YouTube
Introduction and Welcome
Kathryn Good serves as head of the Non-governmental Liaison Service and facilitates civil society participation in high-level UN conferences and events, ensuring a transparent and inclusive process for engagement. Prior to this role, she served as Chief of Unit for Group Programmes and Public Inquiries, in the Department of Global Communications, overseeing the UN Speakers Bureau, the Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalists Fellowship Programme, and visit.un.org and worked as the head of the English Language and Communications Programme in the Office of Human Resource Management. Prior to joining the UN, Kathryn Good was Director of International Programs at Brown University for ten years. She holds Master’s Degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Boston University and earned her B.A. from the University of Richmond.
Dialogue 1: Women's Safety and Access to Healthcare
Dr. Connie Sobon Sensor is a professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA. She currently represents the League of Women Voters of the United States as a UN Observer. Dr. Sensor earned a PhD from Seton Hall University, a Masters in Nursing Management from Kean University, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from New Jersey City University. She has presented locally, nationally and internationally about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Leadership in Global Health, and her research about health-related beliefs, practices and experiences of migrant populations.
Mary Muia, a Soroptimist International UN Rep, UNEA Nairobi. Kenya Public Health & Social Entrepreneur. Mary is a 2019 Evolution Business Council (EB)C Membership Award nominee as an emerging global leader and is the first EBC member in Africa. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya East Africa region. Mary is passionate about environment, climate change, gender equality, food security, water and sanitation. She champions for rights and access to adolescents and youth reproductive health, family planning, maternal neonatal child health and access to basic services and livelihoods for women and girls living in informal settlements and rural settings. Mary is a founder director of WEMA, a community-based organization working to transform the lives of adolescent girls and young women to access education, prevent gender-based violence, early child marriages, teenage pregnancies, female genital mutilation (FGM), and other harmful practices through social entrepreneurship and economic resiliency initiatives. My vision is to influence as a speaker, trainer, and coach in leadership as a tool to empower those working with girls and young women in vulnerable environments in Africa. A Soroptimist, wife and a mother, Mary is the Immediate past Chair and President who helped bring Soroptimist International Africa Federation (SIAF) to its inauguration in June 2020, following many years of its formation journey. Mary was recently appointed to serve as a director for Soroptimist International (SI) Board starting January 2021.
Professor Gabrielle Casper is a Sydney Gynaecologist with a special interest in women’s health and human rights including violence against women. She is President of International Health Awareness Network and Past President of Medical Women’s International Association. Professor Casper is Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Medicine, Sydney, The University of Notre Dame Australia and Past Chairman of the NSW State Committee of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). She has undertaken projects with the World Health Organisation and United Nations and cares for her patients with compassion and understanding while advocating to improve women’s health in Australia and overseas.
Dr Claire Fotheringham is an Obstetrician Gynaecologist who first worked for Médecins Sans Frontières in Sierra Leone in 2011-2012. Claire subsequently completed a Masters in International Public Health, followed by assignments in MSF projects in Afghanistan and Democratic Republic of Congo. She subsequently worked as women’s health advisor for MSF. Today Claire is based in Sydney, leading a unit within the Operational Centre Paris Medical Department dedicated to providing medical support and strategic advice on women’s health, paediatrics and neonatal care, sexual violence and nursing care in Médecins Sans Frontières field projects.
Dialogue 2: Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality
Chaste stood up against the common paradox and quit the stereotype mindset when he became Mr. Padman, launched a platform on the controversial topic “Menarche, Adolescent’s girls and their single father”, which is quite a taboo in our society. Chaste does whatever he can to learn and grow from the one who has already been hardened, working with Rotaract Club of the UN, Joining Community Advocates in Harlem, Days of Girl International, Freedom Foundation, Man Up Campaign, Wikimedia Foundation, Afrocrowd, Climate Reality and the United Nations to raise the voice for the Menstrual Movement to end the period poverty using digital means and Photography as a tool for change.
Period poverty is a global issue, even women in the developed countries like US, Canada and Sweden face the same. He spearheaded an organization named “Padbanque” that distributed 5K sanitary pads with the joint activity of Women Deliver Conference held in Vancouver and Wikimania in Stockholm.
Speaking of the vicious time of COVID-19 breakout when everyone was trying to strive for himself, Chaste stuck to his vision to end the global problem of period poverty and strived for a better future for the entire world. Currently, as a member of Public Relation Society of America, he is working with Black Business on “Made in America '' campaign alongside his loving wife on Fotokopy and Padbanque.
