What a festival of GIRL voices since October 1 to October 11. The theme in Good Shepherd Asia Pacific ‘My Voice=Our Future” The theme with Working Group on Girls Speak Out hosted on the Day of the Girl Summit page was #EquityForGirls #BeBold. The Girls Speak Out premiered 6 times in different languages and in different time zones – a global celebration. You can access all the information HERE . English Version There is a delay of 18 minutes. The link was live for 18 minutes before the program started. Towards the end at 1.09 you will see the winning song from Good Shepherd Asia Pacific – Sri Lanka featured. It fades with the music in the background and then comes on again. The title of the Song ‘We break the Silence.’
For Good Shepherd the highlight was the Good Shepherd Asia Pacific Forum which was livestreamed on YouTube. After the introduction you can see another rendering of the our Song ‘We Break the Silence.’
An Asia Pacific Video was also produced and launched on October 11. Link Do enjoy it. It has the theme song and video launched for the celebration. There is a lovely song toward the end ‘We are the future of this world’
And the work continues today with the launch of guidelines for internet / social media usage over the next few weeks
Friday, September 4, 2020 marked the opening of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China exactly 25 years ago. “The Beijing Platform for Action imagined a world where every woman and girl can exercise her freedoms and choices, and realize her rights, such as to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal pay for work of equal value. As a defining framework for change, the Platform for Action made comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern.” Read more
Some Good Shepherd Sisters within Asia Pacific attended that historic conference – India, Philippines and Australia. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, document issuing from the conference has informed Good Shepherd Position Papers and ministries.
Then First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered what would be considered as one of the most influential speeches in the women’s rights movement at the United Nation’s 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session on September 5, 1995 in Beijing, China Read more
In 25 years no country has achieved gender equality. During the COVID 19 pandemic, life for women has worsened with increases in violence and in many situations care of the children and home schooling falls to the mother. On Monday 31st of August the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres held a town hall meeting together with UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. He said and I quote “At a time of growing nationalism and populism, the forces ranged against global solidarity can seem overwhelming. But if we are to meet today’s global challenges, from the climate crisis to growing inequality and the digital divide, we must join together, rejecting sexist and ageist stereotypes that prevent women – and men – from realizing our full humanity.” Read the full statement.
Linda Wong, Soroptomist International Advocacy Advisor wrote an interesting piece, giving an overview of the the Secretary Generals’ Town Hall with women. A recording of the session can be had HERE
A NEW REPORT: 17 pages ‘From Insight to Action: Gender Equality in the Wake of COVID-19’ published by UN Women in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme – UNDP highlights projections on poverty by sex and age in a post-pandemic world. The pandemic has widened gender and economic inequalities and without gender-responsive policies the crisis risks derailing hard won gains. (Page 3). COVID 19 has pummelled feminized labour sectors; (Page 6) will push million more into extreme poverty; (Page 8) gaps on basic services magnify care burdens; (Page 10) for many women and girls home is not a safe space (Page 12) and page 16 states clearly we have the tool to address the crisis. So, why is the global community not taking action?
Good Shepherd International’s Foundation – Cristina Duranti is a panelist at a webinar on Monday morning July 13 2020 from 1:30 –3:00 pm CEST entitled “Putting an end to greed: The interaction between respect for human rights and the protection of nature. Cristina will focus on the project in the DRC.
The following two events are within the HLPF Program – Tuesday morning July 14 at 8.00 am and Wednesday July 15 at 1.00 p.m. Registration is required.
If you have been following social media over the few week you may have seen graphics and references to Generation Equality.
Generation Equality is the name of a process that will strive to give new impetus and a final push towards full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This was a ground-breaking vision and framework for Gender Equality, that came from the 4th World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. It is quoted many times in our postion papers. The subtitle for Generation Equality is ‘Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future.’ Generation Equality Forum will be a global public conversation demanding urgent action and accountability for gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women. Generation Equality will celebrate the power of women’s rights activism, feminist solidarity and youth leadership to achieve transformative change. It is a global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-chaired by France and Mexico, with the leadership and partnership of civil society. The Forum will kick-off in Mexico City, Mexico, on 7-8 May 2020 and culminate in Paris, France, on 7-10 July 2020. A website for Generation Equality Forum is coming soon!
