Category Archives: 2016-old

Hannah Barlow: Advocating for rural and Tarahumara women at CSW62

As part of the student team from Utah Valley University (UVU) I was able to participate at the 62nd session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) in New York on March 19-21, 2018. Since the CSW62 priority theme was: “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,” it was a great opportunity for me to share with the rest of the world a story about my involvement as a student engaged learning with communities and women who face many challenges of the modern life in remote mountain areas of Mexico.

Hannah Barlow (third from the right) during the presentation at the side event at CSW62

I had the opportunity to help Dr. Lynn England perform research on the Tarahumara women in Mexico. This indigenous Indian civilization lived in the mountains of Chihuahua and have fought to maintain their culture in an otherwise developing country. As we worked with the women in these communities we were able to see that they were able to keep much of their culture intact, but it created a life of poverty for them.

The Tarahumara are a collectivist community, meaning they share the crops they grow and the meat they have with the entire village. Beginning in the 1980’s resources in the mountains became scarce and many of the Tarahumara migrated to the cities of Chihuahua. We interviewed 50 Tarahumara women about their move out of the mountains into the cities. We found that some of them temporarily migrate to the city during the spring and fall and others move permanently. Those who migrate to the cities for a few months each year, work agriculture jobs to support their family and community. The families that choose to leave the mountains permanently work low skill, poor wage jobs.

The women we interviewed moved to the cities so their children can go to school, have better health care, and better future. We learned that in response to this permanent migration, the Mexican government has created neighborhoods called colonias for the Tarahumara. The Mexican government also established bilingual schools for the children that provided breakfasts and lunches for the children. In addition, the government offers payments to families who allow their girls to attend school regularly.

Through the interviewing process I was able to get a glimpse of the Tarahumara women’s lives since they’ve migrated. This gave me what I feel is real life experience in the job field that I am pursuing. Many of the women reported that this new living situation left them lonely with little social or economic support. They are treated by most Mexicans as inferior. As a Psychology major, this gave me real life experience in listening to another person who needed social support. I got to experience giving that kind of support by listening to whatever was on their mind.

Sharing this research with others during both a side and parallel events at the UN, reinforced how imperative it is to give these Tarahumara women the support that they are lacking. Finding solutions to help these women deal with their lack of economic and social support could truly change their living situations and help them feel like they belong. While participating at CSW62 we had the opportunity to visit one of the UN specialized branches, the liaison office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN). This was an agency I had never heard of and wished I had known about it sooner.

I think that the FAO-UN is an agency that could help the Tarahumara women receive stronger economic support. FAO-UN specializes in making agriculture more productive and inclusive. The FAO-UN could truly empower the Tarahumara women and community by helping them find useful jobs that are necessary and important to the Mexican people as well as the Tarahumara. This would enable the Tarahumara to feel needed and supported as well as help them feel like they belong. With the help of the FAO-UN, the Tarahumara have the potential to develop a meaningful and supportive relationship with the Mexican community.

My time at the UN gave me more insight and increased my determination to continue pursuing my educational and occupational goals to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). It showed me how essential and significant the field of social work is. At the UN, I was able to learn about the broad, various opportunities that are available to me as I work towards and become a LCSW. It created a greater understanding of the great influence I could have in the lives of women and children throughout the world as a social worker. That is why I want to become a LCSW, to make a difference in the life of at least one woman and the UN showed me that this goal is realistic and crucial.

 Hannah Barlow, Utah Valley University student

Ezra Pugliano: Days for Girls – Going the Extra Mile

Kim Wu, West Jordan, UT Team Leader Days for Girls

On March 05, 2018 I had the opportunity to give an hour of service to the International Women’s Day celebration on Utah Valley University campus. I was not quite sure what service they needed done, but I was willing to help. The organization started due to a need for reusable pads for girls in developing countries. Girls in foreign countries were using unhealthy alternatives to pads, some resulted in serious sickness or even death. Many of them missed on average a week of school once a month because of their monthly cycle. This led to a high rate of drop outs among female students. To combat this, the Days for Girls Organization started.