As Executive Director, he vows to continue to activate and encourage the global youth of all gender to end gender-based violence by actively supporting the movement for gender equality, inclusiveness, and opportunity and addressing the root causes of gender-based violence. He believes a change in the outcomes for women & girls globally will change the world for the better as no other cause that one can make. In his personal life and most important role, father of a daughter, a leader and mentor of youth, and advocate for over 26 years in the areas of social justice and non-violence, he views this vow as a personal and daily responsibility. Fred has worked with NGO's on initiatives for peace, gender, youth leadership, environment, application, and access to technology and non-violence issues. He had the fortune to information architect and developed the website for The Coalition for the International Criminal Court. Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan attributed the website as one of the key factors that facilitated the International Criminal Court Treaty after 100 years of effort. Fred has also worked with other NGOs, including the Hague Appeal for Peace, the People's Millennium Assembly at the UN, and the preparation conferences on Rio +20. Recently on activities at the UN include a key role in creating official establishing youth participation in CSW with 2016, 2017 Youth Forums and inclusion in the Final Conclusions, and in following youth dialogues. See more
Since the age of nine, Wantoe has championed the rights of women and children and has been one of Liberia’s prime faces for global sustainability and youth development. He is a passionate and dedicated young man driven by social causes. His listening and communication skills allow him to influence and mobilize young people, his community and decision makers. He is compassionate, always interested in other people’s views, and shimmering on how he can lead his life to improve the lives of others. His Leadership and commitment to solving deep systemic change is not hidden. Wantoe is a consistent voice at articulating policy prescription for the plethora of crises in Liberia. Evidence of his impeccable leadership and commitment to solving societal issues, Wantoe was awarded as a 2020 Friend of Humanity Distinguished Alumni Award Distinguished Alumni Award by the Friendship Ambassador Foundations. In June, he was awarded by a US college in New York, College of Mount Saint Vincent, The Vincent De Paul Award for his contribution to global enlightenment, student’s consciousness and systemic change. He is a certified 2019 Obama Foundation Leadership Asset and Dialogue Alumni. In addition, a 2019 Princess Diana Award Recipient Princess Diana Award Recipient, A 2018 Global Young Voices SDGs Champion Winner SDGs Champion Winner And a 2017 FAF Humanitarian Impact Winner Humanitarian Impact Winner among several recognitions. These recognitions landed with numerous impacts in resolving world issues that require his critical leadership skills, teamwork and a deep sense of humanity.
Satta Sheriff is a young Liberian Activist, a UN Young Leader for the SDGs and the Executive Director of Action for Justice and Human Rights. In 2016, she founded Action for Justice and Human Rights (AJHR) to advocate and ensure access to justice and respect for Human Rights in Liberia. Today, AJHR is working to hold the Liberian government accountable to protect Human Rights, advocate against Sexual Gender-Based violence, access to safe space and resources for survivors of sexual abuse.
Recently, she was listed as one of Africa’s 100 Most influential Young Africans by Africa Youth Awards. Ms. Sheriff is a Peace Ambassador of One Young World and a founding member of the Global Youth Leadership Council under Search for Common Ground. At age 16, she was elected first female Speaker of the Liberian Children’s Parliament at which time she advocated and represented the voices of Liberian children at both National and Internationally levels. In 2016, she co-founded the Joint Action Committee on Children (JACC) a national forceful and proactive advocacy group aim at investigating and demanding concert actions and steps to restore social justice for children in Liberia. Last year, she was awarded the Most Prominent Youth Advocate of the year Award and in 2016, as the Most Influential Teen for being a strong voice against injustice and Human Rights violations in Liberia.
Dialogue 3: Ending Violence against Women and Children
Milka Rodriguez is a Dominican American who is passionate about economic development and environmental sustainability initiatives and how they affect marginalized and disadvantaged communities. She has a Master's degree in Sustainability in the Urban Environment from CUNY The City College of New York. At the NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability (MOS) she performs stakeholder engagement and conducts neighborhood needs assessments to improve a building energy efficiency program that will provide technical and financial assistance to building owners to help them save money on energy expenses and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also, she oversees an internship program connecting college students to jobs in the energy sector and does research on increasing workforce education and underrepresented business participation in energy and construction procurement. Moreover, she serves as a Youth Representative and member of the Youth Steering Committee at the UN Department of Global Communications. She was appointed as a member of the youth and intergenerational committee of the Global NGO Executive Committee engaging global NGO's with issues at the forefront of the UN agenda. In the past, she worked at the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and NY Women's Chamber of Commerce providing minority and woman owned business enterprises access to financing, strategic business development, markets, and contracts. Also, she worked with WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a nonprofit, leading a clean heat and energy campaign in Northern Manhattan in coordination with MOS which helped the City surpass sulfur emissions reductions goals.
