Ending week one -‘Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality’ – HLPF 2019.

My assessment of how the global community is doing ‘Empowering the girls, women and children Good Shepherd accompany and ensuring their inclusiveness and equality’ is not too well! The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 tells the story The question asked on the front page of the report is telling. ‘We must ask ourselves if our actions today are laying the right foundation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?’ The specific set of Goals reviewed this week were SDG 4, 8, 10, 13 and 16. Some of the headlines in the SDG 4 report are: Shockingly low proficiency rates in reading and mathematics signal a global learning crisis’; ‘Early childhood education offers a head start in school, but one third of the world’s children are being left behind’; ‘Progress has stalled in reaching out-of-school children’; ‘Too many schools in sub-Saharan Africa lack the basic elements of a good quality education: trained teachers and adequate facilities’; and ‘Despite progress, 750 million adults still cannot read and write a simple statement; two thirds of those adults are women.’ See SDG 4

I attended the side event SDG 4: At the Heart of Achieving the 2030 Agenda co-sponsored by groups that have education at the heart of their mission. The panelists presented a range of examples of inclusive, quality education. It was noted that injustice is inherent in the educational system.

Sr. Nakato Betty RSCJ outlined some principles underlying quality and inclusive education and depicted the current interaction of the system of education with the student to asking a fish to climb a tree!

Mr. Brian Fitzsimons with International Presentation Association presented a project ‘iScoil Ireland’ begun in 2007 that seeks to addresses the ‘shockingly low proficiency rates in reading and mathematics’ mentioned in the SDG report through interactive, flexible, and personalized learning using technology and multiple modes of assessment leading to a recognized accreditation with 82% receiving a qualification.

Kristin Hokanson, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur presented Education for Life with Sustainable Development Goals integrated into the virtual school.

Nick Newland, Associated Country Women of the World spoke to the situation of education in conflict affected and fragile states and this should be at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. I was reminded of an article in Global Sisters Report that you may help helpful to situate your self in the reality of the camp with the Society of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.

Nick Newland addresses the issue of education in conflict affected and fragile states.

The Spotlight Report was launched on Thursday morning. This is the 4th edition of the report which seeks to track progress across the Agenda and the individual goals. The findings are that progress is seriously off track. Progress has not and will not come with accelearation or resources. Rather a major shift in policy is required with serious attention being given to the role of the public sector in line with responsibility for human rights and the public resources required to implement the goals. There is a need for strong institutions and good governance for sustainability. In the Spotlight Report there is a chapter on SDG 4 By Antonia Wulff, Education International The chapter can be accessed here It gives a very good insight into what is really happening. “In practice, numerous actors are competing for influence, particularly on defining what works in education, as so-called knowledge-based economies, grapple for growth and hunt for quick fixes in education. The SDGs are to be implemented in a political landscape where the UN system struggles to assert its relevance and values; gone are the days when UNESCO was the obvious authority in education, to which countries would turn for policy advice. This matters because agreement continues to be sought as to what the broad priorities within SDG 4 mean in practice, such as quality education or relevant learning. Governments have committed to a shared level of ambition and set of priorities but at the end of the day it is up to each government to translate them into more specific national policy.”

Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019

While numerous actors are competing for influence – the World Bank, the OECD, the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (Education Commission), and the London-based Varkey Foundation – NGO’s are at the cutting edge empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality as demonstrated at the SDG 4 event for individuals and groups within society but who notices, how counts?

I began the week on Sunday July 7th being a panelist at a Water Aid event – presenting an overview of SDG 4. My question to the participants was do we continues to advocate for our separate individual issues in relation to education or do we advocate for structural and systemic change? The Secretary General’s Report had some stark comments: “In 2016, one third of all primary schools lacked basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, affecting the education of millions of school children, but particularly girls managing menstruation.” In 2018, one fifth of the world’s youth were not in education, employment or training… There is a stark gender difference. Young women were more than twice as likely as young men to be unemployed or outside the labour force and not in education or training.” I called for collective advocacy to challenge the unethical dimensions of the financial markets, financial institutions and an unscrupulous sector. When preparing for this I had access to two excellent presentations showcasing what Good Shepherd are doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo focusing on the education of children who were engaged in child labour and in Puket, Thailand with a focus on the education of children whose parents have migrated to Thailand. These programmes demonstrate holistic rights-based education.

Protecting the Human Right to Education
#ChildrenNOTMiners

NGO’s are often not recognized, not counted, not consulted, not included. But we do what we do best, ‘upholding the dignity of every person in the face of gross inequalities, violations of human rights, and the stubborn persistence of gender based violence against the girl child, women and children.

