Category Archives: 2018

UIMF Preparations in New York for the CSW62

As members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), arrived to New York City for the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) on Sunday, March 18, 2018, we made final preparations for the visit to the United Nations. We started by studying the routes from our places of accommodation to the sites of our main activities included in the agenda of the visit like the locations of the UN Pass and ID office, Church Center of the United Nations, place for our parallel, and Café Olympia, place for our debriefing during the first day of official activities. Our side event at the United Nations is scheduled for Monday, March 19, 2018 at 11:30am and it presented a challenge for delegation members: due to the fact that the UN Pass and ID office opens at 9:00am, it will be necessary for us to calculate time arrive early enough to be the first in line to receive passes and then to start preparations for hosting a side event.

Near the UN Pass and ID office

rriving a day or two early, we were able to get situated in our hotels. Our member, who was responsible for logistics and protocol, missed his connecting flight from Oregon and for any case three of us were ready to start preparations for a backup plan: to replace him as moderator for the side events next day. Fortunately, he was able to find another flight and to come to our meeting right in time at 5:30pm. He didn’t have his luggage arrive yet and was wearing casual outfit, but his mood was very positive. Later in the afternoon, we met together at Grand Central Station, which was the closest metro station for couple of us to come from out hotels. Then, we began to walk through the route and checked a time and location at most important sites, such as: UN Pass and ID office, walk by the front entrance of the UN Headquarters, and locate the Café Olympia. We sat down then at Café Olympia to discuss the distribution of brochures, gifts for dignitaries, and folders prepared with documents regarding previous UIMF achievements. As well as make alternate plans, should more logistical problems arise. If one or more members would not make it to the side event, others would then take extra roles or delegate the needed task to other students. One by one each event for the next day was looked at and analyzed to see what still needs to be accomplished to ensure a smooth operation throughout the day.

Reviewing agenda for the visit at Cafe Olympia

As part of the non-traditional student approach, some members were able to bring family members to support them in promoting the SMD agenda. Families are a major factor in the wellbeing of women, particularly in mountainous regions. This provided the UIMF the opportunity be an example of including family members from mountain areas.

After achieving their goals of hosting a side event and parallel event, UIMF members discussed also how to build a conversation during the meeting at the liaison office of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) which was scheduled during the first day of the visit.  One of the main goals for them during the meeting was to express thanks to the staff of the office for including the language featuring UIMF contribution to the advocacy of the mountain women in the 2016 United Nations Secretary General’s report on sustainable mountain development.

After a year of planning and finalizing preparations for the side event and subsequent meetings, the Utah International Mountain Forum looks forward to a presenting the results of the 2015 Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC). and having a successful conference at CSW62

Matthew Rands, President UIMF


Photos of the Visit to CSW62


Diplomatic Conference at UVU honors student for promotion the United Nations mountain targets


Monday, March 12th 2018 office of Global Engagement at Utah Valley University (UVU) held the Diplomatic Conference with the help of multiple clubs such as the Foreign Affairs Club and the UIMF, a coalition of clubs that work towards mountain development and sustainability. This conference included many important diplomats from multiple countries such as Spain, Romania, Peru, Vietnam, United Kingdom, Uganda and France, as well as important leaders in Utah state government such as the Mayor of Salt Lake City Jackie Biskupski.

The point of the conference was that these individuals could speak their part on the selected topic of international trade and what it means for their countries. Two separate panels were created to speak on the subject and answer any questions the participating audience may have. This offered insight to how not only the countries they represent view international trade, but how the rest of the world stands on the matter through their angle of vision. It was my pleasure to volunteer my time to personally assist the Deputy Consul General of Vietnam, Mr. Ngo Quang Anh and the Consul, Mr. Le Nam Trung. During the Networking and luncheon portion of the event, I learned a wealth of knowledge about diplomacy, trade, development and culture of Vietnam. Both Deputy Consul and Consul of Vietnam proved to be very intelligent in their fields and offered insight on how someone like myself can operate and engage with other diplomats in my career. I also found that my colleagues experience the same wealth of knowledge and experience in assisting their assigned diplomats.

Dr. Baldomero Lago, CIO/Vice Rector for Global Engagement at Utah Valley University presents UVU 2018 Atlas Award to Jesler Molina for his contribution to the promotion of the UN mountain targets

