1The United Nations General Assembly, in a resolution adopted on December 2011, declared October 11 of every year as the International Day of the Girl Child. The purpose of this day is to increase awareness and address the needs and challenges girls around the world face. It is also a day to specifically advocate for the empowerment of girls and the promotion of their human rights. Some of the challenges faced by girls around the world include a lack of access to quality education, gender-based discrimination, forced marriage, lack of quality healthcare, and numerous others.

 It is important that teachers and those who work with children, especially the girl child, familiarize themselves with some of the relevant UN human rights instruments in order to safeguard the rights of these children. Some pertinent mechanisms for reference in regards to the human rights of the girl child include the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Read more:

Convention on the Rights of the Child;

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women;

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:



KatieBlawie-167-WebBy Katie Blawie: For the first time in history, the UN set of sustainable development goals directly addresses mental health and well-being. Goal 3 aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” and Target 3.4 states that we must “by 2030 reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and well-being.” We cannot have sustainable development if we fail to prioritize well-being and health – not just physical, but also mental – with solid, measurable indicators. Mental health policies and programs in all countries are crucial to empowering women and girls. Poor mental health among women is a major threat to sustainable development worldwide.

Women and the mentally ill of any background are two marginalized groups in society. When those two factors are combined, the exclusion becomes even worse. Kofi Annan issued a challenge to us collectively as the peoples of the world to find global leadership and vision on these issues.

E_SDG_Icons-03We call on all governments worldwide to prioritize mental health with specific, measurable indicators and policies to empower women and girls in our global agenda for sustainable development. Let us of course recognize and confirm that providing economic opportunity for our societies, and for women and girls specifically, improves our individual and collective well-being. Embracing mental health for women and girls sustains mental health for all in our world.



The glRefugees summit page en.pngobal scale of migrants and refugees currently witnessed is unprecedented. According to the United Nations (UN) 2015 data, the number of refugees and migrants around the world was over 244 million, (a 41% increase compared to 2000). Migration is a very complex global issue that will require concerted efforts from the international community to find lasting and sustainable solutions. The UN has taken on the responsibility to galvanize the Member States for global action on this phenomenon. On September 19, 2016, the UN General Assembly will host a High-Level Summit, the first ever called for Heads of State and Governments on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. Major tasks of the summit will include considerations regarding to best means for the international community to respond to the growing issue of refugees and migrants, and to formulate a blueprint for improved international, regional, and national responses.
Ban Ki-moon refugees.png
As a lead up to the September 19 Summit, the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, released a report in May 2016, titled: “In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.” This report provides background for the September Summit. It also calls for a comprehensive framework for addressing the large movements of migrants and refugees, root causes of such movements, and the need to protect the human rights of those compelled to embark on such often perilous journeys.

Learn more:

  •  “I was waiting for recess. Diary of a child in detention” wins the first edition of the “Justice for Children” Award:
  •  Interactive map showing origins and destinations of migration 1990-2015 allows one to select a country and a year and then click on another country to see how many of its people that year immigrated into or emigrated from the first country.

UN Releases ShareTheMeal App to Help Feed Syrian Refugee Children

KatieBlawie-167-WebBy Katie Blawie, Intern in SNDatUN Office

Smartphone users outnumber hungry children by 20 to 1, while 1 in 7 children do not have enough food to live a healthy, active life. To leverage these statistics, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has recently released an iOS/Android app called ShareTheMeal.

share-the-meal-1ShareTheMeal makes it possible to virtually “share” a meal with just the tap of a button. For just 50 cents, anyone around the world can provide a full day’s worth of food to a hungry child. The app also gives the option of donating larger amounts – $3.50 to feed one child for one week, $15 for one month, $45 for three months, $90 for six months, or $182.50 for one year. Currently all donations are benefiting Syrian refugee children in Jordan, with the goal of providing school meals to 20,000 Syrian children for an entire year. This will help with both reducing hunger and improving access to education. Once this goal has been met, the WFP plans to expand this program to other areas in need.

This app has enormous potential to help reach Goal 2 (“Zero Hunger”) of the Sustainable Development Goals. It also serves as a great example of incorporating technology to make donating seamless and social (by connecting it to your Facebook account), while attracting the millennial crowd in particular. So next time you’re sitting down for a meal or waiting in line for your coffee, give the app a try!

share-the-meal-2For More Information:


Alla BaranovskayaBy Alla Baranovskaya, Intern in SNDatUN Office

Piracy off the coast of Somalia is not a very common topic for discussion for United Nations headquarters. However, it was very interesting to hear what organizations and governments had to share about the situation in the country. The piracy problem might remind us primarily of older times, stories that we have read in books and have seen in historical movies. For developing countries, taking Somalia as an example, the problem is still present nowadays. An important topic was discussed during a recent UN meeting: Somalia’s government needs to enforce the laws regarding fishing and sailing on the water territories of the country. While there are no strict laws in the country, whatever happens on a water territory can not be controlled. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Trust Fund, and other panel participants mentioned that Somalia needs some support from the governments of more developed countries who have already overcome that piracy problem. There are a lot of ways to control the majority of boats in the open sea. FAO shared an example of transparent boats that helped to solve a piracy problem in Italy. Another way of controlling the boats can be implemented if all the fishing partners in Somalia and surrounding countries report their boats so that most of the activities in the water can be tracked by high forces.

