Tuesday, February 2, 2021

In Celebration of Margaret ‘Peg’ Snyder by Marilyn Carr, Mina Mauerstein-Bail, & Brenda Gael McSweeney

by Nancy Hafkin

She was my mentor; she made my career with the UN. And she was the most selfless person I have ever known. Until her passing she never wavered from this commitment to improving the lives of women in Africa. 

See Nancy's In Memoriam to Peg Snyder here:
Peg and Nancy
Photo courtesy Comfort Lamptey,
collection Marilyn Carr


by Marilyn Carr

I first met Peg just over 45 years ago when she recruited me sight unseen to join the multi-institutional team she was putting together at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Known as the African Training and Research Centre for Women (ATRCW), this was the first centre to respond to the demands from women at the 1975 Mexico Women’s Conference to have focal points within the UN dealing directly with their many and diverse needs. Having been instrumental in bringing many African women’s voices to Mexico, it was only fitting that Peg should be chosen to head up the African Centre, and I was honoured to be invited to join the team. Although I was only 28 at the time and Peg could have chosen someone with much more experience, characteristically, she wanted to give the younger generation a chance and, thus, I became one of the many people who had their entire life changed by and owed their UN career to this extraordinary woman.

Peg's 75th Birthday Party -- staff from ATRCW, UNIFEM, UN/UNDP -- Laketch Dirasse, Nancy Hafkin, Joann Vanek, Mekdes Gebre Medhin, Teckie Gebre-Medhin, Mary Tadesse, Kristin Timothy, Ruby Sandhu-Rojon. Peg seated second from left. Myself seated right.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Following a detour through Khartoum to join Peg on a three week mission to advise the newly formed Women’s Ministry in the Sudan, complete with a flight onwards to Addis where we met with Mother Theresa, I arrived for my three year assignment at ATRCW in November 1975. I was there to advise governments on appropriate technologies for women to save time on domestic chores such as fuel and water collection and increase their productivity in agricultural work and small businesses. This was an Africa-wide assignment and a daunting task at a time when FAO was still giving training to men while women did most of the farming and UNICEF looked upon women simply as mothers rather than bread winners in their own right. Backed up by statistics collected through ECA which showed how much women were contributing to family incomes and to national economies, Peg wanted to create a new environment in which credit, training and technology would go straight to women in their roles as farmers, merchants and entrepreneurs. A theme which was to be repeated 3 years later when she went on to set up UNIFEM.

 A field trip to SEWA groups in Gujarat.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

No one could have had a better boss. Peg’s first instruction was to write a plan for what I would do for the next 3 years if no one got in my way. This I did, and she more or less then let me get on with it. Having no travel money, she persuaded UNICEF’s regional office in Nairobi to provide this and, with the support of her many friends in UN agencies, governments and NGOs throughout Africa, we were able to make a real difference. One of my favourite projects was the introduction of corn mills into Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta) to save women endless hours in grinding crops. This not only gave me the privilege of working with Brenda McSweeney – then Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP in Ouagadougou, but also the chance to marvel at how Peg bullied ECA (which was not an executing agency) into procuring grinding mills rather than paper clips. This was a pioneering pilot project and, while there were really very few grinding mills in Africa in 1975…they now can be seen in almost every village.

Myself and Peg on Mitchell Place roof garden to celebrate Wanjira Mathai's marriage. 
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Same party with Peg, bride and groom.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

The three years based in Addis were magical. Peg not only guided my career and taught me how to learn from African women themselves, she introduced me to her entire network of friends ---- many of whom, including Thelma Awori, Achola Pala, and Terry Kantai --- I still count as my own close friends today. Peg managed to secure the bungalow next to her own for me to live in while in Addis and so we were neighbours as well as colleagues and I have very fond memories of the many parties she hosted next door when Women’s Conferences were being held, and the many evening suppers we shared during curfew when they were not. I was sad when Peg left Addis to move to New York to set up UNIFEM. But, I returned to London 10 months later to rejoin the international NGO that had seconded me to ATRCW and was to continue my working relationship with Peg through many consultancies to help build UNIFEM along side Peg’s first deputy – Banke Akerele and fellow consultant Jacqueline Ki-Zerbo. During those 9 years, I always stayed with Peg at her lovely apartment in Mitchell Place and came – as so many of her friends have done also – to regard it as my home away from home.

