The words of the UN Secretary General at a press conference following the opening of the 78th Session of the General Assembly
” My appeal to world leaders will be clear:
This is not a time for posturing or positioning.
This is not a time for indifference or indecision.
This is a time to come together for real, practical solutions.
It is time for compromise for a better tomorrow.
Politics is compromise.
Diplomacy is compromise.
Effective leadership is compromise.
If we want a future of peace and prosperity based on equity and solidarity, leaders have a special responsibility to achieve compromise in designing our common future for our common good.
Next week here in New York is the place to start.”
All you every need to know about the General Assembly and what is taking place from September 16 to 29
JCOR have prepared a very informative guide in Powerpoint to help us navigate at home and at the UN Headquarter in NY. It is available in four languages English, French,Spanish and Portuguese. Get a sense of when your national leaders are going to address the assembly on Slides 6,7 and 8. Social media with sample messenging are towards the end.
Saturday September 16: Mobilization Day: Opening Session of the SDG Action Weekend followed by ‘Towards a Rights-Centered Gender-Transformative Economy, including a new International Financial Architecture” organized by Women’s Major Group, with the suppor of UN Women. It will be live on UN Web TV from 12.00 pm – 2.00 pm. EST. This is followed by a side event at 2.15 pm. entitled from SDG Summit to Summit of the Future: building the UN we Need in Conference Room 4 and lastly at 4.15 pm EST : Towards the Realisation of SDGs: Multi-stakeholder, Intersectional and Intergenerational Approach.
Sunday September 17th: I will attend the Global People’s Assembly at the Church Center. 9.00 am EST Opening Plenary; 11.15 am Which Financial Architecture for Economic Justice; 1.30 pm Linkages of Pushback, Linkages of Resistence: Gender, Climate, Migration and Democracy and at 3.00 p.m. join the Climate March.
Monday, September 18 is the first day of the SDG Summit with a leaders dialogue taking place in the UN. From 9.00am – 11.00 am EST I will attend the second day Global People’s Assembly in a session entitled Feminist Economy. The conclusion of the day is around Civil Society Networking followed by Final Plenary and Public Action at 6.30 p.m. EST Concurrently, Religions for Peace have an event TRILATERAL PARTNERSHIP OF REGIONAL FAITH-BASED NETWORKS FOR THE SDGs: Register HERE to attend virtually. Register HERE to attend in person.
The 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 67) officially ended at 6.00 am approx on March 18th, 2023 with a successfully negotiated CSW67 Agreed Conclusion. (Advanced Unedited Version) When edited int will also be in French and Spanish. These agreed conclusions are a lengthy document (32 pages) but a significant document with regard to the theme of the session: ‘Innovation and Technological Change and Education in the Digital Era for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.’
Negotiations were long, tedious, and challenging but the outcome hails a new moment of hope to harness the possibilities held in technological advancement to usher in gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the digital era. You can gain some insight into the dynamics of the Commission in the UN TV Webcast of the 17th Session on the Commission. Engaging within the multilateral system is indeed challenging and demands endless listening and patience with the process. This CSW 67 demonstrated multilateralism at its best. It necessitates a constructive spirit throughout and always demands cooperation and collaboration in the interest of the common good. Some groups had to let go of issues important to them in furthering women’s human rights in the interest of the whole. As I watched through a glass window for a few hours I could not help but identify a spirit of patience and commitment to the process without knowing what the issue or the exchange of views under negotiations. But there appeared to be decorum and respect toward each other and the body in the process.
Reflections on the agreed consultations are slow to appear. UN Women published a press release on March 18th hailing the document as a game changer. UN Women Executive Director, Sima Bahous, said: “This year’s Agreed Conclusions are game-changing and bring forward our vision of a more equal and connected world for women and girls in all their diversity. It is our job, as we leave here today, to translate them into reality. The ultimate success of these Agreed Conclusions lies beyond their finalization today, in how we will collectively take them forward. They bring us a vision of a more equal world. Let us translate them into reality for all women and girls.”
