As part of our High Chair series, Mindr sent a group to the United Nations Social Good Summit on September 23rd. This event, hosted by Mashable at the 92nd Street Y, focused on conceptualizing the world we want to live in by 2030. Featuring a myriad of speakers across industries and sectors, the Social Good Summit brought together individuals who are at the forefront of creating social change, with special attention on how we can “unlock technology’s potential to make the world a better place.” The event was kicked off by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who made international headlines last week by bringing 3-month old baby Neve to the UN General Assembly floor. #MINDRMAMA Audrey Symes gives us her rundown of the incredible changemakers featured at the Summit, PM Ardern’s efforts to govern with children in mind (and on the lap) and how to nurture social consciousness in our children every day.
As parents we face challenges - both great and small - from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep again (and often throughout the night!) In search of guidance on optimal nap length, finicky eaters or how much screen time is too much, we often look to fellow parents as our best resources. What we sometimes may forget is that our fellow parents - especially those with a special place on the world stage - can also serve as role models with respect to a vital but more subtle part of parenting: nurturing a social conscience. Though it may seem like a daunting topic for young children, social consciousness is and should be accessible to all ages. In fact, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that giving back can provide plays perfectly into little ones’ desires to do things themselves, be proud of their work and have their voices heard.
When I learned about the opportunity to join the Mindr delegation at the Social Good Summit, I eagerly said yes. I was excited to hear how the amazing speakers are rethinking paradigms, making workplaces and institutions more inclusive and championing innovative points of view on global issues. As an advocate myself, I wanted to learn more about how the UN Sustainable Development Goals are transforming policy, science, philanthropy and family life, and hoped to pick up some tips on how to continue to nurture the importance of social change in my daughter.
The day opened with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and a focus on Gender Equality (UN Goal 5). As a new mother herself, the Prime Minister spoke movingly of her fresh, positive and inclusive approach to both parenting and governing. PM Ardern discussed her primary goal in office - to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. She explained her strategy for improving the lives of children by changing what successful governance means, emphasizing long-term and sustainable impacts on living standards and reducing child poverty as a budgetary priority. As only the second elected head of state to give birth while in office (and the first to take maternity leave), PM Ardern also discussed how her infant daughter (who was backstage) was often by her side at work - noting that she wished all working mothers could have the same privilege.
Being in the room with PM Arden sparked something in me to find small ways to effect change. And it made me think how I can be a champion for other mothers simultaneous to being an ever-present champion for my daughters.
I was inspired to see how how natural yet powerful the inclusion of family life into government institutions can be. As fellow Mindr attendee Kate Hughes put it, “Being in the room with PM Arden sparked something in me to find small ways to effect change. And it made me think how I can be a champion for other mothers simultaneous to being an ever-present champion for my daughters.”
The following panel, called "Early Moments Matter," featured Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, who echoed PM Ardern’s beliefs. Ms. Fore began by stating that secure bonding is a hallmark of child development. Her advocacy focuses on making workplaces more inclusive and reflective of family needs. She invited the audience members to reimagine the workplace from a child’s point of view, observing that family wellbeing will ultimately make for a happier and more productive working environment.
One common theme of the Summit was the evolution of the workplace. So many of the speakers, from Andrew Lee of UBS to Andy Pharoah of Mars Corporation, mentioned the necessity for the corporate world to embrace their employees as people and think of them as family members. This can manifest across corporate operations, from impact investing and scaling up philanthropic projects to listening more closely to what families need to thrive. Flexible and creative thinking is the key to unlocking under-utilized human capital.
Also addressed was UN Sustainable Development Goal 11, “Sustainable Cities and Communities.” Alexandra Lafci of New Story shared her commitment to reducing global homelessness through 3D house printing and discussed the amazing success she’s had housing thousands of families across the world. I was struck by her admission that while she knew her solution wasn't perfect, there was no reason not to try to solve an incredibly large problem.
All of us, even our little ones, can take small steps together in our everyday lives to make the world a little bit better. These steps make more of an impact than you might imagine.
Lafci’s attitude encapsulates everything I love about advocacy, the mission of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and why I believe in the importance of nurturing social consciousness in our children. All of us, even our little ones, can take small steps together in our everyday lives to make the world a little bit better. These steps make more of an impact than you might imagine. In fact, they are the only way that true change can happen on a broad scale. Helping my four-year-old develop compassion for and understanding of her neighbors - and seeing her take enormous pride in doing so - has been a major highlight for me as a parent. More importantly, I believe that knowing she has the responsibility, courage and power to make things better for herself and others will be a lifelong source of joy.
There are many ways to bring the Sustainable Development Goals into family life. Every family will find certain goals that speak to them the most, whether they be Gender Equality, Responsible Consumption and Production, Ending Poverty, Ending Hunger, or others. Whichever way we choose to contribute to the 2030 Agenda, it starts with our own awareness of its importance and our resolve to make it accessible to our children.
Mindr Mama Stephanie Rubino noted of her experience at the Summit, “I only realized afterwards, that by the year 2030 my child will be 18 years old. Being able to witness every speaker, innovator and changemaker firsthand made me have hope for the future. I left with more knowledge on how to become a better guide to my son and his development in this ever-changing world.” Sally Cunningham observed, “It was so refreshing to step out of my own for a day, to be surrounded by and listening to people committed to making positive change in so many different ways. It also provided me with the much-needed motivation and reminder to keep pursuing the things that matter to me.” Just like the famous mamas at the Summit, we can all be inspired in our own ways to work toward the vision of a more inclusive world for our little ones - and make them part of our efforts at being our own forces of social change.