#WorldMoms at #WorldBank this week for #SMCSO15
Fantastic news! Writers from World Moms Blog will be traveling to the World Bank Spring Meetings (#SM2015) in Washington D.C. this week to help spread the word about the ongoing dialog between citizens from Civil Society Organizations (CSO). World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden, and contributor, Cynthia Changyit Levin, are thrilled to be headed back to the World Bank CSO meetings to represent moms around the globe concerned about the futures of ALL children no matter where they were born.
Civil Society meetings are bi-annual events hosted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Non-government organizations like UNICEFthe ONE Campaign, A World at School, and RESULTS send representatives to speak on panels to talk about development policies. Citizens from all over the world can join in and voice their opinions about the best ways to fight extreme poverty and speak out about how World Bank programs affect the lives of people in their countries for better or worse.
We’re honored to be lending our social media skills in a partnership that started at the 2014 RESULTS Conference when we met World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim and continued as we attended and blogged about the 2014 Fall CSO meetings. This spring, we’re returning to help the World Bank to engage in conversation with our audience of concerned moms on topics of importance to us as world citizens: Ebola, Education, Nutrition, and more. We’ll be live-tweeting flagship events and even hosting a panel discussion about social media and citizen activism to move the world toward education for all.
YOU can help take the meetings and the conversation about ending poverty far beyond DC! Please join the conversation by:
- Following the Twitter hashtag #SMCSO15 and the Twitter accounts of @WorldMomsBlog, @JenniferBurden, and @ccylevin so you can join in the conversation and re-tweet posts that you like using the #WorldMoms hashtag.
- Joining live-streamed webcast events (listed below) and leaving your questions/comments on the webcast page for the moderators! Each event has a hashtag so you can engage with the panel and audience through Twitter.
- Leaving a question for the World Bank in the comment section of this blog. We’ll try to ask it in the panel discussions and town hall meetings we attend or ask our contacts at the World Bank about it to get a response to you.
Here is the link to the full schedule of live-streamed webcast events. The list below calls out some of our favorites that we are most excited to attend. Pick one or more that interest you and join us virtually. You may even see us in the audience!
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. ET
Join us for a live discussion where panelists will address the need for a new social contract to meet the demands of the current generation of citizens in the Middle East and North Africa.
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m ET.
Location: World Bank Group Headquarters, Preston Auditorium & Online
Can people of faith help build a movement to end extreme poverty? Can they seize this opportunity at a time of conflict in some regions — some of it driven by groups claiming religious justification?
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET
How can Latin American governments stimulate growth while preserving social achievements? What growth levels will countries of the region achieve in 2015?
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 8:45 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ET
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will address the press during the World Bank’s 2015 Spring Meetings.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. ET
Join us for a panel discussion on the importance of investing in nutrition; the challenges countries are facing; and concrete steps towards scaling up high-impact programming for child nutrition.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET
Hear from a development banker, a renowned chef, an agricultural expert, a woman farmer, a culinary professional and others about the future of food, and how we can work together to feed the world.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET
Join regional policy makers, practitioners and civil society representatives for a discussion on what it will take to instill adequate accountability and motivation among public servants and service providers toward meeting citizens’ needs.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET
Water security is emerging as the number one global risk in terms of development impact. An expert panel will share their experiences and solutions for addressing water scarcity challenges with a view of the social, economic, and political implications.
Date: Friday, April 17, 2015
Time: 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. ET
WBG President Jim Yong Kim chairs this high-level roundtable at which the heads of state of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will present their Ebola recovery plans to finance and development ministers and international partners.
“Are you okay?” The emails and Facebook queries began pouring in even before I knew what had happened. “Were you there?” One particularly dramatic friend asked if “what happened” made me think about moving home.
Their queries followed the terrible news that had gone viral almost as soon as it happened: in a mall bathroom in Abu Dhabi, where I live, a veiled woman had killed a Western woman—-an American teacher-—with a long kitchen knife. Adding to the horror of the attack was the fact that the victim’s children, eleven-year old twins, were apparently hanging out in the mall waiting for their mother to come back from the bathroom.
