The International Women’s Day theme for 2020: “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights.”  aims to bring together people of every gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion and country, to drive actions that will create the gender-equal world we all deserve. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “Only through the equal participation of women can we benefit from the intelligence, experience and insights of all of humanity. Women’s equal participation is vital to stability, helps prevent conflict, and promotes sustainable, inclusive development. Gender equality is the prerequisite for a better world,”

Women are not only more affected by the challenges the world is facing today, but also possess ideas and leadership to solve them. On this International Day, UNDP Mongolia called out for stories of inspiring women who are leading the positive changes in their communities and advancing Sustainable Development Goals one step at a time. From a 9-year old painter who promotes peace through her art to rural women who are ensuring the rights to food security, these unsung heroes have inspired us through their leadership and commitment and have reminded us of the integral roles women play in building a better future for all. As we will be sharing the first of the 3 series of the stories today, we hope their stories will inspire you as much as they have inspired us.

1. Zolzaya Chuluunbaatar is an unsung hero because she is working to alleviate poverty among full-time mothers

Zolzaya knew that the day she entered motherhood her life would face social pressure to be domesticated as a homemaker. Her goal was to subvert this cultural norm in Mongolia through social entrepreneurship starting her own project Mompreneurs. Her self-led social entrepreneurship projects has empowered 8000 active members by enabling homemakers to generate an incomes while being full-time mothers. Her project has changed the perception of working at home for women in business through the ongoing training and events that take place in Mompreneurs.

#17unsungheroes #nopoverty #IWD2020

2. Byatshandaa Jargal is an unsung hero because she has started a “green revolution” by women farmers

Byatshandaa Jargal, is the founder of the Mongolian Women Farmers Association and was nominated in 2005 for a Nobel Peace prize. Jargal has transformed agricultural volunteer-led development dating back in the 1980s where she played a huge role in the green revolution programme for Mongolia. The most marginalized including impoverished mothers, were economically and financially empowered by the Women Farmers Association who gave seeds for women to be able to generate income from growing vegetable and enhance their health and diet. Two decades later the association has trained 50 per cent of seedling sellers nationwide in Mongolia and has graduated families out of poverty and reduced domestic violence against women by empowering female farmers to be agents of change. The Women Farmers Association has three training centres in Bayankhoshuu, Bayanzurkh and Bayankhongor and continues to build a livelihood pathway for women in Mongolia. Gender norms and achieving women’s economic prosperity in Mongolia is Jargal’s driving force throughout her career. In words of Jargal, 

“There is an old Mongolian saying that ‘women belong to the house and men belong to the State…but attitudes changed as they saw benefits for the family, including themselves [women farmers]”

3. Saranchuluun Otgon is an unsung hero because she has advocated for good health despite her physical barriers

Saranchuluun Otgon is the founder of the NGO, “Chain of Success.” Otgon started the group “Let’s Run Mongolia” on Facebook in April 2014 and has successfully organized inclusive running events on each weekend to advocate for good health, well-being and improving social cohesion. In June 2014, Saranchuluun organized Mongolia’s first public running event for people with physical and mental disabilities. She has a deep research interest in social health, behavioral change in public health, human rights and ethics and continues to publicly influence her academic research through her “Let’s Run Mongolia” events.

She is currently teaching at the Mongolian National University of Medical Science, School of Public Health and continues to be a strong advocate for people with disabilities.

Watch her inspiring story here

4. Sundariya Enkhtugs is an unsung hero because she knows education should be inclusive

Sundariya, having recently established Loopy Code Academy, is working to improve IT education in Mongolia by introducing coding curriculum designed for secondary school. She also strives to support girls in pursuing tech career, organizing Girls in AI hackaton in April 2020. Having volunteered for 6 years at TEDxUlaanbaatar as an organizer and having worked as a high school counselor, she knows how gender-segregated certain sectors are, and is working to remove barriers that keep women from fully utilizing their potential.



5. Uyanga Chimedtseren is an unsung hero because she is working to alleviate gender inequality by promoting women champions

Uyanga is a Mongolian gender activist, a content creator and conversation starter. Uyanga, along with her colleagues, recently published a book called “Orange stories” featuring 50 women who have changed society in various sectors throughout decades in Mongolia. The women in her book are illustrated to be symbolized as stories of change. From a former political leader to current activists, this book is a timeline of women’s hard work stretched throughout generations. The stories of these unheard of women in Mongolian history featuring women in STEM, music, performing arts, diplomacy, anthropology, environment, space and peace can become a family book as stories are written for audiences of all ages. Her book has become instrumental to address gender equality by championing women through literature and soft power.

6. Oyungerel Tsedevdamba is an unsung hero because she is determined to change toilets across Mongolia

If you travel across rural Mongolia, you will soon realize how toilets remained unchanged and unimproved despite the country’s economic progress. Oyungerel Tsedevdamba is a human rights activist who has been breaking human rights taboos in Mongolia. Tsedevdamba founded her NGO called Local Solutions to change attitudes and improving sanitation through two approaches. First is to de-stigmatise the word “toilet.” The second is to educate people across Mongolia on clean sanitation and toilet technologies. “The word toilet is a very derogatory word,” Tsedevdamba said. “In legal documents, advertisements, and in every day conversations, the word toilet is not conversated, until we ran a nationwide campaign.” Since 2015, former parliament members have accelerated the improvement of better sanitation to improve the livelihoods of Mongolians. The best way to do this, Tsedevdamba said, “is to tackle the taboo conversation using the word toilet”

#17unsungheroes #cleanwaterandsanitation #IWD2020 #GenerationEquality #Goal6

Read how the UN has endorsed her work here


See the photo slide here

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