Continuing to reflect on the Commission for Social Development

Reading from Mark Gospel 8:1-8 on Saturday February 10, I was struck by the feeding of the people and was reminded of words quoted by the Chair of the Commission María del Carmen Squeff of Argentina ‘we need to be kind when thinking of each others’ suffering’. Response to suffering is not a platform but an action. These phrases echo Jesus’ words ‘I feel sorry for all these people, they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get these people enough bread to eat in a deserted place.’ Ched Myres (“Binding the Strong Man: a Political reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus”) notes that the response of the disciples was one of despair in the wilderness. There were outside of the dominant social order and it’s markets. How can one find resources to feed the hungry? I felt myself pulled into the suffering of people experiencing increased hunger and malnutrition throughout the world because of ‘desert like conditions’ due to COVID pandemic, climate change, displacement, ongoing conflict, mining, deforestation, some traveling distances to leave behind oppression and extreme poverty as migrants and refugees vulnerable to being trafficked.

Often we (you and I) feel desperation in attempting to make a response in the midst of these situations. People are being exploited by today’s markets, with patents, profits and monopolies ruling to the exclusion of people and care of the planet. In the midst of the situation Jesus asks ‘How many loaves have you?’ Immediately my mind jumped back to our Chapter and a morning prayer reflection which challenged us ‘FEED THEM YOURSELVES’ inviting us to a mindset of abundance which can be contrasted with a mindset of scarcity. Resources are within and among us. We have the 7 loaves. These loaves symbolize resources, good stewardship, co-responsibility, capacities and a culture of justice. As I continue to reflect I realize more and more that the policy issues pursued by the GSIJP Office are from a mindset of abundance – national floors of social protection, inclusion of all, gender justice, ending all forms of exploitation, climate justice, sustainable livelihoods, food and decent work – in collaboration with like-minded NGO’s and the ‘Gospel Space’ within the United Nations, the Commission for Social Development in this case.

Ched Myres comments that in the organizing of the people there is a superabundant result. “FEED THEM YOURSELVES’ is possible through the organization of the people. Everyone shares their resources, all the people are listened to and empowered to act for change. There is an upholding of human dignity, recognizing each person’s inalienable human rights, encouraging participation, voice and action. There is one paragraph in the Resolution from the Commission on the priority theme Paragraph 25 Encourages Member States to facilitate the meaningful participation and empowerment of those in vulnerable situations, including those living in poverty, in the design, implementation and monitoring of COVID -19 recovery plans.” The feeding of the people includes building peoples’ self-esteem, unleashing the capacity of the people themselves to bring about the change that is required. We declare that our programmes have moved from a ‘charity model’ to a ‘right-based’ approach. How open are we to engaging the participants themselves in the design, implementation and monitoring of our multiple projects and programmes? We have good practice from our experiences with girls for the Day of the Girl activities.

February 20 was Social Justice Day – “Change means more than charity and occasional service. Two
strands of practice must intersect in us to establish justice for permanent change. First and obviously, we have to create relationships, institutions and communities ruled by just practices. Second, and perhaps equally obvious, we need to change ourselves” from Just Prayer: A Book of Hours for Peacemakers and Justice Seekers.

The resulting resolution recommended that the Economic and Social Council urge Member States to address multiple causes of poverty, hunger and inequality by creating decent work, improving coherence between social protection, food security and nutrition policies, and prioritizing investment in early childhood education, nutrition and care to break intergenerational poverty. “Sustainable agricultural production, food security, food safety and nutrition are key elements for the eradication of poverty in all its forms,” the Commission emphasized through the text.

The priority theme of the sixty-first session is “Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. In the tradition of the Commissions at the UN one closes and the following one is immediately opened.

Commission for Social Development – just completed – February 7 – 16, 2022

The Commission has been in session since February 7 exploring the theme “Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.” Some concepts stand out – sustainable livelihoods, well-being, dignity, eradicating poverty and hunger. The GSIJP Office has been engaging with the theme since late July 2021 when I attended the Expert Group Meeting. Alexis Schutz prepared our written statement to the Commission SEE reflecting on the global situation, focusing on solutions and making recommendations. Throughout the year we were engaging with the NGO Committee for Social Development and contributed to the Civil Society Declaration with it’s 10 calls to action linked with the theme. This Declaration has been signed and supported by several Good Shepherd Representative in various countries and programs throughout the world. It was Ernestine Lalao, NGO Designate in Madagascar who mobilized in Africa for a webinar on the Commission and the Civil Society Declaration.