APNews had a publication on March 18th also highlighting that ‘the “agreed conclusions” document adopted Saturday by the 45-member commission calling for equal quality education for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, information and communications technology, and digital literacy so they can thrive in the rapidly changing world.’ This strongly supports the girls’ agenda.
The agreed conclusion ‘reaffirms the 1995 Beijing platform adopted by 189 countries which said for the first time in a U.N. document, that women’s human rights include the right to control and decide “on matters relating to their sexuality, including their sexual and reproductive health, free of discrimination, coercion, and violence.” ‘ Despite the existence of and commitment to the 1995 Beijing Platform – the struggle to uphold women’s rights continues today such that the Secretary-General speaks of ‘pushing back the pushback.’ See Secretary-General’s remarks to the Women’s Civil Society Town Hall [as delivered] on March 13. Some lines that impacted me. Secretary-General said ‘many of the challenges we face today – from conflicts to climate chaos and the cost-of-living crisis – are the result of what is a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture, taking the key decisions that guide our world. … Gender-based violence online has increased exponentially. Organized campaigns target women politicians, journalists, and activists – a direct attack on women’s representation and on democracy itself.’ the Secretary-General also said ‘In the face of this patriarchal pushback, we must push forward – not just for women and girls, but for all communities and societies.’
I was alarmed and sad hearing one woman leader after another, from president to member of parliament alike witnessing to the harassment that they personally experienced while engaging in political leadership. Ireland and The Irish Consortium on Gender-Based Violence (ICGBV) hosted an event entitled GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: RISKS, OPPORTUNITIES, CHALLENGES on 06 Mar, 11:30 AM – 12:45 PM. Here is a clip of one woman parliamentarian speaking of the violence she experienced.
Global Sisters Report published their article on Friday, March 24. This is from the perspective of Catholic Sisters and their experience of CSW 67 including Winifred Doherty. The reporter Chris Herlinger quoted from the Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission “Technology has opened the door to perpetrators through a screen that exposes women, girls, and children to all types of harm, even within the home. Technology has facilitated the rapid global expansion of human trafficking as a criminal industry, which has increased the demand for women and girls as objects of exploitation, prostitution, and violence.”
Public Services International headed their piece ‘Mission Accomplished! The Struggle Continues.’ Rosa Pavanelli, Public Services International, General Secretary stated, “The Agreed Conclusions this year reflect tensions around the multilateral system. ‘We witnessed rhetoric based on the respect for universal human rights and international human rights’ law that was difficult to translate into concrete dimensions of the role the State as its fundamental actor and guarantor, while the preponderance of the private sector and the multi-stakeholder approach gained traction as dominant actors in a world at the hands of market and capital forces. There is no doubt that the digital era and the advances of science and technology challenge us to continue fighting for the commons and public goods as the only backers of equality for humanity as opposed to their for-profit use and corporate capture.’ This captures the already some of the content in our written statement to CSW 67. French and Spanish
Another interesting take on CSW 67 is from Pat Black, a member of Soroptimist International from Scotland whom I had to pleasure to meet again this year at CSW 67 in the long hours of waiting for the Agreed Conclusions. I was not as dedicated at Pat – I went home at 11.30 p.m. Read
This CSW 67 was characterized by over two hundred side events and seven hundred parallel events. We at the GSIJP Office were very proud of our parallel event entitled ‘Girls and Women Impact the Digital Revolution’ where girls from Latin America, Africa, and Asia Pacific addressed the issue with knowledge and determination. We heard of diverse experiences in accessing digital platforms both for educational and social use. We also heard about experiences of online abuse and the efforts to become empowered and create safe spaces for all girls users. Girls were strong in advocating for access, saying it is a human rights issue. Congratulations to all panelists – ‘Girls’ Rights are Human Rights.’
