Launching New Goals to Improve the Planet

The United Nations General Assembly just adopted new global goals that will galvanize and prioritize the key global issues of our day. Called Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs), they are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their policies over the next 15 years. The SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed by governments in 2001 and are due to expire at the end of 2015. The SDG’s will range from January 2016 until 2030.

This is the people’s agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General. 

Will the next UN Secretary General be a Woman?

The next Secretary General of the United Nations will inherit the “most impossible job in the world”. He or she must reinvigorate the 70-year-old institution envisioned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The stakes are high: by 2050, 3 billion more people will inhabit the planet, threatening the resource balance and creating more tension and violence worldwide. A supranational institution promoting cooperation and peace, and bridging both geographic and gender divides, will be increasingly needed.


Ubuntu is an African word that embodies so much of what we seek in society today. In the Xhosa and Zulu languages ubuntu means "people are people through other people." It is the spirit of oneness, unity, and compassion, and expresses itself in a desire to help others and include everyone. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa says, in ubuntu "my humanity is caught up inextricably in yours. When I dehumanize you, I inexorably dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms." And Nelson Mandela explains The spirit of ubuntu – that profound African sense that we are human only through the humanity of other human beings – is not a parochial phenomenon, but has added globally to our common search for a better world.

It’s Time to Adopt CEDAW Locally and Nationally

CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Womenis a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for girls and women around the world. Known informally as the Women’s Rights Treaty, it is the most comprehensive international agreement on eliminating discrimination against women and addresses the economic, political and social rights of women and girls. CEDAW was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly.

Reducing the Harmful Practice of FGM

FGM, or Female Genital Mutilation is the practice, traditional in some cultures, of partially or totally removing the external genitalia of girls and young women for nonmedical reasons. More than 125 million girls and women have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated (1).  FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.  FGM is illegal in many countries.

Ending Child Marriage

When Mejgon was 11 years old, her father sold her to a married 60-year-old Afghanistan man for two boxes of heroin. “In my whole life, I’ve never felt love,” Mejgon, who endured years of abuse, told National Geographic photographer Stephanie Sinclair when she was 16.

A staggering 14 million girls are married before age 18 each year. Child marriage lies at the intersection of issues negatively impacting young women – it violates human rights, it stops schooling, and limits their future and potential.

Modern Day Slavery: The Insidious Rise of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a global problem that has grown into a multi-billion dollar a year industry. It enslaves people, primarily young women and men, into what constitutes modern day slavery. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. In 2008, the United Nationsestimated 2.5 million people from 127 different countries were being trafficked into 137 countries around the world, though more recent estimates are a staggering 27 million. 1

Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slaveryforced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, forced labor, or the extraction of organs or tissues. Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally.

Transforming Diversity: Seeing the Similarities Rather than the Differences

Most of us have been very concerned about the attacks on Arab Americans across the United States since the September 11 terrorist attacks by Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda. Many Arab Americans have been targets of hate crimes, some have received death threats, and some have even been killed. We feel it is essential to not only speak out about this misplaced anger and backlash, but also to look for new answers to old questions, to go beyond assumptions and stereotypes, and for many to move from complacency into action.

Tapping Our Spiritual Intelligence

So much has been said about the importance of developing our IQ, our rational intelligence, and more recently about EQ, our emotional intelligence. We now understand that our emotional intelligence is as important, if not more important, than our IQ in determining our future success in life. But how about spiritual intelligence? 

The Third Act for Women: Finding Meaning, Joy and Fulfillment Over 50

We are the first generation of women who have had careers for most of our lives.  We are living lives that most of our parents and grandparents didn’t have and, perhaps, couldn’t imagine.  We are entering a period of life that is virtually uncharted, a time in which we are free from social expectations and reduced family obligations, with the freedom, resources and desire to engage in new activities with meaning and purpose. Science and medical advances have extended our years with generally better health than previous generations. This gives us the opportunity to turn our dreams into realities, to consider options previously considered impractical, and to prioritize how we want to spend our time. Now, it's up to us to decide and plan for our continued vitality. 

Living Our Principles in Everyday Life

“The great malady of the 20th century, implicated in all of our troubles and affecting us individually and socially, is ‘loss of soul’.  When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning. Our temptation is to isolate these symptoms or to try to eradicate them one by one, but the root problem is that we have lost our wisdom about the soul, even our interest in it”.  Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

While we are physical beings, we are also spiritual beings. Our bodies require proper physical nourishment if we are to survive. Our souls also require proper spiritual nourishment if we are to thrive. Proper spiritual development, nourishment and expression are regular requirements throughout our lives.