Myself (R), Peg (L) and Banke Akerele (C)-- Peg's first deputy at UNIFEM who went on to become UNDP Res Rep in Zambia and Foreign Minister in Liberia.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Once UNIFEM was firmly established, I decided it was time to re-enter the world of women and so gave up my post as Chief Economist in an organization where I was the only professional woman among nearly a hundred men, and accepted yet another life-changing opportunity offered by Peg --- to set up UNIFEM’s first Regional Office in Harare covering the SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries. Again, Peg offered maximum support and minimum interference and I was able to grow in the trust that she held in me.

Peg, myself and Ginny Sauerwein (L) -- former UN Coordinator for UN Affairs and her Airdales.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Just before Peg retired from UNIFEM, I was ready to hand over the well established Harare Office to an African woman, and Peg arranged for me to transfer to New York to head up a newly created Technical Section in support of the three Regional Sections. Although Peg had left the office before I arrived in New York in 1990, she helped me to secure my own apartment in her building – and so, for the second time around, we became neighbours. For the following 30 years until her death we became really close friends and shared a busy social life with the many visitors who came through New York and stayed over at Mitchell Place or came for lunch or supper. Every year Peg hosted a Christmas Eve supper – one year with Wangari Maathai and her entire family, and on New Year’s Eve we would go to the evening performance of Alvin Ailey at City Center before returning for cheese and wine with neighbours in her apartment and then going to the roof garden to watch the fireworks. Another favourite social occasion was visiting Ginny Sauerwein (former UN Coordinator for NGO Affairs) at her lovely home outside of NY City to take her Airdale Terriers for long Sunday walks and playing with the litters of puppies which arrived on a frequent basis. I was happy to be able to organize parties for Peg’s 75th, 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays and she, in return, organized parties for my 50th, 60th, 65th and 70th birthdays. All of them magical! At Peg’s 75th birthday, we asked for donations to help set up a Book Prize in her honour --- the Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize administered by the African Studies Association that gives an annual prize to an African woman author – alternating between fiction and non-fiction.

2 Above: Peg’s 90th birthday party. 
Photos courtesy Marilyn Carr

In addition to her busy social life after leaving UNIFEM, Peg also became really immersed in gardening – as Chair of the gardening committee at Mitchell Place – and was instrumental in turning our roof garden into one of the loveliest in Manhattan. Many parties were hosted up there including one to celebrate the marriage of Wanjira Mathai. A special box with a very special flowering plant will be dedicated with a plaque to Peg to help us to remember her. She also continued to support the women’s movement. She was on the Board of Green Belt Movement USA, continued working with Women’s World Banking and helped to set up the Johnson Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund and served as a Board Member. She wrote numerous articles and book reviews, traveled to deliver many lectures and continued to visit organizations such as SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association) in India to which she had given support during her time at UNIFEM. And of course, she also wrote her books on ATRCW and UNIFEM, as well as her two books on Ugandan women entrepreneurs. Peg’s extensive collection of documents is archived at Princeton University. Her role as a ‘first in the UN’ was celebrated in 2016 with an exhibition at UNHQ ‘HERstory: A Celebration of leading women in the United Nations’ which was launched by Ban Ki-Moon and Antonio Guterres. 

This photo was taken and sent to Peg by the Green Belt Movement in honour of her 90th Birthday. 
Note the poster photo of Wangari and then Wanjira standing between the H and the
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Despite her busy life, Peg was always ready to respond to requests for help and advice and always put others before herself. She was one of the most caring and selfless people I have ever known.

Peg at the collection of documents archived at a Mudd Library, Princeton University. 
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

I will miss my mentor, friend and neighbour. This is a hole in my life I will never be able to fill, but I am glad that I have had the honour to spend so much of my life in the company of such an extraordinary person and had my life so enriched as a result. We will all miss you Peg – but you will never be forgotten.

by Mina Mauerstein-Bail 

I first met Peg when she was heading up the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in the late 1970s. I was the focal point for Women in Development (WID) at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa. With a very small staff and a big agenda, it was amazing to watch Peg in action. Her extraordinary ability to bring people together and get things done effectively in a bureaucracy enabled a highly dedicated group of women around the world to undertake groundbreaking work for the benefit for women and girls everywhere.