Here are two Powerpoints that will help explain the the process – Civil Society Deck and UN Women’s Gender Equality Deck They are easy to follow and may help you to understand the process. It is partly within the United Nations with the Commission on the Status of Women and partly outside the United Nations with the meetings in Mexico and Paris
The Commission on the Status of Women, 64th Session (CSW64) will take place from March 9 – 20, 2020 in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. The CSW will review how the 12 Critical areas have been implemented. These findings will flow into the Forum in Mexico and Paris, culminating in a High Level Event on the opening of the General Assembly, 75th Session in September 2020.
Already two of the United Nations Regional Commissions have had their meetings, one in the Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva, October 29th and 30th which was preceded by a Civil Society Day on Monday October 28th. Mirjam Beike, our representative in Geneva attended the three days. The UN ECE website has posted an article covering the meetings on the 29th and 30th.
Gertrude Mongella , from Tanzania, a leading advocate for women’s empowerment and rights was Secretary General of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995. Gertrude attended the session in Addis Ababa where Donatus had the privilege of meeting her and having her photograph. Donatus’s participation in the conference was made possible by FEMNET – The African Women’s Development and Communication Network.
The global conversation on girls and women is centered around 6 themes which seek to bring together the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform. It is hoped that this will stimulate new intersectional thinking on how all issues are interrelated and connected one to another. The 6 cross cutting themes are: (i) Inclusive development, shared prosperity and decent work; (ii) Poverty Eradication, social protection and social services; (iii) Freedom from violence, stigma and stereotypes; (iv) Participation, accountability and gender-responsive institutions; (v) Peaceful and inclusive societies and (vi) Environmental conservation, protection and rehabilitation. Discussion on these themes has started at the regional level and will be part of the CSW 64 discussion. It is hoped to generate an Action Coalitions on some agreed topics which will be decided in Mexico and celebrated in Paris. You can get a overview of how the discussion went in this document It is divided into the 6 themes and covers the 12 critical areas from the African perspective.
The planned regional conference in Latin America and the Caribbean had to be cancelled due to political unrest in Chile. It has been rescheduled for the end of January 2020. Erika Sanchez had done an amount of preparation towards attending and 6 sisters and mission partners were registered. Unfortunately, Erika will not be able to attend in January due to other commitments. The conference for UN ESCWA in Beirut has been re-located to Amman, Jordan, again, because of political tensions in the region. It will take place on November 28th. See the Agenda On the same weekend, November 27 – 29 the regional conference for Asia Pacific will take place in Bangkok. See Website for information.
2020 is a year of anniversaries for the United Nations. The Beijing Conference is only one of them celebrating 25 years. The United Nations is celebrating its 75th birthday amid a lot of tension including some fractures of multilaterialism. On November 20, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is celebrating 30 years. Only a few weeks ago the historic Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security celebrated 20 years. It was first adopted on October 2020. The Resolution addressed the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women; recognized the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and peace-building. It also stressed the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.
2020, is also the 75th anniversary of the Commission for Social Development and the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. 2020 is a crucial year for the accelerated realization of inclusive societies and reducing inequalities everywhere for people of all ages. UN Women celebrates its 10th anniversary and the Sustainable Development Goals are 5 years into being realized. All the various agenda overlap and yet inching our way towards realization continues to be a felt struggle especially for girls and women on all levels. Gender Equality, Women’s Human Rights, Women’s participation remain unrealized. The catch phrase of UNICEF for the 30 years anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is ‘For Every Child Every Right’. If this happened maybe we would be on the way to say ‘For Every Girl Every Right’ and that ‘For Every Woman Every Right’ would be a reality.
