Women's Leadership and Political Participation - Economic Empowerment -  
Ending Violence Against Women - Peace and Security - Governance and National Planning - Post-2015 Development Agenda and SDGs
(Sustainable Development Goals) - HIV and AIDS
The devastating earthquake in Nepal has brought it all home: women and girls are among society's most vulnerable, especially during times of conflict and natural disaster.

More than 3.2 million women and children are at risk in Nepal. UN Women is working with other UN agencies and national women's groups to support existing protection systems to prevent and respond to gender-based violence against children and women, particularly among displaced populations. UN Women and partners will provide multipurpose safe spaces for vulnerable women and children. This work includes establishing women's groups for the prevention of gender-based violence in the 16 displacement camps, including training of facilitators, safety audits and regular meetings and monitoring. UN Women will also mobilize communities through gender-based violence prevention and awareness activities at the village level in 18 districts.

Once the immediate humanitarian stage concludes, the long process of recovery begins. The reconstruction stage represents an opportunity for women to rebuild social structures as well as new homes, schools, and infrastructure. UN Women, with years of partnership with local women's organizations and years of experience in reforming legal and political structures, is very well placed to assist women in the rebuilding of their lives. In the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami, the women of Aceh, Indonesia, stood together to demand that women's voices, and women's priorities, be reflected in recovery efforts. Their leadership, backed by UN Women (then UNIFEM), resulted in new legal frameworks in support of women's land and property rights. Now, many more women in Aceh own titles to land and other property due to these critical changes.

Our mission is now more important than ever, as we support both the immediate recovery efforts in Nepal and the long-term social and structural changes so that women, and their children, are more resilient.

In a time like this, we all want to help. You can support UN Women efforts by donating to provide dignity kits, a package of essentials for women who have been displaced and are unable to buy the everyday items that we take for granted. 

Maggie Signature

Did You Know?  

UN Women has just released their flagship report
Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights

Click here to read the report 
The 2015 Annual Conference and Member Meeting will take place on Saturday, June 27, 2015 from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM in beautiful and sunny Long Beach, California.

Board meetings will take place Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM and Sunday from 9:00 AM until 12:00 PM with chapter president sessions.

The 2015 Annual Conference's theme is Beijing +20: Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity. Picture it!

Hotel Accommodation Information
Hyatt Regency Long Beach
200 South Pine Ave
Long Beach, CA 90802

Click here to make your hotel reservation (Take advantage of the group rate until May 26.)


2015 Annual Conference Fees (Includes Lunch) 

$125    General Registration

$1000  Table for 10  


Click here to register for the conference



Conference Sponsors

Click here to learn more about our sponsors.

To download the sponsorship packet, click here.

To request more information about sponsorship opportunities, click here to contact Luci Hamilton.

Prospective Exhibitors: Click here to contact Jean Jewell to discuss space availability.

Film Credit: UN Women
Knowledge and networking abound. To encourage global learning, UN Women launched the Knowledge Gateway for Women's Economic Empowerment.

It connects people to foster collaboration and innovations that result in better economic lives for women. In its first six months, the site had over 40,000 visitors from more than 180 countries, comprising an online community of policy makers, researchers, teachers, students, entrepreneurs, civil society activists, impact investors and social change-makers.

Resources and tools cover topics such as workplace transformation, access to resources and sustainable energy.


Film Credit: Digital Campaigns for Social Change
How can digital media instigate societal change - or at least provoke action?  That was the topic discussed at an event held last week in Washington, DC hosted by the Embassy of Sweden and in partnership with the Digital Diplomacy Coalition.

Panelists included:
Erik Wirkensjö
Project Manager for Midwives4All, Sweden's Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Dayna Geldwert
Digital Producer for Girl Up
UN Foundation
Maggie Schmitz
President, USNC for UN Women
Representing HeForShe
Sam Huxley
Global Lead, Digital Crisis
Senior VP, Fleishman-Hillard

Maggie discussed the impact of UN Women's HeForShe campaign, which has been wildly successful, creating over a billion online conversations around gender equality.

The USNC-UN Women walks to end global gender-based violence are off to a dazzling start this year!


The Gulf Coast, Florida chapter kicked off the walk season in February with its best fundraising year ever and immediately issued a good natured challenge to other chapters to do better.


Members and friends, men and women, the Zontas of Sarasota and the chapter's fabulous Learners to Leaders, all joined to support gender equality and an end to violence against women and girls. 

On their heels in March, the Miami and East Florida chapters' walks celebrated International Women's Day. Focused on the UN Women HeforShe campaign, the Miami chapter gathered a group of over 150 walkers that included an overwhelming turnout of men proud to pledge their support. The same day, East Florida chapter walkers enthusiastically braved unseasonably cold and rainy Florida weather in support of women around the world. Farther up the coast, the North Carolina chapter rallied with a beautiful April Sunday afternoon walk in Wilmington. They were thrilled to have Wilmington Mayor Saffo, City Council Member Earl Sheridan and local news anchor Ashlea Kowsikowski show support and cut the ribbon.



