2015 John Gibbard Award for Youth Recipient – Anjali Katta

Rev. Epperson, Anjali Katta, Tazul Ali.
Rev. Epperson, Anjali Katta, Tazul Ali.

To celebrate each UN Day (October 24), the Vancouver Branch recognizes an outstanding youth, or group of youth, who are working towards global betterment.  In partnership with the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, this year’s recipient for the John Gibbard Award for Youth was Anjali Katta. At just 18 years old, Miss Katta is already an established gender equality activist. She is the CEO of her own non-profit, GirlsCo., that seeks to educate and inform youth about the issues that women and girls face, while raising money for girls education in developing countries. She also founded Bombay Pads, a program that delivers sanitary pads and sexual education to schools and orphanages in India. Earlier this year, Plan Canada chose Miss Katta as a Top 20 Under 20 Award.  She is currently studying at Stanford University.

Here is Miss Katta’s full acceptance speech:

Hello, my name is Anjali Katta and I am 18 years old from Vancouver BC. I just want to start off by thanking UNA Vancouver and the Unitarian church for this lovely event and for presenting me with this award. Awards like these are not the reason I do the things I do, but they give me hope in that the community I live in understands the importance of my work and also understands the importance of the cause I am championing for. In a sense giving the issues of gender equality and the empowerment of girls the validation and the credibility they deserve. The United Nations Association of Vancouver’s work with educating young people through awareness building is integral in crafting a brighter future for the local community, so I just wanted to reiterate how thankful I am for the work they do. I also want to thank my parents, despite how much I grumble and groan, they are the reason I am able to stand here, and their lessons and beliefs are the reason I’ve chose to dedicate a part of my life to improving the lives of those who live in my community and beyond. A final thank you goes to all the teachers and mentors who have helped put together events or guided me when I needed it most. Your help was essential in everything I’ve done from the equality summits to the countless fundraisers. I remember, once a venue cancelled a week before an event and I was absolutely terrified and completely lost. But a teacher came through and worked tirelessly to help me find a venue, and the event was a success. This example is representative of how lucky I am to know the people I know. And as lucky and privileged as I am, I am still disadvantaged.

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I am a girl. It breaks my heart, that gender, even in 2015, defines many of my opportunities. Trying to navigate the world as a girl, I can’t help but think about how far the movement for equality has come and how far there is still to go. A lot of people deny that there is more work to be done. They look back and take stock of the progress so far, and ask do we still need feminism. I’ve realized the best way to answer this question is to imagine what our lives would be like if the women’s movement had never happened and the position of women had remained as they were in the year of our birth. If you look back 30 or 20 or even 10 years ago, the change that happened over these periods is perceptible and significant, and therefore proves that feminism was and still is needed. I believe that girls are born with an inherent sense that they are equal but every single thing around them tells them they are less than. Don’t get your dress dirty! You can’t do that you’re a girl. If you’re a girl please jump off the smaller ski hill. You can’t debate, you’re a girl and girls get too emotional. These are all phrases that I’ve heard in my life and I can’t imagine what girls hear all across the globe. Every girl is smart and kind and clever and strong and unique and has an equal right to happiness, safety, and freedom. If we give a girl a chance, give her the tools to believe in herself and that she truly is just as capable, imagine how different the world would be. How many mothers would be able to teach their children to value an education? How many girls would be able to stand up in class and not care about the way she looks? How many girls won’t have to have their beauty equated to their intelligence? How many girls would be able to lift, not only themselves, but their family’s out of poverty? I’m saying this because each and every one of us owes it to the girls of tomorrow to take an active role in creating a future with more equality and less disparity. Every one of us should be conscious of what we say and do, the little things: like using the word girl as in insult or underestimating talents simply because of gender. We should foster discussion around equality and empower at a young age. Much of my work has centered around discussion and volunteering with younger girls, and I can attest to the difference instilling confidence can make. They stand taller, talk louder, and exist unafraid to let their voices be heard. Gender should not define opportunity and it’s our obligation to make that statement a reality. How much more peaceful, how much more free, and how much more just the world would be with more equality. So the next time you see a girl, don’t tell her how pretty she is—tell her how smart, kind, clever, interesting or the millions of other adjectives she is. Thank you.