I didn’t hear the news until I got home from work that day and opened Facebook. I suppose that people were particularly worried because I am also an American teacher, and about a month ago, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi reported that anonymous threats against American teachers had been made on a jihadi website. For a day or two after the attack, news reports tossed around the possibility that the veiled woman was somehow in league with ISIL, or some other terrorist organization.
As it happens, however, the murderer had no discernible terrorist allegiances, and what happened in that mall bathroom was just an appalling act of violence. Some of us who live here speculated about the difference between what happens in the US when an unstable person finds a weapon and what happened here:
a butcher knife is a brutal instrument, it’s true, but it creates far less mayhem than, say, a semi-automatic rifle.
According to a 2007 survey, the US ranks first in the list of number of guns owned by civilians (90 guns per 100 residents); the UAE ranks 24th (22 guns per 100).
Violent crime is incredibly rare in Abu Dhabi. Yet, despite the rarity of violence here, and despite the stability of the Gulf States, there was the chatter on Facebook; there were the emails; there were the questions about whether this attack would cause me to move home. “Home” is a bit complicated for me: I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi for almost four years, but had been in Manhattan for almost twenty years before that. So “home” is here. . . and there.
Before we moved to Abu Dhabi, my family and friends were worried about other things. “Are you going to have to, you know,” they’d ask, swirling their hands around their head as if describing the world’s biggest beehive hairdo. Their swirl implied “covering”: would I have to wear a headscarf or an abaya when I went out in public? The answer is no. I feel free to walk around alone wherever I please, dressed much the same way I would be in New York. There are no laws governing how people dress here; women are free to cover or not cover, and on the beaches you see burqas and bikinis with equal frequency.
In fact, I feel as safe walking alone in Abu Dhabi as I ever did in New York. It’s the kind of place where I leave the car doors unlocked when I run into the grocery store, and where more than once I’ve forgotten my phone in some public place, only to run back ten minutes later to find it exactly where I left it.
I share the sentiments of my local friend, Ken. In response to the news, he posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Thank you for your e-mails and messages about the American woman who was killed here on December 1st. I appreciate your concern. But please be assured that I don’t feel in any greater danger being a Westerner in Abu Dhabi than I felt being a gay man in New York City. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m used to danger.
The only way to protect oneself completely from acts of terror or random violence is by not participating in the world. I won’t do that.”
The expressions of worry that came from my family and friends in the aftermath of this attack were real, I know. And there is no doubt that what happened is appalling and has ripped apart the lives of this woman’s family. But I can’t help but suspect that this story got as much coverage as it did (there are more than thirteen pages of hits for “American teacher slain Abu Dhabi) because the attacker is so visibly Other: a veiled woman, an exotic symbol of “the Middle East,” which to much of the West is still an undifferentiated blur of veils, oil rigs, and jihadis.
Here’s the teaser from CNBC when the story about the knife attack first broke:
I wonder about the leap: that an attack in a mall bathroom by a woman with a knife might have implications for “foreigners” living anywhere in the Middle East.
It’s a strange twist, isn’t it, to think that had the Western media simply assumed that the attack was an isolated, horrifying incident—the work of one crazy woman—it might have represented a step forward?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Deborah Quinn.
Photo Credit: Daily Mail
It’s the kind of thing that keeps you awake at night.
Even if it is not your own child.
On the night of April 14, dozens of armed men showed up at the dormitory of the Government Girls Secondary school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. Dressed in Nigerian military uniforms, they told the girls that they were there to take them to safety and herded the girls into trucks and onto motorcycles. At first, the girls believed them. But when the men started shooting their guns into the air and shouting, “Allahu Akbar,” they realized that the men were militants from Boko Haram and that they were in serious danger.
Nearly 50 girls managed to escape by running away or jumping out of the trucks. But as many as 276 school girls (higher than the initial reports of 234) between the ages of 12 and 17 were kidnapped, disappearing into the night without a trace. Three weeks later, their parents still have no idea where they are. And last week reports began surfacing that the abducted girls were taken across the borders to Chad and Cameroon and sold as brides to Islamist militants for 2,000 naira (about $12). While we still don’t know where the girls are or what has happened to them, these reports remain a chilling reminder of the threat of sexual violence faced by women and girls in conflict zones.
