I hope that you will find this an interesting way to keep updated on Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office activities in New York. I trust that this tool will facilitate information sharing on NGO and other activities at the United Nations.
The annual Commission on the Status of Women 65th session started with the NGO Forum on Sunday March 14th – setting the scene. Last year because of the outbreak of COVID 19 the session was cancelled but this year all took place virtually. Planning took place throughout the year. The most exciting part of this was the development of a virtual platform by the NGOCSW Committee members in New York. This platform was enabled by ‘Pathable Virtual Event Platform.” The platform permits for multiple live zoom connection to be happening simultaneously and a feature of it is the Virtual Tradeshow Booth. The Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office, my colleague Alexis Schutz and I, explored the possibilities of having a Virtual Booth and then invited GSIF, MDO – Asia Pacific, Latin America and the NGO Regional Designates to a planning meeting at the end of January to discuss possibilities. The members of the planning committee undertook responsibility for their regions. A very rich comprehensive program was designed and multiple issued were addressed from North to South and East to West. Many were livestreamed on Facebook and others on YouTube. Many recordings have been uploaded to https://winifredd.wordpress.com and can be viewed on blog postings of March 14, 16, 23 and 27. Issues addressed were varied and included the following – Understanding the Impacts of COVID 19 on Vulnerable Australian Women; Women’s Economic Empowerment, Ending Violence against Girls and Women, including 4 session on Obstetrics Fistula, Migration issues from Latin America and Europe. My favorite was the 5-hour girls’ program from Asia Pacific – hosted by girls, moderated by girls, concerning girls’ issues and participation at all levels. How insightful and informed these girls are –truly leaders for the future coming from all countries of Asia Pacific. At the conclusion of my night vigil in New York at 6.30 am on Saturday morning (began at 1.30 am) I closed my intervention with “now dismiss your servant in peace as my eyes have seen ….” This was followed at 11.00 am with a session from Madagascar again focusing on girls and with a recording of girls giving their viewpoints and opinions.
The Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd – New York/Toronto and Ecuador prepared the Women’s Sanctuary Space for Monday March 15th with specially pre-recorded prayer reflections.
I hosted a “Let’s Talk Series” for one hour each day covering various topics from Social Protection Floors, CSW Agreed Conclusion, Ending Violence Against Women, Generation Equality Forum, Migration, Sustainable Development Goals, St Patrick’s Day. Alexis hosted Let’s Talk Girls with Patricia and Maddie who are Good Shepherd Volunteers in the New York/Toronto Province.
An entry point for Good Shepherd, Europe was on the topic of Migration when my guests were Ivanna Youtchak, Coordinator of the Euro Project, and Gabriele Spina from Catania Italy, and Director of Migration in Il Nodo, Catania and Acireale. What great work around ‘integration’ of migrants into local communities and fascinating insight into how programs adjusted and provided for the needs of migrants all during these pandemic times. A video ‘Whatever it Takes’ was specially prepared by Good Shepherd, Italy for this occasion.
Sr Mirjam Bekie, our NGO Representative in Geneva contributed a repeat session on Obsteric Fistuala, creating awareness of the problem and sharing on advocacy work in colaitions in Geneva. She also presented in the RENATE Sessions on Human Trafficking.
The issue of Human Trafficking with its multiple stakeholders and strategies was very well covered on the platform. APT/AMRI engaged in 2 sessions facilitated by Noreen O’Shea, Ireland, available on their YouTube Channel. RENATE – the European network of religious committed to work together against human trafficking and exploitation – of which Sr. Marie Helene Halligon (France) is a staunch member, facilitated 9 X 2-hour sessions over the two weeks. All Session can be viewed on their YouTube Channel
On Friday 26th the final meeting of the Commission was postponed until 5.00 p.m. and some wonder if there will be any agreed conclusion! Yes, just after 6.00 p.m the Commission resumed and there are Agreed Conclusion! Agreed Conclusions are one barometer indicating support for women’s human rights. While very welcome, they do not reflect an adequate response to the urgent call of the UN Secretary General on the opening day of CSW 65, to realize women’s rights fully, ensure equal representation, advance women’s economic inclusion, asking for funding, policies and political will to end all gender-based violence and give space to girls and young women to transition into future leadership. What could the member states be the negotiating about you might ask?