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Tanya Smith, Courtney Szto, Tama Copithorne, Maurice Copithorne, George Somerwill, Anjali Katta, Tazul Ali, Patsy George.

Orange Day and the UNiTE Campaign to end violence against women

The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign was launched in 2008 with the goal to increase political will and resources for preventing and ending all forms of violence against women.

Campaign logo

Every year, the 25th of November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls around the world.

This day is also proclaimed asOrange Day(the colour designated to symbolize a brighter future without violence) by the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign, managed by UN Women.

UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

As a very delicate and fundamental topic for the development of a better future society, the action time is not only limited to the Orange Day.

From November 25th to December 10th (Human Rights Day), the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign are a special time to mobilize the local communities and to trigger action to end violence against women.

This year, the UN Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE invites you to “Orange YOUR Neighbourhood” during the 16 Days of Activism, organizing “Orange Events” to take the UNiTE campaign to local streets, shops and businesses in your own neighbourhoods.

The global vision of the UNiTE campaign is a world free from violence against all women and girls. This vision can only be realized through meaningful actions and ongoing political commitments of national governments, backed by adequate resources.

Orange your neighbourhood logo

UNiTE Goals:

  • Adoption and enforcement of national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls
  • Adoption and implementation of multi-sectoral national action plans that emphasize prevention and that are adequately resourced
  • Establishment of data collection and analysis systems on the prevalence of various forms of violence against women and girls
  • Establishment of national and/or local campaigns and the engagement of a diverse range of civil society actors in preventing violence and in supporting women and girls who have been abused
  • Systematic efforts to address sexual violence in conflict situations and to protect women and girls from rape as a tactic of war

You can follow @SayNO_UNiTE on Twitter and like SayNO.UNiTE on Facebook.

Sources:

Post written by UNAC-Vancouver website writer Sabrina Miso. 

Happy UN Day 2014

unacto11.jpgOctober 24th is United Nations Day, a global observance that marks the 69th anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter.

The day has been celebrated since 1948, and, in 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that it was observed by Member States as a public holiday.

The UN Day provides a unique opportunity to remember and to make people aware of the goals and the achievements of the United Nations Organization with meetings, discussions and exhibits throughout the world.

We want to celebrate and to embrace the work of the UN to make a difference and to positively impact the lives of the people around the globe, with the achievement of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and working towards the post-2015 development agenda.

“The UN has 4 main purposes:

  • to keep peace throughout the world
  • to develop friendly relations among nations
  • to help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms
  • to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.”

The theme of the 2014 UN Day is ‘Global Citizenship and Youth‘, to highlight the essential relevance of educating the younger generations to build and enhance a more peaceful and respectful global society.
Education is the key to provide the understanding that we are tied together as citizens of the global community, and that our challenges are interconnected.

“The United Nations is needed more than ever at this time of multiple crises. […] At this critical moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable. On United Nations Day, I call on Governments and individuals to work in common cause for the common good. “

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Please join us in celebrating the spirit of United Nations Day on Sunday Oct 26 at 11:00 am with the presentation of the John Gibbard Memorial Award to Ta’Kaiya Blaney at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.

Source:

UN Day: un.org/en/events/unday
The Charter of the United Nations:  un.org/en/documents/charter

Post submitted by UNAC-Vancouver website writer Sabrina Miso.

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The Lower Mainland Recognizes UN Day

unacto11.jpgThe municipalities of Burnaby, Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Richmond all proclaimed October 24, 2013 as “United Nations Day” in their respective cities.  Each of these municipalities recognized the work of the United Nations Association in Canada, which for the past sixty-eight years has been actively promoting global citizenship for all Canadians and raising awareness of the fundamental principles of the United Nations.

The UNAC-Vancouver would like to thank all of these municipalities for their continued support.   And thank you as well to all of you who promote the concepts of justice, human dignity and the well-being of all in your daily lives.

Happy United Nations Day!