LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND: END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

1The United Nations General Assembly, in resolution 48/104, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women on December 20, 1991. In 1998, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence against women is a violation of human rights. However, sadly, it is still the most pervasive form of discrimination.  Violence against women is a consequence of persisting inequalities between men and women, through which discrimination thrives. Women around the world continue to face violence and discrimination within classrooms, boardrooms, and on battlefields. Some of the prevalent forms of violence suffered by women and girls are intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and child marriage.

Violence against women and girls is preventable, and the elimination of such violence is 2essential for building a healthy, peaceful society. However, as noted in the UN Secretary General’s 2017 report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.”

Ending gender-based violence and inequality requires the concerted effort of individuals, families, civil society organizations, community, and religious authorities. After all, “denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back.”  As rightly put by UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, “denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back.”

Read more:

UN Women website: http://bit.ly/2hIfTy3

Learn about 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The theme for the 2017 campaign is “Together We Can End Gender-Based Violence in Education.” Also download the toolkit on gender-based violence in education from this link; http://bit.ly/2zjgyOd

Explore the facts: Violence Against Women; http://bit.ly/2irh0iJ

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SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME DE NAMUR WORKING: TOWARDS THE EMPOWERMENT OF RURAL WOMEN IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

4By Isabelle Izika and Marie-Josephine Ibanda, SNDdeN: The contribution of women to the socio-economic development of their communities, especially in developing countries, is a well-established fact.  As the former UN Secretary General Ban-ki-Moon pointed out, this contribution is based on an education that frees and empowers women. However, in some parts of the world, for example, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this reality remains but a slogan for women living in rural areas. Thanks to the missionary efforts of Sisters of Notre Dame de

Sr. Marie-Josephine and members of GSEC      Namur (SNDdeN), and that of other Religious Congregations who have dedicated over a century to educating women and girls, preparing them to take their necessary roles in society as agents of development.  The first educated women in the DRC were products of schools administered by Catholic Religious Women. Until this day, in the rural province of Kwango, best schools, where girls can receive quality education and formation, are those run by Religious Congregations, including Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Unfortunately, despite their level of education or professional training, women from this 5region of the DRC are still under-represented in the public sector, except in the teaching and healthcare professions, which are often not well paid. As a result, many women who do not feel attracted to either the teaching or healthcare profession end up in the informal sector (often subsistence agriculture). The income these women generate is barely sufficient for the enormous financial responsibilities they undertake in their families.  According to a recent survey conducted by SNDdeN among students in in many of the schools they administered in the DRC, nearly 90% of the students, especially girls, are financially supported by their mothers. This reality is barely acknowledged and valued.

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Member of GSEC receiving her savings

In an effort to offer some relief to the ever-increasing financial constraints many of these women face daily, and also to create a forum where they can come together for mutual support on other life issues, SNDdeN in the parishes of Pelende and Kitenda began an initiative known as “Groupe de Solidarité, d’Epargne et de Crédit (GSEC)” (Group of Solidarity, Saving and Credit). The women organize themselves in groups of 25 people at most. Each group elects a directing committee composed of a president, a secretary, a cashier-treasurer and three tellers. They have regular encounters according to the internal rules defined by the group. During these encounters, each person brings her saving into the solidarity cash box according to the sum fixed by the group. After several encounters, each woman at a given time asks for a credit to begin an activity that will generate income. This credit will be given with an interest rate and a date for repayment fixed by the group. The solidarity cash box allows them to intervene in extreme cases of illness or death in the family. It also provides means for paying their children’s school fees promptly.

 

In addition to financial activities, the women who are members of the GSEC get informed and inform each other about other subjects such as; hygiene, reproductive health, good manners, food security, and many more.

 

THE CALL TO END POVERTY: A PATH TOWARD PEACEFUL AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES

2Extreme poverty is a violation of human rights. On December 22, 1992, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, in resolution 47/196, declared October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The theme for 2017 celebration is, “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive society.” The observance of October 17 was inspired by the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski; founder of International Movement ATD Fourth World, a nongovernmental organization that aims to eradicate extreme poverty through human rights based approach. Since the adoption of this resolution, some progress has been made toward global poverty eradication. Yet, significant work towards this goal remains.

There are sufficient resources in the world for fair allocation to every individual, yet3 millions of people live in extreme poverty. This occurrence is because only a handful of the world’s population controls the bulk of the world’s resources, leaving the majority of the world’s population in poverty. A recent report by Oxfam International clearly illustrates this sad situation.  According to this report published by Oxfam in January 2017 titled, An Economy for the 99%, eight men own the same wealth as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. This is simply not acceptable! As stated by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, to the UN General Assembly in 2016, “a world where 1% of humanity controls as much wealth as the bottom 99% will never be stable.”

In 2015, world leaders under the auspices of the United Nations made a commitment to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 by adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, with the eradication of poverty as its first goal.

Read more:

UNSG message on poverty:  https://youtu.be/GQ_ehELVScY

An Economy for the 99%: http://bit.ly/2jXPgES

Poverty is Political: These 3 Things Will Help Us Eliminate It: http://bit.ly/2yzT31B

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL CHILD: EMPOWER THE GIRL CHILD THROUGH EDUCATION

1The United Nations General Assembly, in a resolution adopted on December 2011, declared October 11 of every year as the International Day of the Girl Child. The purpose of this day is to increase awareness and address the needs and challenges girls around the world face. It is also a day to specifically advocate for the empowerment of girls and the promotion of their human rights. Some of the challenges faced by girls around the world include a lack of access to quality education, gender-based discrimination, forced marriage, lack of quality healthcare, and numerous others.

 It is important that teachers and those who work with children, especially the girl child, familiarize themselves with some of the relevant UN human rights instruments in order to safeguard the rights of these children. Some pertinent mechanisms for reference in regards to the human rights of the girl child include the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Read more:

Convention on the Rights of the Child; http://bit.ly/1HthiYh

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women; http://bit.ly/1BbMigU

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: http://bit.ly/1ivfGUB

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: “TOGETHER FOR PEACE, RESPECT, SAFETY AND DIGNITY FOR ALL”

5September 21 of every year is observed as the International Day of Peace.  World Peace Day which was established in 1981 by a United Nations resolution is designed to provide a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. The theme for the 2017 World Peace Day is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All. This theme reflects the spirit of the TOGETHER campaign, a global initiative launched during the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016 by the United Nations system in partnership with its 193 Member States and all the stakeholders ‘in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.

Below is the UN Secretary General’s message on the 2017 World Peace Day;

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Children in Zataari camp, Jordan.  Couresty; UN/Rababah

“On the International Day of Peace, we reflect on the cruel price of war.  Ruined schools. Bombed hospitals.  Broken families.  Refugees searching for hope.  Countries in crisis.  The United Nations was born from a terrible World War.  Our mission is to work for peace — every day and everywhere.  No group interest, national ambition or political difference should be allowed to put peace at risk.   

On this International Day, we call for a global ceasefire.  We must never — ever — stop pressing for an end to armed conflict.  Peace is the right and desire of all people.  It is the foundation for progress and well-being – happy children, thriving communities, and peaceful, prosperous countries.  Let us pledge to work together – today and every day – for the peace we all yearn for and deserve.”

Watch the UNSG Message on 2017 World Peace Day: http://bit.ly/2x2eDsY

Watch the PeaceChannel: http://bit.ly/2cRy3Zj

 

 

THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: 72ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSIONS

1Every year, heads of government of all 193 Member States of the United Nations (UN) gather at the Headquarters of the organization in New York for the General Assembly (GA). The General Assembly (one of the six organs of the UN) is the only occasion that brings together leaders of all Member States annually. The 2017 Session of the GA, which was also the 72nd since the inception of the UN, was held from September 12-28.

What is the General Assembly? Below are some basic facts about the General Assembly. (Culled from the UN website).

Created in 1945, the General Assembly is the democratic heart of the UN. The General Assembly comprises of 193 Member States. Each has an equal voice in decision-making.It debates pressing issues that affects millions of people; Peace and Security, Human Rights, 2Development, and many more …It appoints the UN Secretary General.  And elects the non-permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly is where key decisions affecting all Member States are made. More than 500 Treaties have been created under the General Assembly auspices. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was agreed upon back in 1948. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals were approved by the General Assembly, as a path to eradicate poverty and address climate change by 2030

 The 72nd General Assembly featured a signing ceremony of the new Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, and general debate on the following; UN reform, Climate Change Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse and Women’s economic empowerment.

 A number of global hotspots from Central African Republic, South Sudan and Yemen also took center stage during the 72nd General Assembly. 

 Read more: General Assembly of the United Nation; http://www.un.org/en/ga/

CONFERENCE ON WOMEN AND MIGRATION IN THE AFRICAN CONTEXT: AN INFORMATIVE AND CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE

4By Elizabeth Chinamo, SNDdeN: I was privileged to have participated in a two-day conference on women and migration in Africa, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 6-8 June. The conference was sponsored by six Catholic Religious Congregations, accredited as non-governmental organizations to the United Nations. Over 90 participants from about 10 African countries attended the conference. Some of the participants were currently engaged in work with migrants, some were migrants, while others were interested in learning more about migration issues. Seven Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Kenya, Congo-Kinshasa and Zimbabwe/South Africa provinces participated in the conference. Sister Joan Burke (Kenya) was among the local organizing team. I personally found this conference both informative and challenging.

We had input from representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, Kenyan Government, Kenyan Bishop Conference, and other organizations and individuals (including refugees and migrants). It was moving to hear from refugees who are now volunteers. I was also very impressed to hear the delegate from the Kenyan Government commend the efforts of Catholic Religious women and men in providing services to migrants and refugees, and their work against human trafficking. He expressed the interest of the government collaborating with them in future.

Input from the different presenters stimulated discussions among participants on issues 5such as providing adequate protection to migrants and refugees, victims of human trafficking, as well as addressing some of those factors that force people to migrate. During the conference, we went into working groups and worked on different topics for example: environment and migration, migration and public health, human trafficking, and advocacy. I joined 24 other participants to form a group centered on “Countering Trafficking in Person.” The group came up with a 7-Point Action Plan through which we were challenged to continue to work on, within our networks, as we return to our respective countries or regions.

Read more: About the Nairobi Conference; http://nairobi2017.weebly.com/