Category Archives: 2021

UVU Rotaract Raises Funds with Orem Rotary in Preparation for CSW65

During the months of January and February 2021, Orem Rotary held its annual Orange fundraiser. This fundraiser delivers fresh picked California oranges to Orem and other nearby residents. The money donated by those who buy oranges is indispensable to accomplishing Orem Rotary Initiatives, such as Coats for Kids, which provides winter coats to children in need.

Members of the Orem Rotary did a very good job with this service project. Among the leaders I would like to name Orem Rotary President Dean Robinson who sold 31 boxes, and Orem Rotary President-designate Lynn Hillstead who sold 25.5 boxes. In total Orem Rotary members sold 140 boxes for $5,600. 

Best fundraisers: Dean Robinson ( L ) and Lynn Hillstead ( R )

UVU Rotaract contributed to this Orem Rotary service project as a continued partnership between students and local Rotarians. During December 2020 UVU Rotaract contributed to the Orem Rotary fundraising campaign to support Coats for Kids project.     

This year, Utah Valley University Rotaract welcomed several new members to the club, who supported Orem Rotary by participating in this fundraiser: Jeff Hibbard, Cody Conklin, Dallas Karren, and Byan Alghanmi each sold boxes of oranges to family members, neighbors, and coworkers. In total, the club sold $800 worth of oranges to more than 25 people.

Not only does this money support community service endeavors, it is also an essential initiative for UVU Rotaract to contribute to the visit of UVU and Orem Rotary delegation and presentation at the 65th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) next month. For the first time, this highest UN gender-focused forum will be held virtually, allowing more participants from all around the world to attend than ever before. Our delegation will be led by Dallas Karren, President of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) a coalition of student clubs at UVU. We are scheduled to speak about UVUs advocacy for mountain women and families, state of Utah as one of the models of sustainable development and students’ role in those activities on March 22, 2021.  UIMF, Orem Rotary and Rotaractors have been highlighted already in the official statement E/CN.6/2021/NGO/125, distributed by UN ECOSOC as an official document on 13 December 2020.

As President of UVU Rotaract, I was able to employ UVU’s Student Engaged Learning Model (SEL), in coordinating efforts of members of our club, delegating responsibilities to find donors, and UVU students gained professional experience, learning how to fundraise, find resources, and advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN among community members and donors. This experience allows us to move forward with even more confidence as we present at the CSW in March and advocate also through such service projects for  mountain women and communities. .

We are grateful for the support and desire of Orem Rotary members to involve every month Rotaractors in service projects like this. Many thanks to all of those who purchased oranges and supported these positive initiatives which improve our community and help us gain professional skills.

Yana Andersen, UVU Rotaract President

UIMF Attends Women and the Environment Preparatory Event for CSW65

A slide from the presentation by Mara Dolan

On February 18, 2021, the UIMF was able to participate in a monthly meeting by NGO CSW/NY titled, “Climate Crisis and Climate Action by and for Women” in preparation for our CSW65 parallel event that will be held on March 22, 2021. The current climate crisis affects each of us, although not equitably. Women and girls are hurt especially hard and share an unequal burden. As the global governments become more responsive and receptive to the inclusion of women voices, we will see more significant progress on a rapid scale. The climate movement has never been stronger and there is a great emphasis on youth involvement and indigenous peoples, which are extremely beneficial and important. There are real-world challenges that need to be overcome and advocacy is crucial.

Osprey Orielle Lake, Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network International, speaks during the meeting.
A slide from the presentation

We were able to attend a presentation by Mara Dolan from the WEDO, a global women’s advocacy organization, on how women are greatly affected by climate change and gender inequality. The top goals of WEDO are: (1) Women are empowered to claim their rights as decision-makers, advocates and leaders, especially on issues related to environment and sustainable development. (2) Sustainable development policies, plans and practices are gender-responsive, environmentally and socially-just, and effectively implemented.

