THE UNITED NATIONS: “A COMMUNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE

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From the left are: Sisters Mary Akinyi (K), Patricia Shanahan (US), Adele Ndona (DRC), JuanaJacqueline Castillo Salvador (Peru), Fidelia Chukwu (N) Christiana Sidi (N), Florette Mbonzi (DRC), and Praxides Awino (K)

July 2018, was an especially busy month at the SNDatUN office in New York. The United Nations (UN) hosted several significant conferences, including the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals. The HLPF was attended by eight Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from the United States, Peru, Nigeria, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sisters were in the US to participate in the congregation Networking for Mission conference which took place in Boston with over 300 Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Associates, and co-workers from different parts of the world in attendance.  As part of the experience of the global mission of the congregation, some Sisters came to New York for a UN orientation and to attend the second half of the HLPF. I felt very privileged to host our Sisters in New York for five days and to acquaint them with some of the works of the United Nations, and the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as an accredited non-governmental organization to the Economic and Social Council of the UN.

Below are short reflections from some of the Sisters on their UN experience:

 Praxides Awino and Mary Akinyi, SNDdeN – Kenya: It was interesting to learn more about the evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals and its global agenda for change which focuses on the environmental, social and economic impact on people in the different continents. After listening to different presentations, it came to our understanding that the UN as an international organization was founded to meet the objectives of the SDGs by promoting the rights and well- being of individuals.

 As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, we can relate to what the UN does because we promote justice and peace, and the well-being of the people we serve in ministry.

 Vision 2030, with its slogan of ‘leaving no one behind’ was clear from the reports of all the countries gathered from the different regions of the world for the HLPF voluntary national reviews of the SDGs. But the question is whether “they preach water and drink wine.” It makes a difference when leaders walk the talk!

 It was evident that young people were not left out as ‘Youth Skills Day 2018’ was 2celebrated. As present and future leaders in a fast-changing world, young people gathered at the event shared their hopes, challenges and frustrations. One such hope was the need to support the youth with adequate digital skills necessary to transition into the future global market.

 We thank the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for the opportunity given to us to attend the conference and Sr. Amarachi for inviting us to the UN forum where we will never be the same as we first came. We hope to put what we have learned and heard into action. As Nelson Mandela says, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

 Christiana Sidi, SNDdeN – Nigeria “Attending a few sessions of the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations, particularly listening to reports on the SDGs, challenged me to take a step further. I realized more than ever the need to spread words among Sisters in my unit, staff and students in our Notre Dame schools back in Nigeria on the call to action in promoting and achieving the 2030 Global Agenda in our countries.

3 I was struck by reports from countries in similar economic and socio-political situations as my country. It was very clear that we are all struggling with same or similar issues, irrespective of the geographical location, race or ideology. As the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi once said, “Poverty is the worst form of pollution.” We all therefore, must make efforts to eradicate poverty and ignorance from our world. People have a responsibility to hold their governments accountable to their commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

 My experience at the UN also affirms my belief in the interconnectedness of the human race. Every person is impacted positively and/or negatively by the actions or inactions of the other. As I left the UN, I am resolved to inculcate the ideals of the UN in my work and everyday life henceforth.

 I thank the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and Sister Amarachi Grace Ezeonu for this wonderful opportunity at the UN. We are indeed a global community!”

SNDdeN JuanaJacqueline Castillo Salvador – Peru. “It was a great experience to learn 4more about all the work done at the UN. My heart shuddered repeatedly as I toured the United Nations, because I felt the MEMORIES there are kept alive in our great and fragile world by the actions of mankind. I perceived the force of action emerging from the United Nations the world, especially to the countries that make up the organization. The work of the United Nations is arduous and essential, and I want to continue working from home to contribute to this GREAT COMMUNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE. “

 Read more: Ministerial Declaration of the 2018 HLPF: https://bit.ly/2B1tKZ4

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SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEMS: TOOL FOR REDUCING EXTEREME POVERTY AND INEQUALITY

5The World Banks defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 per day. The organization estimates that about 10.7% of the world’s population or 760 million people still live in extreme poverty. World leaders made a commitment in 2015 through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2030. SDG 1 calls for an “End to Poverty in all its Forms Everywhere.” Access to Social Protection or social security has been identified as key to achieving SDG 1. Therefore, SDG 1:3 states that governments “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 to achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.” As described by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Social Protection or social security are set of policies and programmes designed to reduce and prevent poverty and vulnerability across the life cycle. This includes nine main areas: child and family benefits, maternity protection, unemployment support, employment injury benefits, sickness benefits, health protection, old-age benefits, disability benefits and survivors’ benefits.