At Peg's Apartment
Photos courtesy Mina Mauerstein-Bail

Our paths crossed once again when I retired and we worked together on the Board of Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund to support market women in Liberia. Peg, now in her 80s, showed no sign of slowing down. We traveled together to Liberia to meet with market women and better understand their realities and hopes for themselves and their families. I so very much enjoyed working with Peg again. Her warmth, her kindness, her wit and her intellect made work fun! 

Peg was a colleague and a friend. When I think of Peg, I smile. There are some people who bring out the best in other people. Peg was one of those people. May she Rest in Peace and May Her Memory Be A Blessing. I miss you, Peg.

The Legendary Margaret 'Peg' Snyder 
by Brenda Gael McSweeney
Peg Snyder and I initially met in Mexico City at the first UN Conference for Women in 1975. Peg was then based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as Co-Founder of the African Training and Research Centre for Women and Head of the Voluntary Agencies Bureau of UNECA, while I was posted across the continent with the UN Development Programme in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta, West Africa — home to the Government/UNESCO/UNDP pilot Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education. I had been charged to look into closing down this Project, with its faltering literacy component — a proposal that neglected women’s roles as farmers and food processors —an issue that Peg brought great visibility to through speeches and publications in All-Africa terms, backed by UNECA data. Our West Africa Project’s grinding mills — that could vastly lighten female workloads — were appreciated by all the villagers, male and female alike; we in fact attracted major funding from USAID, the World Bank, and later the Gates Foundation. Here Peg with her UNECA colleague Marilyn Carr, an Expert in Village Technology and Rural Industry, rejoined our story. They supported scaling-up this appropriate technology component — including sending Virginia Sauerwein of the NGO world to help spread the word.

L to R: Marilyn Carr, Peg Snyder, Pamela Mboya, Brenda Gael McSweeney: 
ATRCW/ECA, Addis (Circa 1975)
Photo: Collection of Marilyn Carr

With passionate interest and experience with the women in development portfolio at the village level, we were among ‘go-to‘ folk participating in Africa and global gatherings for ECA and UNDP respectively — one such, in Nouakchott in 1977 where Peg was representing ATRCW that she co-founded with Ethiopia's Mary Tadesse. ECA‘s top official was not pleased when I announced that UNDP was no longer willing to subsidize their general operations, yet happy to continue to support the catalytic ATRCW (run by the dynamic duo of Peg and Mary with their dedicated team)!

From 1977 to 1979 I turned to ECA/ATRCW leading-edge publications in conducting my research into lessons to be learned from the Women’s Education Project in tandem with its dynamic Coordinator, women's education pioneer Scholastique Kompaoré. For my doctoral thesis I used Peg’s/ATRCW’s time–budget livelihoods model, that compared male and female workloads. I suggested expanding the model to include additional variables important in West Africa — Peg later adopted these into their model!

Peg at the Bandelier National Monument, Santa Fe
Photo courtesy Brenda Gael McSweeney

Two decades later, when Peg was back in New York City writing books and co-founding the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, and I was back in Boston in academia with Boston and Brandeis Universities, Peg and I met up again at UNDP gatherings of senior officials. In October 2016 Peg was enthusiastically telling of her positive field assessment of a UNIFEM-supported livelihoods initiative that was thriving decades later in Cuba. I asked her to consider writing it up (see below!) for the blog of our BU-based UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture, and People-centered Development. Then she also graciously provided an insider's story titled "How African Women Led the World: the Story of the Women's Center of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)" for Volume II of which I was Editor of Gender Perspectives in Case Studies Across Continents. Later Peg, hearing of a new series I wished to launch on Women and UN Origins, volunteered to prepare a (hard-hitting!) article on the vagaries of establishing women and development entities in the UN — including UNIFEM of which she was Founding Director. And Peg agreed to share a personal reflection piece for a forthcoming e-book that Scholastique Kompaoré — the tireless women’s education advocate in Upper Volta/Burkina Faso — and her colleagues proposed, to help make ever more visible the lessons learned from the Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education — now popular across Africa, notably the drudgery-lightning technologies portfolio.   

