Diversity Contest

United Nations Academic Impact and United Colors of Benetton: destination future with young university students and faculty from around the world

The winners of the Diversity Contest have been announced at United Nations Headquarters in New York, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter. Their projects will be fully funded by Benetton Group’s UNHATE Foundation.

The winning projects will be fully funded (to the sum of 20,000 euros each) by the UNHATE Foundation.


  • MACFAST University Group: Sanesh Varghese, Tiji Thomas, Angel George, M.S. Samuel, Pradeep Vazhatharamalayil, Shibu Itty Mathew, INDIA.

Vanita Retna – Transforming Have Nots to Have – A Sustainable Socio-Economic Empowerment Model for the Tribal Girls 

Topic: Empowerment of indigenous women in India through education

This group of faculty members at MACFAST University seeks to empower young indigenous women by preparing them for university programs in fields such as medicine, nursing and engineering.  


  • Royal Roads University: Landon Zeeman and Jennifer Farquharson, CANADA.

People of Palestine.

Topic: Empowering Palestinians to tell their own stories

These Canadian students, inspired by the successful photo journal Humans of New York, will develop a similar website, People of Palestine, through which Palestinians can tell their stories about their experiences, history, culture and ideas.


  • Ambedkar University Group: Mesha Murali, Rohan Sengupta, Shikhar Vyas, Vinitha Jayaprakasan, Sonam Grover, INDIA.

Gender and Sexuality Sensitisation Project.

Topic: LGBT rights

These Ambedkar University students will carry out a gender and sexuality sensitization campaign at three universities in Delhi to confront sources of discrimination and challenge intolerant and non-affirming policies that impact students.


  • Agnes Scott College: Varsha Thebo, PAKISTAN.

Giving Peace a Chance: Workshops for Interfaith Harmony.

Topic: Increasing interfaith understanding

This Pakistani student seeks to promote harmony among Christians, Hindus and Muslims in Sindh Province in her native country by using texts from each religion to demonstrate that each faith stresses peace and harmony.


  • China Foreign Affairs University: Yang Jingchen, Xiong Ying, Hang Su, Zhu Jiao, CHINA.

“She for She” – Sharing Salons Featuring Feminine Topics Among Beijing Female College Students.

Topic: Safe spaces for women to discuss difficult issues

This group of Chinese students will organize safe, confidential settings in which female students can speak anonymously about traumatic life experiences and break the silence that often surrounds mental health issues.


  • National Autonomous University of Mexico: Rosa Maria Ramia de Garay, MEXICO.

Would You Like to Be Somebody Else for a Day? Proposal for an Intervantion in Mexico City’s Culture of Tolerance and Respect.

Topic: Promoting understanding of discrimination faced by women, members of the LGBT community and indigenous peoples

This Mexican student will install multimedia booths in public places that will provide an immersive experience to show people what it feels like to face different forms of discrimination on a daily basis.


  • The New School: Lara-Zuzan Golesorkhi, GERMANY.With or Without

Building a Movement for Muslim Women in the German Employment Sector.

Topic: Employment opportunities for Muslim women

This German student will provide skills training for Muslim women in Germany, who often face discrimination in the employment sector, but also work with employers to increase their hiring and inclusion of Muslim women in the workplace.


  • Columbia University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico: Atenea Rosado Viurques, Amanda Braga, Ana DinoRamos, Andrew Van Rompaey Peñagaricano, Axel BautistaPérez, Cristina GonzálezFitch, Kendra Strouf, Camila Ruiz Segovia, MEXICO/UNITED STATES.Colectiva Palabras Migrantes

Locating the Voices of Female Immigrants in a Transnational Context.

Topic: Immigrant women’s stories

This transnational group of students will document the experiences of Mexican and Central American women who immigrate to the United States to increase understanding of the many barriers and challenges they face as well as their contributions to society.


  • Northwest College: Sebudisi Mafabatho, SOUTH AFRICA.

Faces of Africa Anti-Xenophobia Debate Contest.

Topic: Xenophobia

The project proposed by this South African student will shed light on the plight of migrants in South Africa through a series of debates and discussions with the purpose of creating awareness and improving the treatment of migrants throughout the world.


  • University of Peace and Reconciliation Group: Lwesso Fiston, Lwesso Jean-Paul, Noella Miburano, Harushimana Teddy, BURUNDI.

Making Water a Source of Peaceful Coexistence.

Topic: Water and ethnic conflicts

This group of students from Burundi wants to increase harmony between ethnic groups who often clash over access to water by teaching water resource management and conflict resolution skills.


The Diversity Contest is part of a broader, two-phase project, which involved young people from all over the world to tell positive stories about our society through the unhatenews.com website. Developed with the help of creative talents from Fabrica, Benetton Group’s communications research centre, under the direction of Eric Ravelo, the project allowed for the creation of a broad and varied “mapping” of how the new generations want to build their world.

In the first phase of the project, which began in November 2014, United Colors of Benetton – in collaboration with the United Nations Academic Impact and through its own UNHATE Foundation – invited young people around the world to post on unhatenews.com “news” stories that they would like to see become reality. For starters, the focus was to be on contemporary issues of global importance and on themes central to United Nations priorities (the “Millennium Development Goals and post-2015 Development Agenda”), including development and the environment, the war on terror and the building of democracy and human rights with a special focus on women’s rights.

By submitting their proposals to the site, young people – through their sharing of texts, photos and videos – have become an active part of a community that participates in the news process and produces an ‘ideal’ media that is abreast of the times. Among the 100 most clicked “news” items, 10 were chosen by UNHATE Foundation – in line with United Colors of Benetton’s social philosophy – and contest entrants were invited to turn them into sustainable projects, to be implemented in 2015. Five stories were selected from those dealing with issues related to diversity, human rights and development while the other five were specifically on women’s rights.

In the second phase of the project, UNAI launched the Diversity Contest. This international competition invited universities, teachers and students aged 18-30 to develop and present projects – based on the stories selected in the first phase – addressing local communities and promoting the idea of ​​tolerance, harmony and respect for diversities. The 10 winning projects were selected by a panel of experts including Robert Bullock, Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government (State University of New York, Albany); Irene Da Costa, film director and critic; Tunay Firat, Partnerships Specialist at UN Women; La Niece Collins, Information Officer, UNAI; Mariarosa Cutillo, manager of corporate social responsibility for the Benetton Group and CEO of UNHATE Foundation.


About United Nations Academic Impact

United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) is a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations to promote the values and goals of the organization through activities and research in a shared culture of intellectual social responsibility.

Its essential frame of reference is:

i) To bring into association with the United Nations, and with each other, institutions of higher learning throughout the world.

ii) To provide a mechanism for such institutions to commit themselves to the fundamental precepts driving the United Nations mandate, in particular the realization of the universally determined Millennium Development Goals.

iii) To serve as a viable point of contact for ideas and proposals relevant to the United Nations mandate.

iv) To promote the direct engagement of institutions of higher education in programs, projects and initiatives relevant to this mandate.

For more information about UNAI, visit: https://academicimpact.un.org/

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November 18th, 2015.

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