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.

Impressions from the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 63)

Illustrating the theme of CSW 63 in pictures – focusing on social protection,
public services and infrastructure. Alexis Schutz from the GSIJP Office in the picture

The official opening of the Commission was proceeded by the NGOCSW Consultation Day on Sunday March 10. The GSIJP Office was joined by two Good Shepherd Volunteers – Sarabella Muise and Shannon Mahedy. ‘Social Protection mitigates economic and social distress’

The opening of the Commission was webcast and can be found in the Archives Secretary General indicated that this is the Commission on the Status of Women. But it could equally go by another name: the Commission on the Status of Power. How apt! Because he said this is the crux of the issue! Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. The statement of the President of the General Assembly is in Spanish. The Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Ms. Hilary Gbedemah said ‘Women are disadvantaged in social protection systems, experiencing lower coverage rates and substantially lower benefit levels. The Committee recognises that social protection policies are an important tool for reducing . poverty and gender inequality. Gender gaps in accessing social protection vary per region and country, as they are largely dependent on the characteristics of the labour market and the structure of the social security system.’ See the full text If you wish to see who is who with regard to Women’s and Girls Leadership at the United Nations review the panel line up. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women also made a Statement. If you prefer to read an account rather than watch the webcast go to UN Meeting Coverage

While there is optimism and hope for a good outcome many sharing and stories tell of backlash against gender equality. ” As push back against women’s rights around the world threaten to reverse hard-won gains, conviction and political courage must drive forward progress and build on achievements, high-level speakers pledged at the opening session of the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women.” … “United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that when women are excluded, everyone pays, also warning that the world today is witnessing a deep, pervasive and relentless push back on women’s rights.  “We will push back against the push back,” he pledged, adding that the United Nations is also making progress in achieving gender parity.” All quotes from the UN Meeting Coverage link above

The GSIJP team starting the second day – taking photographs on the way!
Social Protection Advocates meet up! ” Establish human rights-based, gender-sensitive Social Protection Floors at the national level as a first step in the creation of Universal Social Protection, in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, and ‘to reach those furthest behind first.’ Good Shepherd Statement to CSW 63 One of the official document to the Commission
Good friends and colleagues at CSW 63 doing their part in advocacy so as Enact a just, integrated and sustainable model of development, inclusive of gender, environmental, and economic justice, that puts the interests of disempowered, marginalized and impoverished girls, women and their communities at the centre of policy concerns, ahead of the corporate agenda, and upholds the protection of their human rights.
On the way to moderate this High Level Side Event “Gender Violence: Prevention, Protection and Social Inclusion”

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 63rd Session March 11- 22

Priority Theme: Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls

H.E. Ms. Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland), Chair (Western European and other States Group) welcomes each one to CSW 63 Proud to be Irish!
Join us for our parallel event on March 14 – Access the documentary
PowerPoint Overview of CSW 63

Our statement to the Commission on the Status of Women makes the following recommendations. These are our advocacy points

Enact a just, integrated and sustainable model of development, inclusive of gender, environmental, and economic justice, that puts the interests of disempowered, marginalized and impoverished girls, women and their communities at the centre of policy concerns, ahead of the corporate agenda, and upholds the protection of their human rights.

Establish human rights-based, gender-sensitive Social Protection Floors at the national level as a first step in the creation of Universal Social Protection, in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, and ‘to reach those furthest behind first.’

Express strong political will to reject austerity measures in favour of the implementation of social protection systems financed through progressive taxation, addressing Illicit flows, and the reallocation of military expenditures.

Ensure better access to health care, quality education, skills training, and public services for girls and women.

Enable inclusive, non-tokenistic participation for girls and women at all levels of decision-making including policy design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.

See the references to Social Protection in our Position Papers
Explore more about Social Protection
Birthing an Alternative Future: Cosponsoring this event with Doula Designs
Panelist – presenting on ‘Girls Access to Social Protection’

‘Good Shepherd’ participation in the 57th Session of Commission for Social Development February 11- 21, 2019

Attending the Civil Society Forum, February 15, 2019 – See more photographs

Participation at the Commission was in the following ways – submission of a written statement, (also available in French and Spanish) attendance at panel discussions, delivery of an oral statement, sponsoring a side event, moderating a panel, attending the Civil Society Forum and contributing to the Civil Society Declaration. The keynote speaker for the forum was Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. View the webcast! Start at marker 34.05 The issues being addressed are inequality, fiscal policy, wage policy and social protection which may be intimidating, boring, and uninteresting; issues to be addressed elsewhere. You may experience resistance to a discussion on fiscal policy but the reality is that the policies we care most about – the rights of girls and women, and human rights more broadly are fundamentally determined by how economic policies are evolving worldwide. Throughout the world today we are seeing the triumph of neo-liberal policy prescriptions – taxes are being cut in many countries and governments are under great pressure. Governments are less relevant, less interested and less able to respond to the sorts of agenda that are before this group. Privatization is the only option – governments cannot do it. Deregulation becomes important because we need a more conducive environment for business. This becomes problematic if the starting point is how to protect and promote the rights of girls and women or how to protect the least well off or those close to it – which is a much higher number. Policies of austerity are often anti-girls and anti-woman. He cited examples from Ghana – an African success story determined by neo-liberal policies but 1/4 of all girls are married before their 18th birthday and there are direct connections between child, early and forced marriage and poverty; and the UK where he identified that single mothers were under the greatest pressure – with a moralistic response coming from a male-dominated government and punitive policies designed to force young mothers out to work and make it difficult to get the benefits they are entitled to. We need to bring alive and create awareness that fiscal policy and austerity measures have social consequences for everyone but in particular for girls and women.

