Highlight from previous issue (2012):

In 2000 the United Nations agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to address the needs of the world’s poorest by 2015. While efforts to achieve the original MDGs continue, the UN has launched a global conversation to determine steps after 2015. An Inter-Governmental Working Group is preparing Sustainable Development Goals, and a High Level Panel of twenty-six members of government, civil society and the private sector is working on a Post-2015 Development Agenda. Beyond2015, a coalition of 400+ organizations, is also addressing this issue. UN Agencies are leading nine thematic consultations and more than fifty national discussions. Countries participating in consultations include Brazil, Peru, Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa; plans are in place to add more countries to the list. For an overview of the entire Post-2015 process, go to (in English, French, and Spanish).

An opportunity to participate in a collaborative effort between the United Nations and civil society: The World We Want Campaign invites people around the world to share their visions for the post-2015 world. Materials are accessible in multiple languages. Go to and click on your language.


Day of the GirlOctober 11 will mark the third UN International Day of the Girl. Some of our schools are already preparing. “To help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives and providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential” is the aim of young women at Notre Dame Academy, Toledo, Ohio. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is providing leadership to a project which will not only fulfill requirements for a culminating project for the IB Diploma, but it will “raise awareness of the hardships girls around the world face solely based on their gender”.

NDA Toledo OH studentsTwo young women, with the support of their IB director, Ms. Angela Joseph, recognize that many girls living in poverty lack basic necessities, among them feminine materials and care. This situation results in girls’ inability to attend school on a regular basis. Carra Gibson and Isabel Abu-Absi are planning a multi-media education segment for the Day of the Girl, in their words, “to spread awareness about these issues and not only inform NDA girls about the needs that are commonly present, but to engage them and finally, empower them to do something about it”. Carra and Isabel are in touch with Sr. Jeannette Pierre-Louis, SND de Namur. Sister works at Notre Dame Family Center in Les Cayes, Haiti, to provide rudimentary education, health services, and job training skills to women and children. NDA will assist with funds for feminine care products and in the process get to know local culture and members of the local youth center, along with their volunteers.


Mary Jo Toll

You may remember the very significant women’s conference in Beijing in 1995. Three Sisters of Notre Dame were present for this historic meeting which produced the Beijing Platform for Action. The BPfA has been a powerful agenda for women’s empowerment since 1995. It treats such areas as poverty, education, health, violence, armed conflict, power and decision-making, human rights, environment, media, advancement of women, and the girl child. Sisters who attended this international movement are Mary Sujita Kallupurakkathu, Mary Sudha Varghese, and Kathryn Feeley.

Beijing 1995

Regional gatherings to renew political energy and social mobilization twenty years later will focus on the following issues:

  1. Overview and analysis of achievements and challenges since 1995
  2. Progress in the implementation of the critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action with emphasis on the years since 2009
  3. Data and statistics
  4. Emerging priorities

Information on regional gatherings:

African region (Addis Ababa)

Europe and North American region (Geneva)

Latin America and the Caribbean region (Santiago)

Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok)

Western Asian region (venue to be announced)

The outcomes of these regional review processes will feed into the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2015.



Human Development Report 2014 English web_banner_fr_0In July the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published the 2014 Human Development Report. “It explains that vulnerability threatens human development and, unless it is systematically addressed, progress will be neither equitable nor sustainable.”

Free downloads of the 2014 Report, plus materials on the Report’s indices and regional implications, are available at (English, French, Spanish)


trafficking2Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in the year 2000. It has been allowed in Amsterdam since the 1600s. There are about 8,000 women in prostitution in the city. Young women are especially vulnerable because they are often groomed by pimps who force them into selling their bodies when they are 18. Amsterdam’s mayor is taking stock of the laws legalizing prostitution which were supposed to alleviate human trafficking of women. Instead of lessening abuse of women, legalizing of prostitution has increased it. Saying that “the situation is so grave that we have to act”, the mayor maintains that the first priority is to keep young women from being pushed into prostitution, and the second is to help those who wish to leave prostitution.

