Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fistula: Nasty but not Necessary

Have you ever avoided someone because you thought they were smelly or dirty? While you probably just decided not to spend too much time with them, in some places women are literally expelled from their communities because they smell. And it is not their fault… blame fistula.

Fistula is a common complication of giving birth. Basically, the baby accidentally rips a hole between the birth canal and its mom’s bladder or rectum. Left untreated, it causes a new mother to leak urine or feces. However, it is an almost completely preventable condition that occurs from a lack of medical attention and has been eliminated in North America and Europe, and for only $300 the tissue can be repaired and the woman can return to her community and care for her children.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is on a campaign to provide access to this surgery for women around the world. To learn more about fistula, or to help change lives (just $5 provides food to a recovering fistula patient for one week), click here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ahoy! Pirates off of Somalia’s coast are more destructive than you think…

Pirate attacks are increasing off the coast of Somalia, and committing atrocities that would put even Davy Jones to shame. While the pirates hijack ships, the Somali people end up walking the plank in this maritime struggle. Somalia relies heavily on the developed world for aid, and piracy is keeping this important commodity from reaching the shore. The U.N. is doing its part in organizing the international community to combat these scurvy-ridden sea rats, but there is something you can do to help make the lives of countless Somalis better.

Women in Somalia are struggling to survive against many hardships. In addition to the horrific situation in some areas of Somalia, women face discrimination throughout the country. One of the obstacles they face is the inability to attend college. This lack of education leads to a lack of representation in government, business, and leaves them with no opportunity to succeed. Only 4% of women in Somalia can pursue higher education!!! With your help, we can change this. The Somali Women’s Scholarship Fund is working to send deserving women in Somalia to school so they can be effective, productive members of society. Watch our video, and see how you can help here. Pirates depend on instability in this region to continue their marauding ways, so kick them in their booty, and help Somali women!

Rhinos are Cool, Poaching is Not

Rhinos, those fascinating animals with unfortunate horns in the middle of their faces, have a tough life. Not only do they have to live with the largest facial "decoration" of any species, some humans have decided rhino horns are way cooler decorating their walls.

Back in 1977 the countries of the world came together at the United Nations to protect these odd creatures from poaching. Now the UN has recruited Interpol, the USA, China, Kenya, and others to be real world Planeteers. The United Nations wants to ensure a peaceful existence for all--even if you have horns growing out of your face!

For more on the United Natons' work to the protect rhinos, click here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Congratulates President-Elect Barack Obama

“This is, I believe an historic opportunity,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, extending his heartfelt congratulations to United States President-Elect Barack Obama. With the many challenges facing the United Nations including the Millennium Development Goals, nuclear proliferation, the food and energy crisis, climate change and global financial turmoil, the Secretary-General is encouraged by Obama’s repeated message of hope, multilateralism and diplomacy while campaigning. The two (very busy) men met last year while on a flight between Washington and New York, taking the time to talk about the pressing goals of the UN. The Secretary General reported that he was very optimistic about their relationship in the future, noting that Obama “was very engaging and he knew a lot about the United Nations.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Zidane and Ronaldo Play to End Poverty

Two football kings, eight matches, and one goal: ending poverty. Football legend Zidane and Brazilian star Ronaldo, UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors, are joining hands and feet once again to end poverty and raise awareness about the Millennium Development Goals. The upcoming 6th annual “Match Against Poverty” will take place in Fès, Morocco on November 17th. The project originally launched in 2003 seeking to promote each of the goals with a corresponding match. This year’s match will be themed by the first Millennium Development Goal “Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger,” while marking the half way point to the 2015 deadline set by the UN General Assembly.

Proceeds from the previous five Matches have benefited anti-poverty projects ranging from supporting female entrepreneurs to the construction of sports centers for street children and the disadvantaged. Funds have gone to support projects in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Comoros, Cuba, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Viet Nam.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Protecting the Globe's Greatest Treasures

Many key words and themes spring to mind when one thinks of the work of the United Nations, but sand drawing and ox-herding are probably not some of them! In an effort to further protect the world’s most treasured cultural items and traditions, UNESCO established The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday. The new list includes about 90 treasures, which include Indonesian shadow puppetry, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, textile art in Peru, polyphonic singing of Aka Pigmies of the Central African Republic, Mexico’s indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead, sand drawings in Vanuatu, and much more. These unique elements join a multitude of other important cultural and historical characteristics and traditions covered by the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Next time the United Nations comes up, new things may now come to mind!