FEZANA was placed on the Roster of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1997. We are now also registered with the Department of Public Information (DPI) and maintain this standing by submitting quadrennial reports.
The FEZANA UN-NGO Committee was appointed in 2003; current Co-Chairs are Afreed Mistry, Homi D. Gandhi and Behram Pastakia.
For the first time, the FEZANA Team participated at the 55th Annual DPI/NGO Conference entitled “Rebuilding Societies Emerging from Conflict: A Shared Responsibility,” held at the UN in New York City, on September 9-11, 2002. Since then, we have participated and presented workshops at numerous Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meetings held at the UN headquarters, and at annual UN-DPI NGO conferences all over the globe. The funding for travel, visas and housing remain the responsibility of the participants themselves.
The year 2012 started with a huge success as our team (Tanya Bharda, Homi Gandhi, Afreed Mistry, Freyaz Shroff and Behram Pastakia) presented a panel discussion titled, “NGO Learnings: Empowering Rural Women to Overcome Poverty & Hunger” at the 56th CSW conference. We showcased specific case studies from the Gram Seva Foundation in addressing infant malnutrition and the holistic approach of the World Zoroastrian Organization to promote prosperity in South Gujarat. The international dialogue at the workshop provided team members opportunities in sharing best practices and to network with like minded individuals.
Participants, on return to their home cities, have the option to follow-up with action programs. For example, Roshni Kasad who has worked with an NGO called Manav Sadhna in Gujarat, is involved in organizing a tour by children from the slums of Ahmedabad presenting a dance performance at American University in Washington D.C. on 17 May 2012. The children shall visit the Gandhi Memorial Center in the nation’s capital before leaving for the second leg of their fund-raising tour in California this summer. Roshni continues to advocate for Indicorps – Service for the Soul.
The declaration by the UN General Assembly to celebrate NowRuz as an intangible heritage of humanity, successful after a long and arduous international campaign, was an important landmark. The committee urges member associations of FEZANA to meet with their local elected officials in celebrating this day, the spring equinox, as our New Year, as we establish our own unique identity on this continent.
Focus and Policy:
Over the last ten years, the UN-NGO committee has chosen to encourage participation by Zarathushti youth and in keeping with our faith tradition, lifted up the message of caring for the environment. From the outset, we determined as a policy that there shall be no place for proselytization in our activities.
We are keen to advocate for human rights and religious freedom, celebrating our ancient heritage and culture, echoed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A replica of the Cylinder of Cyrus the Great is housed at the UN as evidence from the Achaemenian dynasty of a people who were respectful of the rights of the other, even those vanquished in battle, to practise their own religion without hindrance. We look forward to seeing members of FEZANA install replicas of this symbol from antiquity in their association halls, homes, and public gardens in their cities, to share the story of who we are and what we stand for. As the demographic profile of the Zarathushti population morphs, we anticipate greater involvement from the Iranian Zarathsuhti diaspora in developing these plans.
Zarathushtis from anywhere in the world interested in joining the FEZANA UN-NGO team should contact Afreed B. Mistry email@example.com , Behram Pastakia firstname.lastname@example.org, and Homi D. Gandhi email@example.com, with a copy of their curriculum vitae and a letter of intent stating how they would further the vision and mission of the UN. We seek individuals with leadership potential who can speak and write well. Fluency in multiple languages is an added asset. For archived FEZANA UN-NGO press releases visit: www.fezana.org To understand the workings of the UN and find opportunities to be involved, visit: www.un.org
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