High Level Political Forum (HLPF) July 9 – 18, 2019 is here!

High Level Political Forum July 9 -18, 2019 has just begun at the United Nations in New York today. The question is that is central to the debate is how are we doing? This year concludes the ending of the first cycle of implementation (2016 – 2019) and will culminate with a Summit in September under the auspices of the General Assembly.

Yolanda Joab Mori, youth leader from the Federated States of Micronesia, was the most impressive speaker this morning . “Today I look out to this room and I see power. I see people in a position to either make or influence the decisions and actions we need. But the world doesn’t need any more power.

What we need, if we’re ever going to come close to reaching our 2030 Goals, isn’t power, what we need now is action, and to get there we need some courage. Young people are starving to see some courage to see some courage reflected in our leaders. Leadership that has guts to take action. Leadership that is fearless enough to put people and planet above profit. Leadership that is inclusive, uplifts equality and empowers everyone, even a small island girl like me.”

“Indeed, we can call this the children’s HLPF!” Ms. Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence Against Children.

Najat explained that SDG’s 4, 8, 10 and 16 – directly affect the realization of the rights of children to the best start in life, an education of good quality and a childhood free from violence, abuse, neglect, while ensuring that no child is left behind. Najat noted that there are disturbing trends and emerging challenges that threaten the gains that have been made for children. These include climate change, long terms conflicts and more sever humanitarian disasters, increasing migration and the numbers of children on the move, discrimination, growing inequality and constraints in the availability of financial resources to provide quality services for children and the spread of terror.

The thematic review of SDG 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” will take place later in the afternoon. You can catch up by watching UN Web TV later. Simultaneously there is an event ‘SDG 4: At the Heart of the Achieving the 2030 Agenda as indicated in the flyer below. With regard to structural and systemic issues we need to ask who is profiting when school fees are paid for children to attend school in the face of the concept of universal education as a human right? Who is profiting when children are exploited in the mines? The Secretary General’s report on implementation of the SDG in paragraph 16 “The nexus among inequality, injustice, insecurity and the lack of sufficient trust in Governments and institutions can further hinder the necessary conditions for advancing sustainable development” including education. We at the global level need to advocate against structures and systems that exploit people and planet. We need a strong ethic of solidarity, embracing the logic of the common good and the common dignity of people and care for the planet. We need to advocate for ethical and moral ‘boundaries’ around unfettered economic and financial markets.

Following the HLPF at the UN is usually a 12 hour day affair. The Women Major Group will have their side event from 6.30 to 8.00 this evening addressing systemic issues from feminist perspective.

Read the Women’s Major Group Position Paper – pages 1 and 2 are the executive summary. You can read the review of SDG 4 and recommendations on pages 23-25.

Concluding reflections on CSW 63

Last week at the April Meeting of NGOCSW Jourdan Williams and myself presented a brief overview of the CSW63 Agreed Conclusion. The Agreed Conclusions are in the 6 Languages of the United Nations. See

Link to PowerPoint Presentation

Shannon Mahedy a GSV (Good Shepherd Volunteer) attended the two week of CSW 63. She wrote a reflection paper on here experiences.

Inclusive Social Protection for Women and Girls: Best Practices and Equity

Winifred focused on social protection and the girl child. “Sister Winifred Doherty, Member of Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd spoke of male privilege, saying we are a long way from the realisation of the rights of the girl child. Females of all ages face vulnerabilities no matter where they live, from birth to 18, they are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations. Doherty spoke of the low value of the girl child and the many harmful practices such as FGM and forced marriage, and how women and girls are affected disproportionately by many global challenges such as climate change, conflict and migration. She spoke of cultural/sociological/traditional norms; with patriarchy as a root cause.” quote from the article. Read the full paper here

Moderating a panel with Member States – Bangladesh and Denmark on behalf of NGOCSW, NGO Committee for Migration, and the Peace Foundation. The event was entitled ‘Gender Violence: Prevention, Protection and Social Inclusion. Ms Kalliopi Mingeirou, Chief of Policy, Ending Violence Against Women, UN Women was a panelist also. Opening remarks were made by the Honorable Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education, Bangladesh Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury MP and the keynote by Dr Abul Hossain

Reflection from Global Sisters Report April 22, 2019

The article is entitled women and earth on ‘receiving end of patriarchy’ when it comes to profit.

