UNICEF

A two-day event will discuss challenges faced by children in urban areas; they will include a Hackathon and roundtables on innovation.

Girl in a Turkish language class in a refugee camp in southern Turkey
Girl in a Turkish language class in a refugee camp in southern Turkey

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Kazakhstan will host a two-day event on Innovation and Technology for Children at Astana EXPO 2017. On the 18th and 19th of August, international and local experts in technology, innovators and entrepreneurs will join thought leaders and members of the academia, along with public sector officials to discuss the challenges faced by children growing up in cities.

On the 18th of August, young programmers from Astana, Almaty and other Kazakhstan cities will compete in a hackathon entitled “Innovating for children in an Urban World”. Participants will offer prototype solutions to children’s challenges in urban areas that range from tackling air pollution and improving safety to providing accessible transportation and safer streets for children.

Adolescent girls use cellphones and tablets in the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees
Adolescent girls use cellphones and tablets in the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees

The 19th of August will organize talks on “Advancing the Rights of Children through Innovation” and will gather international speakers from UNICEF, Google.org (Google’s charitable arm), Project Connect (global mapping project on schools’ internet connectivity), the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and Youth Policy Labs (a global think-tank on youth) to share their expertise on expanding opportunities for children and youth through innovation.

UNICEF Talks will also feature promising change-makers, start-ups, corporate and public sector pioneers from Kazakhstan who will discuss challenges and opportunities in the country’s emergent innovation ecosystem.

UNICEF innovation for children at Astana Expo

Time: 09:30-18:00

Date: 18 – 19 August 2017

Place: Creative Energy Pavillion, Expo

Speakers: International speakers from UNICEF, Google.org (Google’s charitable arm), Project Connect (global mapping project on schools’ internet connectivity), The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and Youth Policy Labs (a global think-tank on youth).

The Horyou’s 4th Edition of SIGEF will take place during EXPO 2017 Astana, in Kazakhstan. The Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum will discuss Future Energy, Smart Cities, SDGs, and lead official delegation to EXPO 2017 Astana. More information on www.sigef2017.com and consult agenda or register your attendance.

Forced marriage is still an issue that affects more than 700 million women globally – a third of them are less than 18. In order to raise awareness of this issue, the UNICEF partnered with major African artists to write a song against child marriage.

In Central and Western Africa, 41% of the girls above 18 are married (illustrative photo, source: UNICEF)
In Central and Western Africa, 41% of the girls above 18 are married (illustrative photo, source: UNICEF)

In Central and Western Africa, 41% of the girls above 18 are married – in countries like Benin, one in ten girls is married under the age of 15. More than depicting a social issue, these statistics are alarming from a health care standpoint as many of these girls are not able-bodied for childbearing and could face permanent physical and psychological damage.

As part of the Zero Tolerance Campaign against child marriage that the government launched last June, nine artists from Benin committed themselves to breaking the silence around child marriage. UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassadors Angélique Kidjo and Zeynab Abib, supported by Danialou Sagbohan, Kalamoulaï, Don Métok, Sessimè, Dibi Dobo, Norberka and Olga Vigouroux, gathered to craft a deeply moving song and a video that call the population to act.

“A little girl is still a child. She cannot be a mother or a bride. Let her grow up to live a fulfilling life. Say NO to child marriage!”; so goes the song, co-written by Angelique Kidjo and Zeynab Abib.

The artists sing in a variety of languages, including Fon, Mina, Mahi, Sahouè, Yoruba, Goun, Bariba and French in order for the message to spread throughout the country and neighbouring countries.

Artists from Benin are engaged in the cause
Artists from Benin are engaged in the cause

“The impact on these girls is terrible. Once married, they no longer go to school, they are raped, they get pregnant, which puts their health and that of their baby in danger. We artists are saying NO to all these injustices! Girls are not the property of anyone; they have the right to choose their own destinies”, says Beninese pop star Zeynab Abib, who was able to mobilise Benin’s greatest artists around this cause.

Early marriage prevents girls from getting proper education and leads them to poverty, while enforcing the prevalence of traditions and belief systems that are tied to the continued practice of child marriage.

“We need all the strength and weapons we can muster to fight the scourge of child marriage. Art, especially music, is a powerful weapon. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘politics can be strengthened by music, but music has a potency that defies politics’. This power must be harnessed!” says Dr Claudes Kamenga, UNICEF Representative in Benin.