Power Trio (L. to R.) Peg Snyder, Renu Chahil-Graf, Soknan Han Jung 
(October 2016)
Photo courtesy Brenda Gael McSweeney

Camaraderie with Peg was a constant thread: in policy debates, joint struggles to advance women’s rights and empowerment — and group laughter. Peg: your legacy lives on!

I’m now discovering that I know just one corner of Peg’s amazing mosaic promoting women’s rights and advancement globally. I’m excited at the prospect of hearing and joining to shout-out all four corners of Dr. Margaret 'Peg' Snyder's phenomenal legacy!

With admiration and affection, Brenda

More tributes to — & articles by — Dr. Margaret 'Peg' Snyder, illustrating her stellar legacy: that lives on!

Peg Snyder with the now Chair of the UNDP Senior Alumni Network, 
Soknan Han Jung at La Fonda on the Plaza 
Photo courtesy Brenda Gael McSweeney

~ 28 July 2020:
Launching our new 'Women & UN Origins' series — first entry by Dr. Margaret 'Peg' Snyder, titled "THEY CAN MOVE US BUT THEY CAN’T STOP US: Surviving the Early Years of 'Women and Development' in the United Nations." Link: http://unitwin.blogspot.com/2020/07/announcing-our-new-origins-series-first.html

~ 15 November 2016:
Dr. Margaret 'Peg' Snyder (our Affiliate-Member) celebrated by distinguished journalist Barbara Crossette! Link: https://unitwin.blogspot.com/2016/11/dr-margaret-peg-snyder-our-affiliate.html

~ 18 December 2015:
Margaret 'Peg' Snyder delivers African Studies Association Annual Lecture: "Four Decisive Decades: The Birth and Growth of a Global Women's Movement." Link: https://unitwin.blogspot.com/2015/12/margaret-peg-snyder-delivers-african.html

~ E-published for 2014-15 (see page 158):
"How African Women Led the World: The Story of the Women's Centre of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)" by Margaret Snyder. Link: http://www.brendamcsweeney.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Ebook2-15Dec2014.pdf

~ 22 February 2013: 
Peg's co-authored feature on Quitrin: A Cuban Success Story, 1985-2013. Link: https://unitwin.blogspot.com/2013/02/we-recently-read-exciting-success-story.html

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Unbound Visual Arts Exhibit & Program: Stronger Sisterhood!

"Stronger Sisterhood" now has 10 artists and is opening this month. Watch this space!

Stronger Sisterhood: Representing Intersectional Identity is now live at: https://www.unboundvisualarts.org/stronger-sisterhood-representing-intersectional-identity/
Date: Online Exhibit: January 29 - March 31, 2021; Artists Panel: February 25, 2021 at 6pm
Location: Online Event (Register for Artists Panel Here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN__jxkEi_cT7OfuZG7X1qysA)

From Unbound Visual Arts' website:

Stronger Sisterhood: Representing Intersectional Identity
Curated by Paige Moreau
Opening January 2021

Artists: Linda Clave, Joanne Desmond, April Jakubec Duggal, Sara Gately, Brooke Jones, Maia Monteagudo, Nilou Moochhala, Diane Sheridan, Mary Vannucci, Andrea Zampitella

Nilou Moochhala, Singular Multiplexity, digital print, 24 x 18 inches, $200

Diane Sheridan, Three in the Subway, color digital photography, 11 x 14 inches, $200

Exhibit and publicity support from the Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS) at Boston University, and the Gender & International Development Initiatives of the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center (GaIDI/WSRC)

Preliminary Curatorial Statement:

"As long as women are using class or race power to dominate other women, feminist sisterhood cannot be fully realized" ~ bell hooks

"Stronger Sisterhood: Representing Intersectional Identity," is a virtual exhibition in a virtual gallery that explores the multidimensional and intersectional identities of women.