One of the worst things in this truly horrible story is that the girls who were abducted were targeted simply because they were exercising their right to go to school. Throughout the world, there is clear evidence that education is the key to reducing poverty for women and girls.
Access to basic education for girls has remained low in Nigeria; the northern region where these girls lived has the lowest girl child enrollment —in 2008 the net enrollment rate for girls into secondary school was only 22 percent. The girls (who were both Christian and Muslim) at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok must each have been determined to get an education in spite of tremendous odds. The fact that these girls were also risking violence to be in school illustrates how important the right to education was to each of them.
For more than two weeks, the Nigerian government failed to take effective action to find and rescue the abducted girls. The lack of government response has provoked outrage in Nigeria. Last week, several hundred participated in a “million-woman protest march” in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital to demand that more resources be put toward finding and securing the kidnapped girls. The protesters in Nigeria are joined on Twitter with a growing movement under the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls, #BringBackOurDaughters and #234Girls. Finally, international media outlets are paying attention to the story.
While it is ludicrous that it took more than two weeks of pressure from both inside and outside Nigeria to finally bring about action, there are signs that the increased international attention is having some effect.
This week, President Goodluck Jonathan met “through the night” with security, school and state officials and issued a new directive that “everything must be done” to bring back the abducted girls.
We at World Moms Blog stand in solidarity with the girls and their families. It’s time to #BringBackOurGirls!
Here’s what you can do:
1. Sign the Petition
Use social media to spread the word about the situation in Nigeria. Put massive pressure on the government, security forces, and the neighboring governments to spur them to action. Use the hash tag, #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS. Change your profiled picture to Bring Back Our Girls.
3. Get More Information
Read more by World Moms Blog contributor Jennifer Prestholdt in The Advocates for Human Rights post, “Nightmare for Nigeria’s School Girls,” at:
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by international human rights lawyer, Jennifer Prestholdt, of Minnesota, USA.
There’s a Bigger World Out There
When I was a toddler back in the 1970s, my favorite toy was a wind up pocket radio box that played “It’s a Small World”. As the music played, it turned the little children from all around the world dressed in different clothing past my eyes. I remember, as I grew, constantly asking my parents, “Where is this girl from?” and “Where is this boy from?”, while pointing to the toy. My mother even saved the radio for my own kids to play with.
Fast forward 30-something years later, and here I am, learning everyday on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good from the women around the world who write for World Moms Blog. I am lucky to be raising my children virtually with Tinne in Belgium, Susan Koh in Singapore, Tara B. in the USA, Nancy in Tanzania, Deborah Quinn in the UAE…and the list goes on!
And that little Disney radio box was one of my first indications that there was a greater world outside of my own suburban NJ neighborhood.
The #DisneySMMoms Conference
This past weekend I had my bags packed to head to the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, this year in Disneyland in California. What luck that it was going to be during the 50th Anniversary of Disney’s It’s a Small World! I excitedly checked into my flight…only having to call the airline and uncheck myself from my flight hours later because my kids, and at the very last-minute, my husband, fell sick. Taking care of the family is what, us, parents do, right? So, how to turn lemons into lemonade? We asked the World Moms Blog Contributors to send a photo in to be part of a special slide show where our site could commemorate Disney’s It’s a Small World 50th Anniversary. On such short notice, take a look at what we came up with…I can’t stop watching it!!
VIDEO: Happy 50th Anniversary It’s a Small World from World Moms Blog Contributors!
Disney and UNICEF
And, if you’re a regular here, you know how much we love UNICEF when we chose them as our beneficiary for our Live Below the Line campaign. I’ve also traveled to Uganda to observe UNICEF’s programs on the ground firsthand with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. It makes me happy to know that Disney has pledged to donate $150,000 to UNICEF to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of It’s a Small World. You can join in, too. Build your own doll or record yourself at SmallWorld50.com, and for every doll, one dollar will be donated to UNICEF by Disney. This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA.