The terms gender, gender identity, women in all their diversity, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence, sexual identity, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and human rights defenders give rise to various interpretation – ranging from a human rights perspective to religious, cultural, and moral principles and objections. Concept on motherhood, maternity, paternity, family, role of family in society, gender as defined as male or female, marriage only between a man and a women are pitted against human right to self expression and ability to make choices are amoung the contentious issues. Other political issues surface – e.g invoking national sovernighty, whereby national laws, and religious laws are to be respected and upheld. Considerations that the agreed conclusion attempt to address a broad ranges of issues which were not the subject matter of the theme eg. climate change, women’s health, human trafficking, and unilateral financial trade agreement was also raised. There was reference to the Security Council Resolution 1325 being deleated from the document amid concerns about the impacts of conflict on girls and women and that there were attempt to unpick long standing commitments. See Global Sisters Report
But women and the women’s movement are undaunted and now have the opportunity to forge ahead towards the launching of the ‘Generation Equality Forum’ which will start in Mexico on Monday March 29th for three day. The action now is towards full equality, and full peace, in prosperity for all, challenging all to stand as citizens, in a shared solidarity for the future we want. To end, NGO CSW65 passed the torch to Generation Equality at a ‘Joyful Disruption Rally’ with girls and women from around the world determined to realize a new future despite the paralysis in the agreed conclusion negotiations. Read the Advanced Unedited Verson of the Agreed Conclusion
Good Shepherd Asia Pacific Website have access to all their events during NGOCSW 65 Virtual Plaform HERE They also provide links for Latin America on their Facebook Page and RIMOA are on the GSIF YouTube Channel. This is a wonderful testimony to the many and varied ministries of the Congregation.
In total live programs were facilitated on the platform for 66 hours over the two weeks. 114 identified Good Shepherd Sisters and partners were registered on the NGOCSW65 Virtual Booth and made a total of 1,696 visits to the platform. RENATE had 8 identified representatives who made a total of 150 visits. APT had 7 identified representatives who make a total of 86 visitis. There were 320 visitors to the booth of whom 114 are identified as partners, 85 unidentified and 121 familiar NGO Colleagues and other unknow NGOs. The number of visits ranged from 1 visit to 264 visits. 99 guests were one time visitors only, 30 guests vistied a second time, and 22 guests made a third visit. Administrators tended to have higher numbers of visits 92, 90, 87, 70, 60, 63, 46, 45, 42, 41, 38, 34, 33, 31, 28, 26, 22, although a few within this range were visitors to the virtual booth.
Agreed Conclusion on “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimintation of violence, for achievieng gender equality and emowernment of all women and girls” were adopted by consensus. It was quite evident from the insights gleaned from statments issued after the adoption that these were tense and difficulty negotiation. While all the negotiations were done virtually, the ususal dynamics that accompany the annual negotiations prevailed – working until 11.00 p.m. during the two weeks, and through the night on the last few days of negotiation. I am grateful that Member States stayed the course and came to consensus on the need for full and effective participation of women in decision making in public life and on eliminating violence for achieving gender equlaity.
The Executive Director of UN Women Phumzille Mlambo made a statment at the end of the session saying the the outcome document was a robust blueprint on strengthening women’s leadership and participation in public life. Read more. Having followed the session as it unflolded I found that the various country positions indiciated the red lines that are encountered in address gender equality and the ending of all violence against girls and women. While there was consensus with reservations it is quiet clear that the struggle is far from finished.