Founder of Keep Girls Safe Foundation, Namelokai Sein Kina has more than two decades of personal and professional practice in community-based advocacy for the campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic violence, and forced child marriages With various first-hand expertise and experience and operating from a strengths-based social justice perspective, Namelokai has served locally, nationally, and internationally as an advocate, project coordinator for gender-specific programming, and human rights campaigner, working to eliminate FGM. Specifically, she has acted as a forerunner in advancing broad-based community awareness and FGM prevention programming by advocating for an alternative rite of passage in Kenya and passing laws in Kansas and Kenya. Additionally, Namelokai works with multidisciplinary professionals who serve the young people who are subjugated to and who have survived FGM.
Namelokai is the author of a book to be released in August of 2021, A Twist in the Survivor of female genital Mutilation. She hopes that survivors will know that what happened to them doesn't define them and that they are not what happened to them. They are what they decide to do now that they know it's OK not to be OK. Get inspired to create change, learned about the culture of FGM, demand policy change, and survivors will get empowered, know they are not alone, end the stigma, and know there is help to getting their clitoris back. An alum of Wichita State University, Namelokai holds Bachelor's of Arts degrees in Women's Studies and Social Work. She also has a Masters of Arts in Social Work.
Carl Murrell serves as the Principal UN Representative for the United States Baha'i community. He works with civil society organizations on a number of issues including the advancement of women, sustainable development, human rights, interfaith cooperation, and civil society participation in the discourses of society. Previously, Carl worked in the private sector in computer software development and securities investments. His university studies were in psychology and philosophy.
Priyanka Kala is a Producer at Tirkit, founded in 2020, and a Photographer working in multiple productions,including Feature films, Advertising, and WebShows since 2014. She is responsible for creating imagery for Marketing and Publicity purposes. Prior to that, she has been working as a Content Creator & Manager for a Social Media company based out of New Delhi. She has also been involved with Animal welfare Organisations and Himalaya Seva Sangh, an organization that works in the areas of reforestation, water management, and women empowerment in rural Indian areas. She completed her graduation in BSC(h) Zoology from Delhi University, 2007. She has a Diploma degree in dance from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya and in Animation Film Making from Maya Academy.
Dialogue 4: Women's Economic Empowerment
Isabel Raventos is a multimedia executive with 25+ year’s experience in developing and operating broadcasting/content production companies with audiences in 140+ countries across Europe, Latin America, and US. She is a lawyer, journalist, and international media consultant. She holds a Ms. of Science in Broadcasting, Boston University, and International Law and Communication Studies at “The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy” (Tufts/Harvard University). She worked as Deputy Director of RTVE, main public radio and broadcaster in Spain, Director of New Programs of Italian Telecinco/Mediaset Group, and COO of Endemol Spain, Portugal, and Latin-America. She started her own communications and production media company, Atomis Media, where she develops multiplatform and transmedia projects. She is founder and former Vice-President of the Spanish Academy of Sciences of Television of Spain. She is First Vice-President of Women on Film and Audiovisual Media of Spain, CIMA (associated to DGC, United Nations). It is the largest organization working to advance on women equality on film and television in Spain with extensive network in the EU and Latin-America. She has served as Vice-Chairwoman and Member of the Board of WEP, Women Entrepreneurship Platform, based in Brussels, Belgium, for the last three years.
Sharon Higgins is a results-oriented financial professional with demonstrated expertise in financial analysis, commercial financing, and risk management. She has more than fifteen years of commercial lending and underwriting experience with loan financing and with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan programs. She has made extensive contributions in the implementation and facilitation of several multi-million dollar federal, state, and city economic development small business expansion projects. Her experience includes working in various areas of financing, business development, procurement and contracting, reporting, and implementation processes. Sharon is an entrepreneur, CDC Certified Lifestyle Coach, and a member of the National Associated Builders and Owners (NABO). She is also serves on the Board of Directors for the MARC Academy & Family Center (an early childhood educational organization).
She is a co-founder at Nonfiction, a creative firm that turns science fiction into reality for a better future.Phnam’s designs span many industries, including Wearables, Audio, Neurotech/Biohacking, Healthcare, Education, Transportation, Robotics and Aerospace. She specializes in turning groundbreaking technologies into attainable, intuitive, and beautiful products that help humans become the best versions of themselves. She speaks internationally on the subject of “Design for a Better Future”, covering stories of sustainability, social impact, human flourishing and space exploration.With her husband and co-founder, she hosts Future Future, a video series that demystifies design and the future of everything.
Shabana is the co-founder and president of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA). SOLA is the first and only private boarding school for girls in Afghanistan, enrolling about 80 students in grades 6-10. Born in Kabul, Shabana’s childhood was spent under the Taliban regime at a time when girls’ education was outlawed. She studied in secret until the fall of the Taliban in 2001; her experiences motivate her certainty that investing in girls’ education is a nation’s path to a prosperous future. Shabana is a magna cum laude graduate of Middlebury College in the USA and holds a Master in Public Policy from Oxford University. She is a global ambassador for Girl Rising, a worldwide campaign for girls’ education, and in 2018 she was awarded one of Afghanistan’s highest civilian honors for her work with SOLA. In 2019, Forbes named her to their 30 Under 30 Asia list as a social entrepreneur.