PiracyAnother great and powerful thought I have is that piracy is a crime and yet it is easy to commit. It only requires a few things: a boat, weapons, and a group of people. Young kids of Somalia who do not have a proper education can and will consider this type of income if their country’s conditions allow. Therefore, Somalia’s goal should be focused on not letting the conditions actually arise. Young kids are very vulnerable and they adjust quickly. Besides parents’ influence, a big part of their life knowledge will depend on what they see around themselves outside of their homes. If the rules are strict enough, most likely those kids will not want to give it a chance trying to cross legal boundaries. If piracy is, however, not controlled by strict government regulations, kids will not see a bad outcome of these actions, and, consequently, will most likely get involved in giving it a try to become pirates.

Watch a press conference by the contact group on piracy off the coast of Somalia:


By Amarachi Grace Ezeonu, Intern in SNDatUN Office  

Amarachi Grace EzeonuIt is completely unacceptable to have millions of children around the world still engaged in child labor in the 21st century. While some of these children work to support families, others have become victims of human trafficking and have ended up in slave labor. Many of these children work in very dangerous and dehumanizing conditions, with little or no hope for a future. Recent statistics by the International Labor Organization estimates that about 168 million children aged 5-17 are engaged in child labor. Child labor exists in many parts of the world; yet it is most prevalent in the least developed and developing countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Latin and South America. For many victims of child labor, the joy and freedom of childhood is stolen forever. As their counterparts are in school learning and playing, these children engaged in child labor could spend their days crawling under heavy machinery in factories or exposed to the elements while picking fruits and vegetable out in the fields.

Stop Child Labour
Often at the heart of the problem of child labor is poverty. Many parents would ordinarily want to provide the best possible opportunities in life for their children. Nevertheless, when plagued by abject poverty, these parents are forced to send the little ones to work to support the family instead. However, children must not be burdened with adult responsibility of providing for the family when they should be the ones being provided for. Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that parents or parental guardians have the responsibility to provide for the child. Furthermore, in a situation where this care is not possible, the state must assist. It is therefore, the human right of every child to be provided with health care, quality education, decent shelter, food and nutrition, and other necessities of life. Every society has a moral obligation to protect and provide for its children.

Girl child laborTo raise awareness on the issue of child labor, the International Labor Organization dedicates June 12 of every year as the World Day against Child Labor. To eradicate child labor, free, compulsory and quality education must be ensured for every child. Quality education is an antidote to poverty which in turn fuels child labor. The International Labor Organization tagged its 2015 advocacy against child labor with the phrase, “No to Child Labor, Yes to Quality Education,” and recommends the following to national governments:

  • Provide free, compulsory and quality education
  • Ensure that all girls and boys have a safe and quality learning environment
  • Provide opportunities for older children who have missed significant formal school education, including through targeted vocational training programs that offers basic educational support
  • Ensure coherence and enforcement of law on child labor and school attendance
  • Incorporate a properly trained, professional and motivated teaching force, with decent working conditions based on social dialogue
  • Protect young workers when they leave school and move into the work force, to prevent them being trapped in unacceptable forms of work

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Ezeonu 2By Grace Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN         UN headquarters in New York was a hive of activity as member states gathered for the 53rd Commission on Social Development, February 4 to 13. Participants included representatives from several civil society organizations with consultative status with the UN. Some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) presented side events on chosen social issues. One such event, co-sponsored by the NGO Committee on Migration, chaired by Mary Jo Toll, was titled: “Giving Childhood Back to Children in Refugee Camps.” Panelists at this event were individuals from various areas of psychology, education, mental health, and human rights. They examined the psycho-social impact of the lack of integration of refugee children in camps into the social and cultural life of their host countries, and the implications of this to both young people and host countries in the short and long term.

Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Photo: UNHCR

One of the panelists noted that the current statistics from UN Refugees ( indicate that there are about 15.4 million refugees around the world and almost half of these are children and youth. Life in refugee camps can be socially and psychologically destabilizing for children who often already have had their own share of trauma as a result of the circumstances which caused them to be uprooted from the safety and security of their family and homeland. They explained that many children in refugee camps suffer exposure to violence, loss of home, identity, family, and peers, disruption of schooling, poor physical health, malnutrition, infection, and several other challenges. In many situations, the children’s suffering is also compounded by a feeling of exclusion or alienation from the culture and social life of their host country, since they are often confined to the camp environment.

Mary Jo Toll, right, panel moderator

Mary Jo Toll, right, panel moderator

The above factors put together, they explained, could have adverse psycho-social effect on refugee children in camps. In turn, this may also negatively affect the host county in the long run because the feeling of being socially excluded by some members of a society can act as catalyst for conflict or violence. Consequently, to avoid or at least minimize this adverse psycho-social effect, one of the panelists suggests cultural contact between the refugee children and their host country as an important alternative for long-term camps in integrating refugees into their host society. She warns that failure to do so might lead to increasing social problems, social unrest and instability. Even though she acknowledged that culture can sometimes be divisive, she also believes that it can act as a building block for psychological resilience and buffer against adversity. Therefore, she recommends that in addition to providing educational and economic opportunities there is also a need to actively provide cultural and psychological integration for refugee children, while allowing them the freedom to retain aspects of their cultural identity from their home country.  Read more:


What is at stake is nothing less than the survival
and well-being of a generation of innocents.
António Guterres, High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency