By Jo-Ann Flora, SNDdeN During the week of February 10, 2014, I attended sessions of the Commission on Social Development (CSocD) at the United Nations. Despite interference from Mother Nature, Masako Miyake and I managed to attend three days’ worth of sessions.
One highlight of the week was my experience at the Civil Society Forum on February 10. The CSocD focus – promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration, and full employment and decent work for all – spoke to our mission as Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to people living in poverty. It was encouraging to be reminded again that we are supported in this mission by many other civil society communities and organizations. The afternoon session on “promoting gender empowerment in the post-2015 framework” also spoke to our SND mission to women and girls. I found this focus supportive of our work on the Post-2015 Task Force of the Working Group on Girls and our position statement calling for a stand-alone goal for girls in the post-2015 framework. Finally, of the many presentations during the Forum, Sister Margaret Mayce’s presentation from the NGO Committee on Social Development reflected the notable work that is being done by that committee and the religious NGOs at the U.N.
The other highlight of the week was the program on February 12 entitled World Interfaith Harmony: A Vital Key for Peace and Development. This program was inspiring, informative and enjoyable. The mixture of keynote presentations, panel presentations, and artistic performances provided a good balance. I appreciated the focus on the powerful influence the world’s faiths can have by working together in conflict resolution, rejection of hate crimes and speech, community development, fostering peace, building social trust, and putting the common good at the forefront, whatever the sacrifices may be. As an SND I especially valued the emphasis on goodness as an essential element in all faiths and the responsibility we all have to uphold and celebrate goodness in the other. I consider myself very fortunate to be living so close to the U.N. and able to attend events from time to time. They contribute greatly to my ongoing education on issues that relate to our mission as SNDs.