Today, we have a special guest post by a Ukranian mother living in the United States, Olena Centeno, of Bilingual Kids Rock. Olena opens the window and lends us her personal perspective to the current events in Ukraine…
Protest in Kiev, November 2013
What’s it like growing up in Ukraine?
As a Ukrainian, I grew up speaking two languages: Russian and Ukrainian. I ate Ukrainian borsht for lunch and Russian pelmeni for dinner. I love Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and Carols of the Bells by Leontovych. I am raising my own children trilingual in English, Russian and Ukrainian. In fact, the two cultures (Russian and Ukranian) are considered so close, that if an Ukrainian abroad says s/he is from Ukraine people often say “Oh, so you are from Russia?”
What’s going on between Russia and Ukraine?
With Russian troops moving across the sea into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, a lot of Westerners are starting to ask this question.
The current conflict in Ukraine is more than three months old. It began with a peaceful demonstration on November 21 at Independence Square (Maidan) in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, when the (now ousted) Ukrainian president (Yanukovich) hesitated to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. This had been one of his major election promises and in breaking it he ignored the desire of millions of Ukrainians.
During the past three months, the “EuroMaidan” demonstration has grown into a much bigger movement. It started as a response to the failed EU deal but then truly turned into a movement against the corrupt government of president Yanukovich, who moved to keep Ukraine in long-lasting and very painful economical ties with Russia.
Then, after the government passed harsh, anti-assembly laws, it became about the basic human right to be able speak and think freely without being punished for it.
More than a hundred lives were lost and thousands injured during violent attempts to remove the demonstrators but people did not leave the cold streets of Kiev. More freedom fighters came from all over Ukraine to support them. Many other Ukrainian cities stood up as well. After three months of struggle, Mr. Yanukovich was impeached and left Ukraine (he refused to sign a resignation; he just ran away). His presidency was considered illegitimate and a new, temporary government was elected.
As Ukrainians were mourning over lives lost and looking into the future with great hope to build their country on principles of trust and freedom, a new enemy emerged: Informational War.
Along with Russia, Eastern Ukraine—where the majority is Russian speaking—is dominated by Russian-language news from the Russian media. Unfortunately, the Russian media coverage of events that have happened over the past three months is falsified [and full of propaganda].
Now, after the armed occupation of Ukrainian territory in Crimea by Russian troops, the reason for their untruthful reporting is understood: Creating social opinion in Russia and Russian-speaking Ukraine justifies military intervention into Ukrainian territories.
Personally, I think Mr. Putin has an imperialistic plan to be the most powerful ruler in modern history—politically and financially—and he will stop at nothing to add Ukraine to his control.
Russian Media Propaganda Uncovered
The following are all lies that have been spread by the Russian media leading up to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops:
1. FALSE: Kiev was Overrun by Violent Riots
Despite violent clashes, most of Kiev stayed peaceful throughout the demonstrations. The day-to-day lives of residents were largely unaffected outside of Independence Square and the areas immediately surrounding it. Very little of Kiev or the surrounding countryside was damaged or disturbed by the protests.
I know this because I called my family and friends every day. My nephews were going to school as usual, most of the people attended work on a daily basis, and all shopping malls and grocery stores were working (except for a few in the middle of the protest areas downtown).
2. FALSE: Anti-Russia Fascists Led the Ukrainian Protests
The vast majority of protesters were ordinary citizens tired of a government that they viewed as corrupt and unwilling to listen to the people. There were no fascist elements leading the demonstrations, and there are none leading the new government.
Many of the people I know personally were in Maidan: teachers, IT professionals, doctors, stay-at-home moms, businessmen, university professors, hair stylists and many others. People I worked with and went to school with. And no one will ever convince me that they are fascists. My daughter’s god-father is a surgeon and worked days and nights protecting the health and saving the lives of many.