Events like this one are extremely important to the students involved with the UIMF, particularly in providing experiencing with engaging with high-level individuals and seeing first hand diplomacy in action. Since Engaged Learning is UVU’s model for education, this provided a perfect avenue for UIMF students to get involved in such activities, before actually entering the job market. This provides its students with knowledge and experience in the field, before graduating, leaving them feeling confident and skilled when starting their careers. This was evident in Jesler Molina’s position. Jesler was President of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), at UVU in 2014-2015. Focusing on the Promotion of sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations in the state of Utah. During the 6th session of the UN Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs in New York on December 11, 2013. OWG on SDGs adopted 17 SDGs instead of Millennium Development Goals as main benchmarks for evaluating human progress worldwide. He also contributed research about mountain ranges in North America for the Report on SMD for North America, which was published by the Mountain Partnership under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for the landmark United Nations Conference on sustainable development RIO+20 in Brazil, June 20th-22nd, 2012. ( As the UIMF President during that time, Jesler was a chair of the organizing committee comprised from 73 students, UIMF members who hosted the fourth international Women of the Mountains conference in October 7th-19th, 2015 as student engaged learning initiative. UN Secretary General’s report on SMD A/71/256 from July 229, 2016 featured UIMF members and UVU for their contribution to the promotion of gender and SMD agendas of the UN and implementation of SDGs, the only academic institution from North America. (

During the luncheon of the Diplomatic Conference that was held March 12th , 2018, Jesler was awarded and recognized by the UVU office of Global Engagement for his efforts and progress within UVU’s engaged learning system and UIMF initiatives in providing said efforts and will go on to continue to promote programs that improve the lives of many globally. Although the UIMF was awarded as one of the best student clubs by UVUSA in 2012 (see:, the leader of the coalition of student clubs is honored by UVU for the first time. It happened thanks to the efforts of the Dr. Baldomero Lago, CIO/Vice-Rector for Global Engagement at UVU who created new opportunities for UVU students at the United Nations through a partnership of UVU with this global institution as a new Associated Member of the United Nations Department of Public Information. High evaluation of Jesler Molina’s contribution in promotion of SMD agenda is a part of the vision of Dr. Lago to promote United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the State of Utah and North America through student engaged learning initiatives.

Since 2011 when UIMF was founded, it was already featured in the Outdoor journal in December 11, 2016 for contribution to the celebrations of the United Nations International Mountain Days and in the United Nations Secretary General’s Report on Sustainable Mountain Development, A/71/256 from July, 27, 2016 (See:

I can say with confidence that after experiencing the Conference and participating, as well as witnessing the painstaking effort Jesler provided, my generation of colleagues and I have learned and continue to learn with great pleasure of what it means to be involved and the importance of diplomacy. I appreciate so much the initiative of the UVU Global Engagement office to host this event for the second time and to provide us, students with invaluable experiences of interacting with foreign diplomats and trade counselors.

Dylan Genes, Vice President, Foreign Affairs Club at UVU

UVU Diplomatic Conference on International Trade Relations

The students of Utah Valley University had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd annual UVU diplomatic conference on international trade relations. This event is the only type of its kind at academic institutions in the United States, thus why it was an amazing opportunity for students, such as myself, at Utah Valley University. The Plenary session began with a statement by President Holland where he addressed the vision of engaged learning, and the goal that UVU has as an institution where learning is taken beyond the classroom.

During plenary session of the second Diplomatic Conference hosted by Utah Valley University 

Following President Holland, the Lieutenant Governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, addressed the audience, explaining why Utah is a prime area for both domestic and foreign direct investment. Citing Utah as the 2nd most diverse economy, the 2nd highest birth rate, and the 9th fastest rate of in-migration in the United States; Lieutenant Governor Cox explained that the explosion of growth and strong Utah economy have put Utah as one of the top places to invest in the United States. He also explained that dual language immersion and the strong presence of missionaries that can speak a second language creates a strong culture in Utah where refugees and immigrants are welcomes and loved. The most important statistic according to Mr. Cox, is that Utah leads the nation in service preformed and charitable donations given. Mr. Cox explained that one of the reasons for Utah’s globalized economy is the high standards that the state has for the businesses that work inside the state boundaries. Mr. Cox explained that the government is not able to solve all problems, but that through service we can fill in those gaps.

The next person to address the congregation was the Regional Director for Global Relations in the State Department, Christina Hernandez. She addressed the 106 diplomatic missions with businesses in Utah, California, Nevada, and Arizona.  She explained that trade relationships and tourism are critical in the economy of Utah. Lastly, she cited exchange programs between other nations and Utah as a catalyst in building relationships with other countries.

The following speaker in the plenary session was Jackie Biskupski, the current mayor of Salt Lake City. Citing that she had just returned from the 2ND annual Women4Climate Summit C40 in Mexico, she addressed the importance of balancing economic growth with strong maintenance of enviromental sustainability. She states that the word “sustainability” means we are doing everything within lens of equality and fairness. She explained that true sustainability means that we do everything we can to fairly distribute of resources to everyone, everywhere, in an equal way. She also stated that the city of Salt Lake intends to continue to build the resiliency of natural resources in Utah to promote mountain sustainability. Addressing one of Salt Lake City’s biggest problems, Mayor Biskupski stated that Salt Lake City is dedicated to reduce emissions from typical sources of pollution.  Utah has been warming at twice the rate as the rest of the globe and continues to raise in temperature as more people move to Utah and thus increase the pollution and emissions. Salt Lake City intends to address these problems through a variety of city ordinances that target clean idling, maintaining fleets of 200 alternative energy cars, constructing 2 fire stations with net zero emissions, as well as acting and leading as stewards of resources in designing infrastructure and promoting positive sustainability practices within the state government. She then ended her presentation, citing that sustainability and economic growth are intertwined and connected.