A 15 years old girl activist from Myanmar share her story. I am a Grade 9 student and studying very hard because I want to be an educated person to support my family. In my life, the woman whom I admire most is my mother. She is a good mother to us. Although my family is poor, my mother is working very hard. Therefore, we all can study because of her endless hard-work. Sometimes, we don’t have enough food to eat in our home. In that situation, my mother always sacrifices for us. She gives all and said she’s not hungry at all. I felt very sad. I want to help my mother but she always said that it would be great help to her if I study hard. Because of this, I am studying very hard now and hoping one day, I can support my family effectively as well as my country. My mother is really a hero to me. I am gifted in drawing beautiful pictures. Thus, today, I drew a picture of my mother, sitting on the chair and guiding us.
Another girl shares: ‘When I was younger, I did not want to be a girl. But, when I came and stayed in the boarding house at (Good Shepherd Convent), the sisters teach us many courses about girls and women. Since then, I have come to know more about the attributes of girls and women and I appreciate myself more and feel proud to be a girl. Women have strength and power not only to support others with compassion and kindness but also strength to take up leadership roles like Daw Aung Sun Su Kyi of Myanmar. I am 16 years old and I want to be a woman who can stand on her own two feet and have the ability to help others. Don’t feel sad to be a girl because girls also have strength. Even when you face challenges, do not feel sad. Get up and stand up again!’ Happy International Day of the Girl.
We also had submissions from Malaysia. Linking a video
This November 20th we will celebrate 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In the light of that celebration the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty October 17th is focusing on poverty in the lives of children. The theme is: “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty” The concept note explains what the day is about. It is in English and French ” Avant tout, il est impératif de reconnaître et de traiter les discriminations spécifiques vécues par les filles.”
Another experience that children endure has been outline in a UN Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty. This report was presented in the Third Committee in New York on October 8, 2019. It is in French, Spanish and Arabic. I attended an event at UNICEF that same evening to celebrate the launch and to call for action. There are a few interesting paragraphs on ‘Gender Dimensions’. See Paragraphs 35 – 38. Para 35 ‘On analysis the data show significant gender disparities in the situation of children deprived of liberty. Far more boys are deprived of liberty worldwide than girls. In the administration of justice and in the contexts of armed conflicts and national security, 94 per cent of all detained children are boys; in migration detention the figure is 67 per cent and in institutions it is 56 per cent. The number of boys and girls who live with their primary caregiver (almost exclusively mothers) in prison is similar.
In paragraph 36 the study shows a tendency of the child justice system to be more inclined to apply diversion measures to girls than boys. While approximately one third of all criminal offences worldwide committed by children are attributed to girls, only 6 per cent receive a prison sentence. There may be various reasons for this phenomenon. Most importantly, girls usually commit less violent offences and are more often accused of status offences. Girls are generally first-time offenders and more receptive to the deterrent effect of incarceration. Another explanation is the “chivalrous and paternalistic” attitude of many male judges and prosecutors in the child justice systems, who assume, according to traditional gender stereotypes, that girls are more in need of protection than boys.
Paragraph 37 highlights and interesting fact. Although most States allow convicted mothers to co-reside with their young children in prison, only eight States explicitly permit fathers to do so. Even in places where fathers as primary caregivers are allowed to co-reside with their children, there are (almost) no appropriate “father and child units” in the prisons, which means that there are practically no children co-residing in prison with their fathers.
Paragraph 38 continues… While boys are over represented in detention, girls often suffer gender-based discrimination. Research conducted for the study shows that girls are more likely to be arrested for status offences, for behaviour rather than actual criminal activity, including sexual activity, truancy and running away from home. Girls living on the streets are particularly vulnerable, as they are often arrested for prostitution. If States criminalize abortion, girls risk incarceration, even where the pregnancy is a result of rape. Girls from poor families run a higher risk of institutionalization and incarceration, as they lack access to supportive systems. In detention, girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence.