Screenshot of chat

I was also able to advocate for mountain women and girls and invite the conference to attend our parallel event while highlighting the UIMF. This event touches on the main theme of CSW65, Sustainable Development Goal #5, as well as the environmental and climate issues that affect mountain communities and women. The UIMF mission is dedicated to advocating “…the sustainability of the world’s mountain environments and livelihoods by implementing three mountain targets [6.6, 15.1, and 15.4 by] student engaged learning through advocacy, networking, knowledge sharing, and exchanges of best practices both locally and globally.”

Members of my breakout room interact

Towards the end of the meeting, we separated into breakout rooms with ten participants where we were able to share our contributions to the CSW agenda and network vital connections. My room consisted of advocates and representatives of NGO’s from the west to east coast of the continental United States and in between.

Dallas Karren, Vice-President, UIMF

Training for Mountain Women and Girls Advocacy at CSW65

I participated at the advocacy training event as preparations for the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) on February 18, 2021. It was arranged by the Coalition of NGOs under CSW for members of thousands of NGOs who will participate at the activities of this highest United Nations gender-focused forum during two weeks in March 2021

Nurgal Djanaeva,

Nurgal Djanaeva, the founder and current president of the Forum of women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, co-chaired the event. Her work on the Program on Women’s Political Participation and the “50 days – 50 women” campaign directly contributed to the election of several women to the National Parliament. Additionally, Djanaeva chairs the national working group on Women, Peace, and Security, which has drafted many amendments to further gender equality in Kyrgyzstan.

Soon-Young Yoon,

Soon-Young Yoon, a representative of the UN International Alliance of Women and Chair of the Board to the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), also shared her experience advocating the UN for women’s human rights. Together, these women shared a framework for advocacy.

CSW65 is fast approaching, March 15th to the 26th, and we must be preparing every day! Advocacy during CSW65 means reaching out to members of governments, delegates, and ambassadors to persuade them to add our message to the final resolution. To achieve this goal, we know exactly what we will say and have concrete support for everything we say (have a factsheet prepared). Look for opportunities to set up virtual meetings with members of delegations and UN agencies.

The most effective way to ensure our message is heard is by intervening at critical moments. As Soon-Young Yoon said, “think of the process as a fast-moving train…Right now is the stop.”  First, understand the proposals found in the ‘Zero Draft’ (). Create key messages using concrete and persuasive language, supported by facts and followed by a call for action/recommendation. Have your advocacy tools ready (i.e., factsheet, elevator pitch, specific language recommendations). REMEMBER, LANGUAGE MATTERS! The specific terms/phrases have particular meanings. For example, “work for women” is not the same as “decent work women,” and “climate action” does not create the same outcome as “climate justice.” Here is a .

The expert advice given during today’s advocacy training gave me new information to consider while preparing the statement I will give on Monday, March 22, 2021, at 6 AM MST, during the parallel event titled, “Mountain Women Empowerment Through the Inclusive Student-Engaged Learning Model.

Liam Dowling, President of Chess Club at UVU and UIMF member

Learning to Present at CSW65

On February 11th, 2021, I participated in the “Presentation Skills Workshop” as part of the CSW65 Youth Preparation Series. Award-winning communications coach and international motivational speaker Jenni Prisk shared her advice for creating a compelling presentation. As a representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS) preparing my own presentation this coming March, the knowledge shared by Jenni Prisk is invaluable.

