Gro Brundtland Week of Women in Sustainable Development, an annual event which the Tang Prize Foundation commissioned National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) to host, wrapped up its last year in Tainan on April 3. Former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Inaugural Tang Prize Laureate of Sustainable Development, accepted Honorary Doctorate from NCKU and presented Gro Brundtland Award to five awardees from developing countries.
Five awardees including Dr. Natisha Dukhi (South Africa), Dr. Barbara Burmen (Kenya), Dr. Neha Dahiya (India), Dr. Weena Gera (Philippine) and Dr. Sarva Mangala Praveena (Malaysia) are all outstanding female scientists. Each of them gave a final presentation about air pollution in Asian and African cities during the closing ceremony. Their researches all indicated that air pollution in rural or urban city are connected, which implies the idea of Dr. Brundtland “Everything is connected.” Dr. Brundtland said it’s uplifting to see the young generation raise the torch of sustainable development.
Dr. Praveena from Malaysia expressed her honor of receiving the Gro Brundtland Award and appreciated its establishment for fostering more young female scientists. Dr. Gera from Philippines encouraged other women in science to ignore all the opposing voices and to take every opportunity which may lead to another.
Dr. Brundtland has dedicated her entire life to commit the prosperity, sustainability and peace of human society. President of NCKU Huey-Jen Jenny Su indicated “NCKU formally adopts the SDGs as the university guiding principle and we are proud to celebrate by associating with Madame Gro Brundtland, the godmother of sustainable development, through granting this Honorary Doctorate”
Honorary Doctorate Degree Conferral Ceremony took place at Ge-Chi Hall and President of NCKU Huey-Jen Jenny Su granted the certificate to Dr. Brundtland. Attendees to the Conferral Ceremony included Vice President of Office of Academic Affairs of NCKU Yu-Ming Wang, spouse of Dr. Brundtland Arne Olav Brundtland, five Gro Brundtland Award awardees, Vice president of NCKU Cheng-Hung Huang and the Tang Prize Foundation CEO Jenn-Chuan Chern. After the ceremony, Dr. Brundtland delivered a plenary speech entitled “Sustainable Development Goals, a thirty year story of international collaboration” which received immense response from high school students present including Tainan First Senior High School, Tainan Girls’ Senior High School and Sheng Kung Girls’ High School.
During the Q&A section, a law school student asked Dr. Brundtland how to achieve the balance between personal and professional life. Improving family policy and quality child care are two solutions Dr. Brundtland provided. Dr. Brundtland said, in her generation, the government offered 12 weeks of parental leave for women. Till her granddaughter’s generation, parental leave increased to one year. However, men can take between 14 and 52 weeks parental leave as well.
Jenn-Chuan Chern expressed his appreciation to Dr. Brundtland for traveling afar to Taiwan to attend Gro Brundtland Week of Women in Sustainable Development. This is the last year of the event and draws to an end. However, it did create a new way of international collaboration which might light up people’s awareness of sustainable development as Dr. Brundtland said “Partnership will be crucial to deal with the climate change and to promote the green economy.”