A TALE OF TWO CITIES

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 www.bullfrogfilms.com/email/wang_online.html 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.

EXPERIENCING THE UNITED NATIONS: UNITY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL CHANGE

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.  www.un.org

PEOPLE FIRST: COMMUNITY RESPONSES TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING

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) www.ngocstip.org/. 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.

Read more:  www.unodc.org/unodc/human-trafficking/

WHAT WOMEN CARRY: HEAVY BURDENS, BUT POWER AND COURAGE TOO

Beijing20Logo181x200en pngAt a recent UN session, one of the delegates commented, “Stereotypical gender roles divide the world into those who produce and those who reproduce.” Twenty years after the Beijing World Conference on Women aimed at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women, stereotypical views are still evident in many parts of the world. In both developing and developed countries, women are still often reduced to child-bearing roles while men are expected to take on leadership roles. Even if this attitude is pervasive this does not mean it is acceptable. To the detriment of all, these views ignore the power and courage of women and their essential place in the advancement of society. Women’s and girls’ rights are human rights; these are not just ‘women’s issues’ but areas that must be addressed by both men and women if all people are to prosper.  beijing20.unwomen.org/en    empowerwomen.org

                Watch a brief video — What Women Carryhttp://bit.ly/1JizRFH

OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

HCHRZeid Ra’ad Al Hussein assumed his functions as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on September 1, 2014, following the General Assembly’s approval on 16 June 2014 of his appointment by the United Nations Secretary-General. He will be the seventh individual to lead the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the first Asian, Muslim, and Arab to do so.  Previously the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations, Zeid’s professional experience demonstrates his long familiarity with international criminal justice, international law, UN peacekeeping, post-conflict peace-building, international development, and counter- nuclear terrorism. He further served on the international advisory councils of ‘The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation’, the ‘International Peace Institute’ and the Security Council. He is married to Princess Sarah Zeid and they have two daughters and a son. He has met with NGOs and it is clear that he will continue to work with us on issues such as the difficulties of human rights defenders, equality, peace, migration, and issues of women and girls.

“We must therefore persevere together until we bend the course of humanity’s future into a destination more hopeful and enlightened, in which human decency is the only currency of human interaction, and is valued above and beyond material wealth or cleverness alone. After all, the world is not in need of an even greater number of highly intelligent people, nor politically powerful or extremely rich people; many of them are consequential, yes, but … To rescue this blue, marble-looking sphere, our planet, we need – and here we must agree with His Holiness Pope Francis — we need more compassionate, profoundly considerate and wise people piloting our collective fate, and they must be courageous too.”

See more:  www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14998&LangID=E#sthash.Dc41WXNV.dpuf

MARCH 22 WORLD WATER DAY: WATER IS EQUALITY

image001 carrying water

Photo: wunrn.com

“In developing nations the responsibility for collecting water every day falls disproportionately on women and girls. On average they spend 25 percent of their day collecting water for their families. This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family, or attending school.”  www.unwater.org/   (Choose your language)

     Work for the human right to clean water and sanitation for all.

STATUS OF WOMEN 2015: CURRENT CHALLENGES AND ACHIEVEMENTS

The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), convening in New York this month, will focus on the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including current challenges that affect its implementation, and achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women. To date, 1100 organizations have preregistered 8600 individuals to attend CSW 59. Governments will put on 188 side events and NGOs plan to present 450 parallel events—a record number.

Alla Baranovskaya, Maura Browne, Diana Eusebio, Amarachi Ezeonu, Jo-Ann Flora, Cristina Igoa, Rosalind Reynolds, and Robert Solomon will join Mary Jo Toll and Jean Stoner as participants in CSW this year.      www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015 

Follow CSW on UN webcast:  webtv.un.org/

Celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day
www.un.org/en/events/womensday/

CSW59

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