Following the July 4th Independence Day celebrations in America the United Nations is poised to commence the High Level Political Forum which reviews the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. For background see my blog of June 14. Registration for JCoR SDG Lab where Congregations are sharing ministries and reporting on their implementation of SDG’s is now open here: https://bit.ly/3OfUqWN
As you will see on that registration page, the schedule of Lab sessions will be as follows:
5 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 4-Quality Education (part 1 of 2)
6 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 5-Gender Equality
7 July @ 16:00:17:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 4-Quality Education (part 2 of 2)
11 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 14-Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems
12 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG `15-Healthy Terrestrial Ecosystems
13 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 17-Partnerships for the Goals
Good Shepherd are participating on July 5, SDG 4 with a global girls’ panel (India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Ecuador and Madagascar) speaking to their experiences of education, and reviewing the Voluntary National Reviews (VNT’s) of Sri Lanka and the Philippines. On July 6 Patricia Mosquera (Ecuador) is presenting on SDG 5. On July 7th Genny Dumay from the Philippines is presenting on SDG 4. On July 12th Catharina Indirastuti from Indonesia is presenting on SDG 15 and lastly on July 13th Mary Virgo Espineda from the Philippines is presenting on SDG 17. It is exciting to see such interest and engagement by the Philippines and Sri Lanka in the VNR reports from their countries.
The official website of the HLPF and official program can be easily accessed from the links provided or HERE. All the official programs are live on UN WEB TV and recording will be archived if you wish to review later. A fourth revision of the Ministerial Declaration (the outcome document of the session) has been posed – further consultations took place on June 30. You can check HERE to see the 4th revision and also you will have access to the next version of the document.
Justice Coalition of Religious (JCor) have published the following Bulletin It contains some interesting information – for the United Nations, Global and Regional updates in relevant languages according to region. Some of you already join the JCoR Global Community Hour – It is on 11 March 2022, 8:00am (EST). English-Spanish interpretation is provided – Register Here
There is some very useful information on the Commission on the Status of Women in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. This is followed by a sections on Latin America and the Caribbean;East and Southern Africa and India.
JCoR have prepared a very comprehensive overview of The Commission on the Status of Women which I encourage you to review. It is currently in English and will appear in Spanish soon.
Good Shepherd have various activities happening in the Virtual Booth hosted on the NGOCSW Forum Platform. Register for the Forum and see all that is happening. There are over 700 events hosted on the Forum. JCoR and UNANIMA have virtual booths as does Coalition Against Prostitution (CAP)
The Calendar for Good Shepherd Events is posted in the Booth but can can access it HERE to join in regional activities directly
Good Shepherd CSW 66 Parallel Event will take place on Wednesday March 16 at 8.00 am EST. Registration for the event is a must if you wish to attend. You can register directly from HERE The event will be on a zoom platform and English, French Spanish and Portuguese interpretation will be provided. We will have an engaging discussion on ‘Empowering Women at the Grassroots through Sustainable Agriculture‘ with panelist from the Good Shepherd International Foundation, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, Philippines and Brazil. REGISTER HERE. We are honoured to have the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Republic of Korea co-sponsoring this event with us. We are thrilled to have a girl climate activist from India. Well done Jasmine!
Jasmine, the girl activist from India will also feature on another panel on March 17 at 4.00 p.m. EST. The panel is an all girls’ panel – not to be missed – and the title is “My Voice Our Equal Future” Girls speak to Climate Change. Interpretation will be provided in French and Spanish and registration is essential – REGISTER HERE
All the usual processes for CSW 66 are taking place as the horrors of the war in Ukraine are unfolding before our eyes – the invasion of a country, the total disregard for life – for any life and every life accompanied with the destruction and devastation of Ukraine’s infrastructure generating millions of refugees. The response to this humanitarian crisis with its emotional, traumatic, economic and devastating toll on the peoples of Ukraine witnesses to the power of sharing, concern and humanity. It was indeed inspiring to hear the Ambassador of Poland speak of themselves as a ‘superpower of solidarity.’ In the face of such catastrophe the United Nations is held captive and the spirit that created the United Nations is being challenged by the same power that has invaded Ukraine. Quoting the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations
“WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
AND FOR THESE ENDS
to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS.”