Ambassador Sautter, Germany on behalf of the EU presented its statement which was published immediately on it Website: See
Other statements generally in support came from Santiago Group, led by Chile. New Zealand spoke on behalf of the following group – Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Iceland. UK, USA, Nigeria, Mexico, Namibia, each had statements. Other countries, each speaking individually presented reservations – Saudia Arabia, Brazil, Iran, Sudan, Egypt, Lybia, Yemin, Tunisia, Nicurguia, Iraq, Holy See, Maurentinia, and Qutar. China and Russia also made statment. See Commission on the Status of Women March 27th
What are the redlines? What are the contentious issues? Well, terms, the use of terms and the understaning of terms is the trigger for discussion, controversy, and persuasion. The terms gender, gender identity, women in all their diversity, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence, sexual identity, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and human rights defenders give rise to various interpretation – ranging from a human rights perspective to religous, cultural, and moral principles and objections. Concept on motherhood, maternity, paternity, family, role of family in society, gender as defined as male or famale, marriage only between a man and a women are pitted against human right to self expression and ability to make choices.
Other political issues surface – e.g invoking national sovernighty, whereby national laws, and religious laws are to be respected and upheld. Considerations that the agreed conclusion attempt to address a broad ranges of issues which were not the subject matter of the theme eg. climate change, women’s health, human trafficking, and unilateral financial trade agreement. There was referece to the Security Council Resolution 1325 being deleated from the document amid concerns about the impacts of conflict on girls and women and that there were attempt to unpick long standing commitments. Many times is was noted that terms used in the discussion are ambigious especially around gender identity, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and sexual and reproductive health and reprocuctive rights. LGBTQI+ issues are not named and in some cases event the existence of these people has been denied. I was surprised to hear that girls and women with disabilities was a contentionus issue. Further, with regard to ‘human rights defenders’ the question was asked as to why they are a special category needing attention?
I am happy that the discussion was had yet again, and that there are agreed conclusion from CSW 65. One delegate stands out for me – the delegate from Morocco who spake about the ardous hours of virtual imprisonment experinced durng the negotiation. She invited those present to imagine the imprisionment of girls and women within violent sistuation in the real world saying we hear your voice. Then she asks two quesitons, are the agreed conclusions responsive enough, are they translformative enough? She answers with a resounding NO! It is in the spirit that the women of the world unite and set out for Mexico and the launch of part 1 of the Generation Equlaity Forum on Monday March 29 – 31st.
This all virtual CSW 65 experience is challenging – the inability to meet in person, exchange ideas, meet official delegates, and chat informally with women traditionally gatherered in NY is a certainly different. No exchanging of hugs and embraces, no coffee appointment, no walking and talking, moving from one venue to another, and no personal interaction is certainly a great loss and yet women as always are making the best of the virtual world with over 25,000 registered and participating on the NGOCSW 65 Virtual Platform which I think is a great success thanks to the dedication of the NGOCSW Committee on the Status of Women and all who work behind the scenes to make it a reality. The only signs that CSW 65 is taking place are captured in the banners on the railing outside the UN. Asking which one comes first is asking the wrong question because transformation demands that they are all realized simultaneouly!
The Secretary General of the United Nations held a Town Hall with women and girls on March 16th. A few quotes from his address ‘But we should not talk of getting “back to normal”. It has become clearer than ever that what was considered normal was often discriminatory, unjust and unsustainable.’ … ‘Around the world, we advocated with Member States to ensure that women entrepreneurs are targeted in stimulus packages; that women working in the informal economy can access social protection; that recovery packages include greater investment in the care economy.’ You can read the full text HERE
US Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the Commission on the Status of Women 65 on behalf of the USA saying that “the status of women is the status of democracy,” mentioning Eleanor Roosevelt’s who shaped the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. “When women face obstacles to obtaining quality healthcare; when women face food insecurity, when women are more likely to live in poverty, and therefore disproportionately impacted by climate change, more vulnerable to gender-based violence, and therefore disproportionately impacted by conflict, well it’s harder for women to fully participate in decision-making, which of course in turn makes it that much harder for democracies to thrive.” Olivia Dalton, a spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN noted that the Vice President Harris is the first Biden administration White House official to address the U.N.; she is the highest-ranking U.S. government official to ever address CSW; and she’s the first female U.S. vice president to ever address the U.N.
During the first week there were 4 ministerial roundatbables and 4 interactive dialougues. Background notes, biographies of speakers and the recordinding can be accessed HERE. The General Discussion resumed on Friday 19th and continues in the second week. Member States address the Commission Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here A list of speakers can be accessed at the top on the page on UN Women’s CSW 65 Page
While the formal program continues virtually within the United Nations the NGO community are hosting multiple parallel events on the NGOCSW 65 Virtual Forum Platform Good Shepherd around the world are presenting a very comprehensive program of the various activities from east to west and north to south. The program schedule can reviewed and many of the events have been recorded either on Facebook or Youtube. I was so happy to have the Contemplative Sisters engaged in designing the Women’s Sanctuary Space on Monday March 15th. It has been recorded on Facebook The videos ‘Glow Within Us All’ and ‘The Call to Belong.’
Some of the Asia Pacific Presentation
Presentation from Africa – Anglola
Fundación Internacional del Buen Pastor América Latina – Congregación de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Buen Pastor – Región América Latina. Bolivia-Chile,…
The official opening of the Commission on the Status of Women took place yesterday morning at United Nations Head Quarters in New York at 10.00 a.m. EDT. We heard from UN Leaders, including the Chair of CEDAW and civil society members speaking up for their communities, and other stakeholders who are committed to making gender equality a reality.
The Secretary General made a powerful statement – fully recognizing the intense suffering of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic and calling ‘on all leaders to put in place five key building blocks. First, realize women’s equal rights fully, including by repealing discriminatory laws and enacting positive measures. Second, ensure equal representation — from company boards to parliaments, from higher education to public institutions — through special measures including quotas. Third, advance women’s economic inclusion through equal pay, targeted credit, job protection and significant investments in the care economy and social protection. Fourth, to enact an emergency response plan in each country to address violence against women and girls, and follow through with funding, policies and political will. Fifth, to give space to the intergenerational transition that is under way. From the front lines to online, young women are advocating for a more just and equal world — and merit greater support.’ Extract from the UN Meeting Coverage and Releases. The full recording of the session can be had at UN Web TV
The UN Secretary General: ‘The fallout from COVID 19 has shown how deeply gender inequality remains embedded in the world’s political, social & economic systems.’ Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations and President of Economic and Social Council delivered a statement calling for a New Global Compact for Women’s Empowernment Video based on an action plan to mainstream women’s participation in public life and proposing concrete measures to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. The agreed conclusion of the 65th session could provide a concrete recommendation for framing such a global contract. Ambassador ended hoping that the international community will rise to the challenge and ensure that half of the world’s population is never again left behind.
The Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in her statment said this is a defining moment for gender equality, change is possible, political will is critical. The full statement of her address has been posted. Towards the end a surprise for me – maybe others too – Executive Director indicated that she will be leaving UN Women at the end of this year.
Youth and NGO’s had strong voices within the opening session Listen to Renata Koch Alvarenga a Political Analyst in Brazil, Founder of EmpoderaClima Brazil, Delegate of the @girls20 Summit, and Gender Youth Activist of @unwomen#GenerationEquality
Virisila Buadromo – representing Fiji feminist NGO committed to removing discrimination against women through institutional reforms & attitudinal changes stated that “it’s time we all collectively work towards shifting the power dynamic to allow more Pacific women working at the grassroots levels to be seen and heard.”
I am following the parallel event of Mercy Global Action entitled: ‘Domestic Violence: Gender-based Violence & Degradation of our Common Home.’ From Papua New Guinea, to Peru, Argentina and Australia. The presentations are a powerful demonstation of the harm caused to communities and earth by Mega Mining and Agri Business. A globalized market system impacts the earth and women – violating them, making them invisible. Destruction of the earth and femicide are motivated by the same system. Corporate responsibiblity, gender equality and such terms are empty terms and mere words devoid of committment. Extractive industry degrades the social environment – with increases in prostitution, trafficking, the destruction of traditional culture, and agriculture. And in COVID 19 the Government of Argentina bets on the coroprate sector to pay the foreigh debt and provide for the needs of the people while devestating and polluting the enrironmental and eroding and destroying the social fabric. In the face of extractivism the solidarity of the people becomes stonger but the response is criminalization of the people and even death. Unemployment is now 40% with COVID 19. How care for the family? COVID 19 is not a democratic virus. As it is attached to the market system it has promoted inequality of access to health care, water, and food, and during the pandemic gender based violence has increased greatly. Femicide – a woman is killed every 29 hours in Argentia – is not just an Argentian problem. It is indemic througout the region. There are 11 femicide a day in Mexico and it was recalled that in September 2020 two 11 year old Argentian girls were killed by Paraguayan police.was
A strong recommendation was issued to decrease extractive mining and to develop an alternative system of production that respects people and the earth. We need to develop an alternative economy, one of care. A strong call to end institutional violence which is so frequent in the health system, especialy against indigenous women, and the injustice in judical rulings that favour the corporate sector. The event has been live-stremed on Facbook if you want to learn more.