Are you interesting in walking with us? The Georgia chapter would be delighted to have you join its 11th annual walk in Atlanta on May 16. Or, you can soak in Washington's historic sites on a path through the city with the National Capital chapter this autumn.

Want to Join a Walk?   

Click here to find out more about upcoming walks in your area. Our walk webpage is updated regularly as new walks are scheduled. If you missed the chance to join a walk in your area this year, we hope to see you next year!

U.S. National Committee members from around the country joined dignitaries and global gender advocates at the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in March.

This year's celebration included a march in Manhattan to end violence against women on International Women's Day, UN Women's star-studded Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality event in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, as well as high level meetings, panel discussions and film screenings.

Photo Credit: UN Women

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the main intergovernmental body dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, meets annually for a two week session at the United Nations. The main focus of the 59th session was the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including current challenges to its implementation and a review of the progress 20 years after its adoption. The session also addressed opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda.

To learn more about CSW 59, click here.

Filmmaker's Reception
Submitted by: Terry Brackett (Gulf Coast Chapter)

Through Women's Eyes (TWE) is a two-day partnership with the Sarasota Film Festival that raises awareness of women's issues around the globe and is a showcase for women filmmakers, writers, directors and producers.

This year TWE reached a new peak, showcasing 19 films, including two narratives, 7 documentaries and 10 shorts from 11 countries.

The average attendance for each movie was 90, with three films selling out. The energy in the theaters was amazing and the buzz was totally positive.

Our filmmakers' reception was also a success, with 100 in attendance. We had 11 directors present at the festival for questions and answers after their films. These directors were not only from the USA, but also Australia, Denmark, Israel and Switzerland. They were an absolutely incredible group of women.

We heard from all of our filmmakers at the reception with guests having an opportunity to meet and talk with them about their films. We were entertained by the music of Steven Fancher and Bart Lowther, who donated their musical talents.

We also had one BIG FIRST. We have a partnership with the Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) and our films are in competition with the 200 plus films shown by SFF for four Audience Awards. This year, TWE's films won two of those four awards. The Surgery Ship, directed by Madeleine Hetherton (who came all the way from Australia to be with us for the International Premiere) won Best Documentary. Pony (a World Premiere), directed by Candice Carella, won Best Short.

So, what exactly does TWE do for our Gulf Coast Chapter? The major benefit is exposure with a growing number of people in Southwest Florida and beyond becoming familiar with the work of the US National Committee and UN Women. Many of the films address problems which UN Women deal with in their projects. Because the Festival was so successful this year, we received a lot of great publicity with articles not just the festival but the work of USNC in newspapers, on the radio and online. Most importantly, we gained new members and raised over $9,000!

For more information on the Festival and this year's films, click here.

Photo Credit: Box of Dreams Photography

As part of CSW 59, our Metro NY Chapter teamed with USNC to host an expert panel discussion addressing gender representation in advertising.

With New York being the heart and home of the advertising and media industry, what could be more fitting than discussing the topic in this city with some of the most leading and influential minds in the business?

Warren Hoge introduced the panel which consisted of: Judy Johns, CEO Creative Officer at Leo Burnett Canada, Leslie Yazel, Executive Editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine, John Osborn, President and Chief Executive Officer of BBDO New York, Shenan Reed, President of Digital North America, Seema Patel, SVP & Global Accounts Director of Grey Advertising and Shakthi Jothianandan, Researcher at Vogue Magazine.

Our Southern California chapter - headed by the incomparable CeCe Sloan - celebrated International Women's Day with a lovely luncheon for a packed room of attendees who spent the afternoon learning about the work being done by UN Women globally and our campaigns here in the states: Cities for CEDAW and the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).

The event's guest speaker was actress, filmmaker and activist Celeste Thorson who spoke beautifully about her own journey and the importance of gender equality.

The event also included a presentation about women and climate change as well as artists whose work is directly connected to tearing down gender stereotypes.

Not only was the event educational and entertaining, it also raised over $3,500.

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day! We send cards and flowers to our moms and get together as a family to celebrate all she's done for us and to show how much we care.

Unfortunately, the mothers in Nepal don't have time to celebrate this year. They are busy just trying to keep their families safe and healthy after the devastating earthquake that struck last week.

That's why UN Women has partnered with their colleagues on the ground in Nepal to provide Dignity Kits to mothers whose families have been displaced. The kits include essential items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, sanitary napkins, laundry detergent, underwear and basic clothing that women cannot easily access at this time.

The video link below promotes the work of UN Women - helping mothers around the world when they need it most.

To purchase a Dignity Kit for a mother in Nepal who has been displaced, click here.


USNC board member, Dr. Kristie Holmes created #TeamHeForShe that became the #5 trending topic on Twitter during Equal Pay Day last month!  Pretty amazing, right?