39. Almost half the world population lives in the 70 States in which existing laws criminalize conducts on the basis of sexual orientation. Children belonging to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community are more likely to be arrested and detained for status offences, in particular for sexual activity and expressions of sexual orientations and gender identities. LGBTI children are over represented in child justice facilities and health-related institutions. They are usually placed in gender-inappropriate detention facilities and are particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence.
Key findings from the study are listed in a publication on Human Rights Watch also in French. Some background information to the report can he accessed here
Performance by theChildren’s Choir of Musicians for Human Rights
It’s posted – the UN Webcast of the Day of the Girl Celebration October 11, 2019. Congratulations to Working Group on Girls, Girl Advocates and Girl Activists and their mentors. Hope you will enjoy it – 8th Annual Speak Out At marker 33 – 34:17 there is reference to ‘Good Shepherd Center’ in Singapore. Telling the story of a girl being too old at 17 years to be admitted to a children’s service and too young to be admitted to an adult shelter. What is she to do! Thank you Good Shepherd Singapore!
There were really some solidarity moments on Facebook with regard to the celebration coming from Philippines, Myanmar, Honduras, Malaysia, Australia
Finally do have a look at the Plan International latest publication ‘Rewrite her Story’ The State of the World’s Girls in 2019. It is available in English, Spanish and French Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
“Kasi nasabi niya sa mga kapatid at mother niya na siya ay inabuso ng tatay nila.”
*** This story is part of the series we are featuring this month for the International Day of the Girl. Girls play an important part in changing our families, communities, nation, and the world. Making sure that girls enjoy their rights and are protected from harm is one of the priorities of the Religious of the Shepherd in the Philippines.
*** Ate B has been a Good Shepherd lay mission partner for 20 years. As a social worker, she handles abuse cases, mostly of teenagers. When asked about the bravest girl she has journeyed with, she thinks of Lisa* and her journey towards healing.
*Name has been changed for confidentiality
Ate B met Lisa 5 years ago. She was referred to one of Good Shepherd’s residences because she was manifesting destructive behavior. She lived a financially comfortable life and her needs were well-provided. However, she chose to hang out with her group of friends who were into vices like smoking and drinking.
With RGS, Lisa bravely journeyed through her abusive past. Her biological father sexually abused her, and she decided to keep it from her mother and siblings because she was afraid that it would cause conflict within her family. This was the reason why she didn’t like going home and preferred to stay with her friends. During her stay in the RGS, she eventually mustered the courage to tell the truth to her family.
Why did Ate B consider Lisa to be the bravest? “Sa akin siya iyong bravest kasi nasabi niya sa mga kapatid at mother niya na siya ay inabuso ng tatay nila (For me she’s the bravest because she was able to tell her siblings and mother that their father sexually abused her).”
The journey to healing didn’t come instantly for Lisa and her family. Stains from Lisa’s past abuse still surrounds their family. Trust towards her father is still an issue that they are slowly dealing with. In this case, healing has so far been a difficult journey, as Lisa was harmed by one of people who should have been protecting her.
Despite all the challenges she has faced, Liza is now a young woman, pursuing her dreams. Ate B stressed the importance of being present as parent. In the many cases she has handled, parents are either absent, or they may be physically present but are not receptive to the needs of their children, especially teenagers.
“Kahit hindi ko naiintindihan si Mama, pero love ko pa rin siya, eh.”
*** This story is part of the series we are featuring this month for the International Day of the Girl. Girls play an important part in changing our families, communities, nation, and the world. Making sure that girls enjoy their rights and achieve their full potential is one of the priorities of the Religious of the Shepherd in the Philippines.
*** This is Michelle, one of Good Shepherd’s lay mission partners. She works at the Center for Overseas Workers (COW) and has been with RGS for 14 years. The COW office responds to one our priority issues: forced migration. This is the story of Tanya*, a 15 year-old girl, whom Michelle considers as one of the bravest girls she has ever met.
