The first day of the United Nations Week Digital Media Lounge has come to a close, and the experience was every bit as inspiring and as meaningful as you might have imagined. Experts and innovators from a variety of backgrounds gathered to discuss the Millennium Development Goals and to examine the best methods for inciting social change.
Earlier in the day, there were discussions of the brilliant ways technology is being used to create sustainable projects that result in safe and healthy living environments for women and children around the world. For instance, one organization used mobile technology to determine the whereabouts of displaced Haitians last January; as a result, they were more quickly able to mobilize aid workers to locate them and provide relief. Another panelist discussed the use of technology to ensure that corruption isn’t keeping aid money from reaching the right people. Similarly, these same technologies can be used to ensure that children who are enrolled in school continue to attend and participate, and that educators are providing the necessary tools for success.
Each and every panelist, regardless of their experience or expertise, was quick to highlight the importance of education in accomplishing the Millennium Development Goals. Economic security, health, peaceful communities, and family rights are all drastically improved when girls are receiving an education. They have fewer and healthier children; they are less likely to contract HIV/AIDS; they invest more of their income into the well-being of their families; they are more likely to ensure that their daughters receive an education. Simply put, the education of girls is so intimately linked to the health, safety, and prosperity of the developing world that is absolutely integral to seeing the Millennium Development Goals through to fruition.
One especially touching moment came during a session on the impact film has in tackling the unique challenges we face in developing countries. Digital storytelling is an incredible way to raise awareness of tragic issues around the world, but have you ever considered the simplistic joy you experience while watching your favorite movie? Caroline Baron, founder of FilmAid, spoke of watching as a group of children at an orphanage in Afghanistan experienced The Wizard of Oz for the first time. No cultural barrier could prevent the feeling of joy as their tiny faces lit up while listening to Judy Garland sing of what was possible “over the rainbow.” In fact, it was the first time the children had ever heard music.
Tomorrow promises to be just as exciting—the founder of Vivanista, the go-to website for women bridging social and philanthropic goals—will be moderating a session on the impact of girls who have embraced social media to drive social change. As always, I’ll be keeping you up-to-date via Twitter, and you can check out the session via live stream by clicking here.