IMPACT 10X10X10 Initiative: UN Women HeForShe Campaign

The 2015 deadline for the MDGs has passed, and the world has made tremendous progress with MDG #3–promote gender equality and empower women. UN Women and partnering government organizations, civil societies, businesses, and national committees have worked endlessly to achieve gender parity, ensuring equal treatment and opportunity for women in economic, social, and political realms of our global society. As a result of these collaborative efforts to achieve MDG #3 by the 2015 deadline, more girls were granted access to primary and secondary education, the number of women entering the workforce increased, and political participation among women was also on the rise.

Despite these wonderful accomplishments made possible by international partnerships, gender parity is still not 100% present in our current global society–it is still only in it’s distant future. UN Women is continuing its efforts to meet the goals set by MDG 3 in its Post-2015 development agenda. UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign’s newest initiative, IMPACT 10X10X10, is an example of this effort.

HeForShe is a ”solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all.” The campaign’s pilot initiative IMPACT 10X10X10 was launched on January 22nd at the press conference for UN Women.

The new campaign IMPACT 10X10X10 is a one-year pilot effort that aims to engage governments, corporations and universities as instruments of change positioned within some of the communities that most need to address deficiencies in women’s empowerment and gender equality. –UN Women

In her address at the 10X10X10 initiative’s launch, Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson encouraged and urged leadership in all countries, corporations, and academic institutions to sign on to the initiative as it is serves as a catalyst to achieving what the world wants–change. Since the first launch of the HeForShe Campaign in September, the number of people who have signed on and committed to the campaign’s mission have proliferated.

The groundswell of response we have received in support for HeForShe tells us we are tapping into what the world wants: to be a part of change. Now we have to channel that energy into purposeful action. The pilot initiative provides that framework. Next we need all country leadership, as well as that of hundreds of universities and corporations to follow HeForShe’s IMPACT 10x10x10 so as to bring an end to the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally… –UN Women

Watson ended her speech, encouraging all boys and men to become allies for the other half of humanity. She encouraged all to publicize the unique ways in which they are committing themselves to achieving gender equality for all through social media outlets and public settings.

As we reflect on Watson’s words and our call to work for Justice, let us think about these ways in which we can bring the HeForShe movement to our states, cities, hometowns, neighborhoods, schools, homes….

In Peace,

Jacqueline Salas, SJW Justice Office Program Assistant

For complete coverage of Watson’s speech, click on the link below.

Remembering What We Have Forgotten

We’ve become too comfortable…We’ve forgotten about our responsibility to continue the work…

In preparation for our SJW program day on January 19th, I spent a lot of time reflecting on language, views, and beliefs I have or used the past 22 years–all around the Civil Rights Movement and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I tried to recall my earliest memory of learning about who Dr. King was and what made him so well-known.

Some things came to mind: I recollected bits and pieces of lyrics to a song I learned in the fourth grade, “there was a man named Martin Luther king he said, let freedom ring from the Alleghenies to the red hills in Georgia, let freedom ring…” Memories of my eighth grade literature class– my teacher bringing to life the lessons of segregation and discrimination–as she without any explanation, separated the class based on differences none of us could see–paying extra attention to some and little to no attention to others… Memories of college–appreciating January 19th because it meant  one more day of winter break…Memories of Facebook–flooded with posts that looked similar to, “Let us remember the words of Dr. King [insert quote from ‘I Have a Dream’ speech here]…….”

This year MLK day moved beyond songs, Facebook posts, and the excitement of another holiday. It was in itself it’s own experience–one that I will not forget. For so long, January 19th was just a day to remember the historic influence of MLK. It was just a day to recall the struggles of our nation prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement. It was a day of joy because we as a nation have “supposedly” overcome the evils of racism, segregation, and discrimination. This year was different. It wasn’t any of these things. Instead, it was a wake up call that exposed the reality of our society today–that we’ve become too comfortable, failing to continue the work that great leaders like MLK only started years ago…

On Monday, the Saint Joseph Workers had a chance to attend a breakfast in Brooklyn Center with a local congregation, where we celebrated MLK Day. We shared a meal with members of the community, and we had a chance to hear the words of Vernon Jordan who spoke at the conference center downtown. He talked about how he believed that Dr. King would cry tears of joy because President Obama has been elected by the people on two terms. He talked about how he believed Dr. King would cry tears of sorrow as we continue to see death be a result of discrimination, hate, and racism. He talked about Selma, and how Selma is NOW–how the Civil Rights Movement is NOW.

As we reflected on his words and prepared to attend the “ReclaimMLK” March initiated by Black Lives Matter, unsettling feelings were stirring inside of me. I started asking myself questions… “Have I become too comfortable?” “Have I removed myself from the responsibility that we all share– to ensure that all people are treated equally?” “Have I chosen to be blind to the prominent presence of racism and discrimination in our society today?” “Have I only associated these issues to ‘things of the past’?

At about 1pm, close to 3,000 people from all across the state came to participate in a 4-mile march to the Capitol. It was there that I witnessed children, young adults, adults, and seniors of all different backgrounds standing together–some in tears, some with smiles, some with a sense of peace. I couldn’t help but immediately think that these people were there because of the recent killings of young black men across the country. But as we continued to walk, I learned that the close to 3,000 people present, were there because of so much more. I believe that the people who were present were marching for what most of us have forgotten–that the work for equality and justice for all did not end in 1963–that the work needs to be continued NOW and by us–the people.