The Consultation Day programme of NGOCSW launched this morning at 10.00 am in New York. An amazing programme opening with a prayer for women of the world offered by our indigenous sister, which is followed with a dialogue with the Chair of NGOCSW and the Executive Director of UN Women on the global situation of women and girls. There is a most wonderful call by girls from the Working Group on Girls. The leaders and processes of Generation Equlaity Forum are introduced and towards the end we hear of this being a moment to ‘reimagine the global contract for gender equality.’ The programs end with a piece from the UN Orchestera entitled ‘Nimble Feet’ by Florence Price. The YouTube is available and the programe below. Enjoy
The Congregation has an Exhitition Booth on the NGOCSW Virtual Platorm. To visit the booth registration is required through NGOCSW. We learned this morning that already 25,000 attendees have registered – there is a waiting list which the adminstration is seeking to resolve. Our program at the booth is available here. About 100 mission partners around the world have registered. Monday provides four distinct opportnities for a moment of guided prayer and reflection. Differerent Good Sheoherd regions and Units are presenting. RENATE – Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation – are our partners at the virtual booth.
2021! We are on the threshold of February, and about to start the annual round of Commissions at the United Nations. The first is the Commission for Social Development. The theme this year “Socially just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all.” As is usual statement writing has been completed, side events planned and even a copy of our oral statement to the commission has been sent to the Secretariate for acceptance. A new expereince this year – all the sessions are virual so immidiately we realise than anyone in the global community can indeed particiapte if they have a strong internet connection. The Civil Society engagement of the NGO Committee is also different as all is virtual and not all clustered in one day. They are spread out over the first week starting on February 5 and running through to February 12.
While the Orientation session has reached capacity the other 5 events are still open for REGISTRATION. All ae welcomet. The session on the 9th 10th and 11th may be informative from the point of view of a) Digital inclusion in Education and Social Protection for all REGISTER
b) Digital Technology and Financing for Development REGISTER
and c) Digital technolgy and Good Govenance. REGISTER
The official session of the Commission starts on Monday Morning February 8th. Watch LIVE through UN WebTV at http://webtv.un.org/ in all six United Nations’ official languages. Closed Captioning is available. The Commission will host Five Virtual High-Level Panels:
1. “Socially just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all”; This will address the priority theme of the Commission. The Report of the Secretary General is very informative and can be read HERE in the 6 lauguages of the United Nations. My favourite line in the report ‘Leaving no one behind means leaving no one offline.’ But this demands action, planning, resources and political will to build inclusive societies. In paragraph 20 under the heading of Alternative models of growth for sustainable development there is a hint of rcognition that a pardigm shift is need away from economic growth. Paragraph 20 beings “That shift in thinking with regard to economic activity is behind the growing body of research on metrics related to well-being that go beyond GDP. Such studies include multiple dimensions of inequality and subjective well-being to measure national wealth, economic performance and social progress.” The report is very weak on governance measures required for inclsive digital technology for the well being of all.
2. Ministerial Forum on “Promoting multilateralism to realize inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development and its social dimensions”; 2020 has come and gone, the decade of action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 is severely threatened due to the impact of COVID 19 and growing inequlaities. There is time to act but the time in now! Strong multilateralism is needed accompanied by strong actions.