Next to address in the Plenary Session was a representative of Utah’s World Trade Center, Suzette Alles. She began her presentation by citing that the state of Utah has been cited as a top preforming economy, the best economy overall, and best state for business in the United States. She also highlighted the purpose of the World Trade Center, to promote prosperity across the state by attracting investment and increasing exports outside the state. Citing the 95% of consumers that live outside the U.S. and the 1.5 billion in the growing global middle class, Ms. Alles addressed the importance of increasing Utah’s exports of primary metals, computers, chemicals, transportation equipment, and food to the rest of the world. She discussed how the WTC gives grants and invitations to attend trade shows in various locations to help local businesses foster international connections with a global economy. She finished her presentation by explained the WTC’s role in promoting foreign direct investment, which has yielded 500 international employers, 42,000 jobs, and 60% higher wages than the states average. She explained Utah’s valuable position as a state that builds bridges and expands global connections.

The final speaker in the Plenary Session was Meghan Stettler, the Director of Public Affairs and Communication for the Governor’s Office of Energy Development. She stated that the three policy initiatives of the Office of Energy Development are: policy and planning, industry assistance, a d education and outreach in K-12 programs and lessons. Citing the 20-billion-dollar industry of energy, the 50,000 high paying jobs, and the 10% of energy that comes from renewable resources Ms. Stettler explained that it is a top priority of the Governor’s office to develop renewable resources in the State of Utah.

The Plenary session was all about the importance of sustainability and economic growth in the state of Utah. I enjoyed the presentations about how those two ideas are inter-connected. I think that this summit was important because it highlighted the importance of sustainability and economic development in mountainous communities. I believe that the model of development in Utah can have far-reaching implications for all mountainous communities.

UVU Diplomatic Trade Conference: Breakout Sessions

After the initial plenary session, the delegates from different countries split into two different breakout sessions. The breakout session that I attended encompassed representatives from the countries of Spain, Romania, UK, Vietnam, and Ghana. The first question addressed to delegates was the concept of trade barriers in the global economies. The delegates from Romania and Spain strongly contested the idea of trade barriers that prevent a true free and open market. The representative of Spain was passionate in his rhetoric that protectionism and trade barriers is the root cause of the decline of many world economies. The representative of Vietnam was the next to speak, addressing the importance of the World Trade Organization in managing and combating protectionism and trade wars. The next to address the assembled delegation was the representative of Ghana who stated that trade barriers prevent multilateral trade agreements, upon which the land-locked nation of Ghana depends upon. He states that protectionism would disallow competitiveness in the African economy. Finally, the Consul General of Spain highlighted that the reason that Spain has survived many economic crises because 70% of business in the country is international business and does not on local economy resiliency. He argued that the United States will be the first loser if this country continues after policy of isolationism.

Break out session of the Diplomatic Conference

The next topic addressed was about sustainability and gender equality. The representative stated that Vietnam intends to look at the Utah model as a model for energy sustainability and principles of gender equality. Spain, owing to the lack of connectiveness to the rest of Europe, has designed a model of clean and renewable energies. The representative of Romania followed by explaining that energy is a national security issue, and that we should treat energy infrastructure development as a high priority of development. Various diplomats also addressed looking to Utah as a model of controlling and helping immigrant populations.

The final part of the breakout session addressed how we, as future American diplomats, can differ ourselves from past diplomats. The representative of the UK addressed the importance of digital diplomacy and how we can use social media to amplify our political message. The representative of Vietnam explained the need to travel as much as you can to experience life from every corner of the world and thus be able to respect people regardless of race, color, and gender. He explained that open-minded diplomatic thinking will lead to an open attitude. The representative of Ghana invited everyone to learn about other cultures and to interact who people that are different than you to go beyond what one sees on television. The representative of Spain explained that the best job in the world is serving your country. He argued that even if you do not agree with polices that your government holds, as a diplomat you have the right and responsibility to make moves to influence and change those attitudes. He also explained that diplomacy can help one to better understand the world around them. The representative of Romania explained that reaching compromise through negotiation is the art of diplomacy. He stated that our priority is to promote and provide peace. Diplomacy is about negotiation and loving your country. He stated that we should not be different from older American diplomats, but we must learn from them.  The representative of Peru explained that your perspective of life will change as career diplomat, and that as he has come to know people and understand different customs, it has served him in a great manner. Finally, the representative of Spain stated that we must always give diplomacy a chance, no matter what the world may say, diplomacy is always the right way to go.

