Home » AWC Berlin and UN Sustainable Development Goals

AWC Berlin launches the SDG Photo Campaign in partnership with @FAWCO and our sister clubs around the world. Look out for weekly update over the next 17 weeks to learn how our club members are supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs), and how we are working individually and collectively to make our world a better place for all.

From Frances: I consider all the UN SDG’s to be extremely important. However as the Covid-19 pandemic further highlights the economic inequalities that divide our world, I am most concerned with #1 – No Poverty. I worry daily about family and friends all over the globe as they deal with this new health crisis. Yet I’m especially distressed when I consider my colleagues, friends, and their families who live in vulnerable communities. Millions of people around the world are living in poverty without access to clean drinking water, sanitation, healthcare, education, and food security during this extremely difficult time. I am humbled when I think that the basic act of handwashing with soap and clean water is not accessible to many in the world. Hopefully, the targeted efforts of the UN and others can make a difference by helping to alleviate global poverty.”

What can we do to help? Buy fair-trade products to support the sustainable trade system, meaning employees are rewarded fairly for their work. Buy clothing or other products from stores that donate a portion of their money to charities. Generate discussion around poverty. Write a blog, or write an article in a local newspaper.
From Kathryn: Sustainable Development Goal actions to transform our world. Support local farmers by buying your food at Wochenmarkets (ours in Charlottenburg Wednesdays and Saturdays is terrific). Support food assistance programs; they provide over 20x more food than food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens. Many hungry people hesitate to ask for help because of the stigma and shame of it. Speak up about misconceptions and educate others about the realities of hungry persons.
From Janet: “Good health and Wellbeing have always been a high priority in my life. Both physical and emotional wellbeing are key elements of good health. Especially through these difficult Covid-19 days, daily exercise has helped me to balance my physical and emotional needs and given me great joy. I’ve introduced some new daily routines, and now I look forward to my 30 min HIT class with Joe Wicks on YouTube, knowing that my girlfriends in London are doing the same. We support and encourage each other with daily texts. Regular Table Tennis matches and exploring Berlin on a bike have also been great fun. I have been blessed to live in a family, community, and country where Good Health and Wellbeing is considered more than just being free from illness, but a basic need. Throughout my whole life, I have been fortunate to be given the opportunity to make informed choices about my lifestyle while having access to healthy food and the freedom to exercise. This sadly is not the case for everyone. Hopefully, the UN SDG’s will help to focus on the importance of Good Health and Wellbeing.”

Tips for acting locally: Be part of increasing awareness of, and support for, mental health ailments such as depression, substance abuse, or Alzheimer’s. Be more active. Go for walks at lunchtime or cycle to work. Make time for yourself and your friends.
As a teacher and TeachSDGs Ambassador I am very proud to present SDG 4 - Quality Education. These last weeks and months have exposed the extent of inequalities and unprecedented challenges around the world and at the same time highlighted the importance of education.
Before the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the world was already dealing with a learning crisis. Still, 57 million primary-aged children remain out of school, more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In developing countries, one in four girls is not in school. About half of all out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas. 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 percent of them are women.
With the spread of the coronavirus, the education system is facing a new crisis, as more than 160 countries were forced to close schools impacting at least 1.5 billion children and youth. According to UNESCO over 80% of the children out of the classroom due to COVID-19 were in developing countries. Extended school closures impact learning and social relations in the short term, but also further diminish economic opportunities over the long term affecting the livelihoods of people around the world. Another issue that has become shockingly evident is the impact school closures have had on our youth’s mental health.
Especially now, amidst the civil unrest in the USA and around the world, we are constantly reminded of the power of quality education as it grants us the ability to fight the war on ignorance (Former U.S. Representative Charles Rangel).
In the context of the SDGs, we have also seen an extraordinary movement of young people from all around the word, who have come together and become agents of change. Youth leadership is essential in rebuilding a post COVID-19 world with the SDGs. We have to harness the momentum of this movement and their engagement and continue to empower our youth.
Inspired by the words of Robert F. Kennedy – “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.“ – I aim to instill a sense of social and environmental justice and responsibility in my students to take action and transform our world.

Tips to contribute to achieving quality education: Educate your kids about the power of education, as many don’t see the tangible benefits. In many countries, girls are pulled out of school early in order to get married. Start conversations that allow for problems to be openly discussed and solutions to be found. Share your skills with the ones who need them.
Our Member Ute shared the importance Sustainable Development Goal #5 GENDER EQUALITY has for her: As a graduate from an American women’s college and after a lifetime career in Human Resources Management, equal rights for girls and women has always been important to me. To this date, the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States has not been ratified after nearly 100 years since it was introduced by Alice Stokes Paul.’
To ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ is the goal the United Nations has set under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5 to be achieved by the year 2030. Targets and Indicators were defined by the UN to evaluate each country’s status towards gender equality and monitor its progress annually in this regard. Here is a selection of abstracted SDG#5 targets:
End all forms of discrimination and violence against all girls and women.
Eradicate harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and early/forced marriage and ensure universal health care for sexual and reproductive health.
Promote shared responsibility within the family and household to value unpaid domestic and care within the family.
Ensure participation and leadership of women at all levels of political, economic and public life.
Ensure equal rights for women to access economic resources and receive property rights.
Advance and enforce legislation for gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.

What is the current status towards the achievement of SDG#5? Based on data some countries provided for 2018/19:

18% of women and girls (15 - 49 years) who are in a constant relationship experienced physical and/or sexual violence, up to 24% in the least developed countries.
Of the 30 countries where female genital mutilation (FGM) is the cultural norm and who were willing to provide data, at least 200 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM.
Women are underrepresented at all political levels - at the national level ranging from 0 to 61.3% (average 24.2% - increase of 19% since 2010), at the local level from 1 to 48%. A significant impact can be seen at the local and national level where gender quotas are adopted.
The number of women in managerial positions has increased since 2000, but only 27% of managerial positions were occupied by women.
Health services were only available to 57% of 15 - 49-year-old women.
Gaps in legal protection and discriminatory laws remain in many countries although progress has been made over the past 25 years. Almost 1/3 of 53 countries have legal gaps in their constitution anti-discrimination laws, more than 1/4 have legal gaps regarding violence against women and 29% have legal gaps in employment and economic benefits.

At the current rate of progress gender equality, as defined by SDG#5, will not be attained by 2030. What does it take to accelerate change towards gender equality? How can society ensure the safety, health, and well-being of girls and women and provide the framework necessary to ensure advancement in all areas of the lives of women and girls to attain SDG#5? Understanding what mechanisms actually work in support of gender equality are still being analyzed but it is the legal and political framework and the funding for girls and women’s programs that need support from each and every one of us. And it needs leaders who are in a legal, political, or economic position to bring about change and are held accountable for the progress towards gender equality of girls and women. What can you do to bring about change towards gender equality? Check out the UN’s women’s campaigns, support professional networks in support of women and be an advocate for change by raising awareness using social media.
Our Member Alicia Minaya is passionate about Sustainable Development Goal #6, Clean Water and Sanitation. "For me water is life. Water is vital to sustain our health, livelihoods, and ecosystems.

In my home country Peru, substantial progress has been made in increasing access to clean water and sanitation. However, we still have many challenges. In rural areas, 69% of the population has access to drinking water (SDG 6.1) and only 37% have access to basic sanitation services (SDG 6.2).
Water quality (SDG 6.3) and water-use efficiency (SDG 6.4) is also a main challenge in my country, and as I have learned living in Germany, it is also very true for highly developed countries.
The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of access to water and sanitation for our health and well-being. Water poverty and gender inequality in access to water are for me key issues that we need to address within the 2030 Agenda."
Arina Francke shared why the Sustainable Development **Goal #7 Affordable & Clean Energy **resonates so deeply with her: "As we all enjoy our modern ways of life with all the comforts that we oftentimes take for granted, I believe by now it’s pretty obvious to most of us, that all that power and energy we so often use carelessly, without giving it a second thought, comes at a cost. While some people in certain places of our world might struggle on a daily basis to do even basic chores at home or at work, others revel in abundance. But whatever your circumstances might be you owe it not only to the generations that come after you but to our mutual home - our planet - to sustain it and replenish it - that is why development and implementation of greener, cleaner and cheaper energy to the whole world must be an absolute priority."
Karis Zeller shared her thoughts on the Sustainable Development Goal #8: I find teaching music meaningful as I believe that I am not just nurturing a love for music, but I am nurturing a student's heart. Through music, one can become a better, more compassionate, creative person. One must learn to play along with others in an ensemble setting, requiring good teamwork and critical thinking skills. Something I always try to remind myself of, is that teaching a child music goes beyond teaching the music. We are creating better citizens for our future.
What can we do to act locally? (1) Become a micro-lender and empower young people to become entrepreneurs.(2) Ensure safe working conditions. (3) Encourage more job opportunities for youth.
Even on the go, Katrin Voelkner shared the reasons SDG #9 resonates so deeply with her: "Did you know that in 2020, 3.5 billion people in the world do not have access to the internet? In order to create a sustainable and just future, it is imperative that we improve access to innovative infrastructures and industries. As someone who has benefited from the wealth of two of the most powerful industrial countries in the world (US and Germany), I am committed to supporting innovative and sustainable solutions that expand opportunities for people all over the world."
Our treasurer Angela shared the ways that the Sustainable Development Goal#10 REDUCED INEQUALITIES resonates with her: Equality is rooted in our genes as experiments with primates and children have shown. Although the cultural upbringing influences the acceptance of inequalities, these are common causes for despair and aggression and often ends in violence and war.
Let us all fight for less inequality – national as well as international - to give all humans in this world the chance to pursue happiness, to visit good schools, have access to health care, have enough nutrition to grow to strong humans who can work together as a global team to save the world. How to do this?
My personal tips for acting locally: 1) The very first and most important duty – vote! Support politicians who are mature enough to understand that the world needs cooperation and fairness to make our all lives better. 2) Secondly, a real challenge: Wait 3 minutes before you spend money upon something you would consider a bit luxury and check if it really will make you more happy than using the money for less privileged fellow humans, for example as a donation for vaccines or girls education. 3) Third: support fair trade, to help producers in developing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships.
In the village of Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala, a sustainable community begins with replacing the corn-stalk walled shacks with a one room cement block home with a window, a door that locks and a cement floor (no electricity or water inside this home). My family and I have volunteered with From Houses to Homes in Antigua, Guatemala to make this a reality. A home can be built in 5 days- it is one big room but at the end, it belongs to the family. Strong families are the backbone of strong communities. And in this way, the family does not have to tear down their home each year to build a new one out of corn stalks.
Karen Castellon (in photo, 2013) with Guatemalans painting the inside walls of the new home.