Reflecting on week one of the Commission for Social Development

Friday, February 3 was the last day of week one of the Commission for Social Development. Overall, it was an interesting week which commenced on Monday afternoon with the opening of the Civil Society Forum.  This forum continued on Tuesday morning with panel presentations followed with the continuation of Monday’s discussion in the afternoon.  Both these session are webcast.  Civil Society Forum – January 31st and Part 2 Afternoon session  civil-society-forum

The formal opening of the Commission took place on Wednesday February 1st  – all sessions are webcast – Opening Session (Meeting 2)  There were three statements presented – one from the President of the General Assembly (PGA) H.E. Peter Thompson (Fiji), the President of the Economic and Social Council H.E. Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe) and a statement on behalf of the Secretary General Antonio Guterres.  Points noted from these statement are the following:  The Commission is taking place at a time of global contradictions.  While significant progress has been made in eradication extreme poverty, conflicts are reversing gains in social well-being and the gap between the rich and poor was growing (Sec General) The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the “masterplan for people planet and prosperity,” and is “firmly within our reach.” (PGA).  “Today’s generation can be the one that eradicates poverty and turns the tide on inequality, exclusion and environmental degradation…” (President of ECOSOC)   ANA HELENA CHACÓN ECHEVERRÍA, Vice-President of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said that despite all achievements, many countries had been left behind and growing global inequities challenged the universality of human rights. Poverty was a system and people living in poverty continued to be deprived, above all, of the capacity to claim their inalienable rights.  Human dignity must be at the centre of any sustainable development process.  Further the vice-president said  respecting, promoting, and protecting rights required Governments to take positive action, which in turn, demanded national compliance with international obligations, particularly the 2030 Agenda.

In the afternoon at Meeting 3  the Vice-President of Costa Rica was a member of the panel during the interactive discussion on “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.”  She stressed the need to design public policies to meet the needs of people facing constant hunger, exclusion and poverty.   No development can be sustained if millions of people are left behind.  Poverty is a flagrant violation of human rights.  Social policy must  end the income gap and move towards peace, justice and inclusion.  Costa Rica is poised to eliminate extreme poverty in less than 10 years.  Costa Rica has developed social maps to track impoverished areas and understand the prevailing socioeconomic conditions. This coupled with a poverty index was used to measure poverty beyond income poverty and to take into account shortages in education, health care, water and housing.

Nigeria, both Government and civil society perspective were presented and Brazil noted that their nation had been removed from the FAO Hunger Map.  The new challenge for Brazil is to sustain the gains.Through Bolsa Familia cash transfer programme 13.6 million low-income people received stipends on condition that they kept their children in school and followed a vaccination schedule. This year a National Strategy for Social and Productive inclusion was launched by the Government to build professional skills and generate income.  The Happy Child Programme was launched in 2016 that gives regular assistance, including home visit to 530,000 children in 2017 and 1.5 million in 2018

Good Shepherd continue to promote implementation of social protection floors as a good strategy for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all. There is growing interest in and concrete action towards implementation.
See http://bit.ly/2kttxSM which ‘showcases 16 experiences from 12 countries which have achieved universal or near-universal social protection coverage in the areas of health care, child allowances, maternity benefits, disability benefits and old-age pensions. Good Shepherd are in 5 of the Countries Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, South Africa, Thailand.

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February 2nd  Meeting 4 and Meeting 5  and  February 3rd Meeting 6  and Meeting 7. These meeting focused on “Promoting Integrated Policies for Poverty Eradication: Youth Development in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (meeting 4) Meeting Coverage and “Leaving no one behind: poverty and disability” Meeting 6. Meeting Coverage

Side events are taking place throughout the Commission focusing on a myriad of topics related to the theme.

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Side events where I have been a panelist:

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If you wish to see your country statement to the commission for Social Development Papersmart UN Meetings

 

Civil Society Declaration- 55th Session Commission for Social Development

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The Declaration is available here in English, Spanish and French together with a copy of the program of January 30th and 31st.   cs-declaration-ecs-declaration-scs-declaration-fr2017-cs-forum-program

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Some reflection question in preparation for the Civil Society Forum – Jan 30 and 31st

 

Have you read the Civil Society Declaration to the Commission? civil-society-declaration-csocd-55th-session  The civil society declaration addresses the theme of the commission and responds in four parts: (1) Introduction (2) A strategy to eradicate poverty (3) …and achieve sustainable development …for all (4) A call to action.

The Good Shepherd Microfinace No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) in Australia is one  strategy that has been effective in implementing Social Protection policies in Australia.   Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission in English, French and Spanish

Case Study:   Universal social protection policies that benefit all of society must reach women and girls who are in the most vulnerable situations, for whom barriers tend to remain even when services and national human development averages improve. These programs must empower girls and women, strengthen their citizenship, and equip them with the knowledge, spaces and networks with which to claim their entitlements. The Good Shepherd Microfinance No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) in Australia provides individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable loans for essential goods and services. Participants recognize that repaying their loan means that those funds become available to someone else in the community — consequently, the repayment rate is consistently 95-97%. Follow-up analysis shows that four out of five NILS participants are moving away from crisis and hardship towards stability and resilience — achieving economic mobility. In Australia, more and more women are turning to high cost, predatory payday loans, suggesting that a growing number of women are being excluded from the financial mainstream. NILS focuses on improving opportunities for women and girls, with women representing 67% of NILS participants. Microfinance programs promote gender equality through financial inclusion, and are essential for ensuring women living on low incomes and their families are able to enjoy improved quality of life. The NILS commitment to education and financial literacy is also empowering for women. The loan process begins a conversation about money and household finances with each microfinance applicant. These conversations lead to increased financial literacy and confidence dealing with money. This improves women ’s selfesteem, and participation in decision-making processes.

Étude de cas:  Les politiques de protection sociale universelle profitant à l’ensemble de la société doivent prendre en compte les femmes et les filles les plus vulnérables, celles pour qui les barrières ne tombent pas, y compris quand le niveau mo yen des services et du développement humain dans leur pays progresse. Les différents programmes doivent autonomiser les filles et les femmes, renforcer leur citoyenneté et leur fournir les connaissances, les espaces et les réseaux nécessaires pour revendiquer leurs droits. En Australie, le programme « No Interest Loan Scheme » de Good Shepherd Microfinance donne aux individus et aux familles à faible revenu un accès à des prêts sûrs, équitables et abordables leur permettant de bénéficier de biens et servic es essentiels. Les participants étant conscients que le remboursement de leur prêt permet de réaffecter les fonds à d’autres membres de la communauté, le taux de remboursement s’établit entre 95 et 97 %. L’analyse de ses effets montre que quatre participants sur cinq au programme « No Interest Loan Scheme » parviennent à opérer la transition d’une situation de crise et de pauvreté à une situation de stabilité et de résilience, jusqu’à parvenir à la mobilité économique. Dans ce pays, de plus en plus de femmes se tournent vers des prêts sur salaire aux conditions abusives et au coût élevé, ce qui donne à penser que le nombre de femmes exclues du système financier traditionnel progresse. Le « No Interest Loan Scheme » met l’accent sur l’amélioration des perspectives pour les femmes et les filles, les femmes représentant 67 % des participants au programme. Les programmes de microfinancement favorisent l’égalité des sexes par l’inclusion financière et sont déterminants pour permettre aux femmes vivant avec un faible revenu et à leur famille de jouir d’une meilleure qualité de vie. L’engagement du programme « No Interest Loan Scheme » en faveur de l’éducation et de la culture financière contribue également à l’émancipation des femmes. Le processus de prêt commence par une conversation sur l’argent et les finances du ménage avec chaque demandeur d’un microfinancement. Cet échange renforce les connaissances de base en matière de gestion financière et la confiance quant à l’utilisation de l’argent, ce qui a pour effet d’améliorer l’estime de soi chez les femmes ainsi que leur participation à la prise de décision.