Andrew Jensen, member, Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU



Marie-Chantal Niwenshuti – Engaged Learning experience during the UVU Diplomatic Conference


Dylan Genes-diplomatic conference at UVU honors student for promotion the UN mountain targets


Rebecca-Bindraban-Foreign Affairs club contributed to the Diplomatic Conference at UVU


Learning about International Women’s Day from UN official

Mrs. Gail Binley-Taylor Sainte meets UVU students

Students of the International Relations class at Utah Valley University had the opportunity to attend a presentation given by Mrs. Gail Binley-Taylor Sainte, who presented about the role of United Nations, and the role of genders as an integral part of the bureaucratic agency on Thursday, March 8, 2018. She also focused on specific programs at the United Nations that work to address humanitarian issues, civil rights issues, and ongoing unjust equality issues. Mrs. Binley-Taylor Sainte has rich background, serving as the Deputy Chief of Public Information of the diplomatic mission based in Ethiopia for several years. She also served as an information officer of NGO relations at the United Nations. Since her induction into the United Nations Mrs. Binley-Taylor Sainte has always been involved in many various staff activities: first as a staff representative, then eventually as part of the staff union. She has also served as the First Vice-President as well as Secretary in that organization. Finally, she has served on several staff-management bodies including the former Appointment and Promotion Committee, the General Service Classification Committee, and the Central Examination Board. In a recent development, Mrs. Binley-Taylor Sainte’s department elected her as the Focal Point for Women. In addition, she belongs to the mentoring program at the United Nations, serving alongside three mentees under my supervision, all of whom continue to do well in the system.

With a 30-year career as an information officer, Mrs. Binley-Taylor Sainte has developed her expertise in foreign policy always with a singular focus to empower women. She states that it is important to continue allowing women to speak in an unprecedented way in order to help continue the path towards equality between genders. She stated that a few of the main issues that women face are a lack of upward mobility, lack of career prospects for those who are in specialized jobs, the lack of more training opportunities, the inability to take advantage of all the work and life arrangements with ease and without fear of injury to reputation or career, lack of adequate childcare support for working mothers at all levels, lack of recognition for consistently good performance, and finally poor evaluations for which there is little recourse.

UN official with Andrew Jensen, member of the Sustainable Mountain Development club

Mrs. Binley-Taylor Sainte then explained a few of the best practices in promoting gender diversity within the United Nations: first, to promote practices that allow staff to see visible signs of diversity, whether that be through posters that the organization releases publicly or through information placed on the internet; second, videos that raise awareness and are distributed in key places around the Secretariat like the cafeteria or near the Credit Union, places where people can see visible signs of what is happening regarding gender issues; and lastly, brown-bag style lunches around gender issues that could be organized across divisions. Other ideas include panel discussions that could be held on major occasions like International Women’s Day or a major campaign that could be conducted to identify the department with the most gender-diverse environment, involving all the focal points and their respective managers working together to come up with the winning ideas. Another idea could be a Diversity Day at United Nations headquarters that would be designed and devoted to displaying all the achievements of equality to date.

All aforementioned ideas are aimed at communicating the importance of a gender-diverse environment. Mrs. Binley-Taylor Sainte stressed that this can be done if implementers of policy can see how they play a pivotal role in empowering women. Men and top managers need to see themselves as part of the change, additionally they must see it as beneficial to them as equal partners of qualified women working together to improve the quality of life within the workplace. Mrs. Binley-Taylor Sainte is a perfect example of the voice that needs to be heard.

Cory Levin, UVU Student


UVU student delegation preparations for the CSW62


UVU delegation members members are ready for the UN visit


Utah Valley University Student Delegation at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women,  United Nations,        March 19-22, 2018

  1. Rob Collins Smith, President, Utah Valley University Student Association (UVUSA);
  2. Amelia Cope, College of Humanities and Social Sciences Senator, UVUSA;
  3. Matthew Rands, President, Utah International Mountain Forum, (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU;
  4. Derek Garfield, Vice President, UIMF;
  5. Dylan Isaac Genes, Vice President, UIMF;
  6. Hannah Barlow, UVU student;
  7. Carol Bejar Orellana, UVU student;
  8. Monica English, UVU student;
  9. Isak Larsen, UVU student;


Utah  Valley University official delegation list


Agenda of the visit


Written statement at CSW62  E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37 from December 7, 2017 about mountain women and student engagement


CSW62 side events agenda      


18-03-19-Dr-Lago-Statement at CSW62


18-03-19-Dr. Butler-Statement at CSW62


18-03-19-UIMF-Statement CSW62


18-03-19-Rob-Smith-UN Engaged Learning Presentation


18-03-19-Hannah-Barlow-Tarahumara Women of the Mountains


CSW62  parallel events agenda    



Hosting Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations, Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic


Celebrating the International Women’s Day at UVU


Workshop “How to advocate at the UN” with Marcia Barlow


Contributing to the CSW62 Zero Draft Document


Hosting Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the UN, Ambassador Bakhtiyor Ibragimov


UIMF and UN NGOs discuss how to advocate for mountain women globally


Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic about Bosnia and Herzegovina policies at the United Nations

Mr. Milos Vukasinovic is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations. Students at Utah Valley University had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by Mr. Vukasinovic titled: “Bosnia and Herzegovina at the UN” on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 to better understand foreign policy priorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina on global arena. Mr. Vukasinovic began by lauding the United States for their support of Bosnia and Herzegovina after the terrible war that was only ended with the Dayton Peace Accords. Over many years, Bosnia and Herzegovina had been under the control of empires. After the fall of the Soviet Union, much work was needed to unite the multiethnic state under one constitution and one parliament. The Dayton Peace Accords were the framework used to united these post-Soviet Union nations.

Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic during presentation at UVU

Using best practices derived from several organizations, primarily the Organization of Security Corporation in Europe, the Peace accords were designed to unite the divided nations among and create a new nation. Mr. Vukasinovic was very focused on the importance of using these peace accord to build a new culture and tradition formed after the unique nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina and not those of the Soviet Union. He also discussed the importance of looking to other nations that have achieved similar goals, and to apply those to the communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Finally, the Ambassador discussed the importance of his countries application to the EU, NATO, and other multilateral organizations. The impacts of this final point are very important, the model seems to reflect the idea that the more connected a nation is, the better it can increase its growth and development.

I believe that this is a good model for mountain communities to follow. First, to separate themselves from nations that may be exploiting them; second, to form their own unique political and socioeconomic atmosphere; third, looking to other nations near or relative similarity; and fourth, a relentless desire to expand trade and foreign multilateral ties to away from isolationist policies. This final step is especially important to mountain communities. It is important that mountainous regions form strong relations with local multilateral organizations and governance. Mr. Vukasinovic finished his presentation discussing the vital role of women in the socioeconomic and political landscapes. He stated that one of the most important foreign policy priorities was to rebrand the nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a new image with a high level of nationalism and activity. I believe that this idea has far-reaching applications in mountainous communities as well. If mountain communities can follow this model, I believe that they will be able to rebrand themselves and effectively change the culture and tradition of mountain regions to better promote sustainable growth and development. I was impressed with Mr. Vukasinovic’s presentation and I believe that real-time application of the ideas discussed by Mr. Vukasinovic can have important effects on mountainous communities.

Andrew Jensen, member, Foreign Affairs club at UVU


International Women’s Day at UVU



Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted the panel of several prominent guests titled: “Time is now: rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” under the umbrella of the International Women’s Day on March 6, 2018.

First we had an introduction from each of the representatives on the panel. First is Celina Milner, she is a Utah native. She attended college in New York and has always had a love for politics. She ran for the House of Representatives and the Senate and lost in both races. However because of her experiences she is now a Political Consultant for Woman. Mrs. Gail Bindley is from the Caribbean. She was the only girl in her family and she grew up with a supportive father who allowed her to wash the car and had his sons wash the dishes. He encouraged her to make her voice heard and this is where her love for feminism comes from. She is now a journalist and works at the United Nations. Shirlee Silversmith, American Indian from the Bear People Clan and was raised in a village in Arizona. She is the director for the Utah Director of Indian Affairs. Utah has eight sovereign nations that have Indian Americans living on them. Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic said that before the war his life was good, however after the war his life was difficult. He became a legal representative in former Yugoslavia, and after the war broke out he was able to get away. He then became a judge and is now a diplomat and has spent most of his career working with the UN.

Each member of the panel were asked one general question about the importance of the International Women’s Day, first we hard that since women are living longer and are more than half of the population. By honoring women all around the world they can become more empowered. According to Celina men still hold onto two jobs, first is banking and second is politics. Gail Bindley said that by empowering women you will encourage your children to continue to pursue education and inspire others. She also mentioned that the closing the gender gap, educating people of female genital mutilation, and lastly the “me too” movement are why this day is so vital. Shirlee Silversmith said she wants to work on including tribal nations in women movements as often times they do not feel included or invited. Lastly, the Ambassador Vukasinovic said that although there are many days that celebrate women, this one should be supported daily but especially awareness raised on this day.

The first question then was asked regarding how the Utah Valley University will be teaming up with the UN and having a discussion with students involved about the pay gap between women and men. Gail Bindley explained that women all around the world have to travel to events to discuss things that are happening in their community. By doing this they can raise awareness and become empowered, many rural women feel secluded and alone. Many do not have the proper education, and many are mothers. However by allowing rural women to be included and reach out to them, we can improve relations.

