“We have learned that despite the differences we have in ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or social status, our struggles in this world are similar“ - UNU-GEST graduates the 12th cohort

This is the twelfth cohort graduated from the UNU-GEST programme and a total of 132 students have graduated from the programme since its establishment in 2009. The aim of the programme is to provide professionals and promising academic scholars with training in gender equality studies, hoping to empower them and build the capacity to advocate and implement projects which contribute to gender equality in their home countries.  

The graduation ceremony was held at the University of Iceland with distinguished guests and speakers. Dr. Irma Erlingsdóttir, Director of UNU-GEST, opened the graduation ceremony. She was followed by Mr. Sturla Sigurjónsson, Permanent Secretary of State, who congratulated the fellows and stated that “gender equality is not only a fundamental right but also the prerequisite for a prosperous and sustainable world. Dr. Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, said to the fellows are the hope of a better future for the generations to come, a belief that change can, and will, happen.. Fellow Hassan Waddimba from Uganda, who spoke on behalf of the graduating fellows, said that they had learned that “despite the differences we have in ethnicity, religion, orientation, or social status, our struggles in this world are similar“. He added that „we start by changing ourselves, and then the world around us“.

Ms. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who is the patron of UNU-GEST, delivered the award for the best final assignment, named in her honour, the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Award. Never before has the programme had as many outstanding final assignments and six assignments received an honorary mention. Nevertheless, one assignment stood particularly out and Najla’a Attaallah from Gaza Palestine received the award. Her assignment was a project proposal: ‘Towards the Implementation of Effective Gender Mainstreaming in UNRWA Infrastructure Projects’. Her supervisor was Magnea Marinósdóttir, specialist in Gender and International Relations.

The UNU-GEST staff congratulates all 23 UNU-GEST fellows of 2019!