A GNA feature by Audrey Dekalu
The United Nations (UN) Day is celebrated annually to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and to help them work together to improve the lives of poor people.
With current membership of 193 countries, the UN continues working towards peace, saving the world from deadly diseases such as Ebola, ensuring food security, protecting our environment, as well as the rights of citizens everywhere.
According to the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), this year marked the 69th anniversary of the signing on October 24, 1945 of the UN Charter with 51 countries signing the Charter at that time on the global theme: ?Global Citizenship and Youth? and ?Youth Engagement for Effective Nation-Building? as the theme for Ghana.
UN Day, celebrated on 24 October since 1948, was set aside by the General Assembly to highlight, celebrate and reflect on the work of the global body.
In 1971, the General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by Member States as a public holiday.
Ghana joined the UN in March 1957 as the 81st country by Resolutions: S/RES/124 (1957) of 7 March 1957 (S/PV.775) and A/RES/1118 (XI) of 8 March 1957 (A/PV.668).
The 2014 celebration was premised on challenges facing the world community in the 21st century, such as the current Ebola outbreak which is mainly concentrated in West Africa, its potential to spread and mutate into an even more infectious virus has made it a global health emergency for all members of the international community.
The UNIC notes that in the face of these challenges, the concept of global citizenship had become increasingly important.
Global citizenship embodies an identity ? and a responsibility – which transcend national borders and an awareness that individual action can contribute to global solutions.
In harnessing the potential of global citizenship, one group stands out; the youth, from 15 to 24 years, who make up 1.1 billion of the world?s population.
Youth protests, youth employment, and violence, particularly against girls and young women, have dominated the headlines in recent times and many political and social developments in recent years have been fuelled by the engagement of youth, with dramatic effects for their societies and countries.
The use of social media has helped in amplifying the voices of the youth and put young people at the centre of global debates.
Recognising the significance of youth participation in decision-making, the UNs System-wide Action Plan on Youth focuses on strong partnerships around youth issues and with young people themselves.
Effective youth engagement needs to be inclusive, irrespective of geographical location, social status, or gender with young women and girls usually most at risk of exclusion.
Every year an estimated 3,040 Ghanaian mothers die while giving birth. Addressing maternal mortality has been particularly challenging for Ghana and most developing countries.
As well as having a reproductive health strategy in place, the government, with support from the United Nations, has put in place a Millennium Development Goal 5 Acceleration Framework (MAF).
The MAF identifies effective evidence-based interventions for achieving success. It also identifies three key priority interventions: improving access to and use of family planning, skilled delivery, and emergency obstetric and newborn care.
During the past decade, the United Nations has also taken a more holistic and rights based view of maternal health.
To this end, the body has been working to enhance the role of women, prevent child marriage, increase girls? access to education, educate and abolish Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, and support the development of adolescent life skills.
Girls? education is also another critical component for strengthening their engagement in political debates and nation building.
Although Ghana has achieved parity between boys and girls in primary school, the gap shows in secondary high schools and at the tertiary level where there are approximately twice as many boys as girls.
Violence against adolescent girls at school be it through bullying or sexual harassment continues to be a serious barrier to fulfilling their right to education.
Other forms of violence such as early and child marriage also deprive girls of a childhood, and often of an education, and put them at risk of different forms of inter-personal violence.
Girls who marry as children are less likely to attend school and complete their secondary education, which has negative health and economic consequences for the wider community.
Closing the gap between boys and girls in education and preventing maternal death are important prerequisites for allowing girls to contribute to global solutions in their role as global citizens, and to play their part in effective nation building.
The 69th session of the UN General Assembly opened as the international community was confronted with a wide array of challenges.
Poverty, hunger and persistent unemployment continue to affect many countries; old and new armed conflicts keep diverting international attention and resources from addressing the pressing issue of climate change with its wide-ranging negative effects, particularly on the most vulnerable nations and populations.
Since March this year, the world has seen health systems overwhelmed in the face of the threat of Ebola leading to the establishment in September of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response with its headquarters in Accra.
Three High-Level Thematic Debates and one High-Level Event would be held in the course of the 69th UN General Assembly to provide an opportunity for member states and all relevant stakeholders to have in-depth deliberations on world issues, in an interactive and participatory manner, with a view to making contributions to the process of formulating the post-2015 development agenda.
The first High-Level thematic debate will take place in February 2015 and would discuss the means of implementing for the post-2015 development agenda and on how to mobilise the significant resources that would be needed to turn the aspirations of the post-2015 development agenda into realities.
The second High-Level thematic debate, to be held in March 2015, would focus on Advancing Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in the post-2015 development agenda.
As highlighted in the outcome document of Rio+20, although progress in gender equality has been made in some areas, the potential of women to engage in, contribute to and benefit from sustainable development has not yet been fully realized.
In this connection, the debate would provide an opportunity to focus on measures that must be taken to advance gender equality and women?s economic and political empowerment at all levels, as well as the importance of education in these endeavours.
The third High-Level Thematic Debate, to be held by mid-year 2015, would address the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Strengthening Cooperation between the UNs and Regional Organisations.
In June 2015, a High-level Event on Combating Climate Change, which is one of the defining global challenges of our time, would be held.
This event would give momentum and added impetus to efforts to reach a global agreement in 2015 under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.