The Chair of the Commission H.E. Ms. María del Carmen Squeff of Argentina has been firm in her challenge to the Commission asking time and again to hear about practical solutions to ending poverty, and hunger, utilizing decent work grounded in dignity of each person. The Vice Chair Mr. Stefano Guerra of Portugal asked for concrete examples that are being implemented and effective at the Multi-Stakeholders Forum Panel on Thursday morning. Concept Note

The Commission together with NGO’ call for a new ‘Social Summit’ and a ‘New Social Contract’. You might well be asking what do these terms mean? The first Social Summit was held in Copenhagen in 1995, the same year that the 4th World Conference on Women took place in Beijing. The Declarations are visionary and principled, accompanied with concrete action towards implementation and realization. In the intervening 27 years the vision and dream remain largely unfulfilled for most of the world’s population. While there had been significant progress in eradicating poverty prior to the pandemic but today the number of people living in extreme poverty are as high as they were in the 90’s. The roll out of social protection programmes during the pandemic proved to be effective. They show and demonstrate that access to social protection – a government provision for all the people – was indeed helpful. Today, there are fears of a return to austerity measures while some few people, companies, and corporations amass huge and unseemly profits in a time of immense global suffering. This is further evidenced in the lack of political will to roll

The social contract of the 20th century was an attempt to equalize relations between capital and labour and aimed to institutionalize social rights for citizens largely in industrialized countries grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The contract started to fail in the 1970s with the development of neoliberal policies and globalization. A new report of the UN Secretary General “Our Common Agenda” references and elaborates both the New Social Contract and the Social Summit. The social contract envisions a new global deal to deliver global public good. An UNRISD publication explains more about the ‘New Eco-Social Contract”. The Social Summit is proposed for 2025, 30 years after Copenhagen – a global deliberation as it were to live up to the values, including trust and listening that are the basis of a social contract. Gender equality, care of the planet, the roll out of social protection floors, and full implementation of the 2030 agenda are front and center in the social contract. The mobilization of people to engage in both processes are critical to success. Juan Somavida, Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee in the lead up to the first World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen in 1995 says that the process of the ‘New Social Summit’ is as important, if not more important, than the outcome.

On Thursday February 10 I was able to ask a question at the Multi-Stakeholder Forum “How ensure ethical and rights based approaches to honour people’s dignity and implement human rights – Listen or Read

On Tuesday 15 Alexis delivered our oral statement to the Commission during the general discussion.

Alexis was asked to send a video recording which was played during the session. Read the text.

We prepared a written Statement to the Commission

The commission ended on Wednesday 16 with the adoption of a resolution by consensus on the priority theme “Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.” We as NGO’s are happy to read Para 25 “Encourage Member States to facilitate the meaningful participation and empowerment of those in vulnerable situations, including those living in poverty, in the design, implementation and monitoring of COVID-19 recovery plans.” While the resolution was adopted by consensus, there are a few sentences that led some Member States to state their opinions and concerns e.g Para 26 “…empowering all people and facilitating the social inclusion and participation of those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination;” or “…especially for women and girls who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence…” The 3rd pillar of the Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for Action – the first Social Summit elaborates ‘Social Inclusion’ together with Poverty Eradication and Full Employment and Decent Work. Despite the intervening years we are still struggling with ‘discrimination’ against certain groups of people including women and girls. Indeed it is the challenge for all of us – how cultivate a mindset of inclusion of every person.

Commission for Social Development February 10 – 19, 2020

The annual Commission for Social Development will take place from February 10 – 19, 2020 in New York. This is the 58th session and marks 25 years since the Social Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in 1995. The outcome of the Social Summit was contained in a document entitled ‘The Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for Action’ In brief it contained 3 Pillars – (i) Poverty Eradication, (ii) Full Employment and Decent Work, (iii) Social Inclusion, 10 Commitments, and put PEOPLE at the center of development. The Priority theme this year is Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness.

The Secretary General has prepared a report on the theme – English, French, Spanish, Arabic It is 19 pages. There are some interesting point of information. Recent trends show that housing has become the single largest household expenditure and has become less affordable (paragraph 7) and the younger generation (20 – 34 years old) are facing increasing difficulties in becoming homeowners. Homelessness is a global problem in developing and developed countries. There is an interesting section on Drivers of Homelessness as a structural issue; (Paragraphs 16 – 24) The reports notes that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children under personal and family circumstances. Is domestic violence, divorce, separation, and abandonment a personal and family circumstance or a structural issues? Two global issues today causing homelessness are climate change and conflict.

Strategies to address homelessness are two fold: – provide affordable housing (paragraphs 33 – 48) and social protection (paragraphs 49 – 53). The Commission for Social Development focuses on specific social groups and thus there are suggested policies to address challenges faced by these specific groups – family, persons with disabilities, youth, older persons, and indigenous peoples. The reports concludes with some recommendations paragraph 72 (a) to (h)

Opportunities to engage with the Commission for Social Development are through written statements, oral statements and in Side Events. The Good Shepherd written statement to the Commission has just been published on the Commissions’s Website. (French; Spanish.) Some structural issues, raised in the SG’s report are elaborated in the statement – commodification of housing and the financialization of housing projects promoted by financial institutions in the name of public-private partnerships. These are antithetical to the provision of affordable housing.

