For more information visit English: UN Women Website; X: @un_women Facebook: @unwomen Instagram: @unwomen LinkedIn: @un -women TikTok: @unwomen ESPAÑOL. X: @onumujeres Facebook: @onumujeres Instagram: @onumujeres LinkedIn: @onumujeres FRANÇAIS X: @onufemmes Facebook: @onufemmes Instagram: @onufemmes
The GSIJP Office has 16 templates prepared to raise awareness of the different types of violence that is occuring across the ‘Good Shepherd World.’ Our 16 days campaign is a conbination of calling for an end to all violence against girls and women, while standing with and demaning change to facilitate the ending of violence. Watch out for for social media posts on X (Twitter), Facebook and Instagram. The global theme of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence is “Invest to prevent violence against women and girls.” Let us UNITE in demanding an end to all forms of violence against girls and women! #16DaysOfActivism#NoExcuse
The Commission on the Status of Women 67th session ended on March 18th and was immediately followed by the opening of the 68th Session. Two themes are allocated per session – a priority theme and a review theme. The priority theme for CSW 68 in 2024 is ‘Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.’ The Review theme is: ‘Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (agreed conclusions of the sixty-third session). Both themes are of special interest to us. While linking directly with our position paper on Economic Justice the topics are intersectional and crossing cutting across all six position papers. Throughout the years our advocacy at the United Nations has been strong and consistent on the implementation of rights-based social protection.
On March 23 Winifred Doherty spoke on the direct impact of corporate activities both on the ground and across their value chains, which disproportionately undermine women and girls’ human rights, in Africa primarily, and across the world. The invitation to be a panelist came from the Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network Ireland. I connected the dots from Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Good Shepherd Province NewYork/Toronto, an investor, so as to undertake advocacy with Tesla, a multinational automotive and clean energy company headquartered in Austin, Texas on behalf of the local community – children and women in Kolwezi who human rights are violated on a daily basis by the ‘Pharaoh’ of today. No one of us can do this work alone. We need to network with multiple other organizations with expertise in the area of concern e.g. Investor Advocates for Social Justice in NY. The preliminary documentary Maisha and the BBC Documentary both show conditions on the ground in Kolwezi.
It was a privilege to share the time with Sr Veronica and know of her work. You can see the other segments of the program on the website Learn more about the latest projects HERE
Another advocacy moment happened on March 28 with an invitation to be a panelist at a C20 India Working Group Human Rights as Human Values. You may well ask what is C 20 India. C20 India 2023 is one of the official Engagement Groups of the G20 that provides a platform for Civil Society Organizations (CSO) around the world to voice people’s aspirations to the world leaders in G20. It gives CSOs a forum to protect the agency of this sector, reflect the primary and common concerns affecting the people of the world, and to promote social and economic development with the vision of leaving no one behind. See more
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.
Good Shepherd were pleased to joined with 30 global and regional faith actors to create a joint communique that shows our collective commitment to achieving gender equality. You can read the full communique here As you read you can listen to the reading by various representatives. The communique is entitled ‘People of Faith are Allies to Generation Equality.’ The Action Coalitions are a new impetus to address pre-existing and structural issues and know how forms of repression are interrelated and rcognise gender injustice as an intersectional issue. We are called to work in partnership for the protection and promotion of human dignity and to achieve gender justice. Good Shepherds are no strangers to this agenda addressing – Gender Based Violence and Economic Justice and Rights – two of the 6 Action Coalitions. The communique contains ten points for UN partnership with faith-based actors ranging from recognizing the unique role of religious actors, co-developing gender just policies, partnering with us to promote feminist theologies that promote equality, and increasing funding and resources to enable strategic partnerships at all levels with religious actors.
On Monday June 28th, prior to the commencement of Generation Equality Forum, A group of faith actors hosted an event entitled ‘Looking Back to Look Forward: The Role of Religious Actors in Gender Equality since the Beijing Declaration’. The panelist included a feminist theologan Dr. Nontando Hadebe from South Africa, International Coordinator a for gender justice organization Side by Side. The event was the occasion of the launch of a report entitled “Religious Actors: Ally or Threat for achieving Gender Equality.’