3. FALSE: The New Government Will Force All Ukrainians to Speak Ukrainian
This is a particularly effective myth for Russian-language media, since it appeals directly to the people who would be most affected. Language has long been a contentious issue in Ukraine. Claims that Russian will be abolished are being used to generate anger against the new government.
The Ukrainian parliament voted to repeal a 2012 law allowing the establishment of minority languages as official state languages in individual provinces on February 23, 2014 but acting President Oleksandr Turchynov vetoed the move. Russian is currently recognized as an official language, is legal for state use in several Ukrainian provinces, and is guaranteed state protection “in all spheres of public life” in Crimea specifically.
I speak Russian and Ukrainian to my children here in the USA. I see language first and foremost as a tool for communication — and shame on any politicians who use it as a reason for war.
4. FALSE: Ukrainian Demonstrators Have Been Attacking Russians or Russian-Speakers
Another unproven and untrue claim widely circulated in Russian-language media is that the Euromaidan protesters were deliberately attacking Russian speakers.
The cruel result is that ordinary Russians – good, wholehearted, educated people – are now eager to help a Ukraine that they think is swamped by fascists! I have family in eastern Ukraine and my god-mother lives in Moscow. They have called multiple times, scared for the lives of my parents in Kiev. They really think Ukraine is in danger.
There is no evidence to support the claim, and nearly all cases of violence during the protest were perpetrated against civilians by security forces. The Euromaidan protests had very little to do with cultural or language issues in general.
While Yanukovych’s perceived obedience to the Russian government was certainly a source of anger in Ukraine, this anger was directed at the President and the actions of the Russian and Ukrainian governments, not to the Russian people or culture.
5. FALSE: The Berkut and Other Security Forces Fought in Self-Defense
Russian news broadcasts have shown extensive footage of the Berkut and other riot police under attack but nearly none of their attacks on civilians. The reality is that security forces attempted to crush peaceful protests with deadly force, and were barely driven back with improvised weapons like clubs and Molotov cocktails. The superior force and aggression were always on the side of the Berkut.
6. FALSE: The Independence Square/Euromaidan Protests Were Organized by Americans
We joke that EuroMaidan is now supported by Americans because my American husband and I made donations to help supply people with warm clothing and blankets during cold winter months.
I am not claiming that on a political level there is no lobbying of interests from outside countries and unions but once again: the politics of the country and the people of the country are two different things.
The vast majority of protesters were native Ukrainians and ordinary residents of Kiev and the surrounding country.
7. FALSE: Fascism Will Spread from Ukraine to Russia
This is another falsehood dependent on the idea that the Euromaidan demonstrators were fascist extremists. It is being used as a justification for Russian invasion. The Russian government claims it is defending Russian-speakers in Ukraine and its own borders from Ukrainian fascists but in reality those fascists do not exist.
What is next?
The military intervention is not over. It is hard to say what is going to happen next. There is a lot of talk going on at a very high, political level involving the EU and the US.
But Ukrainians have already had the biggest win in this struggle: themselves.
They proved to themselves that they care:
- They care about all of our people (amazing examples of collaboration happened during the civil unrest!);
- they care about the future of their country;
- they care about their freedom;
- they care enough to recognize the differences among themselves and to stay united anyway.
The revolution was heartbreaking and tearful but as a result, Ukrainians became true patriotic citizens of their country:
Glory to Ukraine, Glory to Heroes!
слава Україні, слава героїв
(slava Ukrayini, slava heroyiv)
For me, personally, it has been a life lesson in how to raise my own children. I have a clear goal to raise multicultural and multilingual children, who respect other languages and cultures and can see our shared humanity no matter how politicians try to divide us.
This is an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Olena Centeno.
Olena Centeno is a Ukrainian who lives in USA, a happy mom of three wonderful kids ages 2-9 and a wife to the great. She speaks three languages herself and is raising her kids to be multilingual in English, Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish. She founded Bilingual Kids Rock, where she helps families on their bilingual journey. She also enjoys photography and video making as a way to preserve precious moments of life.
You can connect with her at Bilingual Kids Rock.
Photo credit to Oxlaey. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.