Last Horray for Day of the Girl!

Rima Salah, PhD, Chair of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium, Former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and myself with today’s’ Girl Activists.

           A 15 years old girl activist from Myanmar share her story. I am a Grade 9 student and studying very hard because I want to be an educated person to support my family.  In my life, the woman whom I admire most is my mother. She is a good mother to us. Although my family is poor, my mother is working very hard. Therefore, we all can study because of her endless hard-work. Sometimes, we don’t have enough food to eat in our home. In that situation, my mother always sacrifices for us. She gives all and said she’s not hungry at all. I felt very sad. I want to help my mother but she always said that it would be great help to her if I study hard. Because of this, I am studying very hard now and hoping one day, I can support my family effectively as well as my country. My mother is really a hero to me. I am gifted in drawing beautiful pictures. Thus, today, I drew a picture of my mother, sitting on the chair and guiding us.

The meaning of orange color is brightness and victorious.
The meaning of chair is to stand always and not to fall down.
The meaning of a hand is showing the right way for me.

Another girl shares: ‘When I was younger, I did not want to be a girl. But, when I came and stayed in the boarding house at (Good Shepherd Convent), the sisters teach us many courses about girls and women.  Since then, I have come to know more about the attributes of girls and women and I appreciate myself more and feel proud to be a girl. Women have strength and power not only to support others with compassion and kindness but also strength to take up leadership roles like Daw Aung Sun Su Kyi of Myanmar.   I am 16 years old and I want to be a woman who can stand on her own two feet and have the ability to help others. Don’t feel sad to be a girl because girls also have strength. Even when you face challenges, do not feel sad. Get up and stand up again!’   Happy International Day of the Girl.

We also had submissions from Malaysia. Linking a video

PLAY

This November 20th we will celebrate 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In the light of that celebration the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty October 17th is focusing on poverty in the lives of children. The theme is: “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty” The concept note explains what the day is about. It is in English and French ” Avant tout, il est impératif de reconnaître et de traiter les discriminations spécifiques vécues par les filles.”

Another experience that children endure has been outline in a UN Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty. This report was presented in the Third Committee in New York on October 8, 2019. It is in French, Spanish and Arabic. I attended an event at UNICEF that same evening to celebrate the launch and to call for action. There are a few interesting paragraphs on ‘Gender Dimensions’. See Paragraphs 35 – 38. Para 35 ‘On analysis the data show significant gender disparities in the situation of children deprived of liberty. Far more boys are deprived of liberty worldwide than girls. In the administration of justice and in the contexts of armed conflicts and national security, 94 per cent of all detained children are boys; in migration detention the figure is 67 per cent and in institutions it is 56 per cent. The number of boys and girls who live with their primary caregiver (almost exclusively mothers) in prison is similar.

In paragraph 36 the study shows a tendency of the child justice system to be more inclined to apply diversion measures to girls than boys. While approximately one third of all criminal offences worldwide committed by children are attributed to girls, only 6 per cent receive a prison sentence. There may be various reasons for this phenomenon. Most importantly, girls usually commit less violent offences and are more often accused of status offences. Girls are generally first-time offenders and more receptive to the deterrent effect of incarceration. Another explanation is the “chivalrous and paternalistic” attitude of many male judges and prosecutors in the child justice systems, who assume, according to traditional gender stereotypes, that girls are more in need of protection than boys.

Paragraph 37 highlights and interesting fact. Although most States allow convicted mothers to co-reside with their young children in prison, only eight States explicitly permit fathers to do so. Even in places where fathers as primary caregivers are allowed to co-reside with their children, there are (almost) no appropriate “father and child units” in the prisons, which means that there are practically no children co-residing in prison with their fathers.

