Migrant Women and SDGs - UN HLPF 2019 Side Event

by Anu Pohjamo

Annika Gordon, Jaana Rehnstrom, Pamela Morgan, Judithe Registre, Beatriz Borges, Stephanie Johanssen , and Michael Samuels, respectively.

Annika Gordon, Jaana Rehnstrom, Pamela Morgan, Judithe Registre, Beatriz Borges, Stephanie Johanssen , and Michael Samuels, respectively.

The United Nations High-Level Political Forum (UN HLPF)  2019 on the Sustainable Development Goals was held in New York City, July 9th-18th. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and The 2030 Agenda were agreed upon in order to achieve a better and more sustainable future, as well as acknowledging the importance of human rights, climate change, and economic growth for the future world. In order to achieve these goals, it is crucial not only to improve economic productivity, social cohesion, and environmental sustainability between countries, but also to reduce inequalities between women and men within a society. 

Kota hosted a UN HLPF side event on Migrant Women and SDGs in collaboration with WoW e.V. at Piermont Bank on July 11th, 2019. Jaana Rehnstrom, President of The Kota Alliance and Michael Samuels, Relationship Manager at Piermont Bank, welcomed the audience; Judithe Registre, a board member at The Kota Alliance, then moderated a panel discussion on Migrant Women and the SDGs. Four panelists, who all represent human rights organizations, discussed topics such as quality education, existing inequalities and how the inequalities could be reduced, peace, justice, and collaboration, all related to migrant women. 

The panelists were Stephanie Johanssen, Senior Advocacy Officer, Women’s Refugee Commission, Stephanie leads WRC’s advocacy with the United Nations, member states, civil society and policy makers; Annika Gordon who is on the social media team at WoW e.V., a non-profit human rights NGO that addresses inter-sectional discrimination in the German labor market; Pamela Morgan, an activist dedicated to uplifting the status of women and a United Nations representative for Zonta International in New York; and Beatriz Borges, the Executive Director of The Justice and Peace Center (CEPAZ), a non-profit organization that works to promote and defend democratic values, human rights, and a culture of peace in Venezuela. 

The panel discussion highlighted the highly significant work bringing up social injustices all around the world that human rights organizations and activists are doing. It also led us to think how the voice of migrant women, and especially women and girls who are in the middle of the humanitarian crisis, will be heard when finding the ways to solve the current problems and to help people who are suffering the impact of the crisis. 


The panel also pointed out that education is one of the most efficient ways to empower women. According to UN Women’s publication (2018) Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the increase in girls’ school enrollment has been one of the most remarkable achievements of recent decades considering SDG 4, Quality Education. Despite positive trends in girls’ education, gender disparities in access to education are persistent and reinforced by poverty. As an example, the world’s poorest children are four times less likely to go to school than the world’s richest children and the school enrollment does not necessarily lead to completion. In addition, a specific challenge that girls are facing is menstrual hygiene management. The lack of sanitation as well as the social pressure may keep them at home instead of going to school.

At the same time, UN’s Global Education Monitoring Report 2019 shows that there are also many other social norms and attitudes about women’s role in society which prevents girls’ education, women empowerment and gender equality. As our panelists agreed, there are still multiple struggles on the path to achieve the SDGs. We have to be persistent in our work and consistent with our message so that these objectives will be realized in the future.

Globalizing Gender - New Partner Organization

By: Annika Springsteel

First ever anti-FGM/C march in NYC.

First ever anti-FGM/C march in NYC.

Gender-based violence is prevalent all over the world and targets women and girls especially. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 3 women have been physically or sexually assaulted and that more than 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation or cutting. UN Women estimates that in 2017, 87,000 women were killed by either their partner or another family member as a result of gender-based violence. These are the types of statistics that Globalizing Gender is aiming to change. Globalizing Gender is a nonprofit on a mission to create a gender-just world which they are tackling through many avenues such as “capacity building, technical assistance, rule of law, governance, advocacy and restorative justice”. They are a rapidly growing NGO always looking for new partnerships and Kota is proud to collaborate with an organization pioneering new forms of activism for a very deserving cause.


Globalizing Gender wants to create more ways to prevent gender-based violence as well as to help survivors physically and mentally to regain their dignity after the fact. They aim to use social entrepreneurship to combat gender-based violence as well as de-stigmatize and de-criminalize efforts to help GBV survivors. (GG) is also working towards fostering connections between local governments and NGO’s to create alliances to stop gender-based violence. They want to close the gaps for services to gender-based violence survivors. One of Globalizing Gender’s most important goals is to advocate for the end of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. They are currently in the process of creating the first task force in the country to combat genital mutilation and cutting. 

Meeting to discuss plans for FGM/C Task Force.

