We invite you to the Global People’s Assembly 2023 on 17 and 18 September! This is a hybrid event – with the physical assembly in the UN Church Centre in New York and online participation for all events. We will also have interpretation in French and Spanish for the majority of sessions. Please register above to receive links for online participation and a confirmation letter to access the Church Center in New York.
The Global People’s Assembly is the culmination of community and national People’s Assemblies in 41 countries and constituencies, where representatives of marginalized and excluded groups alongside civil society discussed the state of implementation of the SDGs.
This year we will bring people’s voices to the UN SDG Summit on the 18th and 19th of September and other high-level events during the UN General Assembly week. It is now more important than ever that we come together to make our voices heard, as it is the SDG mid-point and we are still not close to achieving the 2030 agenda.
This year’s programme is brought to you by 60 civil society networks from national, regional and global levels (see list of organisers here) – coordinated by Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP).
Ingo Ritz and Rose Heffernan
On behalf of the Organisers
On Monday, September 18th the opening of the SDG Summit will take place.
It’s that time of the year, approaching February and the first of the functional Commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations starts on Monday February 6th. The theme this year is ‘Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ SDG 8 decent work and economic growth and SDG 10 reduced inequalities link specifically with the theme. The Commission will be live steamed on UN Web TVand is accessible after the event. This is the first in person event of the Commission since February 2020.
Report of the UN Secretary General
The reportof the Secretary General, available in 6 languages on the theme, gives a good overview of the theme. There is a section on current and future trends in inequality and the labour markets. Between 1993 and 2017 inequality declined by 34% but we are now experiencing increasing levels of inequality, some due to the pandemic but the reversal of trends has started prior to the pandemic. It is distressing to read that a ‘return to pre-pandemic levels of decent work is very unlikely in the coming few years.’ This is now further exacerbated by the impact of the war.
Section A of the report outlines ‘Inequalities in the labour market and structural barriers faced by different categories of workers and disadvantaged groups.’ Groups mentioned include women, indigenous peoples, youth, international migrants and people with disabilities. Unpaid care work and domestic work shouldered mostly by women is noted.
The section effective strategies to create full and productive employment and decent work for all has three headings: (a) focus on policies and regulations for inclusion. Within this Universal Social Protection for all (including floors) is a key tool towards upholding all human rights and overcoming inequalities. It is startling to re-read in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights written 75 years ago this year ‘(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for themselves and their families an existence worthy of human dignity and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of their interests.’ In effect, the commission will be addressing the theme from these principles. The outcome of the negotiation on the theme in the form of a resolution will point to the strength of political will and the level of trust within the multilateral system to achieve these principles.
(b) Transitioning from informal work to formal work is also seen as an effective strategy as informality of work is a major contributor to working poverty and inequality. (c) A third strategy calls for universal, comprehensive, gender-responsive and sustainable social protection systems, including floors, for all categories of workers. This has been an on-going advocacy approach of the GSIJP office over the years.
Section B of the report focuses on ‘Creating full and productive employment and decent work in new, sustainable and growing sectors. Paragraph 48 ‘The social and solidarity economy encompasses co-operative, mutual societies and not for profit and community owned and other social enterprises that recognize the primacy of people and social purpose over capital in the distribution and uses of surpluses and/or profits, as well as assets.
During the Commission Civil Society have their own processes – orientation, delivering the message and thematic session discussing various aspects of the theme. This process is the Civil Society Forum taking place on February 5, February 6 and February 10. The session on February 6th and 10th will be webcast live on UN TV You can keep updated by going to this PAGE.
The many side events taking place during the Commission can be accessed HERE on the Team Up Calendar. All events of the NGOs are virtual and can be joined via the link to a specific platform – some Zoom, some Webex etc. Explore the different titles and do attend some of the events. These event highlight innovation, successes and challenges experienced by NGOs in reaching for our goals. Member States and UN Agencies may have selected to have in-person events. In-person or virtual is indicated on the Calendar. Good Shepherd are co-sponsoring an event with the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors entitled ‘On the the Road to 2025: A new social contract implementing Universal Social Protection, ensuring Full Employment and Decent Work for all.‘ The date is Wednesday February 8 from 1.15 p.m – 3.00 p.m. EST. We are co-sponsoring a second event with the IBVM and the Red Dot Foundation entitled ‘Decent Work for all: Ending vulnerability through education and economic empowerment.’ See the Calendar for updates link to register, flyer etc. for these and other events.