3. Emerging Issues on “Social policy to promote a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery: Building back better post COVID-19 for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”;
4. Interactive dialogue with senior officials of the UN System on the priority theme;
5. Multi-stakeholder Forum on the priority theme.
The full programme is HERE and the list of Side Event can be seen HERE
See: Friday February 12 ‘Building Roofs and Raising Floors Through Inclusive Digital Technologies and a Global Fund for Social Protection Floors’ and Monday February 15 ‘The Role of Digital Technologies: Stop Online Exploitation of Children.’ If you are interesting in joining the conversation at these event you can register to receive the zoom link going HERE and clicking on the title of the event. The GSIJP Office has been engaged in the organizing of these two events. You may see other events that interest you depending on what area of the world you come from.
The list of written statements is available HERE We collaborated in Statement in statement NO 11 with the Maryknoll Sisters and others. The side event on February 15th continues on the same theme. We endorsed Statement No 17 calling for an end to homelessness, access to digital technologies and social protrection for all.
The CIVIL SOCIETY DECLARATION is an important Document and will be presented at the official opening of the Commission on February 8th. It has been prepared in three languages English, French, and Spanish. It remains open for sign on by individuals or organizations until February 1, 2021. If you have any question put them in the comments box.
From April through to September 2020 I led a series of webinar on the Good Shepherd Position Papers. These were supplemented by Theresa Symons, Director, MDO Office, Asia Pacific with application of the paper to ministry realities throughout the region. We have brought all the material together – the Powerpoints and the video recordings and uploaded them here for your use and convenience.
October 11, 2020 Day of the Girl – Asia Pacific Forum
The International Day of the Girl, IDG2020, with its Good Shepherd Asia Pacific Forum Panel was a historic groundbreaking event, a festival proclaiming girls’ rights with girls and for girls throughout the 19 countries of Asia Pacific. It was a truly global virtual experience. This event and its ongoing activities for 9 more weeks reach the epitome of collaboration and it was a privilege for the GSIJP Office in New York – Alexis and Winifred – to be actively engaged and participating. The event showcased girls’ voices, girls’ art work, girls’ music, girls’ poetry girls’ drama and girls’ dreams. While containing many elements of fun and creativity the message was very clear – ‘we have experienced discrimination as girls.’ We must say no to every and all forms of violence perpetrated against girls whether in the name of religion, tradition or culture. The highlight for me was being the moderator of the panel with four eminent girl activists –
Their presentations were clarion calls as to what needs to be done in four distinct areas of discrimination, abuse and violence against girls – migration, girl activism, LGBTQI+ sensitivity and child early and forced marriage. In their very persons they demonstrated integrity, resilience and action for their cause. The words of the theme song echo in my mind and heart even a week after the event: “We raise our voices… being feminine is a pride… empowered with vision for the future…with joy and power we claim our equal rights…resilience is our name…we break the silence… we are willing… we are ready… with vision and inspiration we claim our equal rights.” The logo and art work were inspirational reaching the stars and beyond! And the message from it all – to quote Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, – “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” This light I saw shining clearly within the many girls from Asia Pacific who contributed to IDG2020. It was brightly shining in our 4 girl/youth advocate panelists and it shone brightly in Deepthi and Deeprka, showing us that it is never too early to be engaged! And the light has not dimmed in the many who collaborated to bring the event to fruition, technicians, videographers, teachers, mentors, administrators, and our fearless leader, Theresa Symons!
Webinar October 13, 2020 RIMOA – Sorelle e Fratelli Tuti and the United Nations
October 15, 2020. Webinar on Migration – Mission Effectiveness USA
Panel Presentation on October 27 “RELIGIOUS WORKING IN INTERNATIONAL ADVOCACY AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING”
Webinar November 27, 2020 by invitation of Camarines Norte State College, in the Philippines
Webinar with Asia Pacific November 30, 2020
NEW January 3, 2021
Video Reording and PowerPoint slides on:
Exploring programs/projects on LGBTQ+ issues
LGBTIQ Inclusivity at Good Shepherd by GS Australia New Zealand
Sharing of Experiences with LGBTQ Families by GS Philippines Japan
UNANIMA International’s Webinar series on Family Homelessness/ Displacement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 3 parts ended on 10, December 2120. All the material is uploaded and availabe. If you are interested in homeslessness this is an excellent series
UN Day, October 24 marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter and has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. The theme of the United Nations Day Concert 2020, sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, is “Reimagine, Rebalance, Restart: recovering together for our shared humanity” and was screened in UN General Assembly Hall at 12.00 noon on October 22. The concert included a performance featuring Roberto Bolle, accompanied by other world class etoiles as well as the Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala, all recorded at La Scala Theater in Milan. A number of classical, modern and reimagined dances, curated specifically for the UN Day Concert, were performed. It is on Facebook live – very uplifting. Prior to the showing the Secretary General call yet again for a ‘global ceasefire.’
