The Global People’s Assembly 2023 will be on 17 (Sunday) and 18 September (Monday) in New York – at the UN SDG Summit and the UN General Assembly. This is a critical moment for people and planet. The assessment of how well we are doing implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at the High Level Political Forum in July was dismal. This is a critical moment as the UN SDG Summit on September 18 and 19 can be the turning point that people and planet need to survive and flourish. The Global People’s Assembly was started in 2019, and has since grown stronger. The assembly is co-organised by 40 civil society networks. Everyone is invited to participate. To learn more, read the concept note here, and read the Global People’s Assembly 2022 Declaration here.
A declaration will be presented at the UNSDG Summit. We are members of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors – on of the 40 civil society network co-organizing the Global People Assembly and also of Coalition for the UN We Need.
Register to attend virtually. I will be present in person. The focus is on structural reasons for social, environment and economic injustice and to move towards ending inequalities. If you have any queries don’t hesitate to contact me using the comment box at the end of this post.
Tomorrow, February 15 is the closing day of the Commission for Social Development. It has been an engaging two weeks – the first in-person meeting of the commission since February 2020. The Commission meetings were dominated by the impacts of the pandemic, the climate crisis and geopolitical conflicts all contributing to and exacerbating inequalities in access to health, education and jobs. The continual call was for countries to create productive employment and decent work and ensure universal social protection by right to all including all disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. We are awaiting the adoption of the resolution on the priority themes to judge if actions committed to by member states are commensurate with the scale of the problem. Cuba’s representative speaking on behalf of G77 and China put price tag of $3.3 to $4.5 trillion per year as the amount required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within the given timeline in developing countries.
The formal program of panels and general discussion were accompanied by activities of the NGO Community delivering the Civil Society Declaration at the opening session, hosting multiple side events on related topics, moderating and speaking as experts on panels, leading at the Civil Society Forum on Friday February 10 and making oral statement at the conclusion of the general discussion on Monday February 13. Many of you were signatories to the Civil Society Declaration.
The Congregation co-sponsored a side event on Tuesday February 7 entlitled: “Decent work for all: Ending vulnerability through education and economic empowerment.” The keynote speaker for this event was : Ambassador Amara Sowa, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone, who has a distinguished career in education and government. The Ambassador is passionate about education for all but particularly concerned for the importance of KG for all children and education for girls including girls who may be pregnant. The range of projects presented covered multiple issues. Chirag Education Culture and Health Awareness Centre, an NGO under the jurisdiction of Patna Province of the Congregation of Jesus presented on women’s self help groups. Rhea Sethi, Child Development Program Officer at the Red Dot Foundation, Satara District of Maharashtra, India outlined empowerment programs with women and children. Sister Jackline Mwongela, an advocate against human trafficking in Kenya spoke of the vulnerability of young people to traffickers and Sister Silvia Zábavová, an activist and professor working among the Roma community in Slovakia presented various projects conducted since 2011 including a project in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Sloval Republic, called “Prevention and elimination of discrimination against Roma women in the municipality of Jarovnice” This training took place from Oct 2019 to July 2022 and helped 140 Roma women and girls with pre-employment training. It was co-financed by the EU. Anjali Singh, a teacher at the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre, Jamshedpur, India shared a beautician training for girls and women as a way to assist with financial issues, increase self-reliance, and empowerment. The session was moderated my two impressive youth leaders. We co-sponsored this event because it echoes in so many way the ministries that Good Shepherd engage in around the world in anti- human trafficking work, skills development, empowerment and financial inclusion with girls, women and children.
The second side event was on Wednesday February 8 entitled “On the Road to 2025: A new Social Contract Implementing Universal Social Protection, Ensuring Full Employment and Decent Work for All” We were honored to have Ms. Hanna Sarkkinen, Minister of Social Affairs and Health of Finland. This event demonstrates the many positive steps forward since 2011that have been taken in embedding social protections systems and floors for all within national legislation and programs. The event was dedicated to the memory of Prof. Michael Cichon. Michael was the inspiration behind and driver of Recommendation 202, founder of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors and he has been an inspiring example to so many people around the world. Winifred Doherty has been a member of the Global Coalition since its beginning.