The history of feminism has often been described in “waves”. The first wave is defined by the fight for women’s suffrage from the late 19th to early 20th century. The second wave, in the mid 20th century, focused on gender equality in the workplace, the home, and in civil liberties. Both of these movements, while making great strides for women, failed to address deeper compounded layers of oppression and marginalization faced by many women. First and second wave feminism were largely white middle class women’s movements and were often exclusionary of women of color, the LGBTQ+ community, working class women, women with disabilities and so on. The movements kept a narrow scope by focusing on a one dimensional vision of what it means to be a woman assuming common experiences and levels of marginalization based on gender identity. In reality, oppressions experienced by way of gender do not exist in a vacuum but instead intersect with multiple facets of identity. In 1989, lawyer, civil rights activist, and critical race theorist, Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” to describe how gender, race, class, and other individual characteristics intersect and augment oppressions. At present, the recognition of intersectionality’s importance in women’s rights has grown into a third wave of feminism that strives to recognize all the forms of oppression that female identifying people face.

Art created by a diverse range of female identifying artists is a key into visualizing and representing intersectional experiences. “Stronger Sisterhood: Representing Intersectional Identity” showcases that women’s experiences are not one but many, and only through diversity in representation can we begin to grasp a three dimensional view of all women. How do our experiences as women differ due to other facets of our identity? How are we made stronger by recognizing and honoring these differences? How has the recognition of intersectional feminism grown and where is there more work to be done?

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Ronni Komarow's latest Galatea exhibit: "Paths Well Traveled"

 From Ronni's Exhibit Handout:

Photo by Eric West

"All my life I have walked for solace, for socializing, for nurturing my soul. I have always believed that spaces, both indoors and out, are powerful, spiritual protagonists in our lives.

Growing up, I frequently strolled on South Broadway in Yonkers, NY with my best friend, Sonia. We met classmates all along the way. As an undergraduate in Philadelphia I walked through Center City and later as a graduate student I hiked over silent deep-woods trails in rural Vermont.

Here in Boston I walk along the banks of my beloved Chandler Pond. I take runs along the Charles River, and walk there with my husband and with close friends. Both Chandler Pond and the Charles River are constants in my life, and yet both are constantly changing, continual sources of wonder.

During the pandemic the outdoor spaces in my personal world have taken on epic proportions, nurtur- ing and healing, as I walk through them almost every day. The regular sharing of these spaces is key to my sense of connection to others in a world of social distancing.

This exhibition, 'Paths Well Traveled,' is my tribute to those spaces.

Many of the works here involve monotype, a technique where ink is painted on a non-porous surface and then transferred to paper. To evoke the feeling of traveling over a path, I used scroll-format printing, working with images that are perhaps eight or ten inches high — and as many as ten feet long. Even with drawing, this is an unwieldy format — and an exciting creative challenge."

On Gerry's Balcony, Trouville
Photo courtesy Ronni

to Run, to Become
Photo by Brenda Gael McSweeney

Our Next Addition to 'Women & UN Origins' Series, Dr. Marilyn Carr's "Women, the League of Nations and the UN: A Story in 3 Parts!"

A message from UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Director, Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney:

Hello Friends,

Hope you’ve been having a pleasant Winter Solstice season -- despite these trying times!

We're excited to announce the next addition to our new "Women & UN Origins" series of the BU-based UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture, and People-Centered Development! Joining us once again in shaping and publishing the series is the Buenos Aires-headquartered Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender led by Gloria Bonder.

Our latest in the series is an article by Marilyn Carr entitled "WOMEN, THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS AND THE UNITED NATIONS: A STORY IN THREE PARTS" -- see link below. Dr. Carr established UNIFEM’s Regional Office for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) based in Harare, and carried out many other trailblazing UN functions!

This feature provides Marilyn's point of view on "how the work of earlier generations of women formed the basis of future work on gender equality in the UN." It is indeed hard to imagine women having successfully gained the roles and influence that they did over time in the United Nations System, without being able to build on the foothold established during the League of Nations era.

We're grateful to Marilyn for her clear presentation of insights into women's priorities, and the intensity of their struggles, during this foundational chapter.

As Gloria has noted, "we want particularly to encourage young researchers and activists to know and value what has been done and achieved." Both our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network and the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender wish to highlight the importance of sharing accounts on the creation of key international institutions and pathbreaking initiatives, for today’s social justice activists, academics, students, and policymakers.