The aerial image of the march on Monday struck me. Images of the March on Washington that I saw for years in my history books came to mind. Pictures and videos of the young adults who spoke on Monday to the few thousand present on Snelling and University reminded me of the images and video clips played in class featuring Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

The past realities I knew only to exist “back then” came to life…Past and present realities became one.

Vernon Jordan was right–Selma is now–the Civil Rights Movement is NOW. We have, for too long, taken for granted the liberties we are now born with. We have grown too comfortable and have forgotten that we must continue the work–advocating, speaking up, standing up so that all people are treated with dignity and respect. We are living in a world that fails to acknowledge our human fault. We are in a sense failing to acknowledge our humanity, the humanness of our systems, and the everlasting need to work for better.

This Monday I had the privilege of marching with 3,000 other individuals who inspired me and who reminded me that I must not forget.

I hope that this blog will be that reminder for you–to remember, to celebrate, and to continue the work of Justice for all people.

In Peace,
Jackie Salas, SJW Justice Office Program Assistant

Here are a few pictures from the march!

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A Firm Foundation For Haiti; responding to the call for Justice.

This January marks five years since one of the world’s most devastating earthquakes hit Haiti. There were over 200,000 people reported dead and an estimated 1.5m left homeless. A cholera epidemic shortly followed the earthquake’s devastation, only adding to misery. Five years later and the country is still recovering from the effects of the earthquake, but Haiti is determined to ‘build back better’.

In the most recent issue of Sojourners Jim Rice highlights one organization that is helping this movement to ‘build back better’–Compassion International. The organization is based in Colorado and was initially developed to focus on child development.

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.   ~Compassion International Mission Statement

Although the organization does not focus on reconstruction efforts, the immediate need to rebuild schools for children after the earthquake was evident, so the organization responded.

The international community appropriated approximately 1.8 billion dollars for humanitarian relief in Haiti; however, only 0.3% of those funds were actually used for the public. Lack of sustainable development–this is what has and continues to hinder the country from recovering at full capacity. To combat these struggles, Compassion International is committed to a different approach towards reconstruction and social efforts. The organization teaches and employs the local people for building projects, educating them on building standards, protocol, and appropriate use of materials. Sustainable development–this is what Compassion strives toward, so that the people will be able to sustain themselves long after. In addition, the organization has established micro-lending opportunities for individuals to start their own businesses, creating more job opportunities. Unlike many other organizations that have gone through government agencies or  NGOs to aid the people of Haiti, Compassion focuses on aiding individuals directly and through local community organizations. i.e. churches Compassion International emphasizes the importance of having “Compassion Haiti run by Haitians”.

Other groups have come into the country, with the best of intentions, and tried to impose what they think Haiti needs. Compassion Haiti is run by Haitians. ~quote taken from Sojourners, On a Firm Foundation, p. 46

In reflecting on Compassion’s mission and approach to helping Haiti build Haiti better, I can’t help but think of the work we do in the ministry of Justice.

~’What’ are we being called to do?

~Is the ‘what’ we do the important part of our call?

Rather, maybe we should all approach our work in Justice as Compassion has in Haiti….

~How are we being called to do the work?

~Are we truly listening or simply acting?

~How are we being called to carry out the ministry of Justice?

In Peace,

Jackie, SJW Justice Office Program Assistant

Wake The World!

These past two weeks have been grief stricken as the world learned of the attacks in France and of the lives lost. The international community has come in solidarity to mourn the seventeen who lost their lives. We have seen coverage in the media, heard statements by political leaders, and continue to receive updates about what actions are being taken to ensure justice for these individuals.

In the midst of this tragedy, a kind of peace is present. Peace because the world is aware. Peace because people and government are working together. Peace because the world is standing in solidarity as the people of France mourn.

I wish I could say that the presence of peace in the midst of tragedy was a universal experience. But it’s not. Only more violence, unrest, and death is being experienced by the people of Baga, Nigeria as the Boko Haram insurgents continue to massacre thousands of Nigerians in the state of Borno. Over 2,000 people have been massacred by the Boko Haram– most of them women and children. This most recent massacre isn’t the group’s first attack. Yet, why are we only hearing about it now? Why is there little to no coverage about these atrocities to let the world know? In addition, this isn’t the first time that the country has been plagued with violence, terror, and injustice. In April of last year, 273 young girls were taken from their schools and families. Last week, over twenty people were killed in a bombing in which a 10 year old girl was wearing the strapped bomb.

Nigeria as well as a numerous amount of other countries experience this level of terror, violence, and mass murder every day…And yet, in the midst of these horrific tragedies, there is no peace for the people. No peace because the world is not aware. No peace because there is no substantial government support. No peace because the world is not standing in solidarity as the people of Nigeria and countries alike continue to mourn and experience injustice.

It falls on us now. It falls on us to wake the rest of the world up, to wake political leaders up, to let the people of Nigeria and people in other conflict-plagued nations know that we are standing in solidarity with them.

I ask that you blog, tweet, comment, post, and talk about the importance of global awareness–educating ourselves on issues affecting countries and people all around the world–not just in “our own”. I ask that you remind yourself and others of the oneness that unites all–our humanity. I ask that you stand in solidarity with all those who continue to be affected by violence and injustice, and that you continue to pray for the day that peace is possible for all.

~Jacqueline Salas, SJW Justice Office Program Assistant