Access the Report which reveals how religious actors have advanced and hindered gender equality since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995. The report provides a critical and contextualized understanding of how religion and gender politics are intertwined in all countries, high and low-income alike. The report addresses how patriarchal gender norms continue to be packaged in the language of religion because it legitimizes them. Anti-rights actors are mobilizing religious language to block or even reverse progress on gender equality. Religious language can make patriarchal practices appear divinely ordained and unchangeable. Read more
Each presenter was superb in her articulation of different perspectives. Dr. Nontando Hadebe, a feminist catholic theologian from South Africa, the last panelist, spoke of her excitment at what she was hearing from Zainah Ahwar. Gender, religion and feminist theology need to generate an alternative narrative and change the ways women appropriate patriarchical religion. Patriarchy is powerful and uses its power to normalize and naturalize gender inequality. Women in turn internalize it and see it as God’s word and how things are suppose to be. Do listen to the inspiring insights of Zainah on the need to re-claim and reframe the narrative of religion and rights and uphold equality and justice. To do this is essential. It requires capacity building with knowledge, and religious literacy which critiques gender equality and rights showing how inequality and discriminatory laws and norms are socially constructed and not divine law. So, desconstruction and resonstruction are required according to the lived realities of the 21st century.
Our position papers referency patriarchy in 3 of the papers – the girl child, trafficking and prostitution. The phrase is usually couched within other phrases – systemic injustice, structural gender inequality, targeted gender violence, and dominant systems of patriarchal power. Do we consider the church to be a patriarchal system exercising power over girls and women? We even have a recommendation “Include awareness in educational programs of the cross-sectional issues that influence prostitution: migration realities, gender discrimination, unrestrained consumerism, militarism, economic and patriarchal systems, and feminization of poverty.” Do we have the knowledge and capacity to carry out this recommendation? Another few sentences “the root causes of prostitution are tied to poverty, patriarchy, male privilege, extreme wealth, racist attitudes, militarization, ecological degradation, inadequate family support, and the demand by men for women to be available for sexual purchase. The rapid global expansion of human trafficking as a criminal industry has increased the demand for girls and women to be objects of prostitution. Likewise, lack of people-centered and rights-based migration policies increase the incidence of human trafficking and prostitution.” Without doubt we are addressing the consequences of gender inequality but are we doing this from a position of knowledge and conviction based on an updated theology of feminism that is fit for the 21st century? The term ‘human rights’ is referenced 19 times and the term ‘gender’ 17 times in the position papers? Gender is qualified with such words as inequality, violence, sensitive, discrimination, equality, outcomes, exploitation, inclusion, analysis and justice – yes gender justice!
An event I attended on the last day of Generation Equality Forum entitled ‘Advancing Gender Equality by countering the Extremist Manifesto’ was very informative. The politics of ‘anti-gender’ are rooted in extreme positions adopted by the various world religions and others who promote fear around gender and tout feminist ideologies. They are actors who are rooted in patriarchy, masculinity, and are homophobic. They put forward strategies aimed at reclaiming the gender gains that have been achieved throughout history. They seek to influence political strategy and policymakers with the ultimate goals of obstructing, criminalizing, illegalizing or limiting gender rights, sexual rights and the human rights of citizens. They are part of a larger movement that brings together groups opposed to feminism, LGBTQI rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and compreshensive sex education. The panelsists came from Afrcia, Europe and Latin America. It was noted that these are not merely local groups but international movements, well connected and with funding.
A very telling report that was referred to is “The Tip of the Iceberg” with a sub-title Religious Extremist Funders against Human Rights for Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Europe 2009 – 2018. It provides narratives and reports of the origin of funding. More. All of this brings me back to where I started – the necessity for us to have strong theological underpining for a 21 century world where girls and women’s rights are upheld to the benefit of the whole of humanity and the planet. This is urgent in our work with girls and indeed part of the transformative journey we are all on.
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.’
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.
I was invited to do this for the NGOCSW Committee one month ago – it has taken so long to get around to posting it. The reason whey it is surfacing again is that the NGO Committee on the Rights of the Child have invited me tomorrow to share the same reflection with them. The key issues addressed in CSW61 can be gleaned from this graphic on the UN Women Website and interspersed throughout the analysis of Ms. Lakshmi Puri, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women. The link is below.
Agreed Conclusion of CSW 61 is a lengthy document and can be accessed HERE in English, Spanish, French and Arabic. An understanding of the document and some key elements for Good Shepherd may be had from the analysis Here or a direct link Analysis of Agreed Conclusions of CSW61
A parallel event on Wednesday March 22nd entitled ‘Inherent Dignity, Real Choices: A Preventive Approach to Ending Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation’ celebrated women who are no longer ‘left behind’ and a woman – Marietta Latonio – who has made the differences.
This was a collaborative event with Mercy International, UNANIMA International, the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons, Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking. The event was recorded and uploaded on You Tube
Marietta Latonio, advocate, researcher, professor of social work, and monitor and evaluation officer at Good Shepherd Welcome House, Cebu in the Philippines was awarded a ‘Woman of Courage’ by Sr Jean Quinn, Executive Director of UNANIMA International in recognition of her work and dedication. It was stressed that she is a woman who gives of herself. Remember she co-researched with Angela Reed ‘I Have A Voice Trafficked women – in their own words’
We were honored to have H.E. Mrs Irene Susan B Natividad, Deputy Representative of the Mission of the Philippines Mission to the United Nations attending the event. Later in the evening we discovered that Her Excellency is a niece of Sr Mary James Wilson RGS. Small world!
