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
President's Message

Lalita with Carmen Betancourt-Lewis and Ton de Jong
What an exciting few months!

Thanks to our Miami chapter, we had a terrific semi-annual board meeting in January.

We were honored to feature Antonie (Ton) de Jong, who serves as UN Women Director of Resource Mobilization, as our guest speaker. Ton demonstrated his strong support of USNC by giving up his MLK long weekend to fly into a cold and rainy Miami to update us on the global programs, accomplishments, priorities and challenges of UN Women. 

At Florida Atlantic University in February, USNC-UN Women welcomed Zainab Hawa Bangura, United Nations Under-Secretary General, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Ms. Bangura shared stories of despair and survival of the women and young girls in war torn countries in the Middle East and Africa.The work UN Women is doing in those regions continues to be critical in restoring dignity and normalcy to female victims of war and refugees.  

In March, I joined many of our board members and chapter presidents in New York for CSW 60 which attracted a flurry of activity in and around the UN headquarters. 80 government ministers and 4,100 non-government representatives from 540 organizations gathered within a mile radius energizing one another.

UN Women's Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, delivered an impassioned speech at the conclusion of CSW60 asking us to be bold in our activism and to step up our personal commitment to ending gender inequality.

A good first step we can all take is to contact our local Congressional representative, urging them to support robust funding for U.N. Women in the Fiscal Year 2017 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Appropriations bill and specifically request that UN Women be funded at no less than $14 million in FY2017. With this being an election year, chapters might want to set up legislative visits to make the request in person while representatives are in their home districts campaigning.

Chapters across the country have been busy these past few months hosting a number of events (many of which are featured in this newsletter). I've enjoyed attending several and look forward to visiting even more chapters in the months ahead.

I want to close by thanking our incredible board and chapter presidents for all you do every day to make this organization better! As volunteers who dedicate your time and talents to USNC, your commitment inspires me. Working together, I am certain that we can fulfill our mission to educate, advocate and raise critical funding here in the states to help fund the work of UN Women globally.

I look forward to seeing many of you in New York at the end of June for our annual meeting! More details on this year's meeting will be coming shortly.

Lalita Janke

Throughout history, women have made extraordinary contributions to their societies. Explore a selection of these women and learn what the reality still is today for many women and girls worldwide by clicking here .

As a direct result of UN Women's efforts, the 60th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women concluded with UN Member States committing to the gender-responsive implementation of Agenda 2030. A set of agreed conclusions called for enhancing the basis for rapid progress, including stronger laws, policies and institutions, better data and scaled-up financing.

The Commission recognized women's vital role as agents of development. It acknowledged that progress on the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of Agenda 2030 will not be possible without gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

To review more about this critical commitment, click here

A new initiative created by UN Women proved that young women and men are a force to be reckoned with, as more than 300 participants from across the globe came together for the first-ever Youth Forum at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York last month. The forum was organized in partnership with the YWCA and the United Nations Inter-agency Network on Youth Development's Working Group.

Speaking at the event, UN Women's Executive Director cited the forum as the defining moment when women and youth make an alliance with the potential to change the world. To learn more about the event and this new initiative, click here.


Another amazing accomplishment! UN Women focused this past year on ensuring global media outlets understand the role they can play in driving women's empowerment and gender equality.

As a result of UN Women's
 work, the Step it Up for Gender Equality Media Compact  has been established. This compact creates an alliance of media organizations committed to playing an active role in advancing gender issues within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The outlets pledge to increase their focus on women's rights and gender equality issues through high-quality coverage, complemented by gender-sensitive corporate practices.  
To read more, click here .
We want to thank our incredible chapters, board members and all of those who donate their time, talents and financial resources to USNC!

Your generosity helps ensure we are able to continue our critical mission:
Generating awareness and financial support for UN Women's programs aimed at gender equality and the empowerment of women.
USNC is excited to continually increase its participation with CSW. This year, for the first time ever, the national committee proudly hosted/co-hosted 3 official CSW parallel events! We sincerely appreciate all of our panelists who generously shared their time and expertise to make these events such a success. 