Over the last few years I have witnessed the demise of a spirit of multilateralism at the United Nations and the stubborn persistence of patriarchal structures and systems that reinforce power and privilege over peoples, nations, women and the exigences of climate change. The Secretary General of the United Nations has referred to a recent report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” showing nearly half of humanity “living in the danger zone” and many ecosystems at the point of no return—right now. “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.” Read More. The world community continues to struggle to access vaccines to counter COVID 19. There are multiple other conflicts throughout the world oppressing people’s voices and freedom condemning people to poverty, creating an never ending line of refugees. Girls and women are often targeted in conflict situations – sexual assault, rape and vulnerability to human traffickers offering opportunities for better life and a job snaring these same girls and women into a system and structure of gender based violence within prostitution.
Today, International’s Women’s Day with the theme of ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorow‘ is at the heart of CSW 66 ‘Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.’ We have our Position Paper on Ecological Justice. On page 14, Paragraph 5 “We admit our complicity in perpetuating dualistic and domineering attitudes about the earth. We understand that reconciliation with our earth calls for a new consciousness, a new identity, and new behaviors centered on the kinship of all creation and the implementation of human rights for all. Interdependence demands inclusion of all – non-living and living, non-human and human – without discrimination.” Our Congregational Chapter 2021 Direction Statement references our commitment to the ‘Laudato Si Goals’ Response to the Cry of the Earth, Response to the Cry of the Poor, Ecological Economics, Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles, Ecological Education, Ecological Spirituality, Community Resilience and Empowerment. Read more and in multiple languages The Laudato Si Goals parallel very closely the United Nations Framework for Sustainable Development – the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with SDG 5 one Gender Equality at the heart of transformation and sustainability.
Happy International Women’s Day and Welcome to CSW 66.
A new publication entitled ‘A Good Shepherd Practitioners Understanding of Girls Rights’ Attainment – A Review of Rights Realization by Girls in Asia Pacific‘ is now available in French and Spanish. We acknowledge the work of the various provinces in Good Shepherd Asia Pacific who contributed to this report and to Australia New Zealand for facilitating the research. We are ever grateful to the translators at the GSIJP Office who ensured that we now have it in French and Spanish.
The English publication was launched on July 31, 2021. The Launch was recorded on YouTube How fascinating to have girls presenting the research and interviewing the researcher! Truly, girls are our partners-in-mission advocating for their rights at all levels. On the International Day of the Girl – October 11, Fatema the hostess of July 31st, also facilitated the ‘Girls Speak Out’ on UN Web TV modeling girls rights’ attainment.
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.
Girls have penned and published an open letter to World Leaders on the eve of the launch of the Generation Equality Fourm in Paris on Wednesday June 30. The GSIJP Office under the leadership of Alexis Schutz has facilitated girls from our organization in India and the Philippines to be part of the drafting group together with girls from Global G.L.O.W., Girl Scouts USA, Save the Children, IBVM Loretto, the The Grail, Mozambique and UN Women Girls’ Advisory Group. The letter has been translated into French and Spanish with an accompanying Tool Kit so that girls can use the letter to inform other girls and start advocacy work with their respective governments. The results of conversation circles that girls facilitated with other girls during CSW 65 is also provided and translated. The 9 page document focuses on each of the 6 Action Coalition with girls’ comments and recommendations. Our girls from the Philippines and India will be joined by girls from Madagascar and Kenya at the Forum.
The letter makes the connection between Generation Equality Forum, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and the Action Coalitions. Read the letter! Highlight for yourself what girls are saying! Tap into some amazing energy, vision, creativity and leadership for girls’ rights, gender equality and the future of our planet with girls.
Girls want a better future. Girls are the future of this world. In these videos hear girls’ voices from India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines and Malaysia raising their voices. Will World Leaders heed what girls are saying in Paris?