I am very glad I was able to attend the panel and continue to learn more about women situation internationally. I liked that the panel had a diverse group of women and men, all from different background and some have different beliefs and values. But all came today because they want to build women up. All of the speakers were very inspiring, however one really stood out to me: Shirlee Silversmith, the Director of Utah Indian Affairs, inspired me on many levels. I was unaware of the challenges surrounding tribal women in the state of Utah. Also, Celina is writing a book on female candidates and the hardships surrounding campaigns. She compared running for office to childbirth. Lastly she compares election night to the “birthing of the baby.” I have a strong draw to politics and hearing how an election works from someone who has run for office and knows how it feels was an interesting perspective. This panel was inspiring and I am glad I was able to learn more about women and the International Women’s Day.

 Ezra Pugliano, member, SMD club




Kymberlee Anderson-Celebrating women worldwide


Celebrating International Women’s Day with Days for Girls International

Students at Utah Valley University had the opportunity to serve in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 5, 2018. The international group, Days for Girls, provided the opportunity to serve women in poverty-stricken areas of the world. Days for Girls International was founded with the simple idea of creating a sustainable solution to women’s reproductive health education and execution. The CEO of the group, Celeste Mergens, addressed students at UVU and explained the foundation and purpose of Days for Girls. She explained that the idea was formulated after watching many of the women and girls in poverty-stricken areas struggle with basic hygiene and feminine care. When a girl passes through puberty, her body is subjected to many changes, and the lack of formal education makes this problematic. The cultural stigma of these bodily changes is imbedded into areas of low education, the members of the community often shun the girls who are passing through this change. Celeste Mergens saw these problems in low-income areas, and formulated the concept of an international relief society that would be able to not only educate, but also provide resources for girls that are in desperate need of sexual health education. She explained that the key reason why targeting this demographic is so important is because these bodily changes and resulting shame culture often prevent these girls from attending school. The lack of education has profound negative effects on the overall GDP growth of a nation. So thus, as one can correct the solution of female reproductive resources and education would allow more girls to attend school, gain more skills, and thus raise their own income, and the income of the community and GDP. The resulting relief society, Days for Girls International, provides training, education, and personal objects of dignity (PODs) that contain resources such as washable, reusable pads that can allow low-income girls to attend school more often.

Students help to create personal objects of dignity for Days for Girls International

At Utah Valley University, students had an opportunity to help to create these PODs. Each student was tasked with either tracing, cutting, or sowing together various parts of the PODs. Together the students were able to create thousands of pads, educational resources, and bag to help support girls in low-income areas. I had the opportunity to help by tracing the outlines for the materials and providing pins to create the fabrics together, that were then cut and sewn together to create a washable and reusable pad. It was an amazing opportunity for me to serve, in only an hour of time, I traced and pinned hundreds of pads that could then be included in the PODs. It was astounding that only an hour of volunteer work can provide hundreds of women with simple hygiene items that can, in turn allow them to attend school and achieve education that can provide for a sustainable lifestyle in the future. This initiative helped to demonstrate to me the easiness of helping to provide sustainable solutions to poor and struggling communities. This program has far-reaching implications on low-income areas and especially mountain women and communities and I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to help in this facet of sustainable community service. The opportunity for students of Utah Valley University to participate in this project has far-reaching implications for the global lowland and mountain communities.

Andrew Jensen, member, Foreign Affairs club


Photos from the Days for Girls event




Rebecca-Bindraban-Days for Girls commemorates International Women’s Day

Caitlin Tomly – International Women’s Day with Days for Girls International


Discussing CSW62 preparations with PR of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN, Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic

Mr. Milos Vukasinovic is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations. In the morning of Tuesday, March 6, 2018, the members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), had the opportunity to discuss with Ambassador Vukasinovic about the planned visit and presentation at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) at the United Nations. This is a part of the established tradition of UVU engaged student learning model where students have an opportunity to discuss with visiting dignitaries their activities with focus on the advocacy of the United Nations gender and sustainable mountain development agendas since the moment of establishment of UIMF in 2011. The model allows students to gain experiences and skills through hands-on activities promoting the UN agenda, which they implement as a group with faculty mentoring them when it is necessary. As part of that group, I had my special assignment to record the presentation of the Ambassador Vukasinovic on video camera with further editing content and then posting the final product on a special YouTube channel.

After short introductions, the delegation members discussed the importance of their presentation at CSW62 about fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals. They highlighted the role of the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina along with Ambassador Vukasinovic in sponsoring a side event at CSW62 which presents the UVU student engaged learning model in order to globally advocate the cause of the mountain women. This happened for the first time in UVU history thanks to the role of the Global Engagement office and its head, Dr. Baldomero Lago, who were both able to get UVU accepted as Associate member of the United Nations Department of Public Information and to assemble a 26-member delegation to contribute to the agenda of the CSW62 on March 19-23, 2018.

Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic during the meeting with UIMF members

The Ambassador then took a short moment to address the important stance of Bosnia and Herzegovina in working at the United Nations and in developing and improving the livelihood of mountain communities.

He also discussed important steps that Bosnia and Herzegovina have taken with the World Bank and European Union in order address the rights of the women in their society. Citing policy changes since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ambassador Vukaisnovic stated that in the social system more respect for women has been garnered than could have been thought possible. More than that, tradition and ground has been cleared for strengthening participation of women in socioeconomic as well as political systems. Citing a unique strength of the recent changes, Mr. Vukasinovic stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina actually have more female students than current male students. In recent years, the number of women in peacekeeping operations have soared as well, citing that though Bosnia and Herzegovina have few peacekeepers, female recruitment has been increasing popular.

Overall, it was a great opportunity for UVU students like me, and the UIMF delegation members who will go to the UN on March 19-23, 2018 to better understand the policies that Bosnia and Herzegovina have towards celebrating and empowering women and other mountain communities to better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Andrew Jensen, member, Foreign Affairs Club at UVU


Photos of the Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic visit to UVU



Rebecca Bindraban-Student engagement with Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic


Monica English-Interacting with Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic

Marcia Barlow: how to advocate at the United Nations

UIMF preparations to present at 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Throughout the past year, students of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), worked diligently in strategizing how to present UIMF efforts to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). Main efforts include: 1. Coordinating with the Mountain Partnership and NGOs to create a unified message, which will be taken to the UN 2. Inviting fellow students and faculty with various research experiences to participate at CSW62 as part of the UIMF delegation. 3. Fundraising to allow cover the travel expenses of the delegation in their trip to the UN Headquarters in New York City. 4. Inviting distinguished guests that have prior CSW or general UN presentation experience to train the UIMF delegation to be more effective in their presentation at the CSW62.

Efforts began when UIMF leadership extended the invitation to Andrew Taber and Dr. Jed Shilling of the Mountain Partnership, Ms. Wendy Jyang of the China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands, and Rusty Butler of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, an NGO with ECOSOC status under the UN. At a roundtable discussion, ( the UIMF facilitated discussion on how non-traditional students, particularly at UVU can promote mountain related targets under the UN SDGs. Creating a framework, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences was then able to submit a written statement to the UN on behalf of all who participated in the discussion, which ultimately secured a parallel event for the UVU delegation at CSW62 on March 20th, 2018Through connections made through UIMF efforts in previous years and with the assistance of the Office of Global Engagement at UVU, the delegation was able to secure a side event at CSW62, sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN and by the Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan to the United Nations.

With the three CSW62 goals (1. Making a written statement. 2. Schedule a Side Event. 3. Schedule a Parallel Event) of the UIMF accomplished, UIMF members extended the invitation to their fellow students and faculty to participate and present their work at the CSW62. Although the research projects of the invited members vary, all retain the recurring theme of Engaged Learning, especially with non-traditional students that can contribute locally. Engaged Learning takes a student that may normally be focused solely on his or her studies and creates a mindset of service and applying learned principles to better their local and international surroundings. The student-led UIMF delegation has met frequently to fulfil logistical needs of the delegation and to strategize their involvement with the UN.

As a part of the preparations for Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), and fellow UVU students and faculty’s attendance to the UN CSW62, we invited Mrs. Marcia Barlow, Vice President of International Programs for United Families International (UFI) to come to UVU and provide instruction and guidance to our delegation.  Mrs. Barlow has a wealth of experience gained over 20 years, during which time she has participated in many UN conferences and commissions where she conducts high-level advocacy for her organization, which has had NGO consultative status through the UN Economic and Social Council since 1997.

Marcia Barlow (third from the left) with members of our delegation

Our desire to increase our voice during CSW62 led us to reach out to Mrs. Barlow at the suggestion of Dr. Abdrisaev, UIMF’s faculty advisor.  Mrs. Barlow attended UN CSW 61 last year and became acquainted with UIMF members at that time. Acting on this recommendation, UIMF members coordinated events throughout the day to take maximum advantage of Mrs. Barlow’s visit to UVU. UIMF members used club funds to purchase plane tickets and host a lunch for the UVU students, faculty, and staff who have supported our delegation. (

Our activities of the day began with Mrs. Barlow giving an information rich introduction to effective advocacy at the UN to help students make the greatest impact possible during our time at the UN. All the information presented served to better prepare me as an advocate, but as a student leader and organizer for our combined delegation, The delegation learned the importance of making personal connections to the right people so that our message is persuasive in the appropriate channels in which we hope to be able to raise a greater awareness of shared issues facing mountain women here in Utah and around the world. We are happy to report that our side event will be co-sponsored by the diplomatic missions of Bosnia and Herzegovina in addition to Uzbekistan. This is a great opportunity to put into practice the knowledge we gained from Mrs. Barlow regarding building relationships to persuade.

During the interim period between Mrs. Barlow’s presentation and our delegation’s lunch, we were privileged to converse with her at length about UIMF, UVU’s Engaged Learning model, the Women of the Mountains Conference, and Utah culture and history. The conversation leads Mrs. Barlow to a deeper understanding of the ideas which our delegation hopes to share at the UN as well as increased my appreciation for her and the respect she showed to us as engaged students.

Our afternoon meeting allowed for our delegation and Mrs. Barlow to review our presentations and the general format of the events with the aim of honing and refining the way we present our message. Mrs. Barlow recommended that each student presenter create and bring a flyer or pamphlet with relevant information and contact details to give to interested parties, to include diplomats and NGO leaders, so that they would have a physical reference to our message as well as a way to contact us for more information. We are confident that her input and perspective will lead to a more effective showing at the UN.

Matthew Rands, President, UIMF

Derek Garfield, Vice-President, UIMF



Power point for UN Training, UVU 2018


Photos of the Marcia Barlow’s visit to UVU


Announcement about Marcia Barlow visit to UVU


Monica English-Marcia Barlow and the UVU Delegation to the UN


Andrew-Jensen-Advocacy Lessons at the UN from Marcia Barlow


Isak Larsen-Marcia Barlow about advocacy at UN


From Caitlin Tomly-Learning UN advocacy from Marcia Barlow


Dylan Genes-UIMF hosts Marcia Barlow


Kyler Pigott-Discussing sustainable mountain development with Marcia Barlow


Anthony Franks-Marcia Barlow: the tools Needed for engaged learning

Contributing to CSW62 Zero Draft Document Through Student Engaged Learning

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) made one more effort in achieving a successful visit and a participation at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) during 12-23 March 2018.  We contributed to the final document of CSW62 or Zero Draft Outcome Document –  “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” Used as a resource and standard for policy-making and programming on the topics covered, the Zero Draft aims to establish a legal framework work for gender equality that member states agree to support after the CSW.

Our submission highlighted mountain women and proposed the following edit in the first sentence of the NGO CSW/NY CSW62 Zero Draft Outcome Document, topic Education, Employment and Technology, Paragraph #3: “Initiate a vocational transformation for girls from agricultural and domestic activities to entrepreneurship skill-set building:” “Collaborate with NGOs and academia to develop co-curricular pedagogy that is inclusive, timely, relevant and able to enhance the lives of rural and mountain women including through student engaged learning while empowering them to be the primary forces of change in improving their communities.”

In addition, we contributed to the efforts of several non-governmental organizations (NGO) in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to submit a request to make an oral statement at CSW62 before the official deadline on February 19, 2018. Since thousands of NGOs are registered for participation at CSW62, only very few of them could be allowed to make a short presentation during general discussions if they speak on the main themes of CSW62 and represent regional groups of NGOs.

Since 2016 UIMF members engaged in joint advocacy of the mountain women at CSW62 with the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), the Mountain Institute (TMI), and Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce (UCFISH&D&C), three prominent NGOs accredited under ECOSOC. Those NGOs already submitted a written statement for CSW62 (E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37) which has been distributed for presentation by the UN Secretariat on 7 December 2017.

The statement focuses on the lack of attention from international communities to numerous challenges faced by mountain communities and women in particular, along with the crucial role of the Mountain Partnership in implementation of three mountain targets among SDGs globally. As one of the important initiatives both to advocate for the mountain women cause at the UN, and to implement mountain targets in the interaction with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, the statement also highlights the student engaged learning model developed at UVU, a Mountain Partnership member since 2006.

In order to recruit a group of NGOs as co-sponsors for the oral statement, my colleagues and I made an appeal through the Mountain Partnership Secretariat  to 13 its members, NGOs in consultative status with the ECOSOC. As a result, Euromontana and the Millennium Institute (MI), two of the most prominent NGOs agreed to join three above mentioned NGOs as co-sponsors of the oral statement. Due to that,  the request to CSW62 to make an oral statement was submitted on behalf of five prominent NGOs. Currently, we are waiting for response from CSW62 whether they have accepted our request.


This initiative establishes a new mechanism for MP members to be more active in joint advocacy of the mountain targets among sustainable development goals (SDGs) during high level UN forum on implementation of SDGs and 2030 Development agenda.

It represents a follow up for one of the recommendations which was agreed by more than 220 participants during the Fifth Mountain Partnership Global Meeting at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) in Rome, Italy on 11-13 December 2017 to improve advocacy for mountains in major global processes and to promote joint communication efforts, in order mountains to be fully addressed and statements are fully taken into account,

Yanko Dzhukev, Vice President of Global Affairs and Outreach, UIMF