Date of the Biodiveristy Conference (COP 15) has been rescheduled

The United Nations announced new dates for the COP 15 Conference due to the continual impacts of COVID 19 around the world.

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The Conference is about producing a ‘Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.’ A first draft is available. The vision of the framework is a world of living in harmony with nature. The framework has four long term goals see page 5 of the draft and continues with 21 Targets. The framework is a fundamental contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Develpment. At the same time, progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals will help to create the conditions necessary to implement the framework. Goal B refers to meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing. This is further elaborated in Targets 9 – 13 on page 7.

Faith Actors at the Generation Equality Forum

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.

2021 – International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour – GSIJP Office Made a 2021 Action Pledge

In July 2019, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, and has asked the International Labour Organization (ILO) to take the lead in its implementation. The resolution highlights the commitments of the Member States “to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”… This is the exact wording of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 8, Target 7 which gives rise to Alliance 8.7, an inclusive global partnership committeed to achieving SDG 8.7 with the objectives of (i) accelerating action, (ii) conducting research and knowledge sharings,(iii) driving innovaton and (iv) leveraging resources. There are 4 years remaining to 2025 so how are we doing? ILO reports ‘child labour has decreased by 38 per cent in the last decade … the COVID-19 pandemic has considerably worsened the situation, but joint and decisive action can reverse this trend.’ Will we see zero child labour in 2025?   For the World Day to End Child Labour, (June 12) the ILO and UNICEF will release new global estimates and trends on child labour (2016-2020), under the aegis of Alliance 8.7. I wonder what the number will be like compared to the 2016 estimates?

Well, to start only 22 of 192 countries have signed up to be ‘pathfinder countries in ending child labour – Albania, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uganda, Vietnam Good Shepherd has a presence in 10 of these countries – 6 are in Latin America and the Carribean, 3 in Asia Pacific and I in Africa. Only 6 (Chile, Mexico, Peru, Madagascar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam) of the of the 10 countries where we are present have posted materials under the following headings – Challenges, Milestones, Priorities, Progress and Updates.

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In the above statistics there is no mention of human trafficking or prostitution, yet it is referenced either directly or indirectly in three counties. In Chile “70.6% of children in child labour aged 5 to 17 are engaged in hazardous child labour. Children are also involved in other worst forms of child labour, including commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Indigenous children and adolescents from Ecuador are especially vulnerable to human trafficking for labour exploitation in Chile. Commonly, children are forced to steal, produce, sell, and transport drugs near the border with Peru and Bolivia.”

For Madagascar we read ‘the worst forms of child labour include commercial exploitation and trafficking. In 2007 4.5% of Malagasy children were trafficked, often for domestic work. Trafficking, both transnational and internal, is not uncommon in Madagascar. Though data is scant, evidence indicates that victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation, forces labour, domestic work, and forced begging.”

For Nepal “More than 31,000 people were estimated to be in forced labour in 2017, out of which 17% were children. Practices of forced labour and trafficking have been documented both in the country (for example, in the adult entertainment sector) and across borders.”

The ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour  achieved universal ratification in August 2020 when the last of the 187 member States of the ILO formally deposited their ratification insturments. The Convention was adopted in 1999 and has taken 21 years to achieve universal ratification. That is one measure of success, but has the Convention been domesticated and is it being implemented?

Reading ILO Convention 182 in the light of our Position Paper on the Girl Child sheds more light on the girls’ vulnerability to ‘the worst form of child labour.’ Our paper references sexual abuse, use as objects in protstitution and child labor. Article 2 of the Convention defines the term ‘the worst forms of child labour:’

  • (a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
  • (b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
  • (c) the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
  • (d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

Snippets from the Pathfinder Countries in the Alliance 8.7 contain only three referrence to commercial sexual exploitation of children. Why is this? Will the updated global estimates that will be released on June 12th highlight the new criminal phonomenon of ‘Online Sexual Exploitation of Children’ (OSEC)? The International Justice Mission published a study in 2020 Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines: Analysis and Recommendations for Governments, Industry, and Civil Society in which they noted that OSEC is a complex, hidden crime that is particularly challenging for the global community to measure and address. The lack of global OSEC data, inconsistencies in collecting, sharing and analysing data, across countries and agencies is one thing. This difficulty is further complicated by the complexity of internet-facilitated crimes which has made it almost impossible to accurately track, study and understand this crime. The estimated number/prevalence rate of IP addresses used for Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) each year more than tripled from 23,333 in 2014 to 81, 723 in 2017. This corresponds to a growth in the prevalence rate from about 43 out of every 10,000 IP addresses being used for CSE in 2014 to 149 out of every 10,000 IP addresses being used for CSE in 2017. Due to limitations in the data, it is not clear if this increase was reflective of an actual rise in the occurrence of the crime, a rise in the reporting of the crime, or both.