Dutch officials are now studying the ‘Nordic Model’ – a set of laws that penalizes the demand for commercial sex while decriminalizing individuals who are prostituted. This model is based on an approach first adopted in Sweden in 1999, followed later by Norway and Iceland. The Nordic Model has two main goals: curb the demand for commercial sex that fuels sex trafficking and promote equality between men and women. The European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee has approved a report that recommends the adoption of the ‘Nordic Model’ of anti-prostitution laws. The UK, South Korea, Ireland, Denmark, Latvia, and France have taken first steps toward the Nordic Model.


Glòria Rognoni Planas

Glòria Rognoni Planas

Glòria Rognoni Planas, from Sant Cugat del Vallès near Barcelona, attended March’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as part of our NGO delegation. At a CSW side event an artist spoke about helping women deal with suffering through art. Glòria, a former actress and current Director of the social theater group Femarec, shares her perceptions of this event “which confirms how Art is capable of not only making the artist grow but also the beholder”.

Painting by Anne Kantor Kellett

Painting by Anne
Kantor Kellett

Glòria writes, “Anne Kantor Kellett was raised by parents who survived the Holocaust. She says that her mother always transmitted to her the pain she had suffered. She showed us an impressive photo where you can see the deep, indefinite, sad, lost look of her mother. Moved by the genocide in Rwanda, Anne decided to go there to help the survivors. When she got into contact with them, it was like finding her own family. ‘When you have no family, other survivors become your family.’ She finds that same lost look of her mother’s in the face of a man. She shows us the picture: impressive, it is exactly the same look… She tells us that the suffering produced by holocausts, wherever they take place, is the same for all human beings who suffer them.

Sculpture by Anne Kantor Kellett

Sculpture by
Anne Kantor Kellett

She evokes all her emotions in art. She takes photographs, paints abstract pictures, and also sculpts.

Her wooden sculptures, quite impressive, also reflect that same suffering, but each sculpture liberates a little of the suffering. She shows us pictures in which the necks are long and tortuous and hold up heads in pain.

Anne makes us note the evolution: the last photo of this series shows half of a woman’s body, also with a very long neck, below which you can see the lungs and the ribs, but the woman is looking up, and next to the lungs spring two wings of hope. That, she states, is how she feels now and how she wishes to transmit her evolution. At the end she shows yet another picture of one of her abstract paintings, a very large canvas with strong strokes of brown and black on the left side. At the right there is a large red stain. In front of the painting is her thirteen-year old son, with a luminous gaze. Anne says that the gaze of her son is also through art and is how she looks at life now.”

(Article translated from Spanish by Guillermo Ayesa Igoa)


General Assembly 2Each September, after summer holidays, the United Nations becomes a hub of activity again with the meetings surrounding the opening of the General Assembly which this year takes place on September 16. The new president of the Assembly, Sam Kahamba Kutesa, comes from Uganda and is currently Uganda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. He proposed as the theme of the 69th session: ‘Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda.’ He said this underscores the need to agree on the post-2015 agenda and also ensure its implementation. He emphasized the need “to address the means of implementation, in terms of financial resources, technology development, transfer and capacity-building,” including a strengthened global partnership. Kutesa also expressed commitment to reaching a global agreement on climate change, and advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Each year another region has the opportunity to choose a candidate for presiding over the General Assembly. Then the 193 member states draw lots to see which delegation will occupy the first seat. This year it will be Cuba. Other states will follow in English alphabetical order.

Monday, 22 – Tuesday, 23 September High-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
Monday, 22 September
1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Special session of the General Assembly on the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development
Tuesday, 23 September “Climate Summit 2014″ convened by the Secretary-General
Wednesday, 24 September “General Debate” (statements from any of the 193 members who wish)

General Assembly Committees, at which NGOs are present and active, begin on October 7.


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