The author is Chris Herlinger. Recently, Chris was ‘proud to be one of 28 reporters chosen as a journalist fellow for the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture’s Spiritual Exemplar Project. We will have the money and time to travel and profile “extraordinary people whose spirituality inspires them do good in the world.” Fits in perfectly with my Global Sisters Report duties.’ Congratulations Chris. See more

Linking the Parable of the Fig Tree with the experience of the Commission on the Status of Women

A quote for Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason at closing of the Commission on the Status of Women from the Irish Poet Seamus Heaney. ‘Walk on air against your better judgement”  and from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women quoting Mary Robinson quoting Nelson Mandela on another occasion during the commission – “We are prisoners of hope” sum up some of the experience of the commission.    The Lebanon Representative quoted Simone Beauvoir ‘never forget it will be enough for one political, economic or religious crisis for women’s right to be questioned. These rights can never be taken for granted.  You must remain vigilant your whole life.’ 

I reflected on the above quotation against the backdrop of the parable on the fig tree Luke 13:6-9.  ‘…for three years I have come in search of fruit …but have found none.’  The Commission on the Status of Women has just completed its 63rd session.  See https://winifredd.wordpress.com for more reflections on the outcome. Susan Daily, an Australian Sister of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin (Loreto), an artist gave us this piece of art for Sunday’s reflection. I was struck by the color and the fruit. This reflects my vision for gender equality and the full recognition of the human rights of girls, women and children, indeed for all people to be in relationship of respect in the face of diversity and difference.

Susan Daily

There is an Ethiopian Proverb that says ‘little by little the egg walks’.  The Direction Statement of the Congregation (2015) states ‘We struggle to find a way to address global issues.  We identified the most pressing needs of today as poverty, human trafficking, migration, refugees, gender equality, violence towards women and children and religious intolerance.”   All of these issues are in one way or another part of what the two weeks of CSW and the Agreed Conclusions were about.  I/we who attended CSW on your behalf were struggling to address global issues through the framework of the Commission on the Status of Women.

March 22, Friday of the Second Week of CSW 63

It is afternoon on Friday of the 2nd week of CSW 63 and we are poised waiting to see when will we have agreed conclusion.

Some different perspectives on the two weeks from Global Sisters Report. One article is by Samantha Wirth a public policy fellow with Good Shepherd Services, New York City. Here is another viewpoint from many Sisters Congregations at the United Nations. Unlearning Eurocentrism at the UN women’s Commission by Adele McKiernan a Loretto Volunteer.

Conference Room 4 – Commission on the Status of Women: Informals (Closed) – meaning negotiations are taking place and NGOs cannot enter

The day was spend mostly at the UN from 2.30 p.m. until 11.00 p.m waiting, watching, wondering, getting updates, chatting with friends, approaching delegates as they entered and left Conference Room 4. What is the situation of the negotiations now? How many paragraphs agreed? What are the sticky areas? Will there be an outcome document? It’s hopeful! Maybe at 5.00, no not 5.00 maybe in another hour or hour and a half! Then there is movement a rush towards the door – it is approximately 6.40 p.m. Yes we have Agreed Conclusion. A sigh of relief and excitement. We NGO’s file our way in and up to the balcony to await the opening of the 14th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. There is a delay – the agreed document has to be printed and distributed before the this session starts. Groups are moving around. It is approaching 7.45 when the session starts. The session is webcast Do look at it and you will have a global view of the current situation of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The session opens – with accounts of cyber bullying and telephone bullying of the facilitator of the Agreed Conclusions Ms. Koki Muli Grignon (Deputy Permanent Representative, Kenya), Vice-Chair (African States Group). Ambassador felt scared! These tactics are an attack on the multilateral system which strives to accommodate different opinions and celebrate diversity.


Waiting, watching, wondering, and getting updates.
Chatting with friends

Objections to the agreed conclusions we expressed by some member states. By reviewing the webcast you can see what the red lines were. Some positive aspects for me – there is reference to ILO Recommendation 202 in paragraph 6, in paragraph (d) under strengthening normative, legal and policy frameworks, (f) ensure the right to social security in national legal frameworks, as well as ensure universal access to social protection, supported by national strategies, policies , action plans, and adequate resources, to enhance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Under strengthen women’s and girls’ access to social protection paragraph (gg) Work towards establishing or strengthening inclusive and gender responsive social protection systems, including floors, to ensure full access to social protection for all without discrimination of any kind and take measures to progressively achieve higher levels of protection, including facilitating the transition from informal to formal work. Other areas are highlighted (hh) to have social protection measures incorporated into humanitarian response, (jj) women’s access to pensions, and income security for older women, (ll) maternity benefits and (kk) access to social protection in countries of destination for migrant workers. The Agreed Conclusions stopped short of ‘universal child benefits’ or ‘basic income security for children’ (ILO R 202) but did elaborate a paragraph (ii) on nutrition policy. See the press release by UN Women

We have Agreed Conclusion!