It has been recorded and you can read more about the event and speakers HERE
The Civil Society Forum started on Sunday February 5 during the full day of February 10th. Sude Gorke, an intern at the GSIJP Office facilitated a very engaging Networking Session. She was engaged throughout the Commission and outlines her experience here.
My Experience at the Civil Society Forum and CSocD61
As a political science student, I was overjoyed at the prospect of attending a UN Commission and learning more about international cooperation. Thus far, my education about the UN and other international organizations had only been in classroom settings. Real first hand experience, such as attending CSocD61, has been difficult to come by with the current pandemic crisis. For this reason, I am thankful to the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and the NGO Committee for Social Development for allowing me to attend this year’s session.
The speakers at each event were highly knowledgeable in the economic and social sectors of governments and voiced their opinions proudly. Many topics were on the agenda, including social protection floors, working towards increasing decent jobs, youth unemployment, and gender equality. These are all topics that affect me as a young woman living in the United States and I am thankful for the speakers for addressing awareness on issues pertaining to not only my future, but also everyone’s future, in which concrete policies and social protection reforms can be realized and upheld.
From attending CSocD61, I have become more hopeful in the prospects of our futures on this Earth. It is not often that you are able to recognize first-hand the work being done on the international level to address our global issues. Witnessing the speakers actually fight for a just labor market gives me hope that the future can be more equitable and equal for us all.
One of the most outstanding speakers of the 10 days has been Dr. Arash Fazli, Baha’i International Community. Dr Arash spoke on February 10th at the Civil Society Forum Thematic Session No 2: Rethinking the Dominant Economic Paradigm – Ensuring Social Protections and Just Transitions in the World of Work. 3pm-4:30pm. Sude Gorke compiled the following notes on his presentation:
When we look at the post-COVID world, there is a great deal of soul searching that is happening amongst world leaders, because there is a deepening consciousness that the systems of our world are not working, that something fundamental must change, it is no longer enough to tinker with the systems that exist to make small adjustments.
There is something wrong with the development model that we’ve adopted. Based on neoclassical economic thinking, it was basically one that saw the human being as a bundle of needs and wants and the characterization of the human being was of utility-maximizing, self-interested actor. The understanding was that the kind of structure that we need for society is one of constant consumption and production. You create a society which has at its center the pursuit of economic growth and limitless wealth. This is the fundamental problem; most of our problems in the world stem from this organizing logic; the pursuit of unlimited economic growth.
The market has become the mediator of all the needs and all the aspirations of humanity.
Commodification of relationships, everything in human nature.
Market values crowd out all other values. They become token values and what ends up mattering most is economic considerations.
The problem is when something that is meant to be a means to an end becomes the end itself. Economic growth has always been a means to an end, the means by which people would be productivity employed so that they could then pursue the higher goals, the goals around which our civilization could flourish. However, what ended up happening was that the means to an end became the end itself.
If one is saying that endless economic growth should not be at the center of our enterprise, what should?
The pandemic has taught us a few things about this. We are fragile and even the strongest of us can be brought down very easily. We are completely interconnected. We depend on each other. Dependence is seen as weakness. But actually what you need is a system that is built on this interconnectedness and interdependence.
We need a new set of values to center our society which are based on reciprocity, collaboration, cooperation– and on the highest aspirations of human societies everywhere is this conception of development as being just the provision of material needs and wants needs to be broadened to include people’s spiritual aspirations. People do not see themselves as just a bundle of needs and wants.
What implications does this new view of society have for the economy?
Economic institutions have an organic relationship with the values in society. Neoclassical economists assume that values are givens, that they are there in the world the way you have geographical formations, that you can let society function, you can let the economy function, and it just stays that way. This is not correct.
Values can strengthen or weaken economic institutions. In our current system, you are under competitive pressures constantly that the system creates that even if a person wants, they cannot even begin to think about assisting others.
