UIMF advocates for mountain women at the UN


The Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), participated at the 61st session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) on 20-23 March 2017. The UIMF shared with participants at CSW61 their contributions to the gender and the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agendas of the UN in the State of Utah, United States, and North America by hosting the international Women of the Mountains Conferences (WOMCs) since 2007. Because of the UVU emphasis on student engaged learning, WOMCs provide students a great opportunity to combine their education with hands-on activities at the level of the UN, while faculty advise them only when students need it.

The UIMF was represented by Tony Medina, former President of UIMF (2014—2016), Christian Jensen, current President of UIMF, Regan Warner, Vice President of SMD Club, and Munkhbat Batmunkh, Vice President of UIMF, while Dr Baktybek Abdrisaev, faculty member and Mountain Partnership Focal Point of UVU, served as their student advisor. Although each of the students is a non-traditional one and combines education with working full- or part-time jobs and taking care of a family, the UIMF members contribute their time and energy to raising awareness among communities in North America about the importance of supporting the mountain women and families in developing countries globally.

The UIMF was featured in the 2016 UN Secretary-General Report on SMD for the promotion of the mountain targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and SDG 5 on gender in particular. As a next step in student engagement at the UN, the UIMF aimed to raise similar awareness at the CSW and UN Women as well.

In order to advance their goal during this major UN gender-focused forum, the UIMF has built partnerships with several NGOs with UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultative status, including the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS) and its main representative at the UN, Dr Rusty Butler, as well as with Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce (F.I.S.H.D.& C.) and its president, Wendy Jiyang. Both NGOs provided UIMF an opportunity to participate and to make a joint presentation at CSW61 on 14 March 2017.

Students also met with the Permanent Representative (PR) of Hungary to the UN, Katalin Annamária Bogyay, the PR of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, Mirgul Moldoisaeva, the Deputy PR of Mongolia to the UN, Guamaral Altangerel, and the Deputy PR of Romania to the UN, Elisabeta David. During these meetings, they discussed how to advocate jointly for mountain women by co-hosting side events during CSW.

By attending parallel events, students gained experiences of working together with other NGOs from North America at the UN in order to advocate for mountain women.

As a preparation for the CSW62, UIMF members will bring together NGOs from North America with ECOSOC consultative status in Utah during fall 2017 to discuss joint activities at the CSW and at the UN to promote the gender and SMD agendas.

News by UIMF/Kimberly Williamson

Photo: UIMF

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