All-Stars-Logo-2014-RGBConstant Contact bestows its annual All Star award on businesses and nonprofits that excel at using online tools to build relationships. Our e-newsletter results again rank among the top 10% of Constant Contact’s international customer base. As in 2012 and 2013, we are proud to be recognized again for our outreach efforts.

A comment from two of our readers: “We have a new appreciation for all that you and your colleagues do in your ministry at the UN. We were particularly struck by the importance of your efforts in working to assure that Gospel values inform UN decisions. In addition, we realize more fully the importance of your ability to provide delegates with first-hand information based on our own Sisters’ experiences in troubled areas of the world.”


Jo-AnnBy Jo-Ann Flora, SNDdeN, SNDatUN delegate to Commission on the Status of Women

When 8000 women from all over the globe arrive in New York City in March each year, we know it’s time for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations. This year I attended several parallel events during the first week of the commission. I concentrated on sessions that dealt with human trafficking and prostitution. It was encouraging to learn about what various countries are doing to bring an end to trafficking and to assist victims in rebuilding their lives. Examples are:

Ireland’s Turn Off the Red Light Campaign

The Nordic Model

Australian Plan to Reduce Violence against Women

A particularly interesting event was presented by the Coalition against Trafficking in Women: Twenty Years after Beijing: Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, and the Quest for Equality. Panelists from several countries, including survivors, spoke from their area of expertise – medicine, psychology, social justice activism, human rights advocacy, etc. – on progress made and new models and solutions yet to be tried.

Throughout the week, an important distinction continued to be made regarding prostitution. On one side, representatives from countries where prostitution is legal spoke of how their governments regard it as a respectable employment choice for women. On the other side, speakers made clear that prostitution must be addressed as it exists, not as it is imagined. Prostitution is violence against women and a form of slavery. Legalization may be seen as a country’s effort to help the slave and make it nicer on the plantation, but legalization cannot eradicate slavery or close down the plantation. These laws sometimes result in harm reduction, but fail to change the system.”


African American Black Art Freedom Dance

African American Art Freedom Dance

“He For She” is a campaign for gender equality founded by UN Women. Too many people think gender equality is a women’s issue to be dealt with by women, but men and boys need to take action too. Sign the pledge to take action against all inequalities, especially those faced by women and girls:


By Robert Solomon, SNDatUN delegate to Commission on the Status of Women Robert Solomon

One take away for me [at the Commission on the Status of Women] was to see so many people (yes, mostly women, but there were men) from so many countries participating from so many points of view in the necessary improvement in the lives of girls and women. I must confess that even though this is the 20th year of this conference, I was not aware of it. But having been awakened, I was able to notice related articles in the paper about the conference. For example in an article about Hillary Clinton, it pointed out that she was at the original Beijing conference. A separate article highlighted issues facing women politically by noting that China had detained women advocates at the time of the conference. There were several sessions at the UN building, some even in the main halls. One that struck me was under the auspices of Equality Now. One of the things that made it memorable was that the first speaker was Jane Fonda. What made it more memorable was her long list of countries where improvement had been made for women and the areas in which there had been improvement. Of course, while there have been improvements in many countries this does highlight the fact that much more improvement is necessary.

Women have always been an equal part of the past.
They just haven’t been part of history.
Gloria Steinem


As it now stands, Sustainable Development Goal # 11 reads: “Build inclusive, safe and sustainable cities and human settlements.” 

Already in 2008, more than half of the world’s population was recorded to be living in cities and towns. In order to explore the possibilities of people centered urbanization, the Permanent Missions of Italy and the People’s Republic of China hosted a half day workshop entitled “Leading Urban Transformation”. High on the agenda of this concept are balance between economic growth and social progress and harmony within all of nature.  Attention to education and decent employment along with public health need to be maintained and supported.

Mayors and academics, social entrepreneurs and journalists spoke about ways in which they are promoting integration of members of communities by social inclusion. For example, fifty years ago Detroit was booming with two million hard-working people living the American Dream. Then the auto industry crashed and so did the Motor City. Many moved away; whole neighborhoods turned into wastelands. The film WE ARE NOT GHOSTS chronicles the stories of the people who determined to make their vision of hope and sustainability a reality –  from community businesses, to place-based schools, to thriving urban gardens and spoken word artists. The film has important lessons for academics, for policy makers and for practitioners who are interested in rebuilding distressed urban landscape.