The graphic below shows how #TeamHeForShe successfully became an integral part of other popular social media campaigns. Congratulations to Kristie and her team!

Each newsletter features a different USNC volunteer so that our readers can know more about these incredible people, mostly women across the country, that help to celebrate, advocate, educate and fund raise on behalf of UN Women. Our focus in this edition is on Suzanne Harvey from our Metro New York chapter.

Suzanne Harvey has been involved with women's causes long before UN Women was officially launched. She worked with UNIFEM when they were a part of UNDP. As a consultant for them many years ago, she worked for over a year to develop their marketing focus such as their logo and brochures. As an international marketing consultant, she has worked in many countries on economic and trade development.

About 10 years ago, Leslie Wright, then Metro New York chapter president, asked Suzanne to join the chapter board, where she served for a number of years and saw UN Women come together with Michelle Bachelet as its first chosen leader. She is now working with the Metro New York chapter and the USNC national board

Life's Basics
Where do you live? In Manhattan, Hell's Kitchen. I've lived here for a long time and really like the neighborhood. I am considering a move, and will probably end up in Harlem.

Are you from there originally?
  I'm originally from Louisville KY and came to Manhattan as a classical dancer and to work in theatre. I was in a few films with Elia Kazan and was in Splendor in the Grass with Warren Beatty. These were fascinating experiences.

Where else have you lived? My husband, two children and I also lived in Israel - we all have dual citizenship. We were there during Yom Kippur War and were active in politics. It was a wonderful experience for my kids to grow up there.

What's your living situation?
Partner? I lived with my husband until he passed away...well, actually, he lived on a boat at the boat basin on 79th street. Interesting people live there.  
Kids? I have a son who is a private yacht captain, which takes him all over the world. He is currently in Cypress. My daughter works with special needs and autistic children in the New York City school system.
Pets? I've always had pets, cats & dogs together. I currently have a cat named Pas de Chat, which is a ballet term meaning step of a cat. At age 15 now, he still runs the show.

Job? I started out as a dancer and actress. I'm now a consultant, working mostly with public/private partnerships at the UN. Along with Leslie Wright we started the artisan fair done during CSW, which has become very popular. I'm also a special advisor to a public affairs group in New York for women entrepreneurs from other countries.
The Meatier Parts
Summarize your life in 10 words or less? I don't think I can. My life has had so many parts: going from theatre and dance into international work. In Israel, their council asked for my help since I'd been a shoe model and I got very involved in the shoe industry. Shoes shows used to be very big in New York. My first professional job was in a NY show at the Brooklyn Museum, Egyptian Hall. I was asked to model. Later I became an expert on shoes, leather and how they're made across different countries. Every country has basic shoes and leathers and I learned a great deal. Then I transitioned to other industries such as fashion, jewelry, and commodities.

Tell us about the person that has had the most profound impact on your life?
During the last 5 years? That's a hard question; I can't say just one person, but the people I've met working on women's equality are extremely important to me.  Actually, I have been my own influence and that's not an ego statement. As I've lived my life I've found my way. For instance, I was at the Selma march, eight months pregnant with my son. I probably would have run for local office if hadn't gone to Israel in the 70s.  
From the beginning? Margaret Jerrold, a designer in shoe industry, was my mentor. She changed how shoes were made and designed lower heel shoes. Her vision was brilliant.

What is the greatest difficulty you have ever experienced in your life? How did it impact you? Really, the difficulty one faced with being a woman: pay equality, leadership, etc. Being told I had limitations because I'm a woman. Still, you go on and keep pushing. It's interesting how young women today have little idea how hard it was for women in the past.

What is your greatest achievement in life? How did that impact you? I don't know, tough again to answer. I try to do and be certain things: there are many things I feel good about: working in countries around the world, with women to empower them. I worked in Bangladesh to bring strong economic growth. I helped give opportunities for women there to avoid marriage so early and to support themselves and their families. Now, the work continues with programs like the HeForShe campaign.

What motivates you to volunteer with UN Women? The organization is doing the kinds of things I care about. I also get involved with my community to build powerful, influential groups that impact our community and city. I believe: "put your feet where your mouth is!" Talk is cheap; get involved.

If you could change one issue for women in our world, what would you change and why is it most important to you? I guess I believe that women should be in leadership, be it business or politics. We must create understanding of what it means to be there and have an impact.
What do you enjoy most about working with UN Women? Meeting various people from different areas and exchanging thoughts and ideas. Feeling we're making a difference.

The Little Details
Food:  Caviar!
DrinkMartini or champagne
BookWant to read is Cokie Roberts new book on the civil war. Also Ashley's War about an elite group of women on front lines in Afghanistan
Film:   Depends on when, but I liked Reds with Warren Beatty
TV Program: I like the dishy ones like Scandal, Mad Men, etc.
Music/Artist: I go to the ballet, theatre and concerts a lot. I love Rhapsody In Blue, Oscar Levant
Gadget/Appliance:  NO! Not my thing!

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