A friend of mine recently commented along the lines of: “I wonder if you are the only United Nations worker AND musician, truly working full time on both areas and issues?!”
Well I am not entirely sure if that is true, or at least to what extent! But it did lead to me reflecting somewhat on my life and how my work with the UN has intersected with my music career, and to think about the work I have done on humanitarian, development and gender issues; and where I would like to take the two!
I have been lucky enough to have lived and worked over almost two decades in Somalia, Kenya, the Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Israel and Palestine, with UN agencies, the World Bank, NGOs and the government of Afghanistan. My work has covered a range of humanitarian, peace-building, development and political issues.
What I have noted is society is better off and healthier, when women are empowered; in the fight against poverty, in solving conflict and maintaining peace, as well as in economic development.
I recall some of the micro-finance projects I worked on in Somalia, where women were typically the most engaged and the most accountable for repaying loans and developing the project.
Likewise in Afghanistan-,agricultural projects that we worked on that had the participation of women were more likely to succeed.
In Palestine, I was lucky enough to work on a project with UN Women that supported female victims of domestic and family violence, and with the Ministry of Interior to design the first ever Family Protection Unit (FPU) project that helped the government respond to these cases.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing political, economic and social inequalities. It has triggered further displacement that has a disproportionate impact on women and children. It has led to an increase in domestic violence, as victims are cooped up with perpetrators for weeks on end in isolated, quarantine-like conditions. So, fighting hard for gender equality and women’s empowerment has never been more important! We simply cannot achieve any of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without it.
Throughout my career I have also pursued my passion for songwriting, and have tried to document my experience and sentiments as I go!
I also try to address social issues, including promoting and advocating for issues of social action and innovation, human rights, support for minorities, as well as doing the next right thing, including the idea that it is never too late for people to follow their dreams and passions.
Hopefully listeners of my band The Nomadic will see these themes in songs such as Beyond Blue, Waiting, Drifting and many others! And when I think about the personal connection with this issue and my music, my thoughts immediately turn to my 11-year-old niece, Libby!
Libby came to see The Nomadic in 2017 as a young seven-year-old, and since then has been inspired to develop her love for music, guitar, piano, songwriting and voice! She is so talented, not just at music, but as an artist and even a scientist; she’s perhaps even a budding astronaut! And I want her, as well as thousands of other girls like her around the world, to have every opportunity in life, to have full equality in whatever dreams she pursues!
When that happens - trust me - the world will be a much better place.
The Nomadic's new single Skatepark is available now across all download and streaming platforms. Upcoming album Beyond Blue will be released in July 2021.
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