The 75th Session of the United Nations had its first plenary meeting on September 17th and the high level week began on September 21st with the commemoration and acknowledgement the 75th anniversary. The sessions were virtual with Permanent Representatives being present in the General Assembly Hall for the first time since the outbreak of COVID 19 in March 2020. The leaders adopted a declaration honouring the multilateral framework put in place in 1945 promising to live out the pledge to save succeeding generations from the scourage of war. The text outlines 12 commitments ” We will leave no one behind. We will protect our planet. We will promote peace and prevent conflicts. We will abide by international law and ensure justice. We will place women and girls at the centre. We will build trust. We will improve digital cooperation. We will upgrade the United Nations. We will ensure sustainable financing. We will boost partnerships. We will listen to and work with youth. We will be prepared.” Read the full text The declaration ends with “We commit to take the present declaration to our citizens, in the true spirit of “We the peoples”.” My question have you heard this declaration being proclaimed in your country?
You can check out what your country said here. 130 of the 193 member states have contributed statements. 4 Youth representative – Ghana, Malaysia, Bahamas and France – addressed the General Assembly – a summary of their statements and video are available here.
On Sunday October 4 Pope Francis released his new encyclical. In it there is a call to the United Nations. Chapter 5 is entitled “A Better Kind of Politics” and includes paragraphs 154 to 197. Paragraph 170 – 175 has a subtitle ‘International Powers.’ Paragraph 172 starts with saying that we are witnessing a weakening of the power of nation states. This is what is happening when we refer to the failure of multilateralism at the UN. The Pope says that this has happening because economic and financial sectors prevail over the political. The encyclical places faith in the Charter of the United Nations. ‘There is a need to prevent the organizations from being delegitimized since its problems and shortcomings are capable of being jointly addressed and resolved.’
Quoting Paragraph 173 in full. “In this regard, I would also note the need for a reform of “the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth”. Needless to say, this calls for clear legal limits to avoid power being co-opted only by a few countries and to prevent cultural impositions or a restriction of the basic freedoms of weaker nations on the basis of ideological differences. For “the international community is a juridical community founded on the sovereignty of each member state, without bonds of subordination that deny or limit its independence”.At the same time, “the work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realization that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity… There is a need to ensure the uncontested rule of law and tireless recourse to negotiation, mediation and arbitration, as proposed by the Charter of the United Nations, which constitutes truly a fundamental juridical norm”.There is need to prevent this Organization from being delegitimized, since its problems and shortcomings are capable of being jointly addressed and resolved. (Bold print is mine)
Much time, thought and energy has been dedicated by the NGO Community at the United Nations to have the UN we need. UN 75 Peoples Declaration and Plan of Action entitled ‘Humanity at a Crossroads: Global Solutions for Global Problems’ seeks to address the failure of multilateralism and point the way forward. We have signed this as an organization. See It is also available in French, Spanish and Arabic.
Page 4 outlines essential elements required to create an enabling environment. Page 5 is a people’s commitment and page 6 recommendations to member states outlining three priorities which if implemented would lead to more effective global governance. (i) Establish a mandated post-2020 follow-up mechanism to enhance global governance. (ii) Reliably and increasingly fund the United Nations. (iii) Enhance civil society and other stakeholders’ participation modalities. This is followed with an annex outlining (i) Immediate Action (ii) Medium term proposals and (iii) Long term aspirations. The document was handed over to the 74th President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande the Thursday May 14.