Jenni Prisk

Throughout the workshop, Jenni had participants engage in several exercises. The first exercise helps refine our “elevator pitch,” our brief (30 seconds or less), and persuasive marketing message. Next, Jenni asked us to visualize our coming presentation. Just like in the sports world, presenters can benefit from visualizing their own success. Then, Jenni advised us on how to “mobilize volunteers.” Knowing your mission, what drives you to accomplish that mission, and selling prospective volunteers on the benefits of participating in your organization can help drive engagement. Finally, Jenni shared the essential presentation skills:

Prisk Principle:

• Put Your Audience First

• Remember you are the Authority

• Inhale Confidence / Exhale Anxiety

• Share your Passion

• Keep in the Moment (Don’t second guess yourself)

On Monday, March 22nd, 2021, at 6 am MST, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University, will host a parallel event titled “Mountain Women Empowerment Through the Inclusive Student-Engaged Learning Model.” During this event, I will have the opportunity to share my experience with the Student-Engaged Learning (SEL) model as an academic tool and as an instrument that can bring positive change to the world. The insights gained from Jenni Prisk’s workshop will significantly contribute to the steps the UIMF and I take in preparing our presentation.

Liam Dowling, President of Chess Club at UVU and UIMF member

2020 Issue of the “Youth and the Mountains” Student Research Journal

is composed of research papers by undergraduate students from various academic fields at Utah Valley University (UVU) on the implementation of Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) in Utah and globally.

The first section includes copies of UN official documents recognizing students’ efforts to advocate SMD during 2020. They include the report of the UN Secretary General on Sustainable Mountain Development that was issued on 22 July 2019 which highlighted Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, involvement at the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), held at United Nations Headquarters in March 2018. A copy of the sponsored by the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, an NGO in general consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and distributed as an official document at CSW64 during March 2020. The third item is the Outcome Document of the 68th United Nations Civil Conference Society, hosted in Salt Lake City UT during August 26-28, 2019, which includes language about mountain communities in its preamble as a result of students’ efforts. 

The second section features student research examining aspects of SMD within the state of Utah, and the western part of the United States. These papers examine topics such as a comparative evaluation of state constitutions in the western part of the United States; the omission of mining rights in Utah; land management of state parks by the Department of Natural Resources; and the oversight of Utah’s natural resources among others. 

The final section focuses on the student research of the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mountainous states such as Norway and Kyrgyzstan. Two papers assess current status and challenges in implementing sustainable development for indigenous people and communities in Lebanon and the Tarahumara people in Chihuahua, Mexico. The last paper explores challenges of reconciliation and peacebuilding in mountainous Georgia with its breakaway territories such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

UVU faculty members provided students with the opportunity to work on this volume through a student-engaged learning (SEL) model, when they gained professional skills of peer-reviewing while editing content as a group with faculty serving them as mentors.

Dallas Karren, Editor-In-Chief of the Journal

UVU Rotaract Gains Professional Skills in Preparations for CSW65

On Thursday, February 4th, 2021, I represented UVU Rotaract as the President and as a member of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU),  as I gathered with young adults from all over the world who joined virtually for a United Nations 65th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Youth Preparation Event (YPE). This YPE was set up as a lecture workshop with the goal to help youth become effective advocates in international fora. The event was hosted by Canada Youth for Peace(CYP), a nongovernmental organization who seeks to involve youth in social advocacy work.

Group photo of the event participants

The event started with a brief introduction by CYP representatives, which was followed by various breakout sessions. I elected to participate in the breakout session hosting a workshop about making effective interventions at the CSW conference. I chose to attend this session because I wanted to gain speaking and intervention skills for the CSW parallel event I will attend on March 22nd, as part of the combined UVU Rotaract and Utah International Mountain Forum delegation under sponsorship of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), a nongovernmental organization in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Gaining such skills through this setting was a valuable opportunity that employs UVU’s student engaged learning model.

CYP representatives Anne Campbelle and Katrina Leclerc introduce the event

During the breakout session, I learned that it is appropriate and valuable to ask for an intervention ahead of time. If I know which NGO will be running a session of the conference, I can ask them before the conference begins for time to make an intervention, which is a statement that posits the organization’s main purposes and beliefs, and advocates for a causing relating to the UN-CSW agenda. The UIMF and Rotaract will also be submitting requests to hold an intervention and an oral/written statement during the General Discussion of the conference.