Employees of Chick-fil-A of South Jordan

After I left the event at UVU I felt as though there was more I needed to do. An hour of service was not enough, and I knew once other people knew of the organization, they would help too. I reached out to the West Jordan Days for Girls chapter and they informed me they were in desperate need of girl’s underwear. So I made a video on Facebook asking my friends for help. Within a day of posting my video had over 1,500 views and 25 shares. I decided to make it as convenient as possible for people to help by making an Amazon list, accepting cash donations, and allowing drop off donations at my home. With the $325 I received in cash donations and the items dropped off at my home, we collected over 622 pairs of underwear!

Employees of Chick-fil-A of South Jordan

However collecting the underwear was simply not enough, more had to be done. I lead a service group at Chick-fil-A of South Jordan named “SOJO Serves” and knew my coworkers would love to help. With the support of my Operator Becky Pickle, we met with the Days for Girls organization and got to work on March 27, 2018. We sorted through the underwear, organizing them by size and color. We cut out cloth pads which would be later used in the hygiene kit. We had twenty-two employees show up and serve for two hours. We were able to create hundreds of hygiene kits which in turn will be used to save the lives of many girls in countries like Africa and India.

This would not have happened without the help of the Days for Girls organization, my amazing coworkers, and the many people who donated. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be educated on the use of reusable hygiene products and how necessary they are for girls’ development. Because of this project I learned that if you wish to see change in the world, start with yourself.

Ezra Pugliano, Utah Valley University student

Isak Larsen: My contribution to women advocacy at CSW62

Isak Larsen, Dr. Eddy Cadet, Carol Bejar Orellana and Christopher Cardenas at the United Nations

As part of my participation at the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on Status of Women (CSW62) in New York on March 19-21, 2018, I put a lot of effort into preparing my presentation during a side event about empowering rural and mountain women at the United Nations (UN) headquarters.  Not including the field work and research that had already been done, the PowerPoint presentation that I gave took a lot of fine tuning and practice.  I had to cover the research, along with how it applied to the status of women in Senegal and about engaged learning at Utah Valley University (UVU).  Before preparing this presentation, I had never heard anyone talk about UVU’s engaged learning model before, but now I realize that I have been benefiting from that model ever since I got to UVU.  Ever since I got here, I have been invited to work with professors on research projects, have gone on field trips, and know each of my professors personally.  It is easy to see that they are engaged in me and my progress in school.

When we went to New York, everything was a new experience for me.  One thing that stood out to me was that even though I am an unknown, unimportant young guy from a small town in Arizona, nobody there knew that. I was treated, not like a student, but like what I was doing and what I was presenting was important outside of academia.  It is, and was that important but telling others about it in New York reiterated to me the importance of my research, engaged learning in schools, and thinking about women’s rights.

Isak Larsen (first from the right) presents during a side event at CSW62

The worldwide status of women became so much more important to me.  Being a man in the United States of America, I don’t think about women’s rights, and if I do, I see that they have equal opportunity and ability in the vast majority of arenas in our country.  In New York I learned of the struggles of women in other countries.  For example, I befriended a group of female college students from the Chechen Republic in Russia.  There, it is the “norm” for men to abuse women however they please with no repercussions in informal settings, but in formal dating, men and women are not allowed to touch each other.   Meanwhile, in Chechnya, marriages are typically totally dominated by the man, and if a man openly treats his wife with love and respect, he is publicly mocked.  We met with the Ambassador from Botswana, who recounted the progress that has been made in that country in empowering women and giving them equal rights with men.  Still, many women in Botswana are not allowed to sit in the main body on a chair in village meetings: they are allowed to sit on skins over on the side. Women are still not really permitted to wear pants in parts of that country.  Attending the CSW62, and speaking with women from other cultures really brought new issues to my eyes.

As for what we did, my first afternoon in New York was amazing as I had never been in a dense metropolitan area like this, though I had seen Manhattan depicted in so many movies and TV shows.  I was astounded by the tall buildings, narrow streets, and lack of space between the buildings.  Also, I found that for the most part New Yorkers were far nicer than their reputation suggests.  That night, I enjoyed a little bit of the food and culture of Korea Town.   The next morning, we went to the UN, got our id cards, and went through security.  I met the owner of the gift shop there who told me she was from Egypt, and that she kept the store stocked with souvenirs from almost every country in the world.  I met another woman who worked at the UN and surprisingly seemed bored with her job even though she was in charge of international relations between all the countries of the world and had lived in Cambodia and other places for her job.  My presentation during a side event went well.  The setting was not exactly what I expected, and I had not heard many of the other speeches that were given: they were all superb.  In the afternoon, we learned a lot about the UN when we visited the UN Department of Public Information, then we went and learned about feeding the world at the liaison office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.