Estudio de caso:   Las políticas de protección social universal que benefician a toda la sociedad deben llegar a las mujeres y las niñas que se encuentren en situaciones más vulnerables, para quienes las barreras tienden a permanecer, incluso cuando mejoran los promedios en materia de servicios y desarrollo humano a escala nacional. Estos programas deben empoderar a las niñas y las mujeres, reforzar su condición de ciudadanas, y dotarlas de los conocimientos, espacios y redes que les permitan reclamar sus derechos. El programa de préstamos sin interés con fines de microfinanciación de nuestra organización en Australia proporciona acceso a préstamos seguros, justos y asequibles para la adquisición de bienes y servicios esenciales a las personas y familias de bajos ingresos. Los participantes reconocen que el reembolso de su préstamo supone que esos fondos estarán disponibles para otra persona en la comunidad, por lo que la tasa de reembolso oscila sistemáticamente entre el 95% y el 97%. Un análisis del seguimiento indica que cuatro de cada cinco participantes en el programa de préstamos sin interés con fines de microfinanciación están saliendo de la crisis y las dificultades y se encaminan a la estabilidad y la resiliencia, logrando la movilidad económica. En Australia, un número cada vez mayor de mujeres están recurriendo a préstamos depredadores de alto costo a corto plazo, lo que indica que un número cada vez mayor de mujeres están siendo excluidas de las corrientes principales de financiación. El programa de préstamos sin interés con fines de microfinanciación se centra en mejorar las oportunidades de las niñas y las mujeres, y estas últimas constituyen el 67% de los participantes en el programa. Los programas de microfinanciación promueven la igualdad de género mediante la inclusión financiera, y son esenciales para garantizar que las mujeres que tienen bajos ingresos y sus familias puedan disfrutar de una mejor calidad de vida. El compromiso del programa con la alfabetización y la educación en materia de finanzas también está empoderando a las mujeres. El proceso de préstamo se inicia con una conversación sobre el dinero y las finanzas de la familia con cada solicitante de microfinanciación. Esas conversaciones dan lugar a un aumento de los conocimientos financieros y de la confianza para abordar cuestiones monetarias. Eso permite mejorar la autoestima de las mujeres y su participación en los procesos de adopción de decisiones.

Read more at Good Shepherd Micro Finance

 

 

55th Commission for Social Development

See the website – English only

See our statement to the Commission in – English, French and Spanish

The posters are in three languages:  First  giving you the dates, theme and link to the Good Shepherd Statement; the second set-  describes the Commission and the third set answer the question what is Social Protection?

The first commission I attended was in February 2008 – the 46th Commission on the theme of  “Promoting Full Employment And Decent Work For All.”  47th and 48th Social Integration, 49th and 50th Poverty Eradication, 51st and 52nd   “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all,” 53rd and 54th  “Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world.”

Follow up on Global Forum on Migration and Development

On this International Migrants Day I am sharing the report of Theresa Symons and Magdalena Saavedra.  There is a call to action for Good Shepherds around the world. How are you going to respond?  Share your ideas in the comments box.

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Good Shepherd Representatives at the GFMD

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Sr. Magdalena Saavedra from the Centre of Overseas Workers, Davao, Philippines and Theresa Symons from MDO Asia Pacific, represented Good Shepherd at the recent Civil Society Programme for Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 8-9 December.  There were about 300 participants at the civil society forum.

This was followed by Common Space between civil society and governments on 9 December and the GFMD Summit for governments from 10-12 December.

Focus of the civil society forum

The theme for civil society programme was “Time for Action: Doing rights-based governance of migration and development in our communities and across borders.”

Robust discussions were held at the plenary debates and parallel working sessions which focused on four action-oriented themes:

  • Doing protection of migrant workers
  • Doing protection of migrant on the move
  • Doing inclusive development
  • Doing global governance better

Outcome recommendations broadly centered around various ways of implementing people-centered, needs first, rights-based policies on migration and human development; with civil society working with governments and businesses.

The recommendations will influence the development of a governance framework on migration called the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, Regular Migration, which is expected to be finalized by 2018 to be adopted by UN member states.

Our learning experiences

Magdalena and Theresa shared that it was a privilege for them to attend the civil society forum.  It was an opportunity to network with participants coming from different organizations, engage in conversations on good practices, listen to different perspectives on migration and learn about issues affecting migrants in other countries.