The annual Commission on the Status of Women 65th session started with the NGO Forum on Sunday March 14th – setting the scene. Last year because of the outbreak of COVID 19 the session was cancelled but this year all took place virtually. Planning took place throughout the year. The most exciting part of this was the development of a virtual platform by the NGOCSW Committee members in New York. This platform was enabled by ‘Pathable Virtual Event Platform.” The platform permits for multiple live zoom connection to be happening simultaneously and a feature of it is the Virtual Tradeshow Booth. The Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office, my colleague Alexis Schutz and I, explored the possibilities of having a Virtual Booth and then invited GSIF, MDO – Asia Pacific, Latin America and the NGO Regional Designates to a planning meeting at the end of January to discuss possibilities. The members of the planning committee undertook responsibility for their regions. A very rich comprehensive program was designed and multiple issued were addressed from North to South and East to West. Many were livestreamed on Facebook and others on YouTube. Many recordings have been uploaded to http://winifredd.wordpress.com and can be viewed on blog postings of March 14, 16, 23 and 27. Issues addressed were varied and included the following – Understanding the Impacts of COVID 19 on Vulnerable Australian Women; Women’s Economic Empowerment, Ending Violence against Girls and Women, including 4 session on Obstetrics Fistula, Migration issues from Latin America and Europe. My favorite was the 5-hour girls’ program from Asia Pacific – hosted by girls, moderated by girls, concerning girls’ issues and participation at all levels. How insightful and informed these girls are –truly leaders for the future coming from all countries of Asia Pacific. At the conclusion of my night vigil in New York at 6.30 am on Saturday morning (began at 1.30 am) I closed my intervention with “now dismiss your servant in peace as my eyes have seen ….” This was followed at 11.00 am with a session from Madagascar again focusing on girls and with a recording of girls giving their viewpoints and opinions.
The Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd – New York/Toronto and Ecuador prepared the Women’s Sanctuary Space for Monday March 15th with specially pre-recorded prayer reflections.
I hosted a “Let’s Talk Series” for one hour each day covering various topics from Social Protection Floors, CSW Agreed Conclusion, Ending Violence Against Women, Generation Equality Forum, Migration, Sustainable Development Goals, St Patrick’s Day. Alexis hosted Let’s Talk Girls with Patricia and Maddie who are Good Shepherd Volunteers in the New York/Toronto Province.
An entry point for Good Shepherd, Europe was on the topic of Migration when my guests were Ivanna Youtchak, Coordinator of the Euro Project, and Gabriele Spina from Catania Italy, and Director of Migration in Il Nodo, Catania and Acireale. What great work around ‘integration’ of migrants into local communities and fascinating insight into how programs adjusted and provided for the needs of migrants all during these pandemic times. A video ‘Whatever it Takes’ was specially prepared by Good Shepherd, Italy for this occasion.
Sr Mirjam Bekie, our NGO Representative in Geneva contributed a repeat session on Obsteric Fistuala, creating awareness of the problem and sharing on advocacy work in colaitions in Geneva. She also presented in the RENATE Sessions on Human Trafficking.
The issue of Human Trafficking with its multiple stakeholders and strategies was very well covered on the platform. APT/AMRI engaged in 2 sessions facilitated by Noreen O’Shea, Ireland, available on their YouTube Channel. RENATE – the European network of religious committed to work together against human trafficking and exploitation – of which Sr. Marie Helene Halligon (France) is a staunch member, facilitated 9 X 2-hour sessions over the two weeks. All Session can be viewed on their YouTube Channel
On Friday 26th the final meeting of the Commission was postponed until 5.00 p.m. and some wonder if there will be any agreed conclusion! Yes, just after 6.00 p.m the Commission resumed and there are Agreed Conclusion! Agreed Conclusions are one barometer indicating support for women’s human rights. While very welcome, they do not reflect an adequate response to the urgent call of the UN Secretary General on the opening day of CSW 65, to realize women’s rights fully, ensure equal representation, advance women’s economic inclusion, asking for funding, policies and political will to end all gender-based violence and give space to girls and young women to transition into future leadership. What could the member states be the negotiating about you might ask?