Great pictures – Marietta, H.E. Mrs Irene Susan B Natividad (in the center) and Jean Quinn. Angela Reed – the moderator of the event standing in the back. The event opened and closed with a group named ‘Raging Grannies’ a socially conscious non-violent group who bring lots of fun and laughter to the cause. Lyrics to Love and Justice:
Chorus: Love and Justice be my flag I’ll live my truth what e’re will be I swear that I cannot rest till there is equality Love and Justice be my flag I’ll live my truth whatever comes so many rivers to cross till our journey’s done
More connections – one of the members of the group worked as a social worker in Good Shepherd Services NY many years ago! A central part of the event had the recorded voices of women from Welcome House, Cebu who are now empowered women through care and education.
Mariana Vanin – Programme and Communications Officer of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) (pictured above) was a panelist with Winifred Doherty. Winifred noted the similairites in approach offered at Welcome House in Cebu and at Ruhama, Dublin Ireland. The advocacy work of Ruhama was instrumental in the passing of the new sexual offense criminal bill whereby anyone who buys sex is prosecuted and women in prostitution are decriminalized. Prostitution is violence.
Back Row – Angela Reed; Cecelia O’Dwyer; Jean Quinn. Front Row – Mariana Vanin; Winifred Doherty; Marietta Latonio.
The annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 61st Session begins on March 13th and concludes Friday March 24th. The theme this year is ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.’ There is a small of library of information on the UN Women Website Preparations i) Regional CSW61 Preparatory and Consultative Meetings ii) Multi-Stakeholder Forum and iii) Expert Group Meeting
Perspectives of NGO can gleaned from 220 statements on the Official Documents page. I would like to draw your attention to Statement No 13 in all official languages of the UN – French, Spanish, English, Arabic, Russian and Chinese. This is the statement submitted by ‘Good Shepherd.’ Does it reflect your view and experiences?
When I wrote this statement I had just listened to Ms. Dambisa Moya , a global economist speak at the Second Committee of the General Assembly. Dambisa suggested six ‘headwinds’ that indicate a growing disadvantage for women and girls seeking economic empowerment. The results of the ‘headwinds’ are i) a jobless underclass; ii) continuing population growth and underinvestment in quality education; iii) reinforcement of pre-existing obstacles to girls and women including; lack of women’s access to land rights, girls’ disproportionate time in carrying water, and increasing feminization of agriculture; the green economy/green growth has not led to more equitable land and resource distribution; iv) income inequality; v) the impact of austerity measures further impoverishes women and girls; and vi) economic policies that actually widen inequalities and impact most negatively on those ‘left behind’ posing a threat to the future of the planet.
Are the girls and women that you work impacted by one or more of these headwinds? Where do human rights and dignity, gender justice, economic justice and climate justice fit in?
Women’s economic empowerment must pay attention to the plight of girls, who are the agents of change for the future. We are calling for improved nutrition, health and education for all girls. If not today’s generation of girls will continue to populate the jobless underclass, work in the informal sector, receive low wages, be landless and be vulnerable to exploitation and gender-based violence.
The accompaniment of girls an women who are furthest behind is the hallmark of our Good Shepherd Ministries. See Maisha Documentary film based on our project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Recall the #16Days16Stories project of the 16 Days to End Violence Against Women. Read I Have A Voice – Trafficked women in their own words These are ongoing projects addressing the headwinds on a daily basis.
What can you do: It is not too late to take the link to the statment and send it to your national delegation who are attending CSW 61. There are very specific asks at the end. i) Fully resource and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; ii) Urgently invest in girls’ economic empowerment; iii) Challenge and dismantle the power structure that subjugate girls and women – an example of this is the new law in Ireland decriminalizing women in prostitution but persecuting the buyer of sex. A long struggle but worth the effort. When I came to the UN in 2008 Ireland had not yet ratified the Palermo Protocol (2010) and now the Nordic Model is being implemented. (2017); iv) Implement National Floors of Social Protection (ILO Recommendation 202)
I am happy to share with you a very interesting resource created by the Justice Promoters Team of the Sisters of the Presentation, Dubuque, Iowa. It is entitled‘A Living Lent that Changes the World.’ It presents a schedule for Learning, Acting, Praying, Sharing, Planning, Giving and Advocating each week of the Advent season taking a justice issue from the Sustainable Development Goals – Starting with Goal 8.