Mona Lisa (Nee Mungure) is a multicultural young practicing attorney who is passionate about policy reform, socio-economic development and a hybrid of human rights issues. Having had the privilege of being a citizen of two African countries (namely Tanzania ; her country of origin, and Botswana, through naturalization) as well as having had the fortune of residing in and visiting a number of countries across the globe; she has conceived a strong and growing desire to ensure that the world is a hospitable and conducive place for all of its current and future citizens.
Mona-Lisa has recently been appointed the Vice Curator of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Shapers’ Community in Gaborone after serving as the Hub’s Legal Officer. Together with a diverse group of other highly motivated young leaders, she implements sustainable projects from facilitating and founding a corporate recycling initiative to encouraging corporate entities to sponsor annual prize giving ceremonies at public schools. She has recently been a part of campaign that sensitized the public on the abduction of the Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped in April this year, and t appeal to them to show concern on the matter. The success of the campaign was highlighted by her front page appearance on one of the local newspapers.
Mona-Lisa has been a catalyst for social outreach in her work place by introducing a ‘Community Outreach Department’ which she coordinates. The project she is currently working on aims at mainstreaming ‘gender sensitization’ in the Botswana Police College by assisting in the drafting of a Provisional Police College Manual. As a One Young World (OYW) Botswana Ambassador, she has been engaged in crucial dialogues on how to ensure climate change receives the political attention it deserves locally, regionally and internationally. Having attended the 2013 OYW in Johannesburg, she has benefited from receiving counsel from the likes of Sir Bob Geldof, Sir Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Jamie Oliver, Fatima Bhutto, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins, Seniour Radio Anchor Caroline Mutoko, Founder of soleRebel Bethlehem Alemu and former South African political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada, to name a few. Her life’s motto is embedded in one of her favourite quotes by Benjamin Franklin, which says:" The noblest question in the world is: “What good may I do in it?"
MUNPlanet: What do you think is the role of
UN agencies for youth today? Did you have opportunity to participate in some
program or conferences that UN agencies conducted? What can you tell us about
Model UN scene in your region?
Mona-Lisa: My participation in UN agency conferences
In October 2010, during my LLM, I attended a conference on peace, security and refugee rights that was hosted by the University of Nottingham (UK) and the UNHCR. It was a one day event and I participated as a member of the University of Nottingham International Human Rights Master’s program. The second, and only other, UN agency conference that I have attended was on Human Trafficking in Southern Africa and it was hosted by the UNODC in November 2013 in Gaborone (Botswana). I attended this conference in my capacity as a human rights lawyer.
The Model UN scene in my region
Model United Nations conferences are mainly hosted by major universities in South Africa and a few of the private schools in Namibia and South Africa. Some of the conference is open to all students within Southern Africa or Africa as a whole. Batswana are often present at these regional events and any other global Model UN events that have a global reach elsewhere in the world.
The role of UN agencies for youth today
Broadly stated, the role of the UN is principally to maintain and facilitate the following: international peace and security, promotion of cooperation among states and ensure that there is international development. Despite its shortfalls and the challenges it has faced in implementing its mandate, specifically on issues of peace and development, it still remains the most representative inter-governmental organization in the world today and it has come a long way in highlighting the need for corporation among the global village in order to address global and regional concerns.
Flowing from the above, it becomes obvious that the characteristics of the utopian world that the UN and its members are striving to create, are characteristics that are either going to be enjoyed by or deprived from those that it aims to benefit – today’s youth. It is a fact that today’s world is young and vibrant as it consists predominantly young people under the age of 30 years. It is also a fact that the world is currently a bequest that will be inherited by today’s young people; in whatever form and shape it is given to them. Therefore, the UN has tasked itself with the responsibility of ensuring that the current executrices and executors of the world are not only ensuring that they do not waste away our inheritance, but also ensure that it is improved and turned into an honorable legacy. It is therefore only possible to achieve this goal with the direct contributions and involvement of those who have a vested interest issues surrounding peace, security, international diplomacy and development – these are today’s youth.
MUNPlanet: Tell us more about Botswana. What is the best time to visit your place? What are three things we must know about your country? How does the entrepreneurship and activist scene look like in your country? What are some of the initiatives in Botswana that collaborate with other countries in Africa or with other regions of the world?
Mona-Lisa: About Botswana
Botswana is a well-governed young democracy situated in Southern Africa. It has a relatively small population of about two million people and it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. The people of Botswana are called ‘Batswana’ (plural) or ‘Motswana’ (singular). It is a semi-arid country. It is one of the fastest growing economic scenes in the world. It is also home to a large number of migrants, including my family, who have formed an integral part of this nation’s history.
Best Time to Visit
In my personal opinion, there are two optimum times to visit Botswana. Firstly, the month of May when the summer heat is not too sever as winter approaches and from early August to mid-September just after the dry winter and before the rainy hot season.
Entrepreneurship and Activist Scene
There is a very mixed economic climate in Botswana. On the one hand, it is one of the fastest growing economies in the world with the capital city – Gaborone - being the fastest growing city in the world; yet on the other hand, unemployment rates remain very high and it remains a relatively challenging to do business in. For instance, the permit applications, credit facilities cross border trade and business registration processes involve very stringent and timely processes.
