“Women’s equality is human equality”

by Christina Gore and Max Hill

On June 26, 2014 UN Women held an event to launch a global campaign, marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. The theme for the event was “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity, Picture it!” The event was held at the historic Apollo Theatre in Harlem and featured musical performances, inspiring speeches, and spoken word poetry.

From the beginning, the atmosphere during this launch was electric. Being in this room you could feel that passion that each person there had for bringing change to the world. The crowd was a diverse one including both men and women showing their support for true gender equality. The night started with a beautiful performance by members of the musical group Women of the World. This was followed by an introduction from the moderator for the evening, actress Monique Coleman. Coleman was a fun and welcoming hostess, bringing energy to each introduction she gave.

Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, gave the opening remarks for the night. In this speech, Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka kicked off the night with inspiring words about the progress that has been made in the past 20 years, as well as outlining what still needs to be achieved for women around the world by our goal of 2030.  Following speakers and performers included TV anchor Joya Dass, model Alek Wek, UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, renowned journalist Gloria Steinem, a spoken word poem by Carlos Andrés Gómez, as well as many others.

These speakers and performers were each exciting and gave wonderful insight into the progress that can be made for gender equality. We came away from the evening with many incredible things to remember such as Gloria Steinem’s words “the human race is like a bird with two wings, and if one wing is broken, no one can fly.” The poem “When” by Carlos Andrés Gómez was one of my personal favorite moments of the evening, asking the question “When will men drop their arms”. The poem was centered on the need for men of the world to put aside their pride and join the fight for gender equality.

This experience was very empowering to see so many people, women and men, standing up to say that women’s rights are fundamental to society and should be the standard for the world.

This link shows a video created by UN Women as a part of this global launch.

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