Tag Archives: Women of the Mountains

Students engaged learning at Utah Valley University by hosting the International Women of the Mountains Conference

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.)

WOM 2007 Poster
WOM 2007 Poster

WOM 2007 Display Poster
WOM 2007 Display Poster

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.

2011 WOMC Poster
WOM 2011 Poster

WOM 2011 Display Poster
WOM 2011 Display Poster

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.

WOM 2012 Poster
WOM 2012 Poster

WOM 2012 Display Poster
WOM 2012 Display Poster

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?

Display Posters from previous conferences

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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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: dktorsak@hotmail.com;

Tony Medina, VP for Logistics and Protocol by: tony.h.medina@gmail.com;

Jennifer Starley, Press-Secretary and Fundraising by: jstarley@hotmail.com;

Yanko Dzhukev, Social Media coordinator by: dzhukev@yahoo.com;

Kamaile Harris, Salt Lake City Liaison by: kamailet@yahoo.com;

Carlos Alarco, Liaison at University of Utah by: carlos.alarco@utah.edu;

Mary Cisneros, Economic Panel Moderator by: marycisneros1womc@gmail.com;

Kiersten Palmer, Business Fair Coordinator by: KPalmer@uvu.edu;

Parker Nielsen, Head of Protocol by: nielsenparker@gmail.com;

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.

UIMF Presents Women of the Mountains Conference at University of Utah


UIMF Introduces Women of the Mountains Conference at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum made a presentation titled: “Women of the Mountains 2015 conference and Students Engagement” to students at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics on April 16, 2015. They also extended an invitation to the University of Utah students to join with UVU in participating in the WOM Conference by making presentations, being members of the organizing committee, or moderating panels.

womu1 Jesler Molina, President of the UIMF during presentation at University of Utah

Jesler Molina, President of the Utah International Mountain Forum introduced the presenters and thanked Associate Director Jane Nelson for the opportunity to speak to the University of Utah. Jesler also explained what the International Mountain Forum is, the main focus of the UIMF coalition is, including promoting the United Nations agenda on sustainable mountain development. Jesler presented the upcoming Women of the Mountains Conference and then introduced a video that illustrated the work the UIMF has done and highlighted some of the student members of the club.

womu2 Deann Torsak, VP , UIMF during presentation at University of Utah

Jesler introduced Deann Torsak, Vice President of Cultural Affairs of the UIMF who presented the panels that are being organized and explained the topics, including Transmitting Family Values, Heritage and Culture, Education of Women and Children, and Climate Change and Gender. Deann also invited students to participate by assist in moderating the panels for the conference.

womu3 Deena Ainge, President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU during presentation at University of Utah

I spoke about the objectives for the WOM Conference to the audience, explaining the important goal of including other educational institutions such as the University of Utah. Other goals include engaging local communities in the conference and establish partnerships with NGOs from around the world and to strengthen ties with the United Nations, UNWomen, the World Bank and the US State Department. She also explained the goal to bring women in business from around the world to speak on behalf of women in their countries and expose them to business opportunities here in Utah.

Kiersten Dumas, Vice President of Community Outreach for the UIMF followed. Keirsten thanked the Hinkley Institute and the University for hosting the delegation from UVU, she highlighted some of the opportunities members of the UIMF have had in recent months to present the conference to other organizations such as the United Nations, UNWomen, and the US State Department. Kiersten reported on the recent High School Essay Contest which allowed local high school students to write and present their research on sustainable mountain development and women’s issues. Kiersten emphasized the importance of including youth and engaging local communities to promote the agenda of sustainable mountain development.

womu4UIMF delegation with Jayne Nelson, Associate Director of the Hinckley Institute at University of Utah ( C ) after presentation

Jesler concluded by explaining how success can be achieved in hosting the WOM Conference and bring recognition of student activities to the United Nations. He emphasized the way to ensure success is through joint student involvement from other schools, like the University of Utah. The panel then concluded by answering questions from the audience.

