Many issues related to mountain women will be discussed by the delegation of Utah Valley University (UVU) at the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women during March 13-23, 2018. The UVU delegation will be comprised of more than 20 members, with seven of them students. It will be the third time that the UVU delegation will attend this important forum - part of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Members of UVU delegations during the meeting with Permanent Representative of Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations Ms. Mirgul Moldoisaeva on March 21, 2017
During a side event, co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN on March 19, 2018, delegation members are scheduled to speak about major challenges faced by mountain women in many parts of the world,and how educational programs at UVU could provide solutions to many of those problems. During the presentations, delegation members will also share the results of their cooperation of many years with their partners from the International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK). In a joint statement, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Utah China Friendship Improvement Shared Hands Development and Commerce, two non-governmental organizations inconsultative status with the Economicand Social Council and UVU partners, stated in particular, that the cooperation between UVU and IUK contributes to the promotion in North America of the gender-focused activities as important part of the United Nations agenda on Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD). Their statement was already accepted and distributed as official document by the United Nations Secretariat on December 7, 2017 (See for more information at http://utahimf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/17-12-07-N1739831.pdf )
Participants of the first international Women of the Mountains conference during the presentation of the Kyrgyz yurt at UVU campus on March 8, 2007
Ten years ago, UVU hosted the first international Women of the Mountains conference in city of Orem, Utah at its main campus. This conference was are markable event due to a number of reasons: it was the first major initiative and contribution from UVU to the promotion of the SMD agenda after becoming a member of the Mountain Partnership in 2006, which coordinates activities of the international community in that area; IUK became a co-sponsor of the conference in order for UVU to promote projects and initiatives to raise awareness about SMD in the State of Utah and North America; the conference was a follow up to the forum on mountain women in Bhutan gathered in 2002 in a framework of the International Year of Mountains declared by the United Nations under the initiative of the Kyrgyz Republic.
I was able to participate in that important forum in March 2007, which demonstrated the urgency of the issues of both gender equality and SMD for the mountain communities in the Rocky Mountains region of North America. At that time I witnessed for myself how for the first time more than 120 participants of the conference including representatives of the UN, US State Department, Permanent Representatives of different mountainous nations to the United Nations and almost all mountain states of the Rocky Mountains region gathered together in Utah to discuss the most important issues for the livelihoods and activities of women from the mountain regions of the world.
In the 10 years since that gathering, UVU and IUK co-sponsored two more Women of the Mountains conferences in Utah, one in 2011 and the other in2015,with one conference in Peru in 2012. Today, the Women oft he Mountains conferences have become one of the leading forums in North America to advocate gender issues within the SMD agenda of the United Nations
The fourth International Women of the Mountains conference was for the first time held in Utah through the efforts of 73 UVU students during October 7-9, 2015. Student organizing committee was able to handle all issues related to hosting the conference, including: fundraising, as well as processing and editing not only submitted papers, but also the final document of the conference. The Report of the United Nations Secretary General on SMD А/71/256 from 29 July 2016 for the first-time highlighted the role of UVU students for hosting the conference and elaborating recommendations in the final document of the gathering on theimplementation of the Sustainable Development Goal #5 on gender; target #6.6 on rational use of water resources and sanitation; and target #15.1 on protection recovery of ecosystems of land.
In Bishkek, we were able to host as a guest of the Kabar agency Dr. Janet Colvin, Interim Associate Dean of UVU on September 2017. During the press-conference, she spoke about importance of jointly hosting the Women of the Mountains conferences and plans for future cooperation between UVU and IUK with a focus on implementation of the United Nations sustainable development goals in part related to mountain communities.