The Director-General of the ILO, Mr. Guy Ryder, notes that “when access to essential benefits and services is guaranteed for mothers and children, for persons with disabilities or illness, for the elderly and unemployed, countries actually make their economies resilient while ensuring the human rights to social security.” Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 people around the world have access to universal social protection coverage as indicated in the 2017 – 2019 World Social Protection Report. Governments must therefore, recognize that providing social protection for the people is not only the right and just thing to do, it is actually a very economic smart thing to do. Countries that have made efforts in expanding their safety net programmes have seen a rapid decline in the rate of poverty and experienced economic growth.

Read more:

ILO World Social Protection Report 2017 – 2019: https://bit.ly/2CyyaTn

Infographic : https://bit.ly/2BbsTV2

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOUR: NEED TO IMPROVE THE SAFETY AND HEALTH OF YOUNG WORKERS AND END TO CHILD LABOUR

3June 12 is designated by the United Nations as the World Day Against Child Labour. The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to the physical and mental development of a child.” To be considered as child labour, the ILO maintains that work must be “mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to a child, and must also interfere with a child’s school, make them leave school or require them to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.” Over two million children around the world, especially in developing countries are forced into worst forms of child labour such as; working in very dangerous situations, slavery, drug trafficking, prostitution and armed conflict, according to a recent ILO report. The theme for the 2018 World Day Against Child Labour is; “The Global Need to Improve the Safety and Health of Young Workers and End to Child Labour.”

 

Below are facts and figures from a recent International Labour Organization report on the situation of child labour worldwide.

  • Worldwide 218 million children between 5 and 17 years are in employment.
    Among them, 152 million are victims of child labour; almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labour.
  • In absolute terms, almost half of child labour (72.1 million) is to be found in Africa; 62.1 million in the Asia and the Pacific; 10.7 million in the Americas; 1.2 million in the Arab States and 5.5 million in Europe and Central Asia.
  • In terms of prevalence, 1 in 5 children in Africa (19.6%) are in child labour, whilst prevalence in other regions is between 3% and 7%: 2.9% in the Arab States (1 in 35 children); 4.1% in Europe and Central Asia (1 in 25); 5.3% in the Americas (1 in 19) and 7.4% in Asia and the Pacific region (1 in 14).
  • Almost half of all 152 million children victims of child labour are aged 5-11 years.
    42 million (28%) are 12-14 years old; and 37 million (24%) are 15-17 years old.
  • Hazardous child labour is most prevalent among the 15-17 years old. Nevertheless, up to a fourth of all hazardous child labour (19 million) is done by children less than 12 years old.
  • Among 152 million children in child labour, 88 million are boys and 64 million are 4girls.
  • 58% of all children in child labour and 62% of all children in hazardous work are boys. Boys appear to face a greater risk of child labour than girls, but this may also be a reflection of an under-reporting of girls’ work, particularly in domestic child labour.
  • Child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71%), which includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial farming; 17% in Services; and 12% in the Industrial sector, including mining.

ACTION: SPEAK OUT! BECOME AN ADVOCATE AGAINST CHILD LABOUR!

Read more: Convention on the Rights of the Child: https://bit.ly/1fVlqsS

Convention Concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment; https://bit.ly/1lNdlbG

Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention: https://bit.ly/1hZb7jb

International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour: https://bit.ly/1m9ieZE

HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: “TRANSFORMATION TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE AND RESILIENT SOCIETY.”

1The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a meeting of the Member States of the United Nations under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The 2018 forum will be held from 9 – 18 July. The HLPF is tasked with the central role of the follow-up and review of the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development. And the highlight of the forum is the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). As part of the follow-up and review mechanism of the SDGs, the VNRs facilitates the sharing of experiences, lessons learned and challenges by the Member States with a view to implementing the SDGs. Forty-seven countries will be conducting the National Voluntary Reviews during the 2018 forum. The HLPF platform provides opportunities for partnership among the Member States. Civil society organizations, UN agencies, the private sector, academia, and other stakeholders also actively participate in the forum.

