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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019

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

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

Protecting the Human Right to Education
#ChildrenNOTMiners

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

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

High Level Political Forum July 9 -18, 2019 has just begun at the United Nations in New York today. The question is that is central to the debate is how are we doing? This year concludes the ending of the first cycle of implementation (2016 – 2019) and will culminate with a Summit in September under the auspices of the General Assembly.

Yolanda Joab Mori, youth leader from the Federated States of Micronesia, was the most impressive speaker this morning . “Today I look out to this room and I see power. I see people in a position to either make or influence the decisions and actions we need. But the world doesn’t need any more power.

What we need, if we’re ever going to come close to reaching our 2030 Goals, isn’t power, what we need now is action, and to get there we need some courage. Young people are starving to see some courage to see some courage reflected in our leaders. Leadership that has guts to take action. Leadership that is fearless enough to put people and planet above profit. Leadership that is inclusive, uplifts equality and empowers everyone, even a small island girl like me.”

“Indeed, we can call this the children’s HLPF!” Ms. Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence Against Children.

Najat explained that SDG’s 4, 8, 10 and 16 – directly affect the realization of the rights of children to the best start in life, an education of good quality and a childhood free from violence, abuse, neglect, while ensuring that no child is left behind. Najat noted that there are disturbing trends and emerging challenges that threaten the gains that have been made for children. These include climate change, long terms conflicts and more sever humanitarian disasters, increasing migration and the numbers of children on the move, discrimination, growing inequality and constraints in the availability of financial resources to provide quality services for children and the spread of terror.

The thematic review of SDG 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” will take place later in the afternoon. You can catch up by watching UN Web TV later. Simultaneously there is an event ‘SDG 4: At the Heart of the Achieving the 2030 Agenda as indicated in the flyer below. With regard to structural and systemic issues we need to ask who is profiting when school fees are paid for children to attend school in the face of the concept of universal education as a human right? Who is profiting when children are exploited in the mines? The Secretary General’s report on implementation of the SDG in paragraph 16 “The nexus among inequality, injustice, insecurity and the lack of sufficient trust in Governments and institutions can further hinder the necessary conditions for advancing sustainable development” including education. We at the global level need to advocate against structures and systems that exploit people and planet. We need a strong ethic of solidarity, embracing the logic of the common good and the common dignity of people and care for the planet. We need to advocate for ethical and moral ‘boundaries’ around unfettered economic and financial markets.

Following the HLPF at the UN is usually a 12 hour day affair. The Women Major Group will have their side event from 6.30 to 8.00 this evening addressing systemic issues from feminist perspective.

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

Reading the Gyeongju Action Plan

The action plan is three and a half pages long, and is currently in English only.  Four Good Shepherd Sisters were among the participants to the conference and contributed significantly to the document with the inclusion of two important concepts – that of gender equality and spirituality.  It is unthinkable for us that education for global citizenship would not include both education for gender equality and spirituality.

The UN Women website has some facts and figures

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and read 10 things you should know about women and the world’s humanitarian crisis of May 23, 2016   All of our ministries throughout the world are addressing gender based violence in one form or another.  South Korea is no exception with services to women and children who experience domestic violence, services to pregnant girls and  young women, shelter accommodation for individuals experiencing crisis and shelter for trafficked women.

E_SDG_Icons-05While we in our ministries are continually challenged with the violence experienced by women and girls in their everyday lives it is imperative that curricula for education for global citizenship address all such gender based violence.  5.1 End all forms of discrimination against women and girls. 5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation and 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

We, in our ministries throughout the world know the cumulative disadvantage that girls and young women face that makes they easy pray to traffickers for sexual and other types of exploitation.  We know how they are oppressed, discriminated against,  controlled by patriarchical forces, robbed of their dignity, and experience day in day out countless violation of their human rights.

 

President Michael D Higgins (Ireland)  at the World Humanitarian Summit, Istanbul, Turkey, May 23 and 24, 2016. spoke to Gender Equality Listen to YouTube   President Higgins said that gender inequality remains the most persistent and prevalent form of human rights violation in today’s world.   “We must recognise…that no distorted version of culture, or mythical structures should be used to justify the most egregious violations of women’s rights in so many regions as happens at the present time”

The document is in three parts … affirmations, commitments and urging member states and united nations to act.  The challenge how to implement in diverse cultural situations.

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UN Women has dedicated the month of August to consideration about the girls and young women

UN Women launched a year-long campaign in the context of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. The #Beijing20 campaign is running under the title: “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity:  Picture It!” and features monthly mini-campaigns, each focusing on a subtheme of gender equality. They are now rolling out the third mini-campaign for August, focusing on girls and young women.                                                                                                                                                               The website is available in three languages by clicking on the required language    –  English     French     Spanish  You can access social media tools in the various languages by clicking here

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Check it out – there is a lot of good information which could be used to lead discussion on girls and girls rights.   Nnenna Agba speaks for Nigerian girls.  Education is the key that opens doors to progress.  As I post this photograph telling us of Nigerian girls desire for education I am immediately thinking of the girls who have been kidnapped.  It is day 110 and on Facebook we are united with Rifkatu and this is her dress – Follow on Facebook   Each day a dress is made for a specific girl so as not to forget and to be in solidarity with all 273 girls.  Nnenna is the lucky one.  See her story on the website.

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See how Malala spent her 17th birthday in Nigeria championing #BringBackOurGirls   Click here

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Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin Executive Director of the UN Population Fund and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Executive Director of UN Women spoke out after 100 days.  Read the statement

And what about Palestinian girls and young women and what is happening in the Gaza.   While this infographic tells us of the benefits of education in reality a girls desire to be educated can be very threatening

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The L Platform of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for action is entitled the ‘Girl Child.’  How are the rights of the Girl Child being upheld in your country and project?  Click here to read the 9 strategic objectives enunciated 20 years ago

Strategic objective L.4.     Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training.  Millennium Development Goal 2 – Achieve Primary Education                                                                                      Proposed Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.

When will rhetoric end  and real political will for change begin?  What is the systemic cause for this  continued violence against girls?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

 

November 10 is support Malala Yousafzai day… Support Girls Education

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging people around the world to join a campaign to support a Pakistani girl shot for advocating for education.

In a recorded video message,  Support Malala   Mr. Ban says that on November 10th, citizens from across the globe are speaking out for Malala Yousafzai and on behalf of the 61 million children worldwide still not in school.

Fourteen-year old Malala, who is a campaigner for education in her country, was seriously wounded by Taliban gunmen who shot her and two other girls last month.

“My Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr. Gordon Brown, will deliver a petition in support of Malala and the universal right to education. I am adding my voice to the messages from over 1 million people across the globe. Education is a fundamental human right. It is a pathway to development, tolerance and global citizenship. Join us in our campaign to put education first – for Malala and girls and boys throughout the world.”

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For Twitter users, on November 10th, please use the hash tag #IAmMalala to help spread the word about Malala and this campaign.