These are some of their insights and reflections in relation to the Good Shepherd Congregation:

  • Good Shepherd worldwide have extensive grassroots activities in sending as well as host countries. We play critical roles in educating and empowering our program participants on the rights of migrants
  • It is not enough to just be doing grassroots activities on migration. It is also important to have a working knowledge of policies, statements and guidelines on migration so that we can shape our programs to influence systemic changes locally, regionally and globally.
  • The needs of migrants have evolved in complexity which cannot be addressed by a sole organization. To increase our effectiveness in mission, we need to network and collaborate across borders as Good Shepherd agencies and with other NGOs, faith based groups, civil society organizations, governments and businesses.
  • A large bulk of migrants (regular and irregular) are women and children, it is a must for the Congregation to strengthen its response to the plight of the migrants in the local, regional and global level. As an international Congregation, more concrete and collective action has to be done (pro-active response to our broad directions).

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Links to the following important websites related to the GFMD:

  1.  Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) http://www.gfmd.org
  2. GFMD  Civil Society Days MADE Migration and Development Civil Society Network 
  3. The New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants  New York Declaration in 6 languages
  4. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Sustainable Development Goals

In the picture our representatives with Eva Richter from NGO Committee on Migration in New York.       (Submitted by Theresa and Magdalena)

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With some of the participants and Undersecretary Ambassador Jose S. Brillantes Chairman of the UN Committee on Migrant Workers,  Pathma Krishnan Regional Coordinator of Education International-Asia Pacific, Theresa Symons Good Shepherd Congregation MDO-Asia Pacific, Mel Nuqui of Dawn – Executive Director (courtesy of Magdalena)

 

Sunday, December 18 International Migrants Day

In the liturgy of Advent from December 17 to 24 we pray the O Antiphons – biblical expressions of longing for the coming of God.  I invite you today to joint in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are migrants and refugees throughout the world praying ‘come to our rescue.’ In the O Antiphons for today there is reference to Moses, the one who rescued the people when they were slaves in Egypt.   Read Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s reflection for the day.   Secretary-General Tells States to Mark International Migrants Day by Rejecting Intolerance, Discrimination, Xenophobic Rhetoric.

ban_ki-moon_portraitSome quotes from Secretary General  ‘to add insult to injury, we have witnessed the rise of populist movements that seek to alienate and expel migrants and refugees and to blame them for various ills of society.

Yet, within this turbulence, we also find rays of hope, with concerned citizens and communities opening their arms and hearts. We have also seen a promising international response, culminating with the New York Declaration adopted in September at the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants. It is now crucial that Governments honour and build on their commitments to govern large movements of refugees and migrants in a way that is compassionate, people-centred, gender-responsive and rooted in fundamental human rights.’  

The bold print is mine for emphasis.  This parallels our Congregational Direction Statement ‘As mission partners (lay and sisters) we struggled to find a way to address global issues. We identified as the most pressing needs of today as poverty, human trafficking, migration, refugees, gender inequality, violence against women and children and religious intolerance.   Being the ‘Moses/Miriam’ leader is indeed happening in our Congregation.  See this article from Lebanon  Solidarity in Action or this video from the Philippines Buhay na Ganap -subtitles in English)

Secretary General continues ‘Every migrant is a human being with human rights. Protecting and upholding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their status, is a foundational element of the New York Declaration.’   “The motto of the dispensary in the words of the director, Antoinette Assaff, RGS in Lebanon is “Religion is for God. The dispensary is for everybody.”

Secretary General calls for a sustainable response to migration needs to address the drivers of forced and precarious movements of people. These include poverty, food insecurity, armed conflict, natural disasters, climate change and environmental degradation, poor governance, persistent inequalities and violations of economic, social, civil, political or cultural rights.’

The vision of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is of a ‘world of peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all.’  This is our vision too!

Oped_OHCHR_Al_Hussein_300x200The High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid is unrelenting in his call for human rights of all migrants and refugees. “On the occasion of International Migrants Day, 18 December, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is featuring the following stories to highlight the Office’s work to safeguard and promote the human rights of migrants and refugees. More people than ever are on the move and the challenges raised by large-scale movements of refugees and migrants fuel our call for a renewed global commitment to uphold and protect the human rights, safety and dignity of migrants and refugees.  Read more  including spotlight on human rights of migrants in wake of Calais camp eviction.

On December 10th The Human Rights Commissioner called on everyone to “Stand up for someone’s rights today”  Let us stand up for the rights of all migrants and refugees as we pray ‘come to our rescue.’

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