Olivia Torres at the United Nations Global Peace Conference- BALI Intern

As an Intern of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute,  I had the pleasure of attending an official United Nations event on February 15th, 2012. The event was part of an annual campaign presented by the New York City Season for Nonviolence Task Force in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations. This year’s theme for A Season for Nonviolence is “Global Peace Through Social Media.” The event was enlightening and thought-provoking. I even had the privilege of meeting Permanent Representative, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan (Phillipines).

The keynote speaker, Nipun Mehta, was incredibly excited about this year’s theme. During the event, the key note speaker asked us: Would Gandhi use social media like Facebook and Twitter? He believed that Gandhi would absolutely use social media because social media can facilitate the three fundamental things that must be done for any social change to occur. These three things, according to Mr. Mehta, are (1) raising awareness, (2) create an impact, and (3) transform the heart. To illustrate how social media can be used to create social change, he spoke about the Pink Chaddi Campaign. The Pink Chaddi campaign is truly inspiring: through Facebook, people from around the world were asked to send pink underwear to government officials in a small town in South India in order to force the government to take action against a group of community members who physically assaulted women who went to bars. At the end of the event, Mr. Mehta challenged us to think about starting our own social media campaigns.

After the event, I thought about how this knowledge about social media’s power to create social change can benefit the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute. I hope we can carry back Nipun Mehta’s message to the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute and weave it into our future programming. After all, BALI’s core mission to empower and train young women to become leaders has its underpinnings in a mission to achieve social change: equality for women. Perhaps our BALI trainees and graduates, after learning what I learned at the event, can become as inspired by the power of social media as I am now.

The One Voice Choir Perfroms at the United Nations Global Peace Conference