Another study conducted by Associate Professors Michael Salter and Tim Wong, and funded by the Australian eSafety Commissioner (2021) highlights the way COVID-19 has placed children at risk of online sexual exploitation and abuse – and how across the world, those put in place to protect children from such violence are facing unprecedented challenges.

The Internet Watch Foundation published in May 2018 ‘Trends in Online Child Sexual Exploitation: Examining the Distribution of Captures of Live-streamed Child Sexual Abuse. 2,082 images and videos were assessed as meeting the research criteria. I picked out these key findings:


• 96% depicted children on their own, typically in a home setting such as their own bedroom.
• 98% of imagery depicted children assessed as 13 years or younger.
• 96% of the imagery featured girls.

These statistics shows which how easy it is to contact children within their own homes in this age of technology, the age of the children and how girls are disproportionalely targeted and exploited. Will this aspect of the exploitation of children be mentioned? Our position papers on Human Trafficking, Prostitution and the Girl Child reflect and focus these issues very clearly for us. There is a week of Action June 10 – 17 2021 with various events. During the 109th International Labour Conference, a high level panel on June 10th will mark the World Day against Child Labour. The first part of the event will focus on a conversation on the new ILO-UNICEF global estimates and trends on child labour 2016 – 2021. Please ask question or put comments in the comments box.

Season of Creation September 1 – October 4

The Season of Creation begins on Tuesday. The theme for this year 2020 is ‘Jubilee for the Earth.’ Lots of resources are available for your information, reflection, and prayer. I love the symbolism behind this logo

The orb of the logo is planet Earth filled with the waves of God’s Spirit. The veins of the leaf suggest the web of creation. The leaf forms a tree of life that is also the cross of Christ. Leaves from the tree of life are for healing (Revelation 22:2).

THE SEASON OF CREATION – 2020     Series A: The Spirit in Creation
September 1     Creation Day
September 6     1st Sunday in Creation –  Forest Sunday
September 13   2nd Sunday in Creation –  Land Sunday
September 20   3rd Sunday in Creation – Wilderness/Outback Sunday
September 27   4th Sunday in Creation – River Sunday
October 1         St Francis of Assisi Day – Blessings of the Animals

The Dominican Center has prepared a liturgical guide for each of the Sundays in the season.

This text from Laudato Si #109 gives us the rational for being attentive during the season of creation “We are faced to by two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both environmental and social. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”

Australian Religious Responsible for Climate Change ARRCC – a multi-faith network committed to action on climate change have prepared Climate Change Action Kits, for your faith, to empower people from different faiths to assist their communities to respond to climate change and care for the earth – Buddist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish

Creation Justice Ministries has an interesting site outlining 52 ways to care for creation.

September 1: Creation Day/World Day of Prayer for Creation

Creation Day, also called the World Day of Prayer for Creation, opens the season each year. Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, the World Council of Churches, and many other leaders have called the faithful to celebrate this day. Globally, Christians are invited to join the online prayer service to come together in a joyful celebration of our common cause. More information will be updated at Season of Creation If you wish to participate you need to register The website and resources are in different Languages – French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian and there are specific links for different dominations. They have published a Celebration Guide and have set aside one week September 19 – 26 to act globally for the SDG’s. The list of other events can be seen HERE including regional webinars. The World Day of Migrants will be a focus on September 27th. A season of creation calendar has been published. If you check it out you may find local events that are of interest to you or you may be interested in hosting your own event.

Below are some advocacy points are outlined from page 32 of the Celebration Guide.

A reflection on COVID 19 and creation can be accessed at the ARRCC outlining 6 learning from COVID that can help us better care for creation. Literature, writings, suggestion, abound. What is important is that you choose one action to commit to. Happy Season of Creation to all readers!

Stop Child Abuse in Social Media – HLPF Side Event 15 July.

