I have just returned from Barcelona, which hosted the second European Caucus of 2017. Over the weekend we had talks on Inclusion in the Workplace, Refugee Rights, Gender Equality, Innovation in Large Organisations, Sustainable Design and Climate Change. I arrived late on the Thursday night to settle in the city before we began on the Friday evening, though many people came on the Friday after they had finished work. We had a social on this Friday evening in a bar which was great, as it gave myself and others time to catch up with each other. Many had not seen each other since at least Ottawa and for some they reunited with people from previous summits. This was also a great opportunity for those who are coming to Bogotá for their first summit to meet fellow ambassadors before then.
The main event took place on Saturday the 1st, with the morning starting with a film screening of 'Borders and Promises'; a documentary film which follows three female artists from the Arab world as they meet for the first time in Barcelona. The film was incredibly moving, focusing on the self censorship that these women face with their creativity. It was a reality check for myself, it is very easy to forget how privileged our own lives are. The trailer for the film can be seen here, it will begin showing at various film festivals later in the year. The film was shown, then we were lucky enough to partake in a plenary session with the producers of the film, who answered questions posed by the chair of the talk as well as the audience. This was a fantastic chance to gain a deeper understanding of the film itself. We broke for lunch after this.
The afternoon sessions moved at a fast and focused pace, opening with a keynote from Caroline Casey which was engaging, humorous and poignant on Inclusion in the Workplace. Caroline has been partially sighted her entire life, with her visibility deteriorating each year, and chose to hide this from the age of 17 , when she was formally diagnosed, until she was 28 due to the fear of being discriminated against. After working for a large corporate in her twenties, Caroline left and began raising awareness of those with disabilities. She spoke at the Dublin summit in 2014 with a panel of disability activists, an incredible session that can be seen here. Caroline's talk set a very high standard for the rest of the day, joking that she was standing in for One Young World Co-Founder Kate Robertson. Personally, I could not have thought of a better way to start the day.
We next moved on to a plenary session on Refugee rights. The panel began with Gerald Canals as the keynote speaker who is head of missions at Proactiva Open Arms - an NGO which manages life saving missions in the Grecian and Central Mediterranean Seas helping refugees get their feet on solid ground. They have saved thousands of migrants so far. He was joined by One Young World Ambassadors Romy Wakil; a mental health counsellor based in London who works specifically in trauma and with increasing numbers of refuges and Diana Constantinidou, an International Human Rights Lawyer. The session was chaired by our own Charlie Oliver, managing ambassador for Europe. The videos from some of Proactiva's missions illustrated the huge scale of the problem, backed up by personal accounts shared by Romy and the legal positioning from Diana. The session can be watched in full from the Facebook Live stream here.
A short networking break followed this, then the Gender Equality session. The panel for this was a really exciting array of female superstars including Caroline Casey from the aforementioned keynote, head of diversity and talent at Telefonicá Lucia Gutiérrez, Viola Thomas who is an Emma Watson Scholar and Founder of 'A Woman in Power' and Jemima Lovatt from The Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence. The session was chaired by my fellow Coordinating Ambassador Carlota Calvo Cotado, who coordinates Spain. The session was powerful, addressing everyday issues head on. The most interesting point for me was the talk of 'Unconscious Bias' in who is invited for interview and eventually chosen for top jobs. It was discussed that nearly all of us have this 'Unconscious Bias' - you can test your own here. Out of all of those on the panel, I have worked closest with Jemima. We are both part of a working group that meets in the Head Offices of One Young World every few weeks on a new approach to tackling Domestic Violence. We are looking to launch this in Bogotá later this year, as a help to us it would be great if you could fill out this survey.
This was only half of the day! To save an incredibly long winded post I am going to cover the day in two halves. To watch all of the sessions in full visit the One Young World Facebook page. It was really great to be able to catch up with fellow ambassadors who I know either personally from Ottawa or virtually through my time so far as coordinating ambassador for UK2. I always find it inspiring to see the projects that emerge through the partnerships at One Young World and what they are achieving. It is impossible to leave an event such as this feeling that anything is possible.