The 12th International Solidarity Forum (ISF) took place in New York City at the United Nations (UN) and WYA Headquarters last March 23 – 26, 2015. This year’s ISF explored the theme on “Health and Education: Keys to Development”. It was attended by over fifty participants including staff members, interns and active members from around the world.
The ISF featured expert lectures, advocacy training, UN-style negotiations, introduction to new WYA programs and a screening of the winning films from the Manhattan International Film Festival. On the last day of ISF, participants adopted a Declaration on Health and Education.
WYA Founder, Anna Halpine, delivered an introduction about the work of WYA and outlined the concrete programs that may be implemented in the different regions, respectively the Human Dignity Curriculium (HDC) and Fertility Education and Medical Management (FEMM).
Dr. Robert Scanlon Jr., Director of Women’s Health and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at North Shore LIJ Huntington Hospital and Assistant Clinical Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at North Shore LIJ Hofstra School of Medicine, shared with participants his extensive experience in healthcare and conducted an interactive dialogue about basic development needs in developing countries.
Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, with over 30 years of experience in healthcare in different countries at different stages of development, shared her incredible work and experiences working in healthcare in Haiti and other places. This allowed participants to see some the nature of the challenges that poor countries faced and the solutions that are needed. One of which is to empower local populations to build their own culturally-sensitive healthcare systems.
Other speakers included Rebekah Kosinski of the United Nations Development Program’s Sustainable Development Fund, who provided another perspective on the international consensus for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in relation to education.
WYA Advocacy fellow Nadja Wolfe conducted an Advocacy Academy which highlighted some of the current trends at the UN and globally with regards that affect human dignity. WYA’s Reproductive Health & Sexual Education Program Manager Gabrielle Jastrebski shared her expert knowledge on the FEMM program while WYA’s Education Director Weronika Jancsuk shared the fundamental principles of the Human Dignity Curriculum explaining why it is important to educate for human excellence to the kids.
This year’s ISF also included two optional in-depth trainings for participants on WYA’s own health and education programs that were devised as practical solutions to challenges present international policy debates. Among these solutions is the Human Dignity Curriculum (HDC), a curriculum designed to help students develop a proper understanding of themselves, their worth as persons and the responsibility they have to act in accordance with their dignity. In addition, the Fertility Education & Medical Management (FEMM), a women’s health program that teaches the relationship among hormonal activity, overall health and healthy lifestyle, while providing the tools to track and manage this information over time. WYA’s regions are excited and eager to bring these programs to their members.
The next ISF will focus on the theme: “Population and Environment”. It will take place on March 7-10, 2016 in New York City.