A very successful panel event was held on 15, July 2020 A full recording of the event is available on YouTube The panelists are extraordinary presenters, passionate, and knowledgeable in their area of expertise, all contributing to our objective ‘Stop Child Abuse in Social Media.’  The represented Government, NGO’s. The Tech Industry and Faith Based organizations and demonstrated how important broad and multi-faceted partnership and a whole of society approach are for systemic change.

Christ Herlinger of The National Catholic Reporter provided news coverage of the event entitled

Read the full article

The outcome of the side event was a set of Policy Recommendations addressed to National Governments, Technology Companies and Civil Society. We hope that these policy recommendations will be useful in your work. Also have a look at the 5 country ministerial voluntary principles to counter online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Check out Microsoft’s Contribution to Digital Safety. Of course this is not sufficient but it is a beginning. See Cathy Rowan notes on ethical investment and John Tanagho’s Powerpoint Presentation. A Summary of the Study done by International Justice Mission is available here

Some Resources on the SDG’s released during the HLPF 2020

A Sustainable Development Goals Progress Chart 2020 presenting a snapshot of global and regional progress. I extracted SDG 1 and the legend to see extreme poverty and social protection coverage.

Look at the regions where there is insufficient data and very far from target. Notice the deterioration in Northern and Western Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean and this is prior to COVID 19.

Philip Alston, outgoing Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights had this to say “When you look at what COVID-19 has done, which has really been just to pull the Band-Aid off the poverty wounds, we see all too clearly that in fact it was very far from being eliminated,” Read the whole article. The report is entitled “The parlous state of poverty eradication.” An advance unedited version is available. The Special Rapporteur urged moving away from an almost exclusive focus on economic growth as a means to reduce poverty and focus rather on the reduction of inequalities and the redistribution of wealth. Two policies towards this are tax justice and universal social protection floors. He further called for deepening democracy and embracing participatory governance.

Another resource can be accessed here It is the SDG dashboard. Below are the top 7 performing countries and some of the countries doing less well.

See where some the Countries are in which Good Shepherd has a presence and South Sudan is even lower at 165 and there are 27 countries with no data.

You can get country specific data in the country profiles Also the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 provides another way of learning about the implementation of the SDG

Link

Lent 2020 /Cuaresma 2020

Know, Love and Serve with the SDG’s is a Lenten resource prepared by the Claretian Development Network. Focus Goals for the Planet reflect on SDG 6, 12, 13, 14 and 15. Conversion needs to be holistic – ecological, social, and spiritual. Text is currently available in English and Spanish. Coming soon in French. This year the focus at the United Nations is on “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development “.

As Lent begins our representative to Economic Commission in Africa (ECA) -Donatus Lili – has been attending the sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-6), which was held from 25 to 27 February 2020, at the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. As a member of the Major Groups and other stakeholders the following statement has been shared with a focus on People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership.

This Lenten Reflection Guide, offers reflections, questions, prayers, and actions based on each week’s scripture readings in light of the theme of ecological conversion. Use this guide individually or in
small groups to reflect upon your life patterns, to pray more deeply, and to renew your spirit to face the realities of our world.

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

Continuing to connect the dots at HLPF in readiness for the SDG Summit on September 25

An analogy to help describe the experience of attending the High-Level Political Forum is that of an 8 ring circus. There is (i) the official program, (ii) voluntary national reviews, (iii) special events, (iv) VNR labs, (v) side events, (vi) parallel events, (vii) constituency events and (viii) collective events. How to strategize on what is important to attend? How to feel the pulse of each ring? How, when and where does one raise one’s voice or do advocacy? How can one be heard? The numbers below also hint to the complexities involved:

Taken from Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform
Taken from Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform

Good Shepherd has a presence in twelve of the countries that presented Voluntary National Reviews. Seven of these countries contributed to a survey which the GSIJP Office compiled into a REPORT – GSIJP – HLPF Survey Results We acknowledge the work done on this by Caileigh Finnegan, a summer intern in the office.

I attended a set of VNR’s on July 18. Among the presentations made was the one from Mauritius. Review their slide presentation. The REPORT on page 134 lists Soeurs du Bon Pasteur as among those consulted and who contributed! The following points remains with me – the reported growth over 50 years moving from sugar cane production to technology and becoming an upper middle income economy. It was also reported that there is a social housing scheme, inequality has lessened, minimum wage is implemented and there is a universal pension with free broadband to all families on the social register. It was further shared that women can access loans without a guarantor. Sr Donatus Lili, NGO Regional Designate visited Good Shepherd in Mauritius and made vital connections between the sisters, ministries, local communities and the UN Resident Coordinator who facilitated a meeting with personnel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who were compiling the VNR Report.