Immigration and NYCNearly 40% of the population of New York City is foreign-born and the city credits immigrants with saving neighborhoods from degeneration during economic downturns by boosting housing values, preserving jobs, starting businesses, and volunteering at local civic and religious organizations. Foreign-born residents contribute greatly to the success and vitality of their neighborhoods. Immigrants make up 72 percent of the city’s nursing, psychiatric and home health aides as well as almost half of the city’s physicians and surgeons, and more than one in five elementary and middle school teachers. The future of New York City and the future of many other cities in the world depend on the way in which newcomers are welcomed along with the gifts that they bring to their adopted countries and communities.


Alla 1 cropBy Alla Baranovskaya, Intern in SNDatUN Office  Being a part of the United Nations is a fascinating experience. The actual feel of it is a lot more interesting than the theory that I have been learning about in the California State University. Standing in the UN building gives you a thrill and excitement that you would never be able to feel without the opportunity of being actually present in the UN headquarters. Here I’ve observed so many different kinds of people. Every time when I make a step in the UN territory it feels like I am stepping in a little version of the world as a whole. Taking in mind that all the people here came from different parts of the world, speak multiple languages, have their own life situation, their own status and agenda, and are all here “united” with one thought: “As human beings we all have to unite with each other in order to achieve a peace in this wonderful world”.

view of UN cropI have learned that there are many different approaches to the United Nations that are taken into consideration: economic, political, communication oriented, and social. However, I would underline that the human factor is one of the most important factors of all. People have to listen to each other, get under each other’s skin in order to understand a possible solution of the issues that are going on right now. The people in the United Nations are here for a cause of solving different ongoing conflicts, reducing poverty, sharing their stories as well as their knowledge with everyone else. They are the ones who are making the actual change. The attendance of so many meetings and events at the United Nations headquarters during the Commissions for Social Development (CSocD) and the Status of Women (CSW) gave me a clear idea how and why the unity of all the people is the “key” to the success in this world. Uniting, we the people are able to change the world, to provide for one another and to fulfill other countries’ needs for things they lack.


Ezeonu 2By Grace Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN
Intern in SNDatUN Office   

Human trafficking is among the vilest crimes still being committed against humanity in this modern society. It is a crime that defiles the dignity of the human person. Borrowing from the words of a famous Catholic theologian, Edward Schillibeeckx, I describe it as “a dark fleck in our history.” In Pope Francis’ speech after the Angelus prayer on February 8, which he declared a Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking, he decries the evil of human trafficking and describes it as a “shameful scourge unworthy of a civilized society.”  He maintains that each of us should “commit to be a voice for these our brothers and sisters humiliated in their dignity.”

CSTIP logoAmong the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) committed to eradicating human trafficking is the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons (CSTIP) CSTIP is a coalition of NGOs “dedicated to the eradication of human trafficking in all its forms through education, advocacy, research, and monitoring compliance with UN treaties, protocols, laws and resolutions.” During the recent Commission on Social Development at the UN, the Salesians of Don Bosco, in collaboration with CSTIP, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, sponsored a parallel event titled: “People First: Community Responses to Human Trafficking.”

Bakhita House Peggy CumminsPanelists at this event highlighted the realities of human trafficking and modern slavery in our present world, and the plight of victims of this heinous crime from the perspective of a survivor. Among the panelists was Peggy Cummins SNDdeN (left) director of Bakhita House, a shelter for women in vulnerable situations in the Boston area of the US. Other participants included academia, health personal, a representative from the US Department of Homeland Security, and a survivor/advocate against human trafficking.

Listening to the panelists, participants were filled with a renewed resolve and a sense of urgency to continue in the fight to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery in our world. However, because of the scale and the multidimensional nature of this issue, eradicating human trafficking requires the concerted efforts of multiple actors—individuals, groups, communities, civil society, private sector, national/regional governments and the international community. Human trafficking/modern-day slavery happens everywhere; therefore, almost everyone can do something to help eradicate it.

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