Twenty-one Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Africa and Latin America participated in a 3-day UN orientation in early July. Along with support staff, they listened to informed and inspiring NGOs speak on Sustainable Development Goals, Mining, Financing for Development, and Girls’ Rights; learned about the UN structure and our SNDatUN Office; and celebrated networking and advocacy on local, national, and international levels. Time for conversation was woven into the workshop format as sisters shared stories and insights on issues from their various countries and ministries. In addition to NGO presentations and group discussions, participants spent a day touring the UN and observing government meetings. Sisters connected across cultures and languages, experienced the international flavor of the UN, and identified ways to network around global issues and engage others when they return home.
Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and funded through a partnership with AmeriCorps, Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMVA) has grown from just 6 members to more than 400. Volunteers are recruited each year from local communities and college campuses across the United States. NDMVA members work to empower the economically disadvantaged and oppressed through education and personal hands-on support.
They tutor children and adults, organize after-school activities, and model and teach conflict resolution and parental effectiveness. Volunteers currently serve in 23 cities in the United States and in Haiti, Nicaragua, and Nigeria.
For more information, go to www.ndmva.org/
The UN Millennium Development Goals effort brought about significant improvements since the year 2000, but too many children are still not in school. Education continues to be a priority as governments now focus on the next 15 years. Proposed Goal for 2030: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.
As NGOs prepare for the 65th Annual DPI NGO Conference to be held in New York at the end of this month, they are putting a spotlight on Education. One proposed side event will focus on four important “Zeros” — Zero Exclusion, Zero Discrimination against Girls, Zero Child Labor, and Zero Child Marriage — which, when accomplished, will add up to Positives for Global Education.
- View a UN exhibit showing what some children go through in order to attend school: Journeys to School
- 10-12 November 2014, Aichi-Nagoya, Japan: World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, organized by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) UNESCO Conference
- In current UN MyWorld surveys, the #1 global priority for all ages, genders, countries, and educational levels is “a good education”.
- Notre Dame Online connects the educational ministries of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, facilitates global networking, and provides a forum for teachers and students to share educational resources
- Google for Education provides online tools and programs for the classroom
Education is vital for fostering global citizenship.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
The invitation is out! Using the title “2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda” and carrying the theme of “The role of civil society in the post-2015 development agenda”, the Department of Public Information (DPI) is setting the stage for a transition to a “bold new generation of people-centered and planet-sensitive development”.
Constituencies will be working on the issues of climate change, sustainable development effectiveness, environment, economic justice, human rights, and gender equality. It is a rare opportunity for NGOs to strengthen existing networking and good practices, and create new ones as they move toward achieving a “new social contract that reflects a strong and radical movement of hope and transformation”. It will be yet another opportunity for civil society to contribute its vast diversity in support of the post-2015 negotiations. The Sisters of Notre Dame, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame are making an application to sponsor a workshop on quality education entitled, “Four Zeros Add up to Positives for Education”, the four being: zero exclusion, zero discrimination against girls, zero child labor, and zero child marriage. We will again reflect the responses from Nari Gunjan.
April 30th to May 6th marked the beginning of a new chapter of collaboration among Notre Dame “cousins” related to St. Julie. Invited by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, their country JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) leaders were joined by congregational JPIC coordinators of the Amersfoort and Coesfeld branches, along with UN representatives Jean Stoner and Mary Jo Toll. Motivated by input from SND de Namur congregational leader Teresita Weind, Donald Dorr, M.A.D.D., and Isabel Mary Smyth, SNDdeN, participants seriously explored international, regional, and local means of networking in order to strengthen possibilities of people-centered development and to counter violence which is destructive of human rights and growth. Additional very special experiences were a visit to St. Julie’s birthplace in Cuvilly and time spent in the new heritage center at Namur.
More than 300 Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), including ours, recently sent a statement to the General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to explicitly affirm its commitment to protect and promote the human right to water and sanitation within the SDG framework and implementation. Our statement emphasizes the following points:
“We join the repeated and insistent calls from civil society around the world to ensure that the SDGs are explicitly aligned to the human rights framework. For the post-2015 development agenda to reach its objective of being just, people-centered, and sustainable, the goals must prioritize—for present and future generations—the human right to water for health, life, food, and culture over other demands on water resources. This is even more critical given the key role of water for achieving other sustainable development objectives such as sustainable energy and food production, gender equality, and climate change mitigation.
SDGs must be designed to catalyze increased capacity and political will for States to fulfill their legally binding obligations to respect, protect, and promote the human right to water and sanitation. Our organizations fear that the human right to water and sanitation continues to be contested within the context of a global competition for scarce water resources. We are concerned that a development agenda that is not explicitly committed to upholding this vital human right may end up undermining it.”
The truest measure of compassion lies not in our service to those on the margins,
but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.