Watch a creative and moving rendition of ‘The People’s Declaration and Plan for Global Action’ filmed on YouTube by individuals globally from the confines of their home during this pandemic. Cecelia O’ Dwyer from the IBVM is featured towards the end and there is a collage of people echoing ‘Make UN 75 Count’
Catholic Religious at the UN also worked on a Statement entitled ‘A Faith-Based Vision for the UN at 75 and Beyond.’ It is a 10 page document and available in English,French, and Spanish. There are 4 specific calls a) make the role of civil society more central and meaningful in UN Processes; b) Reform the UN Security Council; c) Develop a UN body dedicated to coordination including national level reviews of implementation of UN treaties; and d) Scale up technologies to permit remote participation.
Much time and thought has gone into the various statements but I think it can be summed up in words from “A Governance Befitting” – “We therefore find ourselves at the threshold of a defining task: purposefully organizing our affairs in full consciousness of ourselves as one people in one shared homeland.” (page 4)
What a festival of GIRL voices since October 1 to October 11. The theme in Good Shepherd Asia Pacific ‘My Voice=Our Future” The theme with Working Group on Girls Speak Out hosted on the Day of the Girl Summit page was #EquityForGirls #BeBold. The Girls Speak Out premiered 6 times in different languages and in different time zones – a global celebration. You can access all the information HERE . English Version There is a delay of 18 minutes. The link was live for 18 minutes before the program started. Towards the end at 1.09 you will see the winning song from Good Shepherd Asia Pacific – Sri Lanka featured. It fades with the music in the background and then comes on again. The title of the Song ‘We break the Silence.’
For Good Shepherd the highlight was the Good Shepherd Asia Pacific Forum which was livestreamed on YouTube. After the introduction you can see another rendering of the our Song ‘We Break the Silence.’
An Asia Pacific Video was also produced and launched on October 11. Link Do enjoy it. It has the theme song and video launched for the celebration. There is a lovely song toward the end ‘We are the future of this world’
And the work continues today with the launch of guidelines for internet / social media usage over the next few weeks
Friday, September 4, 2020 marked the opening of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China exactly 25 years ago. “The Beijing Platform for Action imagined a world where every woman and girl can exercise her freedoms and choices, and realize her rights, such as to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal pay for work of equal value. As a defining framework for change, the Platform for Action made comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern.” Read more
Some Good Shepherd Sisters within Asia Pacific attended that historic conference – India, Philippines and Australia. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, document issuing from the conference has informed Good Shepherd Position Papers and ministries.
Then First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered what would be considered as one of the most influential speeches in the women’s rights movement at the United Nation’s 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session on September 5, 1995 in Beijing, China Read more
In 25 years no country has achieved gender equality. During the COVID 19 pandemic, life for women has worsened with increases in violence and in many situations care of the children and home schooling falls to the mother. On Monday 31st of August the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres held a town hall meeting together with UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. He said and I quote “At a time of growing nationalism and populism, the forces ranged against global solidarity can seem overwhelming. But if we are to meet today’s global challenges, from the climate crisis to growing inequality and the digital divide, we must join together, rejecting sexist and ageist stereotypes that prevent women – and men – from realizing our full humanity.” Read the full statement.
Linda Wong, Soroptomist International Advocacy Advisor wrote an interesting piece, giving an overview of the the Secretary Generals’ Town Hall with women. A recording of the session can be had HERE
A NEW REPORT: 17 pages ‘From Insight to Action: Gender Equality in the Wake of COVID-19’ published by UN Women in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme – UNDP highlights projections on poverty by sex and age in a post-pandemic world. The pandemic has widened gender and economic inequalities and without gender-responsive policies the crisis risks derailing hard won gains. (Page 3). COVID 19 has pummelled feminized labour sectors; (Page 6) will push million more into extreme poverty; (Page 8) gaps on basic services magnify care burdens; (Page 10) for many women and girls home is not a safe space (Page 12) and page 16 states clearly we have the tool to address the crisis. So, why is the global community not taking action?