The terms gender, gender identity, women in all their diversity, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence, sexual identity, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and human rights defenders give rise to various interpretation – ranging from a human rights perspective to religious, cultural, and moral principles and objections. Concept on motherhood, maternity, paternity, family, role of family in society, gender as defined as male or female, marriage only between a man and a women are pitted against human right to self expression and ability to make choices are amoung the contentious issues. Other political issues surface – e.g invoking national sovernighty, whereby national laws, and religious laws are to be respected and upheld. Considerations that the agreed conclusion attempt to address a broad ranges of issues which were not the subject matter of the theme eg. climate change, women’s health, human trafficking, and unilateral financial trade agreement was also raised. There was reference to the Security Council Resolution 1325 being deleated from the document amid concerns about the impacts of conflict on girls and women and that there were attempt to unpick long standing commitments. See Global Sisters Report
But women and the women’s movement are undaunted and now have the opportunity to forge ahead towards the launching of the ‘Generation Equality Forum’ which will start in Mexico on Monday March 29th for three day. The action now is towards full equality, and full peace, in prosperity for all, challenging all to stand as citizens, in a shared solidarity for the future we want. To end, NGO CSW65 passed the torch to Generation Equality at a ‘Joyful Disruption Rally’ with girls and women from around the world determined to realize a new future despite the paralysis in the agreed conclusion negotiations. Read the Advanced Unedited Verson of the Agreed Conclusion
Good Shepherd Asia Pacific Website have access to all their events during NGOCSW 65 Virtual Plaform HERE They also provide links for Latin America on their Facebook Page and RIMOA are on the GSIF YouTube Channel. This is a wonderful testimony to the many and varied ministries of the Congregation.
In total live programs were facilitated on the platform for 66 hours over the two weeks. 114 identified Good Shepherd Sisters and partners were registered on the NGOCSW65 Virtual Booth and made a total of 1,696 visits to the platform. RENATE had 8 identified representatives who made a total of 150 visits. APT had 7 identified representatives who make a total of 86 visitis. There were 320 visitors to the booth of whom 114 are identified as partners, 85 unidentified and 121 familiar NGO Colleagues and other unknow NGOs. The number of visits ranged from 1 visit to 264 visits. 99 guests were one time visitors only, 30 guests vistied a second time, and 22 guests made a third visit. Administrators tended to have higher numbers of visits 92, 90, 87, 70, 60, 63, 46, 45, 42, 41, 38, 34, 33, 31, 28, 26, 22, although a few within this range were visitors to the virtual booth.
Agreed Conclusion on “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimintation of violence, for achievieng gender equality and emowernment of all women and girls” were adopted by consensus. It was quite evident from the insights gleaned from statments issued after the adoption that these were tense and difficulty negotiation. While all the negotiations were done virtually, the ususal dynamics that accompany the annual negotiations prevailed – working until 11.00 p.m. during the two weeks, and through the night on the last few days of negotiation. I am grateful that Member States stayed the course and came to consensus on the need for full and effective participation of women in decision making in public life and on eliminating violence for achieving gender equlaity.
The Executive Director of UN Women Phumzille Mlambo made a statment at the end of the session saying the the outcome document was a robust blueprint on strengthening women’s leadership and participation in public life. Read more. Having followed the session as it unflolded I found that the various country positions indiciated the red lines that are encountered in address gender equality and the ending of all violence against girls and women. While there was consensus with reservations it is quiet clear that the struggle is far from finished.
Ambassador Sautter, Germany on behalf of the EU presented its statement which was published immediately on it Website: See
Other statements generally in support came from Santiago Group, led by Chile. New Zealand spoke on behalf of the following group – Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Iceland. UK, USA, Nigeria, Mexico, Namibia, each had statements. Other countries, each speaking individually presented reservations – Saudia Arabia, Brazil, Iran, Sudan, Egypt, Lybia, Yemin, Tunisia, Nicurguia, Iraq, Holy See, Maurentinia, and Qutar. China and Russia also made statment. See Commission on the Status of Women March 27th
What are the redlines? What are the contentious issues? Well, terms, the use of terms and the understaning of terms is the trigger for discussion, controversy, and persuasion. The terms gender, gender identity, women in all their diversity, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence, sexual identity, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and human rights defenders give rise to various interpretation – ranging from a human rights perspective to religous, cultural, and moral principles and objections. Concept on motherhood, maternity, paternity, family, role of family in society, gender as defined as male or famale, marriage only between a man and a women are pitted against human right to self expression and ability to make choices.