The following goals, including goal 17 (Strengthen the Means of Implementation and 2Revitalize Global Partnership for Sustainable Development), will be reviewed during the 2018 HLPF. The central theme for the 2018 HLPF is, “Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Society.”

 

  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

 

Read more:  2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals: https://bit.ly/2AiOSVE

VISIT TO THE UNITED NATIONS: STUDENTS OF NOTRE DAME SEISHIN HIGH SCHOOL, HIROSHIMA, JAPAN

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Students in the SNDatUN NY Office

I was quite delighted to welcome 12 students from Notre Dame Seishin High School, Hiroshima, Japan, to the SNDatUN Office in New York, on 28th March 2018. The students were accompanied by Sister Mary Corripio, SNDdeN, and Ms. Aoyama, a faculty member. Below are comments from some of the students on the experience of their visit. Other

“From the visit to the UN, I learned about the importance of working together to build a

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Sr. Amarachi sharing about her work with the students

better world.  I knew that there were many problems such as refugees, conflicts, and global warming around the world before I came to New York, but by listening to your speech and going to a tour in the UN, and by experiencing the diversity in New York, I felt those problems more closely and felt the desperate need for them to be solved.  Thank you for giving us an opportunity to think again about these problems around the world.”  Ayaka Satani

“I was very surprised to take a lot of time to enter the United Nations the other day.  The exit gate of the United Nations was as secure as the entrance gate and we need our passport when we got there. After we made a study tour of the UN, hearing the explanations, we listened to the lecture by the sister who has been working at the United Nations.  And then, I was attracted to her and organization’s way of thinking. I want to try to work on the seventeen SDGs of aiming for sustainable society with my friends. Thank you so much for a charming meeting.”  Yuka Niimi

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: “IS MIGRATION A FEMINIST ISSUE?”

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Refugee women with babies.  UN Photo

The fourth round of negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration took place from 14 – 18 May.  Members of civil society organizations have consistently pushed for mainstreaming gender perspective in all sections of the compact. This is because many believe that migration is necessarily a feminist issue. The United Nations Population Funds (UNPF) also acknowledges migration as a feminist issue and suggests that gender perspective is taken into consideration when formulating policies on              migration. Below are some of the reasons given by   the UNPF for the above assertion:

  • There are about 250 million international migrants. Almost half of these are women and girls. And women are increasingly migrating alone or as heads of their family.
  • Female migrants face major risks, including sexual exploitation, trafficking, and violence
  • Migrant women face double discrimination – as women and as migrants
  • Women do not stop getting pregnant when they are on the move
  • Women and girls’ migrant are more likely to face health problems – both in transit and at their destination.

Read more:

United Nations Population Fund: https://bit.ly/2GL1gkU

Global Compact on Refugees and Migrants: https://bit.ly/2ATrj5o

“WORLD HEALTH DAY 2018 UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE: EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE

1Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is a human right. According to the Director- General of the World Health Organization (WHO), “no one should get sick and die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access healthcare services.” Sadly, a recent report by the WHO indicates that about half the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential healthcare services. In order to highlight this issue, the WHO focused on Universal Health Coverage for the 2018 World Health Day commemorated on 7th April. WHO describes Universal Health Coverage as “means where all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardships. These would include the full spectrum of essential quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.”

ACTION: World leaders made a commitment in 2015 through the Sustainable Development Goals to provide health care for all by the year 2030. Do you know what2 progress your country is making to achieve this goal? Everyone can take the lead towards universal health coverage! Make your voice heard, start a local campaign on UHC. Click here to find out what you can do to educate yourself on this very crucial issue. Become an advocate for UHC, for those who otherwise cannot afford healthcare in your country!

Read more:   

World Health Day; https://bit.ly/2BxaPE6

Download World Health Day advocacy kit: https://bit.ly/2rCXC6n

WHO facts on universal health coverage: https://bit.ly/2jM1D4w