Why the UN General Assembly is My Favorite Week of the Year

By Chrysula Winegar

October 6, 2017

I’ve always cared about social and political issues, but the impetus of motherhood made me realize I needed to pay attention more than ever to world leaders and global politics—and how they would shape the world for all children and future generations.

My first real experience with UN week, or more formally, the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), was the week of September 10, 2002. New York City was approaching the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Emotions were high, and I was nine months pregnant with my first child. I lived on the east side of Manhattan, ten blocks north of the UN. My hospital was on the west side of the island. For most New Yorkers, the UNGA is a time to grumble about police cordons, roadblocks and unbelievable traffic. The thought of being stuck in a taxi in labor during NYC gridlock was an especially stressful one.  

Fortunately, my daughter decided to signal her arrival during the night and we made our away across town around 2am. She was born during the hospital’s memorial service that morning, on her due date of September 11th.  I watched heads of state speeches that week in a world forever changed, with my precious newborn in my arms – and my fascination with the UNGA began. I’ve always cared about social and political issues, but the impetus of motherhood made me realize I needed to pay attention more than ever to world leaders and global politics—and how they would shape the world for all children and future generations.

It’s increasingly accessible.

For the last seven years, I’ve had the privilege of being involved in the UNGA as part of my work. Each year I’ve seen the UN become more accessible, more open and more concerned with reaching as many people as possible. To echo the UN Charter preamble, it’s all about “We the peoples…” From UN leaders at the Social Good Summit, to the SDG Media Zone, to UN Web TV, to thousands of journalists inside the UN to report on every happening, there are now many ways to learn what the gathering means.

It’s about  people.

Of the thousands of people I saw walk through UN buildings last month for this year’s UNGA, almost all want peace, security, safety and prosperity for their people. They are trying to find solutions. They are largely good people with good hearts. The UN colleagues I get to work with every day are passionate, smart and deeply committed to a better world. They put their hearts and souls into helping the right people get connected and have conversations that lead to action and lead to change.

I spent much of my week in the SDG Media Zone, watching conversations focused on the Sustainable Development Goals – especially around peace, gender, climate and youth.

The world needs mothers.

In a world of frightening headlines, it’s easy to feel helpless, and unable to make change. However, if the world is going to reach these bold and incredible goals, it will take all of us – especially mothers. Here’s how you can get involved.

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