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Reflections from Rise Up Fellows at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

November 07, 2018 | Rise Up | Originally published by Rise Up

In 2018, PHI's Rise Up sent two fellows to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Here are their stories. 

Alejandra García Muñiz is the Sustainability Director of Juntos. She works with teenagers and women with disabilities in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, to ensure their complete inclusion in the social and workplace spheres. Alejandra is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about social causes. She founded the workplace inclusion program and leads the Poderosa program at Juntos, which draws attention to the challenges that women with disabilities face. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Business Innovation.

Attending the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September with Rise Up was such a great experience for me. During my time in New York,  I was able to meet incredible people from all around the world who are advocates for human rights and women’s equality. Some were CEOs of important foundations and businesses, others were politicians, ambassadors, ministers, film directors, social entrepreneurs and activists. 

When Rise Up invited me to attend UNGA, I couldn’t believe what a huge opportunity it would be for me. I have made my career working with different civil society organizations in Mexico, being an activist for women and people with disabilities, promoting equal rights and employment inclusion. For an activist like me, being at the UNGA is a dream, and now it is a dream come true for me.

While in New York, I had the opportunity to participate in several meetings and summits, where we discussed the importance of advancing gender equality and advocacy around the world. The experience gave me the chance to share with international stakeholders the necessity of employment inclusion programs and advocacy strategies for women with disabilities in Mexico, and it also introduced me to ideas, connections and research that will help me to be a better leader at my organization and in my community.

We attended a forum on the research results of a gender data index compiled by Equal Measures 2030, which made me realize the importance of measuring data and how to leverage it to achieve better results.

We had the opportunity to attend a meeting of social, political and business leaders to discuss how investing in women as leaders and decision-makers creates huge, positive impacts. I also listened to young women from Ethiopia and Guatemala who are working in their communities to eliminate child marriage. Their testimonies showed me that stories can help change society in powerful ways.

Rise Up also set up a breakfast meeting for us with the CEO of the Cummins Foundation, Mary Chandler where we had the chance to share about our work in Mexico, which is supported by the Cummins Foundation.

An event that was especially memorable for me was the He for She Impact Summit, where they presented 100 practices and concrete solutions towards achieving gender equality. At this event, we met UN officials, UN ambassadors, celebrities and youth activists. I never imagined being part of such a large movement and I felt fortunate to hear about the commitment of UN WOMEN. It left me feeling empowered to keep working towards women’s equality in my community.

I am honored and grateful to be part of Rise Up. This experience at UNGA expanded my vision so that I can become a better leader, implement new strategies in the programs I lead and be a change-maker in my community. Thanks for offering me this experience, for the kindness of all Rise Up´s staff and for making me realize the importance and impact of my job, for which I am passionate and grateful. 

Ricardo Preciado Jiménez is the Legal Advisor for Animos Novandi, an organization that works to build the capacity and leadership of disadvantaged youth. In his work, he specializes in human rights with a focus on strategic litigation. Ricardo is an activist and advocate of political and social strategies that benefit girls, youth, and women. He is currently studying a Ph.D. in Human Rights and Justice. Here are his thoughts on UNGA. 

In April, I was selected along with 18 others to be part of PHI's Rise Up’s Leadership and Advocacy Accelerator to advance gender equity in Mexico. Rise Up has worked using this methodology successfully in Africa, America, and Asia. The opportunity that Rise Up gave me to participate in this accelerator, as well as the accompanying support I received for the implementation of my project has been extraordinary. As a human rights lawyer, I never imagined that Rise Up would take me to the very heart of the Universal System of Protection on Human Rights, to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), as they did in September 2018.

Participating in the UNGA satellite events hosted by various international organizations was an unparalleled opportunity for me to learn what is being done around the world to fulfill the goal of gender equality by 2030. The events I participated in examined where we are now, what the priorities are, where the regions for urgency are and what strategies and tools have had the best results to support those of us demanding gender equality in today’s world.

Attending UNGA was the most rewarding and instructive experience I´ve ever had in terms of my development as an advocate for human rights and social sector politics. Without a doubt everything I experienced, the testimonials I heard, tools and strategies I learned, and the relationships I formed, will help me implement the program I am developing with the support of Rise Up. In addition, this experience  has given me the opportunity to expand my professional network with different international organizations and people around the world to realize that we are not alone, that we are many crazy people that share – what my friend Gody used to call – ‘a stubborn conviction that a better world is possible.’

Read the full article here.