Good Shepherd Statement

The 2013 Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will take place in Geneva during the month of July.  The theme is

More information is available here.   Good Shepherd Statement to the ECOSOC Session has just been published.

E/2013/NGO/19  Posted: 17 Jun 2013 06:30 AM PDT

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“…the dissemination of developments in science and technology has insufficiently responded to women’s needs.  The persistent feminization of poverty, gender-based violence and lack of access to health, education, training and employment, reinforced by legal, economic, social and cultural barriers, render void the desires of the Commission”

Good Shepherd Written Statement for the 2013 ECOSOC High Level Segment 1 – 5 July at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The High Level Segment will include sessions on the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR). The theme for the AMR segment this year will focus on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”.

This is a unique opportunity for organizations in consultative status with ECOSOC – and for civil society at large – to be heard at ECOSOC deliberations, as well as to contribute to issues of critical concern to the global development agenda. It will also provide a platform to specifically address the topic of scientific and technological innovation, which is a crucial cross-cutting theme for the achievement of the MDGs.

Here is a copy of what we have submitted entitled ‘Social Protection Floors, Gender Equality and Development’

The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, an NGO present in more than 70 countries addresses the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR)  on behalf of girls and women living in extreme poverty.    The theme of the AMR segment brings to mind the Agreed Conclusion of Commission on the Status of Women 55th session, (2008) paragraph 9, outlining how access of girls and women to participation in science and technology is imperative for achieving gender equality and is an economic necessity leading to the full participation of girls and women in social, economic and political development.  The same Commission noted and this continues to be the experience of our organization that dissemination of developments in science and technology has insufficiently responded to women’s needs.   The persistent feminization of poverty, gender based violence and lack of access to health, education, training and employment reinforced by legal, economic, social and cultural barriers renders void the desires of the Commission.

Much has been reflected on, written up and recommended for implementation but the political will toward adapting innovative ways is lacking and thwarted by the demands of an economic model that prioritizes profit over development.  Cultures carry meaning and unless challenged are the drivers of inequalities and violence – gender inequalities, poverty/wealth inequalities and gender based violence and their resultant consequences.   Cultural mindsets reinforcing gender inequality and profits ‘at all cost’ have perpetuated all sorts of human rights violations and exploitative actions against women and girls, sexually, economically, educationally and politically.

The AMR, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the articulation of a post 2015 development agenda offer new possibilities.  We are on the brink of moving to a new paradigm coupling a human rights based approach with equality.  The Millennium Development Goals did not have a human rights framework nor a gender based violence prevention component.   The dominant economic model has failed to eradicate poverty and has only facilitated growing inequalities.  Poverty reduction, access to quality education, health, water and sanitation, equality between women and men, girls and boys  and the elimination of gender based violence must be addressed.  Science, technology and innovation have much to offer. We are aware of how mobile technology boost health care in Bangladesh and in our programs mobile technology is used to combat violence against women and girls.

One very promising approach which has growing support among member states and non-governmental organization alike is the implementation of nationally tailored social protection floors in accordance with Recommendation 202 of the International Labour Organization.  Our organization advocates for human rights-based social protection floors having a gender sensitive lens, and providing access to essential services and basic income financed from within national budgets.  Human rights are a non negotiable element and more than principles and metrics.  We urge member states to put science, technology and innovation at the service of girls’ and women’s dignity and empowerment through implementation of social protection floors towards sustainable development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.


Acknowledgement of Submission

June 9, 2010

Dear NGO Representative,

Thank you for your interest in contributing to the 2010 High Level Segment  of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The NGO Branch of the  United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs is pleased to  inform you that your written statement was accepted for distribution to all participants of the ECOSOC High Level Segment this year.

 The NGO Branch congratulates you on your organization’s continuous efforts to contribute to the work of the ECOSOC.

On line Submisison for the High Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Vision, Investment, Implementation  –   Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women 

The persistence of gender inequality is the greatest contributing factor to girls and women’s disempowerment as is witnessed in the ‘feminization of poverty’, the increasing feminization of migration and increased trafficking of girls and women.     Resolution E/CN.6/2010/L.5 adopted at the end of the Commission of the Status of Women, Fifty fourth Session ‘expressed deep concern ‘about the increasing feminization of poverty’ and that ‘women’s economic empowerment is constrained by gender inequalities and disparities in economic power sharing…’ [1]   Further  noted was ‘the growing body of evidence demonstrating that investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth and that increasing women’s economic empowerment is central to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals including to the eradication of poverty.’[2]

What is stifling our action if we recognize the negative reality before us and have some awareness of the solution?  Could it be that we have lost sight of the higher ideals set out in the Millennium Declaration ‘to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.” [3]

We suggest that addressing the evidence of girls and women’s disempowerment solely through the lens of economics is actually losing sight of the higher ideals of gender equality.  What is demanded is a vision of the transformation of social relations and in this transformation the norms of equality and social solidarity will prevail. 

As long as girls and women continue to live in a world where they are oppressed in cultures based on power, male privilege, male dominance and patriarchy, there will be a continual erosion of human rights and the perpetuation of gender discrimination and inequality expressed in increasing levels of poverty, gender based violence, and human trafficking.   Gender equality and equitable power relations must be experienced by all persons – both women and men for change to occur.  The human rights of each person as called for in the UN Charter must be respected.   When this happens the political will to allocate resources becomes imperative.   Concrete actions must be taken to bring about this transformation.  

  • Implement coherent human rights based national policies that explicitly denounce gender inequality and its perpetuation as a violation of girl’s and women’s human rights.
  • Strengthen community educational programs that address gender inequality, patriarchy  and male privilege and have zero tolerance for any form of gender discrimination
  • Enforce  existing laws relating to gender based violence – domestic violence, discrimination, sexual exploitation, prostitution and human trafficking  
  • Adopt a holistic approach to women’s empowerment that links social policies and economics, informal and formal economies as well as unpaid and paid work. 
  • Continue to invest in girls and women through social expenditure in education and health.
  • Finance immediately and implement the Millennium Development Goals in every country without exception.    


[1] E/CN.6/2010/L.5   page 2

[2] E/CN.6/2010/L.5   page 2

[3] UN Millennium Declaration  No 20

E-Discussion on Women and Poverty

29th Congregational Chapter Direction Statement   ‘We work zealously with women and children, especially those who are ….oppressed by abject poverty.  We support projects for economic justice, confront unjust systems…”

Here is an opportunity for you to express your views based on your vast experience of working with women living in abject poverty.  In doing so you are influencing policy and confronting unjust structures. 

From 11 January to 12 February 2010 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) will jointly organize an e-discussion on Women and Poverty. The e-discussion aims to provide critical policy messages and an action agenda to the Commission on the Status of Women’s 15 year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1 to 12 March 2010); ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (28 June – 3 July 2010); and the High-level Plenary Meeting of the sixty-fifth session of the UN General Assembly, focused on the Millennium Development Goals (September 2010).  Go to this website, scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up for the discussion.  In replying in the box Organization please enter Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd.   This is our organizational name at the United Nations.   

Here is a quote from the facilitators note:  “Please help us bring new thinking and new ideas to the policy debate about poverty reduction, gender equality and women’s empowerment, drawing on experience with implementing the Bejing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals. Share your innovative ideas, research and good practice examples with policy-makers, researchers, and practitioners around the world, and help make a difference in the fight for gender equality and eradication of poverty.”