Climate change requires our generation to sacrifice its self-interest for people living in the Pacific. We have to make serious changes to our lives, fundamental changes to our lives. For generations to come. There is no way this generation which is somehow fed on the idea of self-interest cannot develop these qualities.
Our economic system has to create a new system of awards and incentives so that behaviors which are in alignment with altruism are rewarded.
Our concept of efficiency must change. Currently, efficiency is based on the least amount of input for the most amount of output. The damage to the environment, cultural practices, and people’s social relationships are all considered externalities and not calculated in the input.
All economic activity will have to be limited by the goals of sustainability, by the goals of building societies with strong relationships of solidarity, and by the necessity of holding higher aspirations of the people of that society.
The full recording of the session is available HERE. Following his presentation Winifred Doherty made this comment from the floor
The Position Paper of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors at the Commission for Social Development 61st Session. Winifred Doherty of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd prepared the position paper. International KOLPING, International Presentation Association, Social Justice in Global Development, JusticeMakers Bangladesh, and Free Trade Union Development Center Sri Lanka, all members of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors endorsed the paper.
Winifred Doherty asked a question during the 9th Plenary Meeting – Multi Stakeholder Session – on February 9 which was moderated by Jean Quinn the Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development. Full session is available HERE
Acknowledgement – We are grateful to Kimberly Moloche (GSIJP Office) who prepared the shortened video clips
One more outstanding presentation was made by Ms Lara Hicks of UNANIMA INTERNATIONAL at the 7th plenary Session of the Commission “Addressing the social impacts of multi-faceted crises to accelerate recovery from the lingering effects of the pandemic through the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This presentation is impressive and models how we can make effective contributions from experience in ministry to the halls of policy making. Lara’s segment begins at 01.01.10 and is well worth reviewing.
Maybe you are not sure what the UN Commission is all about! JCOR (Justice Coalition of Religious) at the UN have prepared a user friendly guide to help. It is in PowerPoint Format – 12 slides in all. Slide 5 has details of the Civil Society Forum 23. Slides 7 has details of two events that the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd are co-sponsoring including how to register. Slides 9, 10 and 11 contain social media information including suggested messaging. Slide 12 is a Take Action slide inviting you to sign the civil society declaration which is in English,French,Spanish and Portuguese. Click here to sign the Declaration
¡Quizás no esté seguro de qué se trata la Comisión de la ONU! JCOR (Coalición de Religiosos por la Justicia) en la ONU ha preparado una guía fácil de usar para ayudar. Está en formato PowerPoint – 12 diapositivas en total. La diapositiva 5 tiene detalles del Foro de la Sociedad Civil 23. La diapositiva 7 tiene detalles de dos eventos que la Congregación de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Buen Pastor está copatrocinando, incluido cómo registrarse. Las diapositivas 9, 10 y 11 contienen información sobre redes sociales, incluidos mensajes sugeridos. La diapositiva 12 es una diapositiva para tomar acción que lo invita a firmar la declaración de la sociedad civil que está en inglés,francés, español y portugués. Haga clic aquí para firmar la Declaración.
Peut-être n’êtes-vous pas sûr de ce qu’est la Commission des Nations Unies ! JCOR (Justice Coalition of Religious) à l’ONU a préparé un guide convivial pour vous aider. Il est au format PowerPoint – 12 diapositives en tout. La diapositive 5 contient des détails sur le Forum de la société civile 23. La diapositive 7 contient des détails sur deux événements que la Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Charité du Bon Pasteur coparraine, y compris comment s’inscrire. Les diapositives 9, 10 et 11 contiennent des informations sur les médias sociaux, y compris des messages suggérés. La diapositive 12 est une diapositive Passez à l’action vous invitant à signer la déclaration de la société civile qui est en anglais,français, espagnol et portugais. Cliquez ici pour signer la déclaration
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.
