Commission for Social Development February 10 – 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day of the Girl – October 11 preceded by 11 Days of Action

Thank you Religious of the Good Shepherd Philippines-Japan for whom everyday is Day of the Girl
Read the story below!

“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.

#DayOfTheGirl
#GirlForceUnscriptedUnstoppable

“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.

#DayOfTheGirl
#GirlForceUnscriptedUnstoppable

READ the full story in Global Sisters Report
This is an example of Day of the Girl every day in Good Shepherd around the world

Short Video – Web of Life

Earlier this year a report was released in which it was shown that around 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. Read more here “The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” Sir Robert Watson, Chair of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES),said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.” See the animated video showing the 5 direct drivers of change in Nature with the largest relevant social impacts so far.

The Season of Creation has begun.

The Season of Creation has begun. What are you doing? See blog entry Climate Emergency. The Global Catholic Climate Movement has some good material in many languages Yesterday, Pope Francis urges the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and all people of good will to take urgent action against the injustice of climate change and the ecological crisis, to protect the poor and future generations. There is the opportunity to take a pledge in line with the vision of Laudato Si as an individual, family, community or organization. In taking the pledge you commit to i) Pray for and with creation, ii) Live more simply, iii) Advocate to protect our common home. If you, your family, community or organizations are interested visit the website ‘Live Laudato Si.

Was the Canadian Artist Mr. Claude Lafortune prophetic when he portrayed Saint Mary Euphrasia leaning over a trampled flower to bring it back to life? ” A person and creation are inalienable, one is not of more value than the other.”

Faces and Experiences of today’s Feminism Leaders – Beijing+25 Youth Task Force

Photo UN Women

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.

On the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Women’s “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” campaign demands equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, health care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in political life and in decision-making in all areas of life.

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.’ 

Photo of Mary Purcell taken form Obituary

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

Ending week one -‘Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality’ – HLPF 2019.

My assessment of how the global community is doing ‘Empowering the girls, women and children Good Shepherd accompany and ensuring their inclusiveness and equality’ is not too well! The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 tells the story The question asked on the front page of the report is telling. ‘We must ask ourselves if our actions today are laying the right foundation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?’ The specific set of Goals reviewed this week were SDG 4, 8, 10, 13 and 16. Some of the headlines in the SDG 4 report are: Shockingly low proficiency rates in reading and mathematics signal a global learning crisis’; ‘Early childhood education offers a head start in school, but one third of the world’s children are being left behind’; ‘Progress has stalled in reaching out-of-school children’; ‘Too many schools in sub-Saharan Africa lack the basic elements of a good quality education: trained teachers and adequate facilities’; and ‘Despite progress, 750 million adults still cannot read and write a simple statement; two thirds of those adults are women.’ See SDG 4

I attended the side event SDG 4: At the Heart of Achieving the 2030 Agenda co-sponsored by groups that have education at the heart of their mission. The panelists presented a range of examples of inclusive, quality education. It was noted that injustice is inherent in the educational system.

Sr. Nakato Betty RSCJ outlined some principles underlying quality and inclusive education and depicted the current interaction of the system of education with the student to asking a fish to climb a tree!

Mr. Brian Fitzsimons with International Presentation Association presented a project ‘iScoil Ireland’ begun in 2007 that seeks to addresses the ‘shockingly low proficiency rates in reading and mathematics’ mentioned in the SDG report through interactive, flexible, and personalized learning using technology and multiple modes of assessment leading to a recognized accreditation with 82% receiving a qualification.

Kristin Hokanson, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur presented Education for Life with Sustainable Development Goals integrated into the virtual school.

Nick Newland, Associated Country Women of the World spoke to the situation of education in conflict affected and fragile states and this should be at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. I was reminded of an article in Global Sisters Report that you may help helpful to situate your self in the reality of the camp with the Society of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.

Nick Newland addresses the issue of education in conflict affected and fragile states.

The Spotlight Report was launched on Thursday morning. This is the 4th edition of the report which seeks to track progress across the Agenda and the individual goals. The findings are that progress is seriously off track. Progress has not and will not come with accelearation or resources. Rather a major shift in policy is required with serious attention being given to the role of the public sector in line with responsibility for human rights and the public resources required to implement the goals. There is a need for strong institutions and good governance for sustainability. In the Spotlight Report there is a chapter on SDG 4 By Antonia Wulff, Education International The chapter can be accessed here It gives a very good insight into what is really happening. “In practice, numerous actors are competing for influence, particularly on defining what works in education, as so-called knowledge-based economies, grapple for growth and hunt for quick fixes in education. The SDGs are to be implemented in a political landscape where the UN system struggles to assert its relevance and values; gone are the days when UNESCO was the obvious authority in education, to which countries would turn for policy advice. This matters because agreement continues to be sought as to what the broad priorities within SDG 4 mean in practice, such as quality education or relevant learning. Governments have committed to a shared level of ambition and set of priorities but at the end of the day it is up to each government to translate them into more specific national policy.”

Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019

While numerous actors are competing for influence – the World Bank, the OECD, the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (Education Commission), and the London-based Varkey Foundation – NGO’s are at the cutting edge empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality as demonstrated at the SDG 4 event for individuals and groups within society but who notices, how counts?

I began the week on Sunday July 7th being a panelist at a Water Aid event – presenting an overview of SDG 4. My question to the participants was do we continues to advocate for our separate individual issues in relation to education or do we advocate for structural and systemic change? The Secretary General’s Report had some stark comments: “In 2016, one third of all primary schools lacked basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, affecting the education of millions of school children, but particularly girls managing menstruation.” In 2018, one fifth of the world’s youth were not in education, employment or training… There is a stark gender difference. Young women were more than twice as likely as young men to be unemployed or outside the labour force and not in education or training.” I called for collective advocacy to challenge the unethical dimensions of the financial markets, financial institutions and an unscrupulous sector. When preparing for this I had access to two excellent presentations showcasing what Good Shepherd are doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo focusing on the education of children who were engaged in child labour and in Puket, Thailand with a focus on the education of children whose parents have migrated to Thailand. These programmes demonstrate holistic rights-based education.

Protecting the Human Right to Education
#ChildrenNOTMiners

NGO’s are often not recognized, not counted, not consulted, not included. But we do what we do best, ‘upholding the dignity of every person in the face of gross inequalities, violations of human rights, and the stubborn persistence of gender based violence against the girl child, women and children.

High Level Political Forum (HLPF) July 9 – 18, 2019 is here!

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.

Najat explained 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.

Read the Women’s Major Group Position Paper – pages 1 and 2 are the executive summary. You can read the review of SDG 4 and recommendations on pages 23-25.

Reflection from Global Sisters Report April 22, 2019

The article is entitled women and earth on ‘receiving end of patriarchy’ when it comes to profit.

The author is Chris Herlinger. Recently, Chris was ‘proud to be one of 28 reporters chosen as a journalist fellow for the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture’s Spiritual Exemplar Project. We will have the money and time to travel and profile “extraordinary people whose spirituality inspires them do good in the world.” Fits in perfectly with my Global Sisters Report duties.’ Congratulations Chris. See more

Linking the Parable of the Fig Tree with the experience of the Commission on the Status of Women

A quote for Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason at closing of the Commission on the Status of Women from the Irish Poet Seamus Heaney. ‘Walk on air against your better judgement”  and from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women quoting Mary Robinson quoting Nelson Mandela on another occasion during the commission – “We are prisoners of hope” sum up some of the experience of the commission.    The Lebanon Representative quoted Simone Beauvoir ‘never forget it will be enough for one political, economic or religious crisis for women’s right to be questioned. These rights can never be taken for granted.  You must remain vigilant your whole life.’ 

I reflected on the above quotation against the backdrop of the parable on the fig tree Luke 13:6-9.  ‘…for three years I have come in search of fruit …but have found none.’  The Commission on the Status of Women has just completed its 63rd session.  See https://winifredd.wordpress.com for more reflections on the outcome. Susan Daily, an Australian Sister of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin (Loreto), an artist gave us this piece of art for Sunday’s reflection. I was struck by the color and the fruit. This reflects my vision for gender equality and the full recognition of the human rights of girls, women and children, indeed for all people to be in relationship of respect in the face of diversity and difference.

Susan Daily

There is an Ethiopian Proverb that says ‘little by little the egg walks’.  The Direction Statement of the Congregation (2015) states ‘We struggle to find a way to address global issues.  We identified the most pressing needs of today as poverty, human trafficking, migration, refugees, gender equality, violence towards women and children and religious intolerance.”   All of these issues are in one way or another part of what the two weeks of CSW and the Agreed Conclusions were about.  I/we who attended CSW on your behalf were struggling to address global issues through the framework of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Second Week of CSW 63

Second week of CSW 63 started this morning with attendance at the NGOCSW Morning Briefing. Side events commenced at 8.15 a.m and parallel events at 8.30 a.m. I am attending two parallel event this afternoon – one sponsored by the Women’s Major Group and the second an event on Human Trafficking organized by Mercy International.

All issues at the United Nations are interconnected. SDG 5 is central to the 2030 Agenda and mainstreamed throughout the other goals – girls and women in relation to poverty, food, heath, education , gender equality, water and sanitation, energy, decent work, resilient infrastructure (being addressed by CSW 63) inequality, cities, consumption and production, climate change, oceans, land, peaceful societies and partnership.
See SDG and Lent in English French Spanish
Today March 18th picks up SDG 5 and is reflecting on Human Trafficking.
A parallel event the leadership of Mercy International, the Permanent Mission of Belarus to the UN, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime and Good Shepherd Welcome House, Cebu, Philippines! Check out two publications: I Have a Voice Trafficked Women – in their own words and Inherent Dignity – An Advocacy Guidebook
Your team Alexis and Winifred advocating for girls – on panels, at the Girls Caucus, and throughout the negotiation of the agreed conclusion which will be happening all of this week. We have been using the position paper on the Girl Child to inform our advocacy.