Resolution on the Priority Theme
The NGO community will be following closely the resolution from the Commission on the priority theme ‘Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ We are hoping for a forward looking document which will actualize a way forward in resolving the multiple global issues impacting people and planet. Trust coupled with political will, expressed from within the multilateral system, together with dedicated finances to begin walking the talk is what is required. Divert resources currently dedicated to death and destruction towards enhancement of life for people and planet.
Strong UN Better World
Enjoy this song ‘Strong UN Better World’ sung by The UNRocks Music Group, composed of the Ambassadors of Denmark, Kingdom of Thailand, Kingdom of Tonga, Republic of Korea, Republic of Serbia, and the Representative of UN Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Office in Belgrade. Composed and arranged by Emmy Award-winning composer Gary Fry, with lyrics written by H.E. Ms. Simona- Mirela Miculescu, the single was produced in honor of the United Nations’ 70 years of service and commitment to addressing the world’s greatest challenges.
The process reviewing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) each year is called the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This year the HLPF starts on July 5th and ends on July 15th. Four days are given to thematic review of specific SDGs and three days to country reports – Voluntary National Reviews (VNR). A new website has been launched and it is user friendly. Unfortunately it is only in English. Website it is easy to navigate. These are the pages for the HLPF 2022; The Program; and Details of each day. Five SDGs are being reviewed this year
o Partnerships (SDG 17SDG 4, 5, 12, 14 and 15.) 5 July 3.00 PM – 6.00 PM, EDT o Quality education (SDG 4) 6 July 9.00 AM – 12.00 PM, EDT o Gender equality (SDG 5) 7 July 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM,EDT o Life below water (SDG 14) 7 July 3.00 PM – 6.00 PM, EDT o Life on land (SDG 15) 11, July 9.00 AM – 12.00 PM, EDT
For questions that will provide a panel focus on each SDG See. All sessions will be webcast live on UN Web TV.
The VNRs commence on Monday July 13th. 45 Countries will provide country reports. The list of countries as in the letter of the President of ECOSOC in October 2021 is as follows: Andorra*, Argentina**, Belarus*, Botswana*, Cameroon*, Comoros*, Côte d’Ivoire*, Djibouti, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador*, Eritrea, Eswatini*, Ethiopia*, Gabon, Gambia*, Ghana*, Greece*, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Italy*, Jamaica*, Jordan*, Kazakhstan*, Latvia*, Lesotho*, Liberia*, Luxembourg*, Malawi*, Mali*, Montenegro*, the Netherlands*, Pakistan*, the Philippines**, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal*, Somalia, Sri Lanka*, Sudan*, Suriname, Switzerland**, Togo***, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates*, Uruguay*** (Note: Countries with one asterisk * are second timers, those with two asterisks ** are third timers, those with three asterisks *** are presenting for the fourth time, while those without asterisks are presenting for the first time).
Countries were Good Shepherd are present are Argentina, El Salvador, and Uruguay in ECLAC; Italy, and The Netherlands in ECE; Pakistan, The Philippines, and Sri Lanka, in ESCAP and Senegal and Sudan in ECA. By clicking on the link below your country flag you can see the messages and reports that have been prepared and uploaded
The Report of the Secretary General on the Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals has been prepared and posted. This reports contains an analysis of each of the 17 SDGs. Another report was launched on 2 June entitled Sustainable Development Report 2022: A Global Plan to Finance the Sustainable Development Goals. A dashboard with country ranking has been prepared. Find your country ranking and an interactive map The key findings presented at the launch of the report were 1. Peace, diplomacy, and international cooperation are fundamental conditions for the world to progress on the SDGs towards 2030 and beyond. 2. For the second year in a row, the world is no longer making progress on the SDGs. A global plan to finance the SDGs is urgently needed. 3. At mid-point on the way to 2030, policy efforts and commitments supporting the SDGs vary significantly across countries, including among G20 countries. • 2023 Heads of States SDG Summit should be an opportunity to re-commit to this Agenda. 4. Rich countries generate negative international spillovers notably through unsustainable consumption; Europe is taking actions. 5. The COVID-19 pandemic forced data providers to innovate and build new forms of partnerships; these should be leveraged and scaled up to promote SDG impacts by 2030 and beyond. • Science, technological innovations, and data systems can help identify solutions in times of crises and can provide decisive contributions to address the major challenges of our times. These require increased and prolonged investments in statistical capacities, R&D, and education and skills.