Despite the shortfalls, citizens and foreign migrants continuously strive to promote a strong culture of entrepreneurship in the Republic. Job creation and economic diversification has had the support of various public and private bodies; from NGOs and public companies to parastates and government agencies. Youth focused initiatives include:
i)‘KickStart’ – founded and run by Kgalagadi Beverages Trust (KBT). Its aim is to promote entrepreneurship and development for people between the ages of 18 and 30-year-olds who either want to start businesses or expand their existing businesses. KickStart provides business skills training, mentoring and grants to assist small businesses.
ii) National Development Bank
iii) Centre for the Development of Enterprises (Botswana)
iv) Government Economic Empowerment Schemes under various ministries and agencies:
These are grants and/ or loan systems under the government that provide assistance for young people between the ages of 18 and 35 to top-up on or start running profit making ventures. They include:
·Out-of-School Youth Grant,
·Financial Assistance Programme (FAP),
·Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency,
·Youth Development Fund Projects,
·Young Farmers Fund.
v) Social Ventures for Business or Otherwise can be supported financially by companies such as:
·Barclays Bank Botswana
MUNPlanet: How does it feel to be a Global Shaper and part of World Economic Forum? What are your projects and responsibilities within your hub? Did you meet some thought leaders and celebrities at Davos?
Mona-Lisa: Being a Shaper and Member of W.E.F
I have not yet been privileged to attend the Davos meeting. I am hopeful that this year I will be able to engage with other Shapers and inspirational individuals.
Being a part of WEF and the Global Shapers Community is mind blowing. I am continuously challenged and inspired by my peers in the Gaborone Hub. They are driven, well informed, brilliant and above all, they genuinely care about the state of their communities.
It is because of initiatives such as this one under WEF, that young people like myself have access to regional and International fora such as WEF's Global Competitiveness Report Workshop on SADC (which the Global Shapers of Gaborone co-hosted), Shape Africa, and the Coca-Cola Shaping a Better Future Challenge.
Projects and Responsibilities within my Hub
The Gaborone Hub currently runs a wide range of projects include, but are not limited to sustainable corporate recycling, climate change awareness,secondary school prize giving initiatives and various projects under the theme ‘make reading fun’. Shapers also occasionally lobby and campaign on pressing issues and constantly strive to be disseminators of accurate information on major issues to the youth.
I am currently heading the ‘Independence’ Project that aims to sensitize the youth on Botswana’s post-independence challenges and urge them to be a part of the solution to these problems. The project will take the form of a video presentation that will hopefully be aired nationally.
Having been recently appointed the Hub’s Vice-Curator, I am tasked with major administrative, managerial and executive responsibilities towards the Hub. I recently served as the Hub’s Legal Officer and Head of the Internal Affairs and Ethics Committee, thus I am also in the process of ‘handing over’ some of my former duties to the current Legal Officer.
All Shapers run their own personal social ventures outside of the ‘Shaper Community’. I recently founded the Community Outreach Project in the firm I work for and I am currently coordinating our first majour project that aims at mainstreaming gender education into the Botswana Police Services Training Manual. I also volunteer as a legal consultant for a woman’s shelter and I am co-coordinating a project that will deliver certain humanitarian gifts to the women and children of Botswana’s Refugee Camp (Dukwi Camp); i.e sanitary towels, books, toys and information packs.
MUNPlanet: What are your impressions of our OYW Caucus, EXIT Festival and Serbia now that the memories sank down a bit?
Mona-Lisa: Serbia is a charming country with a rich history. It has come a long way to overcome its tragic past.
From my personal experiences, Serbs are very hospitable people who give generously to strangers and welcome them whole heartedly in to their homes. During my last few days in Serbia, I spent a couple of nights with a fellow OYW ambassador at the apartment of a young local lady who had met us for all of five minutes Cultural Center of Novi Sad. Of note, this lady was adamant about not receiving any payment for our accommodation, and for that her uncapped kindness will not be forgotten.
The Caucus was unique in all respects. The lodging was on a camping site in tents, and Ambassadors were able to form bonds and friendships because of the intimate set-up. The quality of attendees was of a high standard; all of who had a remarkable story to tell about their initiatives.
One thing I would have done differently, however, was dedicate more time towards actual conference talks and penal discussions from delegates so as to maximize on an opportunity that seldom arrives. That is, an opportunity to harvest the ideas and expertise of young people from across the world who are engaged in various phenomenal activities that are aimed at changing their communities and the world at large.
MUNPlanet: In what ways was OYW Summit beneficial for your career and professional development?
Mona-Lisa: As a lawyer, I am constantly looking out for ways in which I can contribute towards the legal development of my country and region. This event highlighted the need to constantly strive to advocate for laws and regulations that encourage entrepreneurship, that uphold and promote good governance and that allow for easier migration, free trade and the sharing of human capital. The conference has also sharpened by networking skills and allowed me to gain exposure to an environment that would not normally have been available to me – this has strengthened my inter-personal skills.
MUNPlanet: How would you advise young people to utilize MUNPlanet as an international network for reputation and knowledge exchange?
Mona-Lisa: Until this conference, I was unaware of MUNPlanet as well as of its benefits. However, after becoming a part of this platform, I have been able to engage in critical discussions on world issues and I have been made aware of some stimulating international platforms that are available to young people. It is therefore a very useful tool for young individuals who wish to stay abreast with crucial international developments and to be a part of a network of well informed, inspiring and capable future leaders.
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