Paragraph 38 continues… While boys are over represented in detention, girls often suffer gender-based discrimination. Research conducted for the study shows that girls are more likely to be arrested for status offences, for behaviour rather than actual criminal activity, including sexual activity, truancy and running away from home. Girls living on the streets are particularly vulnerable, as they are often arrested for prostitution. If States criminalize abortion, girls risk incarceration, even where the pregnancy is a result of rape. Girls from poor families run a higher risk of institutionalization and incarceration, as they lack access to supportive systems. In detention, girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence.

39. Almost half the world population lives in the 70 States in which existing laws criminalize conducts on the basis of sexual orientation. Children belonging to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community are more likely to be arrested and detained for status offences, in particular for sexual activity and expressions of sexual orientations and gender identities. LGBTI children are over represented in child justice facilities and health-related institutions. They are usually placed in gender-inappropriate detention facilities and are particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence.

Key findings from the study are listed in a publication on Human Rights Watch also in French. Some background information to the report can he accessed here

Performance by the Children’s Choir of Musicians for Human Rights

UN Webcast of Day of the Girl Celebration

On the Way to the Girls Speak Out!

It’s posted – the UN Webcast of the Day of the Girl Celebration October 11, 2019. Congratulations to Working Group on Girls, Girl Advocates and Girl Activists and their mentors. Hope you will enjoy it – 8th Annual Speak Out At marker 33 – 34:17 there is reference to ‘Good Shepherd Center’ in Singapore. Telling the story of a girl being too old at 17 years to be admitted to a children’s service and too young to be admitted to an adult shelter. What is she to do! Thank you Good Shepherd Singapore!

Riya, a WGG Girl Advocate reads the text.

There were really some solidarity moments on Facebook with regard to the celebration coming from Philippines, Myanmar, Honduras, Malaysia, Australia

Today, on International Day of the Girl Child, freelance writer Catherine Shepherd and Sarah Squire (@SquireSarah) of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (@GoodAdvocacy) examine the state of play for girls in Australia, drawing on research and parenting experiences. Reflecting on some key challenges for girls’ wellbeing, they outline policy levers and practical tips for raising ‘unscripted and unstoppable’ girls. Read the full article

Listen to the Girls from Honduras in Spanish
The Philippines had many supper graphic on Facebook reminding us that girls are unscripted and unstoppable!

Finally do have a look at the Plan International latest publication ‘Rewrite her Story’ The State of the World’s Girls in 2019. It is available in English, Spanish and French Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Day of the Girl – October 11 preceded by 11 Days of Action

Thank you Religious of the Good Shepherd Philippines-Japan for whom everyday is Day of the Girl
Read the story below!

“Kasi nasabi niya sa mga kapatid at mother niya na siya ay inabuso ng tatay nila.”

***
This story is part of the series we are featuring this month for the International Day of the Girl. Girls play an important part in changing our families, communities, nation, and the world. Making sure that girls enjoy their rights and are protected from harm is one of the priorities of the Religious of the Shepherd in the Philippines.

***
Ate B has been a Good Shepherd lay mission partner for 20 years. As a social worker, she handles abuse cases, mostly of teenagers. When asked about the bravest girl she has journeyed with, she thinks of Lisa* and her journey towards healing.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality

Ate B met Lisa 5 years ago. She was referred to one of Good Shepherd’s residences because she was manifesting destructive behavior. She lived a financially comfortable life and her needs were well-provided. However, she chose to hang out with her group of friends who were into vices like smoking and drinking.

With RGS, Lisa bravely journeyed through her abusive past. Her biological father sexually abused her, and she decided to keep it from her mother and siblings because she was afraid that it would cause conflict within her family. This was the reason why she didn’t like going home and preferred to stay with her friends. During her stay in the RGS, she eventually mustered the courage to tell the truth to her family.

Why did Ate B consider Lisa to be the bravest? “Sa akin siya iyong bravest kasi nasabi niya sa mga kapatid at mother niya na siya ay inabuso ng tatay nila (For me she’s the bravest because she was able to tell her siblings and mother that their father sexually abused her).”