Deena Ainge, President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU, and Deann Torsak, executive secretary, Women of the Mountains Conference 

UVU Peru Study Abroad Follows Up Women of the Mountains Conference Goals

UVU Study Abroad program in Peru was held this May 2014. Dr. Sara Ulloa, Associate Professor of UVU Languages Department, and Advisor to the Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU   led a group of 19 students from Spanish, health, business, engineering and other fields to immerse themselves in the language and culture while providing service to Andean communities.

Group visited several places in Cusco and La Libertad to build bridges of understanding with Andean communities and its peoples. Collaborating internationally, students were able to start research on different aspects in order to promote solutions to problems and enrich the quality of life of its people. Research was based on the influence of the high altitude and remoteness on the living conditions of families, children and women in particular.

These issues were the focus of the Third International Conference Women of the Mountains, which UVU co-hosted in 2012 in Puno, Peru. The Conference in 2012 helped established closer relationships between the Rocky Mountain States, and Utah in particular, and the mountain communities and their families living on the high altitude of the Peruvian Andes. As one of the outcomes of the gathering in 2012 was the decision from UVU to create a study abroad program to bring faculty and students in order to continue work on the issues of gender and sustainable mountain development in Peru.

ulloa1 Group Picture: UVU Faculty and Students Together With Ccasacunca Community, Cuzco, Peru

During their stay in Peru, students met local people from the villages neighboring Cusco and Trujillo and experienced first-hand how it is to live in Andean communities. Students were able to make connections; find similarities and differences among their own culture and the Andean culture in order to intertwine this knowledge to an integrated view of the world.  Students who participated in this program returned home with a greater appreciation for others around the world and a better foundation for living and working in order to provide further assistance.

As a part of the program, UVU students also helped locals with schoolwork and brought school supplies and toys for children. In addition, plans for future cooperation between Utah and Peru, specially UVU and Cusco were discussed.

Faculty and students also visited local universities and discussed with local hosts plans for educational exchanges and mutual cooperation. Local scholars and faculty also expressed a strong interest to attend the Fourth international Women of the Mountains, which UVU will co-host in October 2015.

UVU Students Meeting Local Leaders and Children

UVU Students and Andean Children Rendering Honors to Andean Leaders


UVU Student, Matt French, presented UVU Souvenirs to Trujillo Teachers

UVU Students Teaching Children in BiblioBus, La Libertad

UVU Peru Study Abroad Group 2014, Machu Picchu, Peru

Furthermore, members of delegation were thrilled to visit famous and popular Machu Picchu and other touristic sites. Andean tour taught them about great heritage and skills in architecture of ancient Inca Empire, who were able to reach high peaks of civilization in such harsh environment of the mountainous Andes.

Fritz Culp and Matthew French, UVU students

2nd Annual High School Essay Contest Workshop

The second annual Utah Students Workshop and Essay Contest will take place on Friday, March 30, 2012 from 2-6 PM in the Story Telling wing of the Orem Public Library


Event Agenda:

2:00pm – 2:10pm – Opening remarks by the Chair of the Organizing Committee,

Dr. Snedegar and Deputy Chair, Jesler Molina

2:10pm – 2:20pm – Greetings from Dr. Rusty Butler, Focal Point of the U.N.-related

Mountain Partnership (MP) at Utah Valley University

2:20pm – 2:30pm –  Remarks from John McClure, President of Utah International Mountain

Forum (UIMF) at UVU

2:30pm – 4:00pm – Presentation of the best 10 research papers by high school students

4:00pm – 4:10pm – Greetings by Skype from Rebecca Wallace, Aspen International

Mountain Foundation, member of the MP.

4:10pm – 4:50pm – Presentation of the best 10 research papers by high school students


4:50pm – 5:20pm – Announcement of the best 5 essays and the 3 winners by Dr. Snedegar,

and Jesler Molina. Awards and certificates of appreciation to the winners are presented by representative of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Focal Point of MP at UVU and President of UIMF.

5:20pm – 5:30pm – Presentation of certificates of appreciation to all participants and

organizers of the Workshop (same individuals are involved as in the previous ceremony)

5:30pm – 6:00pm – Reception

Organizing Committee


 Utah High-Schools Workshop on Sustainable Energy

Welcome from City of Orem