Author: Sarah North

A Smart Thing To Do: Data on Women in Higher Education & STEM

“When we talk about improving women’s lives, education is an issue that comes up over and over again as an equalizer, because when women and girls have access to an education, they can accomplish anything.” – United State of Women But do all forms of education create equity where gender disparities are greatest? Although we need to work toward improving women’s and girls’ access to education on all levels, real disparities deepen in secondary and higher education environments around the world. Significant progress has been made as 2/3 of developing nations have achieved gender parity when it comes to access to primary education. Despite significant progress made on girls’ school enrollment in the past decade, 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in developing countries. The situation is worst for the poorest rural girls in South and West Asia: only 13% complete lower secondary school. If we agree with UNICEF that educating girls is “both an intrinsic right and a critical lever to reaching other development objectives,” then advocating for a higher output …

“How Old Will You Be in 2030?”

How old will you be in 2030? This was the question I asked young women leaders numerous times during my week providing coverage of the United Nations General Assembly. This is the question that puts into perspective the plans set out by the United Nations to improve and create a more healthy, equal world. Come 2030, current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, will be 86. Two top UN Secretary General successor frontrunners, Helen Clark and Susanna Malcorra, will be 80 and 76, respectively. In 2030, I will be 41. The young leaders I interviewed will be anywhere from 29-35 years old. Although we did not lead in creating them, these goals will be our goals to realize and bring to fruition. Thankfully, as US Youth Observer to the UN Nicol remarked during the UN General Assmebly week, “In the 20 least developed countries in the world, young people are the majority. There is power in our numbers.” There is a plethora of untapped potential in the places that need the most transformation. Because of that, the biggest …

Young Leaders Learn and Share at the Global Citizen Festival

Working as leaders and advocates in the areas of sexual & reproductive health and rights, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, and mental health, 20 different young leaders from 13 different countries convened in New York City last week as Johnson & Johnson’s 2016 Young Leaders. Most are involved in partnerships with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and all are very influential grassroots leaders and advocates in their communities. These leaders were brought to New York City to learn, share, interact with J&J leaders and participate in the Global Citizen Festival. As a major sponsor of the Global Citizen Festival and longtime partner for sustainable global health efforts, Johnson & Johnson holds the foundational belief that change happens one person at a time and the world moves forward one leader at a time. “Everyone today is a person of power… and we must see a reflection of ourselves in every injustice that we see.” – Yemurai Nyoni, Women Deliver Top Left: On day one, Sarah of Over The Horizon Strategies, emphasized the power of your story. Giving some tips, she suggested that …

Why Partner With Grassroots Movements?

When it comes to work done by advocates and activists worldwide, there are various ways to classify different movements. Some are led by politics and policy making in government, some by formalized non-government organizations (NGOs), while others are led as purely grassroots movements involving many people and moving parts. But where do the youth leaders of today fit into these avenues for change? Typically young people gravitate toward grassroots movements. We crowdfund, we ride Uber, we begin startups. Essentially, we find ways to make things happen whether we have formal support or not. I think a reason why we aren’t as engaged in the avenues of government or formal organizations is because many older leaders haven’t made room for us. There is a misconception that we don’t know how things work, so instead we align and involve ourselves with grassroots movements that have limitless possibilities. Additionally, there just aren’t job opportunities in today’s world to give us the chance to be activists in a formal or professional way. We have to be entrepreneurial and often end up …

How Businesses Can Partner for Sustainable Development (Video Blog)

There has been much emphasis this week at the UN General Assembly on involving businesses in the Sustainable Development Goals and creating lasting partnerships with the private sector. Below, I share some of my initial reactions and recommendations to engage businesses that are not yet partnering with efforts for sustainable development around the world. There are many businesses that are already socially conscious and entrenched in doing outstanding work by partnering to build a better world by 2030, but how can we get more companies involved? Cover photo credit: UN Photo/Kibae Park. 

Mental Health: The Health Crisis of Our Time

Suicide is now the leading cause of death in girls aged 15-19 worldwide, surpassing death by childbirth. Differing from other diseases more common in older individuals, mental illness truly is the chronic disease of the young, with 75% being diagnosed before age 24. While other generations faced health concerns of cancer or HIV/AIDS, our biggest challenge will be beginning a mental health revolution. One in four worldwide will have a mental health issue, approximately 450 million people. If you are not 1 of those 4, you likely know someone who is. For many, like advocate and associate Lian Zeitz from The Global Development Incubator, the mental health system has failed them and didn’t provide care that worked. For others, the system has failed them because there is no option for access. This is especially true for many young people worldwide caught in refugee crisis or facing humanitarian needs. In places like South Sudan, there is only 1 psychologist to serve all of South Sudan, a country continually rattled by ongoing civil war, so services are tremendously …

Waging Peace for Sustainable Development

A comprehensive list of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) makes up the United Nations’ 17-part agenda for sustainable development in the world by 2030. Covering all aspects of development, these goals include everything from access to quality education and clean water to changing the pattern of human consumption and acting on climate change. Specifically, SDG 16 calls for Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. This SDG involves promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and providing access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Practically speaking this means reducing corruption in all forms, ending abuse, exploitation and violence, and promoting the rule of law to ensure equal access to justice. Other SDGs may leave us feeling a little bit more hopeful and secure, because they are all things we can agree on. Of course we all want to work for more peace in our world, but this development goal faces more pressure and holdups than say, SDG 4 for quality education or SDG 11 for making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. …

Climbing Bravely Above Expectations

We were above the clouds, pushing through the most technical part of the climb (appropriately named Disappointment Cleaver) up Washington’s Mt. Rainier. The rope running out from my own harness was linked to one in front and one behind. Together, my rope team of three scrambled through rock and ice. In front of me was my guide, Pasang Sherpa, who moved with the ease of being at home in the mountains. I did my best to emulate her effortless movements up through feet of fresh snow, following her lead as professional climber and mountaineering guide. P asang is Sherpa, a particular people group of the Himalayas of Nepal so well known for their climbing abilities that people often associate the word “Sherpa” with a porter who carries gear up peaks for foreign climbers. But not all Sherpa people are climbers. Rather, for many Sherpa women, the expectation is not to live up to the same expectation as for Sherpa men to be incredible high altitude climbers. In Pasang’s Sherpa community, like much of Nepal where …