The journey to healing didn’t come instantly for Lisa and her family. Stains from Lisa’s past abuse still surrounds their family. Trust towards her father is still an issue that they are slowly dealing with. In this case, healing has so far been a difficult journey, as Lisa was harmed by one of people who should have been protecting her.

Despite all the challenges she has faced, Liza is now a young woman, pursuing her dreams.
Ate B stressed the importance of being present as parent. In the many cases she has handled, parents are either absent, or they may be physically present but are not receptive to the needs of their children, especially teenagers.

#DayOfTheGirl
#GirlForceUnscriptedUnstoppable

“Kahit hindi ko naiintindihan si Mama, pero love ko pa rin siya, eh.”

***
This story is part of the series we are featuring this month for the International Day of the Girl. Girls play an important part in changing our families, communities, nation, and the world. Making sure that girls enjoy their rights and achieve their full potential is one of the priorities of the Religious of the Shepherd in the Philippines.

***
This is Michelle, one of Good Shepherd’s lay mission partners. She works at the Center for Overseas Workers (COW) and has been with RGS for 14 years. The COW office responds to one our priority issues: forced migration. This is the story of Tanya*, a 15 year-old girl, whom Michelle considers as one of the bravest girls she has ever met.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality

It was 2006 when Michelle met Tanya. Being a child of an overseas Filipino worker, it was never easy for Tanya. This resulted to her manifesting destructive behavior, to show that she’s not okay with her mother’s absence. She hated her mother. And, to make matters worse, she did not trust her. This damaged their relationship, to the point that Tanya even felt that her mother never loved her.

When Michelle was asked why she thought of Tanya to be brave, she attributed this to her journey of acceptance and hope. In the midst of uncertainties, Tanya often mentioned that, “Kahit hindi ko naiintindihan si Mama, pero love ko pa rin siya (Even though I don’t understand my mother, I still love her).” Tanya also believed that she could surpass all the challenges that she was facing during that time.

Healing was not an easy process for Tanya, but she eventually reconciled with her mother. Honesty through open communication helped their relationship get better.

Tanya now has her own family, and has also taken her mother in, to live with them.

***
Michelle pointed out during the interview that good communication is very important. Working with OFWs for the past 14 years has made her realize that communication is a double-edged sword. It can make or break family relationships. Thus, during the pre-departure orientation seminars that they conduct at COW, the value of effective communication with the family that the OFW will be leaving behind in the Philippines is highlighted. Open and honest communication helps families better understand the situation of their loved ones abroad.

#DayOfTheGirl
#GirlForceUnscriptedUnstoppable

READ the full story in Global Sisters Report
This is an example of Day of the Girl every day in Good Shepherd around the world

Short Video – Web of Life

Earlier this year a report was released in which it was shown that around 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. Read more here “The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” Sir Robert Watson, Chair of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES),said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.” See the animated video showing the 5 direct drivers of change in Nature with the largest relevant social impacts so far.

The Season of Creation has begun.

The Season of Creation has begun. What are you doing? See blog entry Climate Emergency. The Global Catholic Climate Movement has some good material in many languages Yesterday, Pope Francis urges the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and all people of good will to take urgent action against the injustice of climate change and the ecological crisis, to protect the poor and future generations. There is the opportunity to take a pledge in line with the vision of Laudato Si as an individual, family, community or organization. In taking the pledge you commit to i) Pray for and with creation, ii) Live more simply, iii) Advocate to protect our common home. If you, your family, community or organizations are interested visit the website ‘Live Laudato Si.

Was the Canadian Artist Mr. Claude Lafortune prophetic when he portrayed Saint Mary Euphrasia leaning over a trampled flower to bring it back to life? ” A person and creation are inalienable, one is not of more value than the other.”