The recording of the launch is available on the UNSDSN YouTube channel. There were two international panelists in conversation with the moderator – Ms. Susanna Moorehead, DAC Chair of the OECD and Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs, President of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). This was followed by the launch of the report with a PowerPoint presentation. In the last segment Arsène Dansou, Director General of the Debt Management Office, Ministry of Economy and Finance of Bénin and Dr. Simona Marinescu, UN Resident Coordinator Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau shared on promising national experiences.
During the HLPF there will be a number of VNR Labs and Side Event -to date a scheduling of these events has not been posted. You can watch for postings at https://hlpf.un.org/2022
The HLPF will end with a ministerial declaration. This declaration is currently being negotiated. Draft two is available HERE Paragraph 13 reads “We take note with appreciation of the Secretary-General’s report on Progress towards the SDGs. In particular, we note with alarm that years, or even decades, of development progress have been haltered or reversed, due to multiple and widespread impacts of COVID- 19, conflicts and climate change. We are particularly concerned by the rise in extreme poverty, hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity, inequalities, education disruptions, violence against women, unemployment, additional social and economic vulnerabilities affecting in particular those already in the most vulnerable situations, in addition to the increased challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution . We recognize that the multiple and interlinked global crises we are facing are putting the SDGs at great risk and jeopardize the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. We commit to mobilize and accelerate actions for rescuing the SDGs and leave no one behind by to adopting resilient, sustainable, inclusive and low-carbon development pathways for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.” The bold print is mine.
UN Women has published “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The Gender Snapshot 2021” This 30 page book provides a good snapshot of the current situation of Gender Equality in relation to each of the SDGs. If you like visuals then you will appreciate the charts and graphs. One interesting one comparing the target with the reality is below. One of our strong advocacy points over the years has been for implementation of Social Protection Floors in line with ILO Recommendation 202. See Article 5 for a definition of Social Protection Floors.
The Commission has been in session since February 7 exploring the theme “Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.” Some concepts stand out – sustainable livelihoods, well-being, dignity, eradicating poverty and hunger. The GSIJP Office has been engaging with the theme since late July 2021 when I attended the Expert Group Meeting. Alexis Schutz prepared our written statement to the Commission SEE reflecting on the global situation, focusing on solutions and making recommendations. Throughout the year we were engaging with the NGO Committee for Social Development and contributed to the Civil Society Declaration with it’s 10 calls to action linked with the theme. This Declaration has been signed and supported by several Good Shepherd Representative in various countries and programs throughout the world. It was Ernestine Lalao, NGO Designate in Madagascar who mobilized in Africa for a webinar on the Commission and the Civil Society Declaration.
