Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Call for Gender Equality By 2030

Gender Equality

At 16, Kehkashan Basu is bold. She is a fearless proponent of gender equality, and the founder and president of a youth organisation called Green Hope in her native Dubai.

Kekashan Basu, speaking out for gender equality

Kehkashan Basu, speaking out for gender equality

At the recent panel discussion on “Investing in Young Women’s Leadership for the Implementation of the SDGs,” Basu was the youngest speaker.

UN Women and the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development sponsored the event as part of International Youth Day at the UN.

Sustainable Development Goals

At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September, 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These goals aim to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.

Planet 50-50

Facebook photo from my cousin Thomas.

My cousin Thomas posted this lovely photo on Facebook.

But wait, there’s more! In addition to the SDGs, UNWomen has a goal: “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” This initiative asks governments to make national commitments to address the challenges that are holding women and girls back from reaching their full potential.

“Ninety world leaders have made concrete commitments to overcome gender equality gaps.” They did this during and after a historic event co-hosted by UN Women and the People’s Republic of China last year.

I was afraid to look at the list! But one of my countries has made a statement, if not a formal commitment. Which one do you think – Nigeria or the U.S.?


Nigeria Germany Match AP Photo Leo Correa

Nigeria Germany Match AP Photo Leo Correa

Nigeria does not win many medals at the Olympics. Their best sport is soccer, known as football in most of the world outside the U.S.

The Nigerian team won the gold medal in 1996. This year they made it to the semi-finals. But then they lost to Germany, 2-0. I was sad.

Who will win the gold this time? The final match is between Germany and Brazil at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon. The loser gets the silver. But Nigeria still has a chance at the bronze – they play Honduras for the third spot at noon on Saturday.

History of Football

As I was looking up the schedule, I found this fascinating bit of history about the sport.

“Modern football has its origins in the streets of medieval England. Neighbouring towns would play each other in games where a heaving mass of players would struggle to drag a pig’s bladder by any means possible to markers at either end of town.”

Did you know? Here’s the rest of the story:


Football became so violent in England it was banned by the king for more than 300 years. English public schools are credited with subsequently establishing the modern football codes, thus turning the mob riot into a sport in the 16th century.


Football first appeared on the programme of the Games of the II Olympiad, Paris 1900. It has been on the programme of each edition of the Games ever since, with the exception of Los Angeles 1932.

Europe dominated the competition until after 1992 in Barcelona, where Spain became the last European team to win a gold medal. Since the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, African and South American teams have won all the gold medals.”

Rilke, Religion, and Peace Corps

Last Sunday morning I turned on the radio to hear On Being, with Krista Tippett. Krista interviewed Joanna Macy, an ecological philosopher. She worked for the CIA in Germany, then went to India with her husband who was heading the new Peace Corps program there.

Today in her 80’s she is known as a Buddhist scholar and Rilke translator. In this video she talks about uncertainty.

I was intrigued by several connections and listened to most of the hour.

I read Rainer Maria Rilke in German in college. The Peace Corps connection drew me in. Her work with Tibetan refugees interested me.

Early on in the interview she told Krista that she had grown up as a liberal Protestant. When she was 16, she had a “conversion” experience where she felt called to dedicate her life to God. But when she was 20, (she’s now in her ’80’s) and learned about exclusion and other unpleasantness in church history, she turned away from her religion.

Rainer Maria Rilke, German poet

Rainer Maria Rilke, German poet

She talked about finding a book of Rilke’s poetry in a bookstore in Germany a few years after that. She opened it and read, “Ich lebe mein Leben in wachsenden Kreisen, I live my life in widening circles.

The eight-line poem ends with something like, “I may not complete this last one, but I give myself to it.”

She said the poem led her to reawaken her religious yearnings and eventually to Buddhism.

Her Story and Mine

Her story reminded me of my own. I grew up in the Presbyterian Church. At 16 our minister took us to hear Billy Graham. I remember so clearly feeling called and even going to the front to receive what? his blessing?

Like Macy, I didn’t consider ministry seriously, though I did for a few minutes!

But during college, I turned away from the religion I’d known.

I went back to Christianity because my husband-to-be took me along to his Anglican Church in Lagos. We were married by Rev. Payne, the minister. I started the Sunday School with my friend Jean Obi.

Eventually I could no longer say the Apostles’ Creed. As our children went away to boarding school, we stopped attending.

Back in the U.S. I happened on the Unitarian Church and found my spiritual home. Having no creed works for me. Clem comes often, but misses the Anglican Church. He attends our local Episcopal Church from time to time to feed his spirit and love of ritual.


Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.

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