*Name has been changed for confidentiality
It was 2006 when Michelle met Tanya. Being a child of an overseas Filipino worker, it was never easy for Tanya. This resulted to her manifesting destructive behavior, to show that she’s not okay with her mother’s absence. She hated her mother. And, to make matters worse, she did not trust her. This damaged their relationship, to the point that Tanya even felt that her mother never loved her.
When Michelle was asked why she thought of Tanya to be brave, she attributed this to her journey of acceptance and hope. In the midst of uncertainties, Tanya often mentioned that, “Kahit hindi ko naiintindihan si Mama, pero love ko pa rin siya (Even though I don’t understand my mother, I still love her).” Tanya also believed that she could surpass all the challenges that she was facing during that time.
Healing was not an easy process for Tanya, but she eventually reconciled with her mother. Honesty through open communication helped their relationship get better.
Tanya now has her own family, and has also taken her mother in, to live with them.
*** Michelle pointed out during the interview that good communication is very important. Working with OFWs for the past 14 years has made her realize that communication is a double-edged sword. It can make or break family relationships. Thus, during the pre-departure orientation seminars that they conduct at COW, the value of effective communication with the family that the OFW will be leaving behind in the Philippines is highlighted. Open and honest communication helps families better understand the situation of their loved ones abroad.
The Beijing + 25 Youth Task Force comprises 30 young leaders. The are representative of the global community and come from differing background and experiences. 7 come from Africa – Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe; 5 from Latin America -Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru; 7 from Asia Pacific – Australia, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka; 4 from Europe – Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, UK; 3 from the Middle East – Iraq, Palestine, Tunisia; 3 from North America – US, Canada, and Newfoundland.
Intersectionality is a characteristic of the group. In their persons and in their experiences they bring enriched perspectives to the vision that is required towards Beijing + 25 and onward to Beijing +50. Together they highlight many salient issues of concern ranging from – Human Rights and Gender Equality, LGBTIQ Rights and sexual diversity, Sexual and Reproduction Health and Rights, Rights of Adolescents, Indigenous Peoples and Migrants, and Climate Justice, while taking up specific issues including economic empowerment, cooperatives, female entrepreneurs, gender based discrimination, FGM, menstruation issues, situations in rural areas, political empowerment, addressing conflict situations and peace building, human trafficking, HIV AIDS, new masculinities, and a consciousness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). One issue that is not mentioned is ‘Early, Forced and Child Marriages’. Read more and meet the members of this Beijing+25 Youth Task Force Team.
The Working Group on Girls is thrilled to have Aasha Shaik represent Girls on the Beijing +25 Task Force (see top of page 2). If you are wondering what intersectionality means read Aasha’s short bio. Aasha will specifically elevate the voices and needs of girls globally bringing forward the marvelous achievements of the women who ensured that the ‘The Girl Child’ was part of the Beijing Platform for Action – the L Platform. Aasha will continue to elevate the voices and girls globally re-invigorating the L Platform for our times while upholding girls’ rights within the campaign ‘Generation Equality.’
Mary Purcell was one of those women. She passed on July 28th, 2019 at the age of 92. Mary was one of the founding co-chairs of the Working Group on Girls when it was established under UNICEF in 1994. She represented the group during the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, serving as an ardent and essential advocate for the rights of the girl-child. Her voice and work were crucial in the establishment of the L Platform of the Beijing Platform for Action, marking the first time girls’ rights were highlighted specifically at the United Nations. Mary’s legacy as a tireless leader for girls’ rights continues today in the leadership that Aasha will bring to Beijing +25 Youth Task Force and all WGG members to Generation Equality.
