Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, Dr. Rusty Butler, Dr. David Connelly
Utah Valley University (UVU) will hold the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (2015 WOMC) on October 7-9, 2015. UVU traditionally co-hosts the WOMC with the International University of Kyrgyzstan as a gathering to advocate gender and sustainable mountain development (SMD) agendas under the auspice of the Mountain Partnership (MP) under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN). MP is a United Nations voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world. (For more information, see: http://www.mountainpartnership.org/)
One main feature of all WOMCs is their focus on raising awareness about the importance of gender and sustainable mountain development agendas of the United Nations throughout local communities in the state of Utah and the Rocky Mountains region as well as their contribution to the efforts of the MP on a global level. Another important goal of the WOMC is to continue traditions of gender advocacy established by international communities during the Celebrating Mountain Women conference in Bhutan in 2002 (part of the commemoration of the United Nations International Year of Mountains.)
The First WOMC hosted in Orem UT in 2007 gathered representatives from almost all the Rocky Mountain States and emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in contributing to gender and SMD advocacy globally. The Second WOMC hosted again in Orem, UT in 2011, continued the tradition of the previous gathering and at the same time helped to expand a network of the Mountain Partnership members in North America. As one of the results of the 2011 conference, the Mountain Partnership secretariat created a North American regional hub in Colorado State under the auspice of Aspen International Mountain Foundation and Telluride Institute.
The Third WOMC held in Puno, Peru in 2012 was the first gathering held outside of the state of Utah, implementing the decisions of the Orem Declaration of Mountain Women (the final document of the 2007 WOMC) to alternate the location of the conference between the State of Utah and mountain nations around the world.
WOMC is a grass-roots initiative which unites officials from different international organizations, led by the United Nations, the World Bank, diplomats, scholars and leaders of NGOs, educators, students and local community representatives. Their goal is to network, socialize and discuss joint initiatives and projects with a focus on engagement in global gender and SMD advocacy mountain communities from North America.What should we expect from the coming Fourth International Women of the Mountains conference on October 7-9, 2015?
This conference will be hosted for the first time by students from the State of Utah. In 2011, Utah Valley University students created the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of several student clubs with a focus on SMD promotion in their state and in the region (www.utahimf.org)They already have several achievements in that area:
- UVU students contributed research to the Report on SMD in North America, prepared by the Mountain Partnership for the landmark United Nations RIO+20 conference in Brazil in 2012.
- They were able to raise funds to send representative to the RIO+20 conference and to participate at the Third Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership as a side event there.
- Two UVU student contributed to the agenda of the Fourth Global Meeting of the MP in 2013 which developed strategies for SMD advocacies by MP members in 2014-2017.
- They advocated for the inclusion of mountain indicators among Sustainable Development Goals during sessions of several United Nations Open Working Groups in 2013-2014.
- Since 2010, they made a tradition to commemorate the United Nations International Mountain Day on December 1.
- Since 2011 they host an annual essay-contest on different SMD aspects among high schools in the state of Utah as a tool to foster new leaders for future SMD programs.
The student led initiative to host 2015 WOMC is based on UVU’s engaged learning approach which is “….in the spirit of the Carnegie Foundation designation, designed to help realize the two engagement categories that UVU has achieved:
- Curricular Engagement (Curricular Engagement describes the teaching, learning, and scholarship that engages faculty, students, and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration. Their interactions address community identified needs, deepen students’ civic and academic learning, enhance community well-being, and enrich the scholarship of the 2015 Carnegie Elective Community;
- Outreach and Partnerships (Outreach and Partnerships describe two different but related approaches to community engagement. The first focuses on the application and provision of institutional resources for community use with benefits to both campus and community. The latter focuses on collaborative interactions with community and related scholarship for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration, and application of knowledge, information, and resources (research, capacity building, economic development, etc.) (http://www.uvu.edu/gel/about/index.html)
During preparations for the conference, UVU students were able to expand their coalition by including in their organizing committee community organizers from Salt Lake City, Utah County and their peers from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, among others. Many of them are learning very important skills of managing logistics, protocol, and raising funds for the conference.
The organizing committee represents students from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Many of them combine a membership in the organizing committee with their university study, full-time jobs and taking care of their own families.If you are interested in supporting them or wish to contribute to the conference and be a part of supporting student’s engaged learning experience at UVU, see for more details at: http://womenofthemountains.org/index.php/2015-utah-usa.
For additional questions please contact the following members of the organizing committee:
Deann Torsak, Executive Secretary of the Conference by: email@example.com;
Tony Medina, VP for Logistics and Protocol by: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Jennifer Starley, Press-Secretary and Fundraising by: email@example.com;
Yanko Dzhukev, Social Media coordinator by: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Kamaile Harris, Salt Lake City Liaison by: email@example.com;
Carlos Alarco, Liaison at University of Utah by: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Mary Cisneros, Economic Panel Moderator by: email@example.com;
Kiersten Palmer, Business Fair Coordinator by: KPalmer@uvu.edu;
Parker Nielsen, Head of Protocol by: firstname.lastname@example.org;
If you are interested in receiving the weekly WOMC newsletter, please contact Gabrielle Williamson, media specialist by GabrielleW@uvu.edu;
Dr.Baktybek Abdrisaev, was Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the U.S. and Canada (1997-2005), now Distinguished Visiting Professor of History and Political Science at Utah Valley University and an Advisor to UIMF, Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate Vice-President, International Affairs and Diplomacy and focal point (coordinator) for the Mountain Partnership at UVU, and Dr. David Connelly, Chair, Department of History and Political Science, UVU, and Editor-in-Chief of the “Youth and the Mountains” journal, published by UVU.