Attending the 68th UN Civil Society Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah

Conference Website

The conference is focusing on building inclusive and sustainable cities – SDG 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Over the three days – August 26th to 28th – together with the official opening and closing ceremonies, a large range of activities will be taking place – thematic sessions, exhibitions and workshops. Youth have a central place during the Conference with their own outcome statement. There will be a focus on having a smaller environmental footprint, ensuring that no-one is left behind with opportunities to learn about new technologies and innovations. Did you know that some 55 per cent of our world’s population now live in urban areas, with that figure expected to rise to 68 per cent by 2050.

In August, the snows have melted. The city sits in the valley surrounded by mountains.

See the list of exhibits and the review the list of thematic sessions

Good Shepherd are hosting a workshop based on our documentary Mahila – a Women’s Movement Rising’ and an interactive dialogue on the dynamics of power in building inclusive and susainable communities among those already left behind. Taking up the triple oppression of gender, caste and economic status as outlined by Sr. Aruna in the documentary we will show snippets of the documentary showcasing economically, and politically empowered communities. Sr Cynthia Matthews, a sister of the Congregation of Jesus, a social activist and lawyer from India who has direct experience working within Dalit communities and Tribal peoples will share her experiences.

Faces and Experiences of today’s Feminism Leaders – Beijing+25 Youth Task Force

Photo UN Women

The Beijing + 25 Youth Task Force comprises 30 young leaders. The are representative of the global community and come from differing background and experiences. 7 come from Africa – Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe; 5 from Latin America -Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru; 7 from Asia Pacific – Australia, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka; 4 from Europe – Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, UK; 3 from the Middle East – Iraq, Palestine, Tunisia; 3 from North America – US, Canada, and Newfoundland.

On the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Women’s “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” campaign demands equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, health care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in political life and in decision-making in all areas of life.

Intersectionality is a characteristic of the group. In their persons and in their experiences they bring enriched perspectives to the vision that is required towards Beijing + 25 and onward to Beijing +50. Together they highlight many salient issues of concern ranging from – Human Rights and Gender Equality, LGBTIQ Rights and sexual diversity, Sexual and Reproduction Health and Rights, Rights of Adolescents, Indigenous Peoples and Migrants, and Climate Justice, while taking up specific issues including economic empowerment, cooperatives, female entrepreneurs, gender based discrimination, FGM, menstruation issues, situations in rural areas, political empowerment, addressing conflict situations and peace building, human trafficking, HIV AIDS, new masculinities, and a consciousness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). One issue that is not mentioned is ‘Early, Forced and Child Marriages’. Read more and meet the members of this Beijing+25 Youth Task Force Team.

The Working Group on Girls is thrilled to have Aasha Shaik represent Girls on the Beijing +25 Task Force (see top of page 2). If you are wondering what intersectionality means read Aasha’s short bio. Aasha will specifically elevate the voices and needs of girls globally bringing forward the marvelous achievements of the women who ensured that the ‘The Girl Child’ was part of the Beijing Platform for Action – the L Platform. Aasha will continue to elevate the voices and girls globally re-invigorating the L Platform for our times while upholding girls’ rights within the campaign ‘Generation Equality.’ 

Photo of Mary Purcell taken form Obituary

Mary Purcell was one of those women. She passed on July 28th, 2019 at the age of 92.  Mary was one of the founding co-chairs of the Working Group on Girls when it was established under UNICEF in 1994. She represented the group during the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, serving as an ardent and essential advocate for the rights of the girl-child. Her voice and work were crucial in the establishment of the L Platform of the Beijing Platform for Action, marking the first time girls’ rights were highlighted specifically at the United Nations.  Mary’s legacy as a tireless leader for girls’ rights continues today in the leadership that Aasha will bring to Beijing +25 Youth Task Force and all WGG members to Generation Equality.

The Good Shepherd Network was honored to have two youth mission partners – one from Sabah, Malaysia and one from Bogota, Colombia make application for the Beijing +25 Youth Task Force. While not selected we know that both young women are engaged in stellar ministries in their home countries – human rights education, anti- human trafficking programs, and economic empowerment. See Malaysia and Colombia