First up was the U.S. National Committee for UN Women's panel discussion in the UN Church Center Chapel on March 17 - When Women Lead, Sustainable Development Happens.

USNC board president Lalita Janke greeted guests at this well-attended event, followed by a vivid introduction by Begon ã  Lasagabaster, JD, Chief for Leadership & Governance at UN Women, who framed the panel's topic in terms of current UN Women initiatives.

Offering their professional insights about the positive outcomes when women have leadership positions in parliament, peacekeeping, corporations and multilateral institutions were Dr. Susan Perkins, Assistant Professor at Northwestern University, Shazia Rafi, Managing Director of Global Parliamentary Services and Brande Stellings, JD, VP Corporate Board Services at Catalyst. Dr. Shyama Venkateswar, Director for Public Policy and Distinguished Lecturer at Roosevelt House kept the conversation flowing as moderator. 
USNC board secretary Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo made closing remarks.

The second CSW parallel event, Empowering Women in the Midst of War: SDG16 Promoting Peace and Inclusive Societies, was held on March 21st. The National Capital chapter was thrilled to host such an inspiring discussion to an overflowing room of attendees at the UN Church Center.  
Chapter president Cece Cole was joined by Pierette Pape, Public Policy Director of European Women's Lobby, Rabia Chaudry, USIP Jennings Randolph Fellow, Sahar Kamis, Associate Professor at University of Maryland, Catherine Casey, Chief Development Officer at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and Uchenna Ekwo, President of Center for Peace Initiatives. 

Conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Syria have illustrated that more women are engaging in combat and integrating themselves into the ideologies underpinning them. Post-conflict, however, responsibilities shift toward reconstructing the society, with women suddenly finding themselves confronting legacies of existential horrors they experienced.  The expert panelists sought to weave together these common experiences with strategies for rebuilding fractured societies.  


The final CSW parallel event took place on March 22nd. Our Metro NY chapter co-presidents Katherine Garcia and Michelle Lira welcomed a full house at the UN Church Center for their event,The Perilous Journey of Women Refugees Worldwide.

ABC television news journalist Reena Ninan expertly moderated the discussion. Daniel Seymour, Deputy Director for Programmes at UN Women, Ugochi Daniels, Chief of Humanitarian & Fragile Context Branch at UNFPA, Joan Timoney, Senior Director for Advocacy & External Relations at the Women's Refugee Commission and Dr. Dorothy Morgos, Head of the Psychosocial Care Unit at Doctors Without Borders, all contributed to a discussion addressing the specific needs women refugees face during displacement.

The panelists' professional vantages illustrated the common threats women refugees face on their journeys, many of which do not abate if or when they reach asylum.

In addition to the panel discussion, the chapter organized a fabulous evening reception that was generously hosted by Lorry and Mark Newhouse.

In recognition of International Women's Day, on March 5th our Miami Chapter joined forces with the Florida International University Club to host their annual 5K Walk to Break the Silence/End the Violence that raised awareness of gender-based violence. Turnout was nothing short of amazing (173 participants) and they were able to raise more than $20,000 from the walk!

Congratulations to everyone who organized and participated in the chapter's largest and most successful project! They are already making plans to grow the event in 2017.  
The USNC semi-annual board meeting in the beautiful Coral Gables area of Miami was absolutely energizing! Two days were filled with sessions for chapter and club presidents, guest speakers, presentations and conversations, in addition to the board meetings.

We were honored that UN Women's Director of Resource Mobilization, Antonie de Jong (Ton), opened the meeting with an inspiring keynote. Ton detailed the UN's historical involvement in global women's issues through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015 and gave an update on UN Women's programs to achieve the gender parity in line with these goals. He concluded with concrete ways USNC can assist UN Women reach these goals.

