UNA-USA Rochester Freedom of the Press: Empowering Women and Girls

October 21, 2011|Kate Macken, UNAR Fall Intern

On October 3, 2011, United Nations Association of Rochester held the third annual Freedom of the Press Conference, part of the Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalists’ Program weekend. The half-day conference took place at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester. Journalists from fourteen developing countries gathered to discuss this year’s topic, Empowering Women and Girls. Participating country Journalists included the Bahamas, Barbados, Cameroon, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Kiribati, Oman, Palau, Swaziland, Republic of Tajikistan, and the United Arab Emirates.

rochesterThe conference focus was on two of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (UNMDGs): Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women, and Goal 5: Improve maternal health. Keynote speaker, Ambassador Lyutha Sultan Al-Mughairy of Oman, emphasized that women everywhere face professional, family and religious challenges. Following the keynote, attendees participated in  2 of 4 breakout sessions and engaged in discussion with the journalists panel. The panels, led by University professors, addressed how media and society in their respective country helped or hurt the empowerment of women and girls. One journalist, Mr. Nath Guli of Swaziland said, “ I became a journalist to become an agent of change.”


The UNAR conference had great impact for many. “This is a very important occasion for exchanging experiences. Journalists are the ones in the field. We are able to tell people what is happening… I liked that we were talking to young people.,” said journalist Linda Bonglacx of Cameroon. She also spoke about her home stay experience in Rochester. “It was great. I was nervous to meet complete strangers, but I was welcomed. I felt at home.” One host mother, Rose Vercolen, has participated in the program for 12 years. UN coordinator, Zvi Muskal, was also pleased with the conference. “It’s great. Both sides learn from each other.”


Photo courtesy of  Jeffrey Mills, jmills@rochester.rr.com.

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