Why I Champion Strong Global Engagement—And Why You Should, Too

“It is only through constructive cooperation between nations, through combined efforts rooted in mutual respect, that we can achieve progress in the world.”

My bags are packed for New York! As the 2019 UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit quickly approaches, I couldn’t be more excited to spend a day delving into critical global development issues and to meet some really fascinating people.

Ahead of this historic moment on February 22nd, I am reflecting on what motivates me to advocate for strong global engagement.

Intergovernmental institutions like the United Nations and all the bodies under its auspices provide an optimal forum for discussion and cooperation. We need this platform to ensure progress and prosperity for our world’s ever-growing population. The United Nations is relevant and global engagement is necessary, especially now as our nation and our world face extreme nationalism and severe political and humanitarian crises.

My motivation to confront global issues at the core of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals began 18 years ago. At the age of 19, I left my home in Bulgaria to pursue an education in New York. Inspired by a college professor who was herself very involved with the UN, I decided to study Political Science with minors in Economics and History. To deepen my understanding of international development, I purposely elected classes that focused on economics in developing countries, international relations, and the United Nations. Gaining a strong understanding of the structure, mission, and significance of the UN ignited my passion for international cooperation, diplomacy, and global development.

During these college years, I became very interested in the way women’s economic empowerment and increase in political participation are interconnected in the context of global policy-making. The research I conducted for my college thesis (focused on microcredit as a tool for political empowerment of women in South Asia) made me enthusiastic about poverty reduction and the role economic self-sufficiency plays in reducing gender inequality. My hypothesis was that microfinance—through increased economic power and newly-gained access to better educational opportunities, healthcare, and professional training—gradually enables women to enter local government and subsequently grow their national government participation.

Through my work on this topic, I became deeply passionate about gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Two of the classes I completed as a part of a graduate-level Certificate in International Relations at Harvard University further enlightened me about the crucial role intergovernmental organizations play in resolving pressing global challenges. Every day, the United Nations is confronting urgent humanitarian crises in the world’s most complex environments. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and other UN bodies are indispensable in the effort to alleviate human suffering in Yemen, Myanmar, and Sudan, among others.

I couldn’t be more excited about the Global Engagement Summit on February 22nd. It is crucial for all Americans to understand the importance of International cooperation. More than ever before, countries must come together in an effort to resolve the most urgent issues facing us today—humanitarian emergencies, global health, human rights, global warming, and many others. It is only through constructive cooperation between nations, through combined efforts rooted in mutual respect, that we can achieve progress in the world. For that purpose, we need an educated and informed public.

The UN is our best platform for progress. If you don’t believe me, ask more than 1,500 other Americans from across the country convening in New York to support the UN on February 22, or the 20,000 UNA-USA members nationwide who stand up for global engagement in their communities every day. Now more than ever, our world needs the UN. And the UN needs our voices.

If you can’t attend the 2019 Global Engagement Summit, watch live on webtv.un.org from 9:00am – 5:00pm EST on February 22nd.

Want to take action in your community? Connect with your local UNA-USA Chapter.


About the Author:


Marta Kihn is a member of the Dallas, TX Chapter of UNA-USA. Marta is an Economic Empowerment volunteer at the International Rescue Committee, and is pursuing a Masters degree in International Development. She graduated with honors from St. Francis College, New York, with a degree in Political Science. Previously, she was a sales and marketing professional in the private sector.


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