SDG5 – Thoughts from GA President Aya Nakouzi

My name is Aya Nakouzi. I was born in Lebanon and have been living in Qatar for the last 14 years. I have been a part of the MUN community for the last two years and being a part of THIMUN has defined the person I am today.

I remember my first THIMUN conference like it was yesterday; I came in through the doors an intimidated delegate and, by the end of the three days, my self-confidence had multiplied. 365 days later, I walked through those same doors again as a student officer. I realized I had gone from follower to leader. I was extremely scared, standing in front of all those people, very aware that their MUN experience was in my hands; I had an epiphany that day, whilst giving the new delegates a welcome speech, that this was what I loved doing. So here I am today, the first student from Lycée Bonaparte de Doha to become the President of the General Assembly.

There are a few things you should know about me before we get into SDG 5. To begin with, I am a feminist. To absolve you of any of the stereotypes you’ve heard, let me define that word: feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men. Though many misunderstand and differently interpret this, many feminists do not, in fact, wish to destroy male power and reduce them to slaves. Far from that– we just want equality.

The second fact about me is that I am a student in a French Lycée and I am absolutely passionate about French history, so the examples that will be illustrated throughout the article will be based around France. That being said, let’s take a trip back into French history, to where inequality was rampant.

In the 1700s, women were considered inferior, labeled as beauty icons and isolated in private spheres. However, in the mid 1700s, the French Revolution took place and it improved women’s position in society. Following that, women had the right to choose their husbands, ask for divorce, have social lives– at that time, women weren’t allowed to meet up in a group of more than five in fear of revolting against the government. They even started wearing pants (crazy, right?!).

However in 1802 the French Emperor, Napoléon Bonaparte, created a civil code that re-established what he considered as women’s rights: a woman was to be dependent to a man all her life, father then husband. A woman could not vote, and should be isolated in specific areas– like the kitchen. With the enforcement of this civil code, women’s social rights were degraded.

This leads us to my main point. For much of history, women have been placed in inferior roles and taught that it’s only natural; they are pressured by society to stay where they are. That is precisely why women don’t always have the courage to fight for their rights.

This is where we come in. We are the new generation, the adults of tomorrow. SDG 5’s task isn’t simply to give the women of today the rights that each and every human being deserves; it is much more complex. We have to encourage a new, fresh mindset and incite a paradigm shift in the way people think when it comes to gender equity. By installing a new, modern and equal way of thinking in our immediate respective societies, we are lightening the weight of the gender equality burden on the future generations. 

By involving Model United Nations in this battle, we are insuring that the younger generations will pay attention to the important modern day struggles in social justice they may have thought of as superficial and unimportant.

If each and every person makes even a minimal effort in accomplishing gender equality, we will attain our goals soon enough. The coming generations are our biggest hope of widening awareness and education on this issue through means like MUN as they are in the process of discovering life and sculpting their individual mindsets. To make SDG 5 a permanent change, we must all commit, hand in hand, to being open minded about women and men as being completely, utterly and permanently equal.