This graphic from OXFAM illustrates the structural and systemic issues confronting us – growing inequality, commodification even of people, financialization of public good and services

“When confronted by such realities, we are decidedly on the side of people and planet, particularly those who live the experience of multi-dimensional poverty, lack access to social protection and social services, and are excluded from financial services, yet show resilience in the face of homelessness and marginalization. Our ministries are undertaken in the context of upholding and addressing the human rights of girls, women and children in the absence of policy and/or public goods and services to ensure their most basic needs and inclusion. Through innovative learning and new approaches, global advocacy on social protection floors, capacity building, education and empowerment, Good Shepherd ministries on the ground seek to implement services and programmes including financial inclusion, and empowerment in the context of family and local community. ” The statement was supported by the following organizations.

In writing the statement we referenced the work of Good Shepherd Microfinance, Australia. The Financial Action Plan report of June 2019 noted that safe and secure housing is a key factor influencing positive social outcomes. Sharing two life experiences – one from Honduras and one from India – illustrate what financial resilience looks like, and feels like. (Bottom of page 2 and top of page 3). Addressing multidimensional poverty and social inclusion is not about people aspiring for a place in the global financial markets or seeking ‘handouts’, but women and families seeking sufficiency, well-being and security in the face of global processes that exploit through advertising, marketing, the undercutting of wages, the continuance of the gender pay gap and lack of recognition of women’s unpaid care work. Affordable housing and social protections systems for all in collaboration with local initiatives can only strengthen human dignity and human well-being to create as outlined in Commitment 1 of the World Summit for Social Development, “an economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment that will enable people to achieve social development.”

Read more about the Commission for Social Development . Join the social media campaign from now until February 19 – retweet, share, like and comment on the content concerning homelessness. Facebook and Twitter #csocd58 #endhomelessness #SDG’s #LeaveNoOnebehind #Solidarity #TogetherStronger

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

A New Cycle of Functional Commissions at the United Nations will begin in 2019

CSoc D

The 57th Session of the Commission for Social Development will be held in New York from 11 – 21 February 2019.   The priority theme for the session is ‘Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.’ Among the ways of taking part in the commission are the following – attending the session, preparing a written statement, delivering an oral statement, engaging in side events/parallel events and joining the discussion wherever it is happening.   We have prepared a  written statement which is now on the Commissions website in  Spanish, French, and  English

‘En nuestra experiencia, como organización que trabaja a nivel comunitario, las políticas de protección social y las políticas que garantizan un salario mínimo vital a todos los trabajadores son fundamentales para reducir la pobreza, lograr la igualdad entre los géneros y promover el trabajo decente y la inclusión social.’

‘D’après l’expérience acquise dans le cadre des travaux que l’organisation mène au niveau local, les politiques qui assurent à tous les travailleurs une protection sociale et un salaire minimum vital sont fondamentales pour réduire la pauvreté, atteindre l’égalité des sexes et promouvoir l’emploi décent et l’inclusion sociale.’

‘In our experience, as an organization working at the grassroots level, social protection policies and policies that ensure a living wage for all workers are fundamental to reducing poverty, achieving gender equality, and promoting decent work and social inclusion.’ 

Opp for NGO's

Sign up for NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC to express interest in delivering an oral statement during the general discussion will be open online from 7 January to 24 January 2019.  What points do you suggest we make at that time?   Write your suggestion in the comment box and we will use them.

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.

cecilie-csocd

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.

vincentians

water-event

crowdsourcing-2

Side events where I have been a panelist:

winifred-d

 

february-9

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

ngocsocd-2

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

Like us on Facebook – GSIJP     Follow us on Twitter gsijp

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.”

Interesting Articles Featuring Winifred at the UN

IMG_1549.jpgJeanette Mc Dermott, Communications, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Province of the Mid North, USA recently spent two weeks in New York following the work of Winifred Doherty as the NGO representative on behalf of the Congregation.  Read her article in  Items of Interest-March 2016

Catholic Ireland featured an article on Sisters speak out against trafficking at the UN

Aine, Angela and Me Fein 2

 Aine, Angela and Winifred

A third article related to this time period is a summary of the side event Maisha – A New Life outside the Mines which was held durn the Commission for Social Development on February 4, 2016. Report on Side Event Feb 4 2016

A quote from the Universal Declaration on Human Rights – Article 25 on the right of everyone to a standard of living adequate for health and well being – linking with the rights to Social Protection for everyone.

IMG_1696