Other political issues surface – e.g invoking national sovernighty, whereby national laws, and religious laws are to be respected and upheld. Considerations that the agreed conclusion attempt to address a broad ranges of issues which were not the subject matter of the theme eg. climate change, women’s health, human trafficking, and unilateral financial trade agreement. There was referece to the Security Council Resolution 1325 being deleated from the document amid concerns about the impacts of conflict on girls and women and that there were attempt to unpick long standing commitments. Many times is was noted that terms used in the discussion are ambigious especially around gender identity, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and sexual and reproductive health and reprocuctive rights. LGBTQI+ issues are not named and in some cases event the existence of these people has been denied. I was surprised to hear that girls and women with disabilities was a contentionus issue. Further, with regard to ‘human rights defenders’ the question was asked as to why they are a special category needing attention?
I am happy that the discussion was had yet again, and that there are agreed conclusion from CSW 65. One delegate stands out for me – the delegate from Morocco who spake about the ardous hours of virtual imprisonment experinced durng the negotiation. She invited those present to imagine the imprisionment of girls and women within violent sistuation in the real world saying we hear your voice. Then she asks two quesitons, are the agreed conclusions responsive enough, are they translformative enough? She answers with a resounding NO! It is in the spirit that the women of the world unite and set out for Mexico and the launch of part 1 of the Generation Equlaity Forum on Monday March 29 – 31st.
This all virtual CSW 65 experience is challenging – the inability to meet in person, exchange ideas, meet official delegates, and chat informally with women traditionally gatherered in NY is a certainly different. No exchanging of hugs and embraces, no coffee appointment, no walking and talking, moving from one venue to another, and no personal interaction is certainly a great loss and yet women as always are making the best of the virtual world with over 25,000 registered and participating on the NGOCSW 65 Virtual Platform which I think is a great success thanks to the dedication of the NGOCSW Committee on the Status of Women and all who work behind the scenes to make it a reality. The only signs that CSW 65 is taking place are captured in the banners on the railing outside the UN. Asking which one comes first is asking the wrong question because transformation demands that they are all realized simultaneouly!
The Secretary General of the United Nations held a Town Hall with women and girls on March 16th. A few quotes from his address ‘But we should not talk of getting “back to normal”. It has become clearer than ever that what was considered normal was often discriminatory, unjust and unsustainable.’ … ‘Around the world, we advocated with Member States to ensure that women entrepreneurs are targeted in stimulus packages; that women working in the informal economy can access social protection; that recovery packages include greater investment in the care economy.’ You can read the full text HERE
US Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the Commission on the Status of Women 65 on behalf of the USA saying that “the status of women is the status of democracy,” mentioning Eleanor Roosevelt’s who shaped the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. “When women face obstacles to obtaining quality healthcare; when women face food insecurity, when women are more likely to live in poverty, and therefore disproportionately impacted by climate change, more vulnerable to gender-based violence, and therefore disproportionately impacted by conflict, well it’s harder for women to fully participate in decision-making, which of course in turn makes it that much harder for democracies to thrive.” Olivia Dalton, a spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN noted that the Vice President Harris is the first Biden administration White House official to address the U.N.; she is the highest-ranking U.S. government official to ever address CSW; and she’s the first female U.S. vice president to ever address the U.N.
During the first week there were 4 ministerial roundatbables and 4 interactive dialougues. Background notes, biographies of speakers and the recordinding can be accessed HERE. The General Discussion resumed on Friday 19th and continues in the second week. Member States address the Commission Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here A list of speakers can be accessed at the top on the page on UN Women’s CSW 65 Page
While the formal program continues virtually within the United Nations the NGO community are hosting multiple parallel events on the NGOCSW 65 Virtual Forum Platform Good Shepherd around the world are presenting a very comprehensive program of the various activities from east to west and north to south. The program schedule can reviewed and many of the events have been recorded either on Facebook or Youtube. I was so happy to have the Contemplative Sisters engaged in designing the Women’s Sanctuary Space on Monday March 15th. It has been recorded on Facebook The videos ‘Glow Within Us All’ and ‘The Call to Belong.’
Some of the Asia Pacific Presentation
Presentation from Africa – Anglola
Fundación Internacional del Buen Pastor América Latina – Congregación de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Buen Pastor – Región América Latina. Bolivia-Chile,…