Successful Interventions document prepared by CYP

Because this is the first time CSW will be held virtually, interventions now take on an alternative format. In this setting, it is appropriate to ask to make an intervention before the meeting begins, while people are virtually gathered, or via chat. Due to the virtual nature of the event, key networking and establishing contacts with others after the meeting is especially challenging. Part of a successful intervention is stating what organization you are from so like-minded organizations and individuals can get in contact with you. During these types of events, the UIMF invites others to join in our mission and create alliances.

I found this breakout session both informative and valuable. I appreciate the efforts of CYP and other NGOs involved to provide the information that will enable us to enhance our Student-Engaged Learning experience (SEL). Attendance at this event was a reminder of the value of UVU’s SEL model, which provides the opportunity for students to gain real professional skills and experience. I feel more prepared to effectively advocate for Rotary International goals, especially for women and girls in mountain communities, and look forward to the opportunity to attend the 65th CSW conference

Yana Andersen, UVU Rotaract President




Sarah Michaelis-My experience with an Youth Advocacy as a Preparations for CSW65

UIMF participates in CSW65 Chair Address to NGO’s

Today, January 21, 2021, as preparations for the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University, participation at the 65th session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW65),  I attended the “Virtual Informal Briefing to NGOs by the Chair of CSW” event. The Chair of CSW65 is His Excellency,  Mr. Mher Margaryan, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations.

I was invited as an official representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), a Non-government Organization (NGO) dedicated to Sustainable Development. The call consisted of two hundred and twenty-six participants including representatives of different NGOs accredited under the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) from around the world and Vice-Chairs of CSW. 

The Chair of CSW65, H.E. Mr. Mher Margaryan addresses the audience

Ambassador Margaryan opened the meeting with the administrative announcements and information about CSW65 which will take place during March 15-16, 2021. He shared with us the following:

The session(s) of CSW65 will take on a hybrid form this year due to COVID-19, but still entail a “full and substantive agenda.” There will be a limited in-person ceremonial opening of the 65th session on March 15 where the Chair of CSW will give welcoming remarks and the Presidents of ECOSOC and the General Assembly will speak with other representatives afterwards. Four Ministerial Roundtables will be held from March 15-19 on two topics that align with the CSW65 focus. All side and parallel events this year will be of a virtual nature. As of now, 146 statements have been submitted as Documents of Commission by NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC. Agreed conclusions of CSW65 will be negotiated by member states starting in February 2021. Our delegation submitted through RANS a and was able to receive approval from CSW65 to host a parallel event titled “Mountain Women Empowerment Through the Inclusive Student-Engaged Learning Model.” on March 22, 2021 at 8:00EST. Preparations are currently underway by UVU students who will participate as official members of the delegation and have the opportunity to provide a student statement.

The theme of this year’s CSW regards gender equality and women empowerment in sustainable Development. H.E. Margaryan called for an elimination of violence against women and for more women in office. CSW provides the opportunity to assess the progress made and the gaps remaining; identify effective (or non-effective) policies; and to strengthen dialogue and commitment. The COVID-19 Pandemic has complicated women’s issues and is reversing strides accomplished under the 25 years of the Beijing Declaration. As such, it is imperative that measures are deployed to confront this. The UIMF is also dedicated to and advocates each year at CSW for the inclusion of specific language regarding mountain women and girls to be within the focus of the 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development. H.E. Margaryan furthermore encouraged participants to follow @UN_CSW on Twitter for updates and to use #CSW65 when referencing the upcoming session on social media. He then thanked us for our commitment and contributions before handing the podium to his colleague.

The delegation was next addressed by New York based Ms. Lopa Banerjee, Director of the Civil Society Division of UN Women and Executive Coordinator of the Generation Equality Forum. 

Ms. Banerjee speaks on the importance of CSW

Ms.Banerjee illustrated the enormous investment that society makes in CSW as the UN is the “global policy making space.” She additionally explained that this CSW carries the weight of the Beijing 25 moment, which was circumvented last year due to the unprecedented conditions surrounding COVID, therefore expectations and investments are higher than usual. The belated celebration is being termed “Beijing +25+1.”