On Tuesday the 20th, it was my birthday!  It was so great to experience so many new things and places on my birthday.  My fellow student Carol presented at the parallel event that day and she did a great job.  I was glad to hear from Mr. Poole from the non-governmental organization “Fatherhood and Motherhood are Sacred” who was also a part of our event.  The speeches he gave on both days were fantastic.  That afternoon, we learned a lot from the Ambassador of Botswana.

Even with all the important meetings on this trip, I was still able to go see Time Square, The Empire State Building, Central Park, Trump Tower, and Cathedrals.  Though short, it was an amazing and educational trip.

Isak Larsen, Utah Valley University student


Day 1 for UIMF at CSW62: Derek Garfield- Hosting a side event

UVU delegation at the United Nations

On Monday, March 19, 2018, students, faculty, and administrators from Utah Valley University (UVU), including members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of clubs at UVU, met outside of the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York City to register and collect grounds passes before participating in a side event during the UN 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Uzbekistan. Finally, our UIMF team understood in greater detail the importance of our work done during last several months when we were able to be engaged with these two missions which graciously agreed to sponsor a UVU-related side event after visiting the university through the Office of Global Engagement, discussing UIMF’s projects and work since its founding in 2011, and plans for a side event with students and faculty.

The side event conducted that day was titled “Advocating for rural and mountain women globally through student engaged learning” and was held within the UN building, conference room D. It was a great experience for our team and Dylan Genes, Vice-President of UVU’s Foreign Affairs club, in particular, who moderated the event and ensured that it proceeded within the allotted time frame, which enabled all participants to have time to present their work. We didn’t know until the last moment who would greet us on behalf of the diplomatic missions due to the busy schedule of both top envoys. As a result, Dr. Baldomero Lago, Vice-Rector for Global Engagement and Chief International Officer at UVU, opened the event and welcomed the delegation and visitors at the UN in attendance. After him, as presenters, we scheduled representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who have worked during last three years with UIMF in it’s mission to advocate for sustainable mountain development (SMD) and mountain women’s gender equity issues through the student engaged learning model. Distinguished members of partner NGOs who spoke included: Dr. Ross “Rusty” Butler, a focal point of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, an NGO with general consultative status in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); Ms. Wendy Jyang of the Utah-China F.I.S.H.D&C, an NGO in special consultative status in ECOSOC. Two other UIMF members who participated in the event divided responsibilities in the following way: Matthew Rands, President, was scheduled to speak first by presenting information on UIMF’s mission and work on Women of the Mountains conferences; while myself, as UIMF Vice-President, handled the presentation of all digital media on behalf of the entire delegation and presented proposed language for the delegation’s goal to adapt the NGO CSW Zero Draft Document. Matthew then introduced student researchers from UVU who participated in wide ranging research through engaged learning around the world to include: Rob Smith, UVU Student Body President, who spoke of the direct benefit of the engaged learning model for UVU students; Monica English, who researched gender identity issues in Utah and the involvement of women in the peace process in Northern Ireland; Amelia Cope, who researched Tsunami preparedness and education in Indonesia; Isak Larsen, who researched water sanitation and education in Senegal; Hannah Barlow, who studied rural mountain women and urban migration in Mexico.  The last presenter in our event was Mr. Albert Pooley, President and Founder of the Native American Fatherhood and Families Association, who spoke about challenges for rebuilding families among Native American tribes and how his association helps to teach them.