Watch the video [English subtitles] [SAY NO TO CHILD MARRIAGE]1 Watch the video [French subtitles] [DISONS NON AU MARIAGE DES ENFANTS]2

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

The Swiss Pavillion Expo 2017 Astana is committed to the SDGs. From 13 to 27 July, it develops several activities in order to raise awareness about the challenges of building a better future for the next generations.

Horyou CEO and founder, Yonathan Parienti, with Swiss Pavilion visitors (Photo Swiss pavilion)
Horyou CEO and founder, Yonathan Parienti, with Swiss Pavilion visitors (Photo Swiss pavilion)

The Swiss pavilion, organized by Presence Switzerland, showcases the Confederation as an innovative country with an interactive and surprising exhibition on the issues of energy efficiency, renewable energies and global water management. As part of the Swiss Pavillion, the Swissnex Lab is dedicated to thematic immersion and networking, in order to facilitate bilateral cooperation and academic exchange between Switzerland and Kazakhstan.

One of the activities, Perception Change Project, includes a temporary installation with a wheel of fortune that introduces sustainable development, a Human Library involving innovators and presenting a talk on Education and Innovation with experts and changemakers.

Horyou Team attended an event on Education & Innovation on July 18, 2017, and had the opportunity to hear unique stories from speakers invited by the Perception Change Project in cooperation with partner organizations, notably the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Kazakhstan Institute of Standardization and Certification, the UNICEF Kazakhstan and its Liaison Office in Geneva, the University of Geneva, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). «Horyou Team was excited to see the commitment of the Swiss Pavilion to promoting the sustainable development goals in Astana. We share the same resolve to shape better times to come, and SIGEF 2017 in Kazakhstan will be our initiative during EXPO2017 to support that momentum of awareness and implementation», said Yonathan Parienti, founder and CEO of Horyou.

Horyou team visits the Swiss Pavillion at EXPO2017 in Kazakhstan
Horyou team visits the Swiss Pavillion at EXPO2017 in Kazakhstan

The event was followed by a project called “Human Books”, whereby people shared their stories with the public, creating empathy by touching on topics such as climate change and education in emergency situations and refugee camps. One of the touching stories was Isaac Mustopulo’s, a 15-year old student from Kazakhstan who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and, despite all odds, has finished 8th grade at a local school in Taraz where he excels academically and is actively involved in extracurricular activities. He is an advocate for inclusion and is working on a project that would introduce tutors to public schools for students with disabilities.

“Sustainable Development Goals are not only the UN’s or governments’ business, we all have a role to play in achieving them. The topics related to the SDGs and the work of organisations in Geneva and elsewhere can be illustrated in a playful manner and through storytelling. We are delighted to be a part of Expo 2017 Astana”, said the Head of Project, Aziyadé Poltier-Mutal.

More than 700 people visited the Swiss Pavilion on its first day
More than 700 people visited the Swiss Pavilion on its first day

Finally, the Education & Innovation Talk session opened a dialogue between several thought leaders. Ms Tatiana Aderikhina from the Education and Child Protection at UNICEF shared how an equity–focused and inclusive approach starting from early childhood education can have positive impact toward social inclusion and reduce the numbers of unschooled children. Mr Zhasulan Kenzhegalyiev, a specialist from the International Cooperation Department of the Unified Government Fund of Normative outlined how Astana is leading the way in SmartCities and how this can benefit both the population and the overall sustainability efficiency. Prof Barbara Moser-Mercer, from the University of Geneva, a specialist in higher education in emergency and crises situations, expressed how connected learning builds the knowledge and skills needed to adapt, and how that could prove to be a key factor in the development of higher education for people victims of conflict situations within refugees camps. Ms Ekaterina Perfilyeva, editor in chief of the Open School of Sustainable Development, shared how through volunteering to support facilitation of translation and sharing of knowledge and meaningful information we could advocate a better understanding and implementation of sustainability principles with the Youth.

The overall discussion from the panelists with the audience, outlined the fact that there are numerous synergies and initiatives that could support the achievement of SDG 4, related to Education.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

The UN Refugee Agency, in partnership with UNICEF and the International Rescue Committee, issued a document today to improve the situation of refugee and migrant children who arrive in Europe without their relatives or caregivers.