Our recommendations to the Commission are as follows: Implement national social protection floors, in line with ILO Recommendation 202 and SDG 1.3, while scaling up existing social protection policies towards universal social protection. Realize SDG 8 by protecting and promoting human and labor rights, decent work, and living wages so that people can work and live in dignity and prosperity. Achieve SDG 10 by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, and by creating inclusive fiscal, wage and social protection policies that create resilience and economic opportunity among vulnerable communities. Implement progressive tax systems and end impunity for tax abuse to mobilize resources for social protection floors and other public services. Invest in financially inclusive loan programs, microfinance loans, and small business cooperatives that empower socially excluded people to reclaim their dignity and become active participants in their financial decisions. These recommendations are at the heart of our position paper for Economic Justice “The disparity between the accumulation of extreme wealth and the inescapability of extreme poverty offends the dignity of human beings, is an affront to the common good, and tends toward disastrous cyclical misery. Extreme amassment of wealth and refusal to share resources and material goods are both cause and effect of social and spiritual ills.”

Delivering oral statement (marker 0.27) on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
Alexis Schutz, Cynthia Mathew, Winifred Doherty and Bhumika Muchhala – panel presenters at Mahila – Addressing Inequalities and Challenges to Social Inclusion in the Community Context.
Social Protection as a Strategy for Addressing Inequalities and Challenges to Social Inclusion
It’s not all serious! What about some SDG ball play! I am rooting for SDG 10!
With Molly Gerke, Maria Nicole Insuasti Torres, Alexis Schuts and Cecelia O’Dwyer.

The ‘Marrakech Compact’ was adopted December 2018 – Reflection by Donatus Lili

You may well ask what is the ‘Marrakech Compact’? It is the new name for the Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10 and 11 December, 2018 and again adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 December, 2018 following a vote.

donatusThe Congregation was represented by Cecilie Kern, (right) from the GSIJP Office in New York, and myself Donatus Lili, the NGO Regional Designate for RIMOA.

The conference was preceded by side events organized by Civil Society Organizations and  Member States in conjunction with the United Nations. I attended 3 side events at Palmeraie Golf Palace in Marrakech, the official  venue for the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration. (GCM)

In the open discussion following one of the panels, I asked the representative of the donatus 2government of Sri Lanka, what recommendations he would make to governments in the Middle East on developing effective policies and measures to protect migrants’ rights with regard to religious tolerance as persons of African origin have been denied right to practice religion and obliged to wear the Muslim attire.  Further some women domestic workers are subjected to sexual exploitation by employers, endure  harsh working conditions, and only receive minimal salaries.

The response indicated that countries of origin need to teach migrants about their rights, in particular with regard to salaries and ensure that they know how to get help if needed during transits, or in the destination country.

The two days intergovernmental conference consisted of  statements by countries in support of the Global Compact on Migration and two dialogues (i) Promoting action on the commitments of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and (ii) Partnerships and innovative initiatives for the way forward.

Of the 193 UN Member States, 164 were present in Marakesh for the  adoption the Compact. Members expressed dissatisfaction and stated that while the compact is non- binding it highlights the obligation of every member state to formulate strategies and policies towards facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration.  The compact is a framework, a blueprint.

His Excellency, Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, in his opening statement challenged some myths and false information concerning the Global Compact for Migration and highlighted the need for everyone on the move to obtain formal authorization and that human dignity and human rights must be respected and upheld irrespective of status   To deny this – to vilify any group of people – is the road to dehumanization and horror.  Societies are stronger, more resilient and enriched, not threatened, by diversity.  Every member, every group, must feel valued as such and simultaneously feel they belong to the society as a whole. This is the way to counter the current groundswell of racism and xenophobia.

donatus 4

Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the former president of Liberia and Chair of the High-Level Panel on International Migration in Africa delivered a key note on December 11, 2018. I had the honor of meeting her after the session.

 

Some personal reflections on the experience:

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) is extremely new to me. While I had done reading I found it difficult to understand. Through my participation in the side events and presence at the official adoption by UN Members states I have some more clarity.  I was confused when the Secretary General stated, “GCM is non –binding” meaning every state is free to adopt or not.   I would have preferred a binding treaty agreement. On the same note, a non-abiding agreement leaves each state free to develop measures and policies to fulfil the 23 objectives.

Attendance at the conference provided me with the opportunity to meet various NGO’s donatus 7who are engaged in migration policy and grassroots efforts.  Among these was Maria Pia Belloni, Chair, NGO Committee on Migration, in New York and UN Representative, World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP)  See the NGO Committee Website for more information

My view on migration has changed.  I previously discouraged people from migrating but now I will ensure they have the correction information and migrate in a safe way using legal channels.  Statements that I heard indicated that a holistic approach to migration is necessary.  If there are well established frameworks it follows that the process works for all – including the migrant and the host country.