UVU presenters at the side event “Advocating for rural and mountain women globally through student engaged learning” on Monday, March 19, 2018 at 11:30am at the conference room D within the UN premises

Participation in the CSW62 side event demonstrated the effectiveness of the engaged learning model in two primary ways: one, that members of UIMF are able, as students, to prepare, organize, and execute an event which promoted student engagement in, and advocacy for, causes relating to rural and mountain women in addition to their extensive experiences at local and regional levels, as well as the UN level; second, that the showcased student projects themselves demonstrated how engaged learning can be used to implement the UN SDGs more successfully. UIMF feels that student engaged learning is an effective, powerful tool in implementing SDGs on a local, regional, and international level and will continue to push for its adoption into consensus documents, such as the NGO CSW Zero Draft document, as well as maintain it as a centerpiece of our advocacy program in management and specialized implementation of the SDGs.

UVU delegation visits the United Nations Department of Public Information

After concluding the side event, the delegation met with Mr. Felipe Queipo, Information Officer for the United Nations’ NGO Relations & Advocacy branch of the Department of Public Information (DPI), who has served as a liaison to UVU on behalf of his institution. UVU became an associate member of DPI in 2017 after submitting an application through the UVU Office of Global Engagement, which drew heavily from contributions made by UIMF to SDG advocacy and implementation, including the UN Secretary General’s report on sustainable mountain development A/71/256 which recognized UVU and UIMF student engaged learning in advocacy for mountain women through hosting the international Women of the Mountains conferences since 2007.  UVU’s official partnership with DPI will allow for increased participation of UVU students and our local community in UN and SDG focused education events and programs, further increasing the ability of UIMF to provide students access to engaged learning initiatives with increased support from the university for the 2030 agenda, which facilitates UIMF’s mission of advocacy. The meeting with DPI provided UIMF and students with a better understanding of the DPI and how they support NGOs in implementing and advocating SDGs.

Later that afternoon, the UVU delegation attended a meeting with the Director of the liaison office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN), Ms. Carla Mucavi. This was the first time in that UIMF members had such a high-level meeting with FAO leadership. The FAO provided invaluable assistance to UIMF in being featured in the 2016 Secretary General’s report on SMD, mentioned above. Director Mucavi explained the role of the FAO in monitoring the implementation of specific SDGs which include SDGs with mountain targets. UVU members and UIMF discussed their involvement, methodologies, and experience in executing SMD and improving outcomes for mountain women. All spoke of the important role that membership in the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MP) played in providing assistance and collaborative effort in developing UIMF’s engaged learning program. The primary goals of this meeting were to increase student’s understanding of how to influence language of key consensus documents at the UN, as well as the 2019 Secretary General’s report on SMD, and the most effective channels within the FAO for students to find information which can help them gain access to greater partnership with the FAO by reaching out to the Department of Partnerships. The Director made special mention of and the FAO’s free e-courses for increasing comprehension of the SDG and their indicators which can be used by UVU students and faculty when conducting research.

It should be noted that the UVU Global Engagement office livestream from the events, as well as the UVU Media team, which has been documenting the efforts of the delegation at the UN, will provide valuable digital media and film resources which will enable UIMF to attract additional students into participating in their advocacy for mountain women around the world and demonstrate that student engaged learning is an effective way for them to contribute to their communities.

Reflecting back on the events of the trip, I feel that I have been overwhelmed by the amount of new information that I learned about UN. This experience has been invaluable to my experience at UVU as I prepare to graduate. My emphasis in World Politics now feels complete. The classes I have taken in International Law, International Relations, American Foreign Policy, etc., were critical foundational knowledge to prepare me for this engaged learning opportunity. Being at the UN for CSW was the opportunity of a lifetime and has helped better prepare me and increased my chances for successful future opportunities of international collaboration and work. It may seem self-evident, but I became acutely aware of the necessity of developing strong networking relationships with organizations and individuals who share and support your message if you hope to accomplish lasting impact on any level, especially in a cooperative environment like the UN. I learned that one must take the initiative in building these relationships and work to keep them alive by sharing information and resources with partners so that they can improve their effectiveness as well. These are basic concepts which most of us learn through our lives, but the importance of them is multiplied when attempting to work on an international scale. My understanding of the UN has deepened and my awareness of the role that civil society plays in international affairs was sharpened. I know better how I can make an impact globally even if I do not work in a government. I hope to share this knowledge with my fellow students upon returning to UVU and using my position as Vice-President of UIMF to advocate more effectively for SMD and equity for women of the mountains.

Derek Garfield, Vice President, UIMF