The Good Shepherd Network was honored to have two youth mission partners – one from Sabah, Malaysia and one from Bogota, Colombia make application for the Beijing +25 Youth Task Force. While not selected we know that both young women are engaged in stellar ministries in their home countries – human rights education, anti- human trafficking programs, and economic empowerment. See Malaysia and Colombia
High Level Political Forum July 9 -18, 2019 has just begun at the United Nations in New York today. The question is that is central to the debate is how are we doing? This year concludes the ending of the first cycle of implementation (2016 – 2019) and will culminate with a Summit in September under the auspices of the General Assembly.
Yolanda Joab Mori, youth leader from the Federated States of Micronesia, was the most impressive speaker this morning . “Today I look out to this room and I see power. I see people in a position to either make or influence the decisions and actions we need. But the world doesn’t need any more power.
What we need, if we’re ever going to come close to reaching our 2030 Goals, isn’t power, what we need now is action, and to get there we need some courage. Young people are starving to see some courage to see some courage reflected in our leaders. Leadership that has guts to take action. Leadership that is fearless enough to put people and planet above profit. Leadership that is inclusive, uplifts equality and empowers everyone, even a small island girl like me.”
“Indeed, we can call this the children’s HLPF!” Ms. Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence Against Children.
Najatexplained that SDG’s 4, 8, 10 and 16 – directly affect the realization of the rights of children to the best start in life, an education of good quality and a childhood free from violence, abuse, neglect, while ensuring that no child is left behind. Najat noted that there are disturbing trends and emerging challenges that threaten the gains that have been made for children. These include climate change, long terms conflicts and more sever humanitarian disasters, increasing migration and the numbers of children on the move, discrimination, growing inequality and constraints in the availability of financial resources to provide quality services for children and the spread of terror.
The thematic review of SDG 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” will take place later in the afternoon. You can catch up by watching UN Web TV later. Simultaneously there is an event ‘SDG 4: At the Heart of the Achieving the 2030 Agenda as indicated in the flyer below. With regard to structural and systemic issues we need to ask who is profiting when school fees are paid for children to attend school in the face of the concept of universal education as a human right? Who is profiting when children are exploited in the mines? The Secretary General’s report on implementation of the SDG in paragraph 16 “The nexus among inequality, injustice, insecurity and the lack of sufficient trust in Governments and institutions can further hinder the necessary conditions for advancing sustainable development” including education. We at the global level need to advocate against structures and systems that exploit people and planet. We need a strong ethic of solidarity, embracing the logic of the common good and the common dignity of people and care for the planet. We need to advocate for ethical and moral ‘boundaries’ around unfettered economic and financial markets.
Following the HLPF at the UN is usually a 12 hour day affair. The Women Major Group will have their side event from 6.30 to 8.00 this evening addressing systemic issues from feminist perspective.
Today at the GSIJP Office we celebrate reflections from Latin America. Three countries contributed to the Girls Speak Out in the United Nations on October 11. Columbia shared many photographs
and a video which I think contrasts girls living and having childhood experience – school, play, culture and games and another group of girls who are influenced and socialized into a different reality. Sr Bianca, the director of the program makes the following observation: “El vídeo enviado en el correo anterior fue iniciativa de las niñas y Adolescentes, desafortunadamente es la realidad que viven en su barrio, ya pueden ver el tipo de música y la forma de bailar a tan temprana edad; este programa existe para tratar de ofrecerles otra a alternativas que dignifiquen su proyecto de vida y prevenir toda clase de abuso.”
Translation – “The video sent in the previous email was an initiative of girls and adolescents. Unfortunately it is a reality that young girls often live in neighborhoods where they are influenced (socialized) into sexualized behaviors through music and dancing at a young age. The program exists to offer alternative experiences such that girls have an opportunity to experience childhood and their dignity as girls to counter and prevent all kinds of abuse.” Thank you Sr Bianca for your work and dedication with and for girls.
Read the experience of girls in El Salvador (Spanish Only)
We have some drawing from girls in Honduras 6 – 10 years expressing what they would like to be when they group up. We have a doctor, a professor, a swimming instructor, another doctor, religious sister and a secretary. These girls were excited to take part and responded immediately and confidently.