Meeting to discuss plans for FGM/C Task Force.

Globalizing Gender was founded by Natasha  R. Johnson, J.D. because she saw a world full of policies that hurt those who have been victims of gender injustice and she wanted to to create systems for those that have experienced GBV to restore their own dignity. Natasha is a Fulbright Specialist Fellow, an Equal Justice Works Fellow and a TEDx speaker (9/7/2019) among many other distinctions she has received. Natasha received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law and her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia University.

You can learn more about how to support this pioneering organization by contacting Globalizing Gender via email at info@globalizinggender.org

Rise of Broken Women Supporting Homeless Women in Shelters and on the Streets of NYC

by Iida Pirttiniemi

Homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression in 1930s. Every night almost 64,000 people sleep in the New York City municipal shelter system. Nearly 1 in every 121 New Yorkers is homeless. 

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Charlee Newman, the founder of the non-profit organization Rise of Broken Women, used to be one of them. As a domestic violence survivor, she became homeless in 2008. It was a Friday afternoon and she had nowhere to go, so she spent the night sleeping in the A train before being able to get a spot at a Drop-in Center. The whole experience was shocking and devastating.  

- It felt like being on a rollercoaster blindfolded, and I just kept telling myself to stay in control and not give up, Newman says.

Newman quickly realized that being homeless is an abuse in itself. During the two years that she spent at the Drop-in Center; she came to realize that she wanted to start an organization to help women who are facing similar difficulties she faced. That is how the story of Rise of Broken Women first began. 

Homeless Periods: A Problem of Poverty, Dignity, and Feminine Hygiene

Menstruation creates a very specific problem to people without homes. Shelters don’t provide menstrual hygiene products and because they are not covered by SNAP, women might have to sell their food stamps or even their bodies to get the necessary items they need to make it through their period. Homeless women on the streets of NYC end up using things out of the garbage: newspaper, socks and t-shirts – anything they can find on the streets – to cope with their menstruation. 

 - Just imagine if you will, how would you feel if you had to use dirty rags, newspapers or whatever you could get your hands on, to use during your menstrual period?  This does not only affect the women physically it is affecting them mentally, socially, emotionally and environmentally, Newman says.

- I remember once in a shelter there was a woman who was asking the guard for menstrual hygiene products. The guard told her to go to the toilet to get some toilet paper and use that, and the woman was devastated. There are homeless women whose daughters must miss school every time they have their periods because the family can’t afford pads or tampons, she continues.

Rise of Broken Women provides women in shelters with menstrual hygiene products, pantyliners, bras, underwear and other necessary items related to personal hygiene. They also help women who don’t get their periods with feminine hygiene products. These women will receive pantyliners, feminine wipes, etc.

- My goal is to give women in shelters and on the streets one less thing to worry about. If I can make a woman have one less worry, I have achieved something, Newman says. 


 Health and wellness as main goals 

Newman started her organization in March 2019, and already got her 501(c)(3) in May 17, 2019. Things have moved quickly – thanks to Newman’s perseverance and drive.

- This was a dream that manifested in my heart, she says. 

- The dream became a vision and that became Rise of Broken Women. It did not come out of passion, but out of necessity. I want to make sure that these women get what they need. This is my purpose, she continues. 

Rise of Broken Women works both with shelters and on the streets. Newman’s goal is to help women where they’re at. Due to her personal experiences, she understands what women in shelters and women on the streets NYC need.  

- Being homeless, you become invisible to certain areas of society. It’s like that. No one sees or hears you because they don’t want the involvement, Newman says. 

Newman wants to uplift homeless women and the organization focuses on health and wellness as well as building self-esteem through communication, healing, forgiving themselves and financial healing. 


All support is warmly welcomed

Donations and volunteers are essential to keep the work of Rise of Broken Women going. All donations are welcomed because every donation counts.

- Donating through us is effective because we can buy menstrual hygiene products in bulk, which makes them cheaper in comparison to smaller packages, Newman says.

Rise of Broken Women also organizes events to fundraise and to raise awareness on the issue of homeless periods. It is also possible for a community or a workplace to organize a donation box for menstrual hygiene products.

- Women need to start thinking about other women. The time to help is now, she says.  

Support Rise of Broken Women! 

Fundraiser dinner at Alston & Bird September 29th, 2019 

Women’s Lives Matter PERIOD Walk-a-thon, April 25th, 2020

Spaghetti Fundraiser Dinner August 29th, 2020

Halloween Costume Party Fundraiser October 31st, 2020





Follow Rise of Broken Women’s website for further event updates and news! 

Questions and inquiries at info@riseofbrokenwomen.org


Rise of Broken Women is a partner organization of the Kota Alliance.