Dialogue 5: #WomenLead
Margo LaZaro, President and Chair of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY. She is Co-Founder & CSO of the SDG IMargo Lazaro Biompact Awards Community. Margo is a Coordinating Partner of the UN2020. She is the Director of UN Relations for Global Family, and Chair of the Board of Advisors for Youth for a Better World/Montessori Model UN, Youth Impact! Forum and she represents the Huairou Commission at the UN. She a proud to be a Board member of Soroptimist International Metro New York Chapter and a Climate Reality Project Leader. She is a Designer/Artist & Activist who has been dedicated to impactful causes including the SDGs with over thirty years of experience at the United Nations and globally. She is the Convener of the NGO Major Group Urban Thematic Cluster, as well as a member of the Women’s Major Group for the UN High Level Political Forum. Margo has been mainly focused on connecting all areas of the 17 SDGs. She passionately champions SDG 17 on Building Partnerships and she believes in the NGOCSD-NY motto: "Turn Your Passions into Actions for Change”.
Lebogang is a dynamic, young professional from South Africa currently working in infrastructure finance. Her passions emanate from being musically trained, scientifically learned and culturally inquisitive; intrigued by issues pertaining to development, finance, energy and technology. She holds a Masters in Urban Infrastructure Systems Engineering from New York University where her work focused on electrification efforts, principally on commercialising mini-grid technologies for rural electrification efforts. She has worked in an array of settings in infrastructure and power investment where her focus has been on financing renewable energy as well as clean energy tech, working on the impact of buildings in the reduction of carbon emissions in cities, all at the nexus of modern infrastructure and sustainable development. Owing to her broaden passions to improve livelihoods, she has been named Africa’s top 20 power sector leaders by the Enel Foundation, Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans while also currently serving as the Communications Lead for the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community in New York. In terms of leadership, she has served on various leadership bodies and structures / the first of which was as the National Executive Director of Media & Marketing for the NGO South African Women in Engineering earlier in her career. This earned her selection to the Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership (MILEAD) fellowship: A fellowship of 25 Africa’s most exceptional women leaders chosen for outstanding leadership promise, community service accomplishments, and commitment to the advancement of women in Africa. She too Project Managed the World’s First All-Women Investment Mission to Africa, with a delegation of C-level women investors from the United States, organising a Venture Showcase event, comprising leading investors, local businesses and industry heads. Currently she is coordinating a workshop event that focuses on Gender Based Violence in South Africa given the scourge of this epidemic in the country. She was awarded the Davis Peace Prize for this effort. In the world she would love to live in an equitable world that leaves no one behind, and as such focus her work in this vein.
Courtney Bickert is a global citizen, entrepreneur, leader, and management and business expert and a stand-up comedian committed to positive social impact around the world through innovation, partnerships, endless curiosity, and humor. Devoted to finding leading edge solutions to the world’s challenges. Courtney has proven organizational leadership with over 25 years’ experience in international development and foreign affairs. She has worked in, and traveled to, over 95 countries. Courtney has led organizational transformations and the development of new revenue models for large and small international organizations. and start-ups. As a skilled fundraiser, she has raised over $50 million dollars for international non-profits. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Empowering a Billion Women Foundation and its initiative, COVIDxNOW.
She is an entrepreneur and an active member of global entrepreneur networks, including NEXUS, WeWork, HIVE, and Empowering a Billion Women. She in an Honorary Advisor to the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, a Founding Board Member of Every Woman Everywhere, a nominee for the Responsible Leaders’ Summit of the United Nations, and a Representative of the United Nations Blockchain Leaders’ Summit.
Courtney is a stand-up comedian with significant formal training in the techniques of stand-up comedy, including Second City, the DC Improv, and the American Comedy Institute. Courtney has an MBA and Masters in Public Policy from The University of Chicago and a BS in Russian Studies.
Dena Mekawi is a first generation Egyptian Muslim American living in New York. She ran for Miss Arab USA 2013 when realizing she wanted to be the voice for underrepresented communities. Dena then went on to work for Oprah Magazine, where she was able to use self-expression of fashion and editorial to celebrate her individuality. Ms.Mekawi had struggled with her own identity, as well as self-esteem issues that stemmed from the media that she consumed. She now uses her experience of self-discovery as an Arab American to work collectively, creating space for culture diversity. Dena has been chosen as a representative to the United Nations NGO,DGC which compliments her work as a Social Entrepreneur.
Dena Mekawi curates creative communication strategies, & partnerships to engage brands, advertisers and high profile individuals to create impact messages, using the power of their influence with a creative approach through her company, Style & Resilience. Ms.Mekawi works with family offices on identifying projects that have impact on the economy, as well as for humanity.