The sisters had a fruitful conversation with Kelly Culver who came with two officers, Miss Prateema Kutwoaroo (Senior Analyst) and Mr. Hemal Munoosingh, both from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. Mrs. Madelon from ATD Fourth World, and Mrs. Josiane Schultz (Mission Partner) together with representatives from the six workshops also participated in the dialogue.

Included in the photograph are Kelly Culver (extreme right) with Miss Prateema
Kutwoaroo (Senior Analyst) and Mr. Hemal Munoosingh, both from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mauritius

The group reviewed the workshops conducted by Donatus while in Mauritius and how they see the SDGs. Mrs. Madelon suggested that the SGDs need to be translated into local languages and simplified so that they are more accessible and practical for people at the grassroots. Ms. Culver was delighted about the prison ministry and said that Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd is the first group who did not forget the voice of prisoners.  She was very interested in Marie Therese Saturday’s program with children and in the college. She hopes to follow-up with these three places and proposed to visit in the future for effective partnership. The team spoke about the two groups formed during the workshops for the VNRs, and requested that the sisters send their final recommendations to be inserted in the State Voluntary National Report for the HLPF. This will be the first-ever input of the Congregational achievements in Mauritius to be included in the State database. Ms. Culver had the opportunity to meet the girls in Pelletier,  so she could see first-hand the ministries in which the sisters are engaged.

Workshop in progress!

Very often there is a disconnect between what Good Shepherd reports from the grassroots and what is presented at national level. Why is this so? Because Good Shepherd are reaching out to do what they do best – reach the furthest behind, the one who is excluded, the one not counted, not heard, not recognized, focusing especially on girls and women, and bringing the voice of women prisoners to attention. While the provisions enumerated in the government report are available, it is a fact that dis-empowered people are unaware of them. Another challenge identified is the necessity of having materials in French Creole. Well done Good Shepherd, Mauritius!

Women’s Major Group

To the 9 Major Groups a number of other stakeholders have been added bringing the total number to 18 constituency groups – the most recent group is the LGBTI. Good Shepherd aligns and collaborates with the Women’s Major Group. Donatus contributed to the drafting of the Position Paper for HLPF 2019 and the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity endorsed the paper. The advocacy work of the Women’s Major Group can be captured in this quote from the executive summary addressing the need for structural and systemic change. “This Agenda’s success necessitates political changes so the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) truly benefit the marginalised and systematically excluded. There must be a profound shift from the dominant yet discredited fixation on economic growth to institutionalised leadership for development, justice and peace. This means moving away from extractivist industries, military investments, and emaciated humanitarian, gender equality and human rights action, and reorienting towards empowering feminist and social movements and human rights for all. Governments, corporations, the military industrial complex, international financial institutions, and other power holders must be held accountable to human rights and commitments to leave no one behind.” An analysis of the impact of the Women’s Major Group this year was phenomenal – Social Media reached 5 million people and made 42 million impressions. There were 21 interventions, 17 side events, 7 meeting with delegates and the daily colour campaign.

@gsijp and @winifreddoherty engaging with social media

Each thematic review session at the HLPF opened with an overview of the relevant goal under review from ‘The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019″ This paragraph from the forward outlines the current situation and set the scene for the SDG Summit on September 25th. “Notwithstanding that progress, this report identifies many areas that need urgent collective attention. The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating; the past four years have been the warmest on record; one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction; and land degradation continues unchecked. We are also moving too slowly in our efforts to end human suffering and create opportunity for all: our goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 is being jeopardized as we struggle to respond to entrenched deprivation, violent conflicts and vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Global hunger is on the rise, and at least half of the world’s population lacks essential health services. More than half of the world’s children do not meet standards in reading and mathematics; only 28 per cent of persons with severe disabilities received cash benefits; and women in all parts of the world continue to face structural disadvantages and discrimination.”

This glossy version is in English only but the text is also in Arabic, French and Spanish

This action needs to tackle deeply embedded issues at the structural and systemic levels within the global community and invoke a spirit of multilaterialism. There must be a profound shift away from the dominant yet discredited fixation on economic growth to institutionalised leadership for development, justice and peace.

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.