The Chair of the Commission H.E. Ms. María del Carmen Squeff of Argentina has been firm in her challenge to the Commission asking time and again to hear about practical solutions to ending poverty, and hunger, utilizing decent work grounded in dignity of each person. The Vice Chair Mr. Stefano Guerra of Portugal asked for concrete examples that are being implemented and effective at the Multi-Stakeholders Forum Panel on Thursday morning. Concept Note
The Commission together with NGO’ call for a new ‘Social Summit’ and a ‘New Social Contract’. You might well be asking what do these terms mean? The first Social Summit was held in Copenhagen in 1995, the same year that the 4th World Conference on Women took place in Beijing. The Declarations are visionary and principled, accompanied with concrete action towards implementation and realization. In the intervening 27 years the vision and dream remain largely unfulfilled for most of the world’s population. While there had been significant progress in eradicating poverty prior to the pandemic but today the number of people living in extreme poverty are as high as they were in the 90’s. The roll out of social protection programmes during the pandemic proved to be effective. They show and demonstrate that access to social protection – a government provision for all the people – was indeed helpful. Today, there are fears of a return to austerity measures while some few people, companies, and corporations amass huge and unseemly profits in a time of immense global suffering. This is further evidenced in the lack of political will to roll
The social contract of the 20th century was an attempt to equalize relations between capital and labour and aimed to institutionalize social rights for citizens largely in industrialized countries grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The contract started to fail in the 1970s with the development of neoliberal policies and globalization. A new report of the UN Secretary General “Our Common Agenda” references and elaborates both the New Social Contract and the Social Summit. The social contract envisions a new global deal to deliver global public good. An UNRISD publication explains more about the ‘New Eco-Social Contract”. The Social Summit is proposed for 2025, 30 years after Copenhagen – a global deliberation as it were to live up to the values, including trust and listening that are the basis of a social contract. Gender equality, care of the planet, the roll out of social protection floors, and full implementation of the 2030 agenda are front and center in the social contract. The mobilization of people to engage in both processes are critical to success. Juan Somavida, Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee in the lead up to the first World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen in 1995 says that the process of the ‘New Social Summit’ is as important, if not more important, than the outcome.
On Thursday February 10 I was able to ask a question at the Multi-Stakeholder Forum “How ensure ethical and rights based approaches to honour people’s dignity and implement human rights – Listen or Read
On Tuesday 15 Alexis delivered our oral statement to the Commission during the general discussion.
The commission ended on Wednesday 16 with the adoption of a resolution by consensus on the priority theme “Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.” We as NGO’s are happy to read Para 25 “Encourage Member States to facilitate the meaningful participation and empowerment of those in vulnerable situations, including those living in poverty, in the design, implementation and monitoring of COVID-19 recovery plans.” While the resolution was adopted by consensus, there are a few sentences that led some Member States to state their opinions and concerns e.g Para 26 “…empowering all people and facilitating the social inclusion and participation of those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination;” or “…especially for women and girls who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence…” The 3rd pillar of the Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for Action – the first Social Summit elaborates ‘Social Inclusion’ together with Poverty Eradication and Full Employment and Decent Work. Despite the intervening years we are still struggling with ‘discrimination’ against certain groups of people including women and girls. Indeed it is the challenge for all of us – how cultivate a mindset of inclusion of every person.
The United Nations announced new dates for the COP 15 Conference due to the continual impacts of COVID 19 around the world.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 InternationalThe 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.”
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.
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.
Trafficking in Person is an important issues to be reviewed with an appraisal of the Global Plan of Action on September 27 and 28, 2017. This is a high level meeting over two days following the opening of the 72nd Session of the United Nations under
the new President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, (Slovakia). The new President has outlined his vision and priorities under five headings – peace, migration, sustainable planet, human dignity and modern UN.
In September 2018 we will have the adoption of the the Global Compact on Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees. Consultations continue with the last consultation to be held in Geneva on October 12, and 13. Concurrently regional consultation are being held. The intergovernmental negotiations will commence soon. The website is very informative and updated.
Preparation for the appraisal of the Global Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons has been on going over a number of month and culminated with a Political Declaration which will be adopted on September 27th. A full list of document and a report on the stakeholder meeting held on June 23rd can be accessed HERE
The Political Declaration proposes to be strong using language such as ‘evince our strong political will to take decisive concerted action to end this heinous crime,…’ While there is reference to the integrated and indivisible nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and a reference to combating all forms of trafficking in person, Good Shepherd advocacy is a clear call for specifically referencing the three targets where trafficking in person is mentioned in the 2030 Agenda – target 5.2 (on trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation), target 8.7 (forced labor and child labor) and 16.2 (all forms of trafficking in children) to be given equal priority.
We are concerned that the trafficking of women and girls under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 5.2 is falling under the radar for both Member States and the United Nations. For example, the recent High Level Political Forum reviewing SDG 5 made no reference to sex trafficking even though Target 5.2 specifically outlines the need to address the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls. Check out blog post of July 5 While various forms of violence were mentioned under 5.2 human trafficking was not.