“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
The day was spend mostly at the UN from 2.30 p.m. until 11.00 p.m waiting, watching, wondering, getting updates, chatting with friends, approaching delegates as they entered and left Conference Room 4. What is the situation of the negotiations now? How many paragraphs agreed? What are the sticky areas? Will there be an outcome document? It’s hopeful! Maybe at 5.00, no not 5.00 maybe in another hour or hour and a half! Then there is movement a rush towards the door – it is approximately 6.40 p.m. Yes we have Agreed Conclusion. A sigh of relief and excitement. We NGO’s file our way in and up to the balcony to await the opening of the 14th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. There is a delay – the agreed document has to be printed and distributed before the this session starts. Groups are moving around. It is approaching 7.45 when the session starts. The session is webcast Do look at it and you will have a global view of the current situation of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The session opens – with accounts of cyber bullying and telephone bullying of the facilitator of the Agreed Conclusions Ms. Koki Muli Grignon (Deputy Permanent Representative, Kenya), Vice-Chair (African States Group). Ambassador felt scared! These tactics are an attack on the multilateral system which strives to accommodate different opinions and celebrate diversity.
Objections to the agreed conclusions we expressed by some member states. By reviewing the webcast you can see what the red lines were. Some positive aspects for me – there is reference to ILO Recommendation 202 in paragraph 6, in paragraph (d) under strengthening normative, legal and policy frameworks, (f) ensure the right to social security in national legal frameworks, as well as ensure universal access to social protection, supported by national strategies, policies , action plans, and adequate resources, to enhance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Under strengthen women’s and girls’ access to social protection paragraph (gg) Work towards establishing or strengthening inclusive and gender responsive social protection systems, including floors, to ensure full access to social protection for all without discrimination of any kind and take measures to progressively achieve higher levels of protection, including facilitating the transition from informal to formal work. Other areas are highlighted (hh) to have social protection measures incorporated into humanitarian response, (jj) women’s access to pensions, and income security for older women, (ll) maternity benefits and (kk) access to social protection in countries of destination for migrant workers. The Agreed Conclusions stopped short of ‘universal child benefits’ or ‘basic income security for children’ (ILO R 202) but did elaborate a paragraph (ii) on nutrition policy. See the press release by UN Women
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.
In January 2017, I participated in a global consultation on Social Protection and Diakonia at Sigtuna, Sweden, hosted by the Church of Sweden. The word ‘Diakonia’ is a Greek term and equates with ‘ministry.’ People from twenty countries gathered to discuss the issue of social protection and ask what is the role and voice of church and faith based actors in the issue of social protection – and how to relate this to the responsibility of States to fulfill everyone’s right to social protection. Among the participants were members of Norwegian Church Aid. Good Shepherd had long -standing relationships with them dating back to the early days in Ethiopia when they funding Bethlehem Training Center.
It was a privilege for me to be invited to participate in the discussion and reflection integrating scripture and social policy. The statement is the outcome. I suggest that this could be a reflection/prayer/discernment document for use by sisters and mission partners on social protection and taxation. It is certainly integrating spirituality and social policy and the sustainable development goals. As you know I have been a long time advocate on the need to implement national floors of social protection – moving from poverty to prosperity.
A video and statement has been prepared – and are now in three languages – English, Spanish and French.
We call on churches and faith based organizations everywhere to stand up and demand for fair redistribution of wealth and social protection as a matter of social justice and human rights. We affirm that social protection is an essential requirement for a just society, regardless of nationality, legal citizenship or the level of economic development in a country. We also believe that taxation is a fundamental instrument for redistribution and for financing the common good so that all can have life in dignity.
” As we mark World Day of Social Justice, we see far too many places where there are increasing opportunities for a few and only rising inequality for the many. Growing inequality undermines the international community’s progress in lifting millions out of poverty and building a more just world. The fault lines are visible in falling wages for women and young people and limited access to education,health services and decent jobs. We must strengthen and build institutions and develop policies that promote inclusive development. In adopting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), world leaders committed to create a more equal and just world. Much progress has been made in enhancing decent work opportunities, strengthening social protection and improving public services. Despite these advances, billions of people desperately depend on our focused and tireless efforts. We must accelerate our work to meet the MDGs by the 2015 deadline and also look beyond by beginning to define new goals for sustainable development. As we seek to build the world we want, let us intensify our efforts to achieve a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development path built on dialogue, transparency and social justice.”