Happy reading! Article here: http://www.brendamcsweeney.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Carr-LON_29Dec2020.pdf

Wishing you a bright 2021!
Be super well--Brenda

Brenda Gael McSweeney on behalf of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture, and People-Centered Development;
with Gloria Bonder on behalf of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender


 League of Nations Pioneer

 Rachel Crowdy, circa 1932, University of Bristol, special collection, DM1584/1

Gathering at the African Training and Research Centre for Women, Ethiopia in the1970s
L to R: Marilyn Carr, Nellie Okello, Mary Tadesse, Brenda Gael McSweeney

 "One of my Regional Science and Technology Meetings while working at ATRCW. Note because of subject matter Governments sent men! Only women there were me and my young Ethiopian Assistant!" - Marilyn Carr

"Regional Meeting in Kathmandu co-organised by UNIFEM, IDRC (International Development and Research Centre) and WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing). Nancy Spence from IDRC in centre. Ela Bhatt {Founder, Self-Employed Women's Association, India - pictured to her left}, Nepali Government dignitary {at far left}, myself {Marilyn at right}, and Marty Chen {of WIEGO at far right}"- Marilyn Carr

Sunday, December 27, 2020

In Celebration of Scholastique Kompaoré by Brenda Gael McSweeney

Scholastique 'Scho' Kompaoré: Pioneer for Women's and Girls' Access to Education, Friend and 'Co-wife'
(27 April 1943 - 25 December 2020)

~ Sentiments from Brenda Gael McSweeney ~

Selfishly, how we’ll miss her: her intelligence, wit, compassion — her laughter, curiosity, abundant love above all of family and friends — and all these we’ve been anticipating having for years to come —

Yet I well know that I should be grateful, for all the time we were, as Scho merrily dubbed us, “les co-épouses” — How lucky I’ve been, to have her in my life since the early 70s —

& it’s easy to be morose, and think about all that Burkina and beyond will now miss out on — when really the focus should be on all of Scholastique’s unique, magnificent contributions over decades to social justice and women’s education & empowerment — this fabulous tableau we’ll together paint out further in time —

How beloved Scho was — & always will be! And how she loved, & was so rightly proud, of each and every one of you!


Love, Brenda

Photos courtesy of Brenda Gael McSweeney

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Mei-Mei Ellerman is featured in UVA's latest exhibit event as a Storyteller!

UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Affiliate Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) is hosting a new series called New Narratives: Reclaiming Asian Identity Through Story. Long active in our Network, Mei-Mei Ellerman is featured as a Storyteller in UVA's latest exhibition event with several NGO Partners. Congratulations to UVA, the Artists, and Storytellers engaged in this creative work!

More on UVA's latest exhibition Storyteller event here: https://www.unboundvisualarts.org/new-narratives-reclaiming-asian-identity-through-story-storyteller-series/

Mei-Mei's full story in UVA's link above:

Storyteller Artist Statement

A brief account of my decades-long search for identity and belonging. 

Though I still consider myself a world citizen, having lived in many countries I consider "home," it was only by attempting to weave together the endless threads of my families' tapestry (adoptive and biological), that I developed a full sense of my identity. 

According to my Maman, grandfather use to say, "Wherever you hang your hat is Home." That is how she felt as she spent decades living on different continents until she gently slipped away at the age of 94. I followed in both their footsteps, and never felt out of place, no matter what the country, even if I didn't speak the language. And yet, did I fully belong? Was I able to close my eyes and feel that I was surrounded by "my people?"

Photo courtesy Mei-Mei Ellerman

Mei-Mei also currently chairs the Gender and International Development Initiatives (GaIDI) at Brandeis University. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

A Glimpse at Environmental Heritage in Brighton!

Here's a message from DB Reiff about Lisa Hirsh of the Board of the Friends of Faneuil Library, a UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate, and Lisa's artwork, which resonates with our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network interests in Environmental Heritage. Brava to Lisa!

Hi all,

Some of you know that Lisa is a watercolor painter.

Recently she submitted a painting to the Newton Watercolor Society to be considered for its show "Nature in Watercolor." Not only was the painting, Vernal Pool in the Rain, accepted, it was awarded First Prize in the "Most Creative and Imaginative" category.