Ms.Banerjee elaborated on the words of Ambassador Margaryan of the significance of the priority theme during COVID and women’s representation as central pieces of a gender equal world. She further emphasized localization for stronger engagement and the necessity of youth to be involved in the NGO delegations; exactly what the UIMF and UVU are doing through the unique student-engaged learning (SEL) model at UVU. Lastly, the floor was opened to an interactive Question and Answer session among the NGO representatives and the CSW Team. The majority of questions from the audience were asked about the ability to network and communicate on the same level during virtual events, a concern that was addressed by the introduction of the Advocate and Youth series programs

Houry Geudelikian, NGO-CSW/NY Chair

While this was a first learning experience for me and I didn’t ask any questions concerning the coming event, I was still able to send greetings to participants of the event on behalf of our delegation. 

This was one of the preparatory CSW65 events for our delegation to take part and I learned more in depth about the importance of this work and the real challenges that the world faces. More activities are planned before our participation at the CSW65 and other members of our group will be involved in them and report about acquired experiences, knowledge and established contents.

Dallas Karren, Vice President of UIMF

Statement E/CN.6/2021/NGO/125 for CSW65 Highlights UIMF role in the mountain women advocacy

On December 13, 2020, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations approved a co-sponsored by the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Utah-China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce, two NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC for the 65th session of the commission on the status of Women (CSW65). The statement urges the Commission to have mountain women and girls in the focus of the 2030 Development Agenda. The statement highlights the key role of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), in the effectiveness of UVU’s student engaged learning (SEL) model for students’ professional growth, international recognition and advocacy of mountain women and Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations.

The UIMF is continuing preparations for CSW65 by preparing to host a parallel event titled: Mountain Women Empowerment Through the Inclusive Student-Engaged Learning Model on March 22, 2021. The event will advocate for mountain women and girls while showcasing SEL and Utah as one of the best examples of SMD. The UIMF’s main priority in contributing to the agenda of CSW65 in this way is to get language concerning mountain women – who have been neglected in high-level forums on sustainable development – into the final document of CSW65.

Dallas Karren, Vice President of UIMF

UVU Students Preparations for CSW65

The Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), is actively preparing for an advocacy campaign at the 65th Session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).

On Monday, March 22, 2021, at 10am MST, the UIMF will host a virtual parallel event titled, “Mountain Women Empowerment Through the Inclusive Student-Engaged Learning Model.” The event is co-sponsored by the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), and Utah China Friendship Initiative Sharing Hands Development & Commerce (UCFISHDC), two NGOs in consultative status with the and members of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO) .

Statements from UVU students and faculty will feature the implementation of the with a focus on promoting mountain communities and Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD), on gender equality, in interaction with the three mountain targets 6.6, 15.1, and 15.4.

The goals of the parallel event:

  1. Demonstrate how UVU students use a unique student-engaged learning (SEL) model to effectively gain professional advancement, leadership skills, and positively contribute to their communities and localities while promoting SMD on the local, national, regional, and global scales.
  2. Report on UVU and UIMF’s efforts to contribute to the UN 2030 Development agenda by advocating for SMD and mountain women and communities.
  3. Showcase Utah as one of the examples of SMD.

Pertinent background to the importance of promoting mountain communities is contained in the Summary of the UN Secretary-General’s 2019 UNSG Report on SMD (A/74/209); which also acknowledged UIMF advocacy at CSW62.

You can also view a UIMF piece on How to advocate at the United Nations

During CSW65, the UIMF raises awareness about the current situation and challenges which mountain communities face both in Utah and globally. Mountain communities are among the most vulnerable to modern challenges such as climate change and food insecurity, and are among the poorest and most neglected regions in the world. SEL allows students to be directly involved in addressing real-world problems of mountain communities as a group with faculty serving them as a mentor.

Dallas Karren, Vice President, UIMF