Commission on the Status of Women: Passionate women (and men!) working together

KatieBlawie-167-WebBy Katie Blawie, SNDatUN intern and delegate to the 60th Commission on the Status of Women: I had a wonderful time attending the 60th session on the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) at UN Headquarters in New York City in March 2106. While I attended other commissions/conferences during my time as an intern with SNDatUN these past six months, nothing could compare to or prepare me for my experience at CSW. Seeing thousands of passionate women (and men!) working together from around the world was incredibly inspiring, humbling, and eye-opening. And I got to experience all of this with both my mom and my godmother by my side, which was truly special and something I will cherish for years to come.

I attended a couple of the government sessions, but found the NGO parallel events to be the most interesting. Because there were over 400 events to choose from, I was able to tailor my CSW experience to focus on the issues that mattered most to me. I went to events that covered topics including mental health, technology and cybercrime, engaging the private sector, and even a panel of brave North Korean female defectors.


Graphic: Katie Blawie

To anyone interested in attending CSW in the future, my advice would be to try to not plan too much and to just go with the flow. With so many people and so many different events going on in various locations all at once, it can feel a little overwhelming at times. So I just took it one day at a time, and went to the events I was interested in until I ran out of energy for the day. The Commission spans two weeks, so don’t wear yourself out too early!

I hope to be able to attend future sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women, and am looking forward to seeing how both the Commission as well as the rights of women & girls evolve over time. All in all, I am very pleased with the outcome document of CSW60, and we must keep in mind that any progress is better than no progress at all.


16-00019f_Website-banners-300x100During a 2014 online consultation regarding Sustainable Development Goals, the number one priority across all 9,000,000 respondents was a good education. Now, in preparation for a UN Conference in South Korea at the end of May, another global consultation has begun. Contribute your ideas about education for global citizenship: (choose your language) and access the draft action agenda for the Conference:


Pam StonerBy Pamela Stoner, SNDatUN delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women: The foremost annual global caucus on gender rights and empowerment, CSW60 brought thousands of women and hundreds of men together for two weeks to learn, collaborate, network and engage. It was wonderful to see so many strong, resilient women and girls come together from so many corners of the world!

Photos: Pamela Stoner and Katie Blawie

Photos: Pamela Stoner and Katie Blawie

It was all so joyous and colorful. The session/event leaders and participants were determined to share best practices and ensure that we could all go back to our countries to share, teach, and work for change and improvement. Looking at these determined women and youth gave me hope that we can keep the focus on these vital issues so that concrete improvement will happen over time.


By Carolyn Phillips, Pace University student sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to attend the Commission on the Status of Women:  It was a really beneficial experience for me because I was able to learn how the United Nations actually works. This experience also enabled me to network with people in my field that I wouldn’t have been able to without attending this event. I even got an internship from the International Working Group on Women and Sport at a panel! I learned so much about the United Nations, international sport, disability rights, and myself during those two weeks.




Igoa Cristina

By Cristina Igoa, SNDatUN delegate to the 60th Commission on the Status of Women
During a presentation entitled “Women’s Voices from North Korea: Repression and Resilience”, held at the United States Permanent Mission to the UN, four North Korean women defectors told about escaping from their country. It was clear that these women had been oppressed by the North Korean government run by dictatorial leader Kim Jong Un who is little more than a bad approximation of his deceased father and who has continued his father’s military-first policies with emphasis on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

North Korea is a dangerous place for women. They can be raped without any consequences to the men who do such an act. The men who rape women allow them to give birth to their babies and then the babies are sold to anyone who wishes to purchase them. Even more tragic is the fact that men who put babies up for sale do not care who will purchase these children and are even apt to use the money to buy lunch or a sandwich.

NK panel crop

Hearing of these tragic circumstances for women left the audience stunned and feeling helpless. Government officials took notes about what is happening but were not able to give details about what world governments are doing to help these women. I hope something will be done to free them from this oppressive environment and such horrific acts of inhumanity.




People are talking about the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). You may wonder exactly what “sustainable development” is. It’s generally understood as development that improves living conditions in the present without compromising the resources of future generations. This is the challenge the UN has given itself for the next 15 years: to work together to improve life for humans and the planet without damaging either. Learn more and get involved:

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Cheryl Morrissey, NGO Representative for Pax Christi International at the UN, shares why she works for peace: 

Cheryl M cropMy father had multiple myeloma and then quadriplegia as a direct result of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. A career US Army Officer—an elite Army Ranger (similar to Navy Seals) and part of the celebrated 173rd Airborne Brigade, “The Sky Soldiers”—he was exactly the gung-ho strong and young hero-type the rest of us look to when “we” want to go to war—but just not actually go ourselves, or let anyone we love go. The sacrifices made by soldiers, sailors, and pilots like him around the world in all countries—the lifelong physical and spiritual burdens we pack onto them without much thought but LOTS of braggadocio—are an important motivation to do anything I can at the UN that increases peace and justice. We have to keep pushing for a better way to coexist.


  • Peace needed off-planet too: E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, speaks on prevention of an arms race in outer space
  • World Radio Day was celebrated on 13 February with the theme “Radio in times of war and conflict”
  • Join the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict:
  • Notre Dame student represents USA at peace meeting in Japan:


You can’t win a war any more than you can win an earthquake.
Jeannette Rankin




 By Eucharia Madueke, SNDdeN “While my attendance at the Civil Society Forum organized Eucharia Madueke crop.jpgby the UN Commission for Social Development in February 2016 was certainly a privilege, the outstanding event for me was meeting with a Minister at the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations. Along with Maura Browne, SNDdeN Director of Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation, and Jean Stoner, SNDdeN representative at the UN, I was warmly welcomed by Mr. Anthony Bosah.

Bosah.jpgOur discussion with Mr. Bosah was quite informative about the role and functioning of his office at the UN ( but I believe that our impact during the conversation was important as well. Mr. Bosah was interested in learning of our engagement in society, our political involvement, and our stand against land grabbing. Speaking with us, he said, was instructive. We also shared with him about the African Faith and Justice Network (AFJN), an organization established in 1983 by American Catholic missionaries in Africa to promote responsible and just relationships between the United States and African countries. Sisters of Notre Dame have been an active member of AFJN since its beginning.”



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