This past week was the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) where world leaders came to New York City to discuss pressing issues at the UN headquarters. As Co-founders of Memunatu, Fatmata and I dropped in on the festivities by attending Global Citizen’s Movement Makers, Presented by Citi.
Global Citizen is probably best known for their festival on Saturday that brings the biggest names in music–like Stevie Wonder, The Lumineers, and Pharrell Williams–to perform in Central Park. The goal: end global poverty and fight inequality by 2030. While Global Citizen Festival gets most of the attention (it does reach over 60,000+ people in-person), Movement Makers is the smaller scale version perfect for making meaningful connections.
Movement Makers is a day full of TED-style talks led by inspirational leaders from the business, non-profit, and entertainment worlds. True, this event was a marathon (we got to NYU at around 10am and the event didn’t wrap up until 7pm). However, it was worth being a part of this ambitious initiative. Here are some of our highlights from the event:
“Equality is not just a force for good, it’s a force for growth”
P&G’s Marc Pritchard joined Huffington Post Co-founder, Arianna Huffington, for a fireside chat. They focused on the power of media to start conversations that lead to understanding, attitude change, and importantly action.
Detergent can make you emotional:
It was interesting to see that brands played such a large role throughout the day–as sponsors, speakers, and attendees. While corporate social responsibility at times gets a bad rap, we left with a genuine sense that there are people behind those brands trying to use their platforms for good. They saw social good as core to their missions.
Explaining why P&G isn’t shying away from challenging topics, Pritchard shared clips from #TheTalk (about the conversations black families have their children to discuss racism) and this #SharetheLoad video about taking on damaging gender norms in India (note, it’s a tearjerker)!
“You’re either at the table or you’re on the menu”
When you have a panel including Bob Bland (Women’s March) Lorella Praeli (ACLU) Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D – CA); and Roland Lescure, (French National Assembly) moderated by New York Times’ Charles Blow, you know you are in for a treat. The “How You Build a Movement Overnight” panel did not disappoint!
Bob Bland, Co-founder of the Women’s March brought a guest… her daughter Chloe! Not only was bringing Chloe adorable, but Bland proved that she is a complete boss– basically speaking on a panel with a baby was NBD for her. On a similar note…
Bob Blow, from the NYT. Why? For tackling important and timely issues such as what actually happens post “movement” and drawing parallels to movements in previous eras (s/o to Congresswoman Lee for sharing her Black Panther experience). Plus he was basically all of us reacting to Chloe.
“Not [just] about laws, it’s about changing the way we value girls”
In the evening session, Movement Makers was all about women. First Lady of Canada Mme. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and other heavy-hitters from around the world shared not only updates on progress that’s been made around girls education and health, but also the challenges that remain, such as prevalent sexual assault on college campuses.
There was so much to share from this segment, from Chime for Change’s work in Benin to individual stories from across the globe , we would have to transcribe everything. Here are a few slides from the screen:
Speaking from the heart
One thing that is great to see is an expert putting aside his or her prepared remarks. UN Under-Secretary-General, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka may have brought the wrong speech to the event (VIP problems :)) but wow, was it great to hear her personal experience. Sometimes the numbers de-humanize the issues related to not investing in women and girls. This was just the refresh we needed at almost 8.5 hours in.
Movement Makers are everywhere (not a quote, just a fact)
Throughout the day, on the stage and off, we met such inspirational global citizens–people committed to making the world a better place. That might be the best part about Movement Makers: connecting with others and finding new ways to collaborate. We are so glad that we/ Memunatu Magazine got to be involved and contribute to the conversation.
By Mariama Kabia