by Kathie England

Global Citizens

“Peace is not merely the absence of conflict. It’s a state of harmony, understanding, and cooperation. Peace is not passive. It requires active engagement and dialogue. It’s about respecting diversity and seeking nonviolent solutions to conflict. Peace is not achieved overnight. It requires patience, empathy, and willingness to listen to different perspectives. And as global citizens, we have a responsibility to promote peace within our communities and way beyond.”

These thought-provoking words were delivered by Caryl Stern, Chief Impact Officer at Lion Tree & Former CEO, UNICEF USA on September 21, 2023, the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, at the Japan Institute’s** third Peace Symposium at Japan Society’s headquarters in New York, New York. This event was attended by global thought leaders.

After reading Stern’s words I pondered how we can be global citizens. Shortly after this, I read a powerful article in the Ms. Magazine Winter 2024 edition titled “Named, Defined and Proscribed” explaining why it is time for the international community to recognize the crime of gender apartheid. The article described the atrocities being committed in Afghanistan and Iran against women and girls.

We can be global citizens by taking two immediate actions explained in that article.

1) You can go to Stop Gender Apartheid and sign a petition urging President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres not to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government, to establish gender apartheid as an international crime, and to increase humanitarian assistance, especially to Afghan women and girls.

2) You can add your name at End Gender Apartheid, an open letter calling on U.N. member states to codify the crime of gender apartheid.

As we embrace the opportunity to be global citizens in 2024, I invite you to take these two important and small steps.

**Japan Institute is being created to share and expand programs of Portland Japanese Garden more broadly around the world, expand international partnerships, and continue to engage diverse people in shared experiences and conversations about peace, beauty, and connection of nature.