Aziz Jabarkheil, 8, is Afghan and waits for the return of his uncle in an abandoned warehouse in Belgrade.
Aziz Jabarkheil, 8, is Afghan and waits for the return of his uncle in an abandoned warehouse in Belgrade.

Called The Way Forward to Strenghten Policies and Practices for Unaccompanied and Separate Children in Europe, the document is a roadmap which recommends policies to be put into practice to effectively protect and support these children. The organizations recognize that regional and national laws in Europe are a good framework on this matter, but through consultations with more than 100 specialists, including psychologists, social workers and lawyers, have discovered that the current bureaucratic procedures are resulting in severe consequences for the children’s well-being and future.

“Many of these children have experienced terrible violence, sexual abuse, trafficking and emotional and psychological pressure not only during their journey but in Europe itself. They deserve better protection and care from Europe. All actions and decisions must have the child’s best interests at heart. We can all make this happen and the Roadmap shows us how,” says Diane Goodman, Deputy Director of UNHCR’s Europe Bureau.

Since the increase of migrant and refugee arrivals in Europe, in 2015, the situation for unaccompanied and separated children has worsened. They’ve faced detention and large scale institutional care, limited family reunification opportunities, and rising concerns over deportations.

Aziz kicks around a deflated football to keep warm in sub-zero conditions in Belgrade.
Aziz kicks around a deflated football to keep warm in sub-zero conditions in Belgrade.

As David McLoughlin, UNICEF’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia puts it, “refugee and migrant children travelling alone to Europe have taken paths marked by danger, bureaucratic backlogs and uncertainty at every step of the way – even at their destination. This Roadmap plots the way forward for these children to be given the same level of care, trust and protection as national children.”

For one thing, the roadmap recommends that governments identify and register children through adequate and friendly procedures, ensuring them to a guardian and protecting them from smugglers or traffickers.

South Sudanese refugee, Emmanuel is 10 years old
South Sudanese refugee, Emmanuel is 10 years old

The organization also recommends stronger emphasis on providing proper care arrangements and services, and long-term solutions to these children based on their specific needs. The importance of different actors, as guardians, cultural mediators and community members is also key.

“The children that we interviewed clearly stated the importance of being heard and empowered,” confirms Annalisa Brusati, the IRC’s Child Protection Senior Technical Advisor. “These children have hopes, dreams and an incredible energy to fulfil them. Through education, peer groups, sports and training, they can start their own projects and overcome the hardships they’ve endured, if supported and given the chance.”

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

On March 20, 2015, UNICEF hosted World Happiness Day at The Lord Mayor’s house. In recent months, UNICEF has been vocal about how important happiness and wellbeing is to and that it is ultimately a human right. There were many distinguished speakers at the event who discussed their pursuit and achievement of happiness in their lives.

“Happiness is a pursuit and a process, not a destination,” performance psychologist Gerry Hussey said. Much like choosing to live a healthier life, it means taking control and steadily making different choices.

Many agree that happiness is a difficult variable to measure; everyone has their own opinions on what it means. It cannot be defined collectively; only individuals can make the commitment to achieving it on their own.

Broadcaster, publisher and creator of the Spark Series, Norah Casey, reaffirmed the “importance of you.” She spoke of how in a world of constant connection, we can still struggle to get ahead. This constant connection doesn’t necessarily translate to productivity. Casey explains that our energy—physical, emotional, mental, are all connected, so it is only when we tap into all three that we will be able to focus and by extension, achieve.

Casey also discussed how crucial it is to businesses to have a “can do” attitude and after 20 years as the owner of Ireland’s largest magazine publisher, Harmonia, she has some authority on the matter!

Dr. Mark Rowe, GP and wellbeing coach, highlighted years of medical research proving that happiness is something that is actually cultivated. There is overwhelming evidence that incorporating a few small habits can give you a more positive outlook. Expressing gratitude, kindness, exercising, nurturing relationships, being present, are all small gestures that can be practiced everyday in pursuit of happiness.

Over the course of the morning, it was fascinating to see the content spread from psychology to medicine to business.

Everyone left incredibly energized, positive and definitely more informed on what can be done to achieve the emotional, mental and physical stability we all long for.

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A two-day event will discuss challenges faced by children in urban areas; they will include a Hackathon and roundtables on innovation. The United Nations Children’s...