Here is the commentary by the judge, Barry Van Dusen, about the painting:

"Not only is this piece whimsical and FUN, it also shows a sophisticated use of repeated patterns and rhythms, and employs a gestural application of paint that provides great variety and movement. I could look at this for a long time, and still make new discoveries!"

I thought you'd enjoy this 90 second video of Lisa discussing what inspired her to paint the pool and the materials she used. It is shot on location in Brighton, Mass.

[Watch Video Here!] Vernal Pool in the Rain

Also, The Newton Festival of the Arts will broadcast its festival online this October and all of the art groups in Newton have been asked to participate, so you can see Lisa's painting and many Newton artists' work there.

Good September to all,


Photo of Lisa Hirsch’s painting Vernal Pool in the Rain: courtesy Newton Watercolor Society

Sunday, September 6, 2020

100 Years (and Counting), Artist Ronni Komarow's Installation in Galatea's new live Exhibition!

100 Years (and Counting), Artist Ronni Komarow's latest installation in Galatea's "Light From Above: Emerging Out of Isolation" Exhibition

Ronni Komarow's 100 Years (and Counting)
Photo by/© Eric West

Dates: September 4 through October 31, 2020
Location: Galatea Fine Art, 460 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118
Description: 100 Years (and Counting) is a tribute to the centennial of the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution, granting women the right to vote. It is also a fund-raising project for Fair Fight, an organization founded by Stacey Abrams and dedicated to promoting voting rights for all qualified citizens. There are 100 gloves in Galatea artist Ronni Komarow's installation, signifying the centennial; white was the color worn by suffragists and is symbolic of the cause. Jennie Loitman Barron, one of the 100 women honored by Ronni, is also featured in "Women of Vision: The Brighton Allston Women's Heritage Trail Guide" of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society (BAHS), a UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate, at
and in the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail organization‘s recently-launched Suffrage Trail at
Artist Ronni Komarow is affiliated with the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development anchored at Boston University's Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, an officer of the Board of Directors of Galatea Fine Art and of the BAHS, and an Alumna of Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center.
More Info: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/ronni-komarow-100-years-and-counting

Ronni talk: video by Brenda Gael McSweeney

Ronni exhibit: video by Brenda Gael McSweeney

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Announcing our new 'Women & UN Origins' series first entry by Margaret (Peg) Snyder!

A message from UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Director, Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney:

Hi Everyone,

Hope you had a nice weekend!

We're writing to confirm the launch of our new UNESCO/UNITWIN Network "Women & UN Origins" series! Joining us in shaping and publishing the series is the Buenos Aires-based Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender led by Gloria Bonder.

First in the series is an article by Margaret (Peg) Snyder entitled "THEY CAN MOVE US BUT THEY CAN’T STOP US: Surviving the Early Years of 'Women and Development' in the United Nations," attached below. Dr. Snyder, long affiliated with our BU/WGS-based UNESCO/UNITWIN Network, is the Founding Director of UNIFEM (1978-89) as well as a co-founder of the African Centre for Women in 1971. This feature provides a firsthand view, in Peg’s words, of the "... history on the vagaries of establishing the women’s center in Addis and UNIFEM."

Thanks to Peg for her candid presentation of unique insights into these pivotal events --- and Brava for her pioneering contributions decade after decade!

As Gloria notes, we want "... particularly to encourage young researchers and activists to know and value what has been done and achieved." Our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network and the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender both wish to highlight the importance of sharing direct accounts on the creation of key international institutions and pathbreaking initiatives, for today’s social justice activists, academics and students, and policymakers.

Happy reading!


Cheers, & be well, Brenda

Brenda Gael McSweeney on behalf of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture, and People-Centered Development;
with Gloria Bonder on behalf of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender

L to R: Marilyn Carr, Peg Snyder, Pamela Mboya, Brenda Gael McSweeney:
ATRCW/ECA, Addis (Circa 1975)!
Photo: Collection of Marilyn Carr
Margaret (Peg) Snyder at left, leaving party at ECA in 1977. Tall gentleman with glasses standing in centre is James Riby-Williams, Head of Social Division and Peg’s boss and supporter. At right, ATRCW colleague Marilyn Carr.
Photo: Collection of Marilyn Carr