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management hosted Saturday's lunch and gave an informative presentation on Impact Investing. The investment group also invited a special guest, Carmen Betancourt-Lewis, founder/VP of Miami Today, who engaged attendees with insight gained from her years as a groundbreaking Latina and entrepreneur. We truly appreciated the efforts of Sr. Financial Advisor and USNC East Florida chapter member Catherine Lambert, Sr. VP Roxana Corla, VP Maribel Moldonado and BlackRock Director Daniel Deckman.

A shout out to the Miami chapter board with special thanks to Miami board member Sandra Rishmague and husband Miguel for treating everyone to an elegant flower-filled, candle-lit dinner at the gorgeous Apollo Bank! It was an excellent way to end a busy day with old and new friends.

On April 2nd and 3rd, our Gulf Coast Chapter celebrated its 16th annual Through Women's Eyes film festival showcased within the larger Sarasota Film Festival. This was done in partnership with the lauded women directed and produced film distributor, Women Make Movies.

The two day event featured the first showings of 25 full length films and shorts selected from over 500 submissions (up from 200 submissions last year), showcasing films that were written, directed or produced by women. Film themes included body image, arts and dance, homelessness, LGBTQ, race relations, sexual assault and abuse, relationships, conservation and comedy.

More than 1,000 attended this year's festival, with 110 attending the Filmmaker's Reception Saturday evening at the Art Center.

The chapter was so proud of their Learners to Leaders (high school students mentored by the Gulf Coast chapter) who were highlighted for producing an excellent 80 second PSA on discrimination.  

Below are a few of our favorite images from the weekend:

Photo: Gulf Coast Chapter Learners to Leaders
Photo: Festival Co-Chairs, Artistic Director and Volunteers

Photo: 2016 Filmmakers

March 5th - East Florida sponsored a successful  Walk to Celebrate Phenomenal Women, enforcing their local commitment toward educating their community on the importance of speaking out and standing up for women's empowerment.

March 5th - San Francisco Bay Area sponsored a screening of the award-winning documentary film Petals in the Dust.

March 6th - Southern California celebrated candid stories of women from around the world with their Women's Rights, Women's Voices, Women's Visions event, featuring 50 Women anthology author Jessica Buchleitner's interview by local radio host Polina Hryn.

March 8th - North Carolina screened the second film in its Spring Film Series, Sweet Dreams at the John T. Hoggart High School in Wilmington, NC.

March 12th - Gulf Coast hosted a reading of the acclaimed documentary play The Seven followed by a luncheon at the Polo Grill Fete Ballroom in Sarasota, FL.

Our local chapters are as busy as ever planning new and exciting events in their communities! Mark your calendar now to join the event closest to you.

April 14th - San Francisco Bay Area will co-sponsor an event with We Work Transbay entitled HeForShe Champions For Change Celebration.  For more information regarding this ticketed event, click h ere .

April 16th - Southern California will co-sponsor a benefit with Soroptomist International (Newport Harbor Area) and the Breast Cancer Fund for LunaFest: Films By, For and About Women. For more information on this event, click here.

April 24th - North Carolina will sponsor their 7th Annual Walk to End Violence Against Women and Girls in Hugh MacRae Park from 1-4 pm in Wilmington, NC.  For more details and to register for the walk, click here.

April 28th - Chicago will celebrate its 2nd anniversary as a chapter and launch a #HeForSheChicago social media campaign from 6:30-8:30 pm at Fremont Tavern. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

April 29th - Houston will host a weekend Global Heath Fair including a match with the US Medical Soccer Team vying against local celebrities in support of the HeForShe initiative. More details will follow.

May 9th - Metro Detroit will be partnering with U.S. Customs and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) for a free educational training session to explore the methods and techniques employed by traffickers and human smugglers, as well as techniques for best identifying them, and public programs designed to help victims. For more information, click here.

We also now offer virtual memberships! To learn more,