While I haven’t uploaded any of my articles in a while, this past weekend has been filled with amazing opportunities for interviews and coverage of fascinating events. In particular, I had the chance to interview the regional director of the UNFPA Asia Pacific region and attend the launch of the #HeForShe campaign in Mongolia.
The above image features Bjorn Andersson, the regional director of the UNFPA Asia Pacific region. As I wrote on my Instagram, I had the honor of interviewing Andersson on the occasion of the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2018 that had occurred over the past week in Ulaanbaatar. This was a huge event that invited speakers from worldwide organizations, including the UN, FAO, Mercy Corps, and others.
In our interview, we discussed feminist issues, focusing in particular on the need for gender sensitivity in disaster risk reduction initiatives. By ensuring that women and children are provided with proper resources and training in times of disaster, we strengthen community resilience as a whole. As a student of Wellesley College, obviously an institution prizing feminist values, I felt that this interview was relevant in that aspect. However, I also felt that the balanced approach focused on empowering individuals rather than viewing them simply as victims was especially effective as well, going hand-in-hand with a liberal arts education.
Additionally, I attended the launch of the UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign in Mongolia. It was an especially great conference because of its diverse yet balanced approach to the concept of gender equality. Rather than excluding, vilifying, and thus alienating men from the dialogue on feminism, they emphasized reaching out to men for their cooperation – and to address their needs as well – to make things truly equal for both genders.
One quote I particularly liked from the event was the following: “In order to liberate women, we need to liberate men of toxic masculinity.”
As a student of a school (and even country) that can be extreme when it comes to feminist issues, I feel this is an especially important reminder. Equality implies the existence of two or more parts. In order to achieve equality, we should not be pulling down the status of one party, but raising up the other. Of course, there are obviously more nuances to this statement than what I’ve addressed, but overall I believe that #HeForShe is correct in its approach.
I also found it fascinating that they talked about body image and men in the Mongolian media. This is such an important discussion to be having. Representations of men in the media are often just as unrealistic as the models we women compare ourselves to and envy in fashion magazines, television shows, movies.
Also, I got to take a photo with Elizabeth Nyamayaro, the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary-General & Executive Director of UN Women. It’s not the greatest quality (we both kinda look like serial killers here) because I snuck it and took it on Snapchat haha. But I was really happy to be able to meet all of these awesome people.
The only drawback to all of this was that I wasn’t able to go to Playtime, which is basically the Coachella of Mongolia. It looked like a lot of fun from what my friends posted, but alas – I had neither enough money nor enough time. 😦 Maybe if I come back (lol).
It’s okay tho cuz this gurl and I had a blast at the conference.
I’m very happy about all of the incredible opportunities I’ve had at this internship. Now, with Naadam coming up, I hope that I’ll be able to continue to learn more about this country and maybe even meet more of these accomplished individuals.