2 By Juliana Marquee Boyd, SNDatUN Intern: Millions of people around the world are trafficked and forced into servitude or into the sex trade by criminal gangs or individuals. Often described as a “modern form of slavery,” human trafficking thrives in many societies and generates astronomic profits for the criminals. According to the International Labor Organization, forced labor, one form of exploitation into which humans are trafficked, generates USD$150 billion revenue a year, while the Global Slavery Index suggests there may be as many as 45.8 million people enslaved. A very significant number of victims of human trafficking are women and children.

On June 21st, 2017, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), representatives of governments, specialists, survivors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) assembled at the United Nations (UN) to discuss strategies to combat and end human trafficking as well as to highlight the relevance of the Global Plan of Action and Sustainable Development Goals 5.2, 8.7, and 16.2. The Global Plan of Action (a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010) is a framework that helps Member States in the fight against trafficking of persons. The document is reviewed every few years by the General Assembly. The second section of the Global Plan of Action will be reviewed in September 2017. The latter seeks to promote sustainable peace and prosperity worldwide.

Some of the trafficking issues highlighted during the session were the following: 3trafficking that thrives in societies with high levels of poverty, unemployment, lack of socioeconomic opportunities, cultural issues, gender-based discrimination, and in areas affected by conflict and war. Governments were challenged to prosecute sex buyers and provide assistance to trafficking survivors. The need to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, both in public and private spheres, was also highlighted. The session affirmed the significant commitment and achievement by the governments of Panama and Sweden in combating human trafficking by promoting the decriminalization of sex workers and the prosecution of sex buyers instead.

Speaking at the occasion, the Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations, Laura Flores noted that human trafficking happens in every country; crossing multiple borders in origin and destinations. For this reason, she emphasized the need for strengthening international cooperation to combat this societal menace.

The Global Slavery Index:

Global Plan of Action Report:

United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime:




International Women’s Day was commemorated on March 8, around the world. The theme for the 2017 celebration was “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.” In his speech to mark the event, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, noted, “leadership positions are still predominantly held by men.” He also remarked that “outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism are widening the economic gender gap.” According to Mr. Guterres, “tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.” He again stressed that denying women and girls their rights “is not only wrong in itself; it has serious social and economic impacts that hold us all back.”

Also in her opening remarks at the Youth Forum of the 61st Commission on Status of

UN Woman

Photo:  UN Women/Joe Saade/Gaganjit Singh

Women (CSW 61), the deputy Secretary General of the UN, Ms. Amina Mohammed, thanked the young women for their enthusiasm and positive contributions to the society. She noted, “Every day and in every way, women must be celebrated as caregivers, mothers, business and political leaders, as agents of change, and as pioneers for equality.”                                                                                 

Ms. Mohammed further stressed, “where women and girls are held back or subjugated, the society suffers, when they advance, the society advances with them.”

More on:  Ms. Mohammed’s presentation click here.  Mr. Guterres’ remarks;


newsletter-1Violence against women and girls is an endemic phenomenon. It is wide spread and happens both in the public and private spheres. Violence against women and girls also takes many forms. It could be physical, psychological, sexual, or emotional. To put an end to this human menace, concerted efforts on the part of community, religious, and civic leaders is required. The media also has an important role to play in the eradication of violence against women.
The United Nations (UN) has designated November 25th as the International Day for the newsletter-2Elimination of Violence against Women. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness on the occurrence of violence against women and girls. This day also marks the beginning of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence Campaign. The 16 Days of Activism is a time to “to raise awareness and galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.” This campaign culminates in the celebration of the International Human Rights Day on December 10. “Women’s rights are human rights” (Hilary Clinton).
newsletter-3The theme for the 2016 Human Rights Day is “Stand up for Someone’s Rights Today.” In the midst of what appears to be growing animosity among peoples, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has charged all global citizens to reach out to one another. In his words, “It’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small: wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more humanity.” Whose rights are you going to stand up for these days?

Read: UNiTE to End Violence Against Women:                                                           16 Days of Activism:
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:                                       


11-16-7By Katie Blawie: For the first time in history, the UN set of sustainable development goals directly addresses mental health and well-being. Goal 3 aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” and Target
3.4 states that we must “by 2030 reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and well-being.” We cannot have sustainable development if we fail to prioritize well-being and health – not just physical, but also mental – with
solid, measurable indicators. Mental health policies and programs in all countries are crucial to
empowering women and girls. Poor mental health among women is a major threat to sustainable development worldwide.
Women and the mentally ill of any background are two marginalized groupsE_SDG_Icons-03
in society. When those two factors are combined, the exclusion becomes even worse. Kofi Annan issued a challenge to us collectively as the peoples of the world to find global leadership and vision on these issues. We call on all governments worldwide to prioritize mental health with specific, measurable indicators and policies to empower women and girls in our global agenda for sustainable development. Let us of course recognize and confirm that providing economic opportunity for our societies and for women and girls specifically, improves our individual and collective well-being. Embracing mental health for women and girls sustains mental health for all in our world.


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.

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW): Participants Share Their Hopes (cont.)

Jo-AnnJo-Ann Flora, SNDdeN: Each year during CSW, thousands of women come to New York from all corners of our world. They brighten our city with their colorful dress and personalities, and it is a treat to welcome them. But, more importantly, they bring with them all the experiences of the women they represent – struggles, achievements, aspirations – and they share with us their powerful determination to raise all women to their rightful place in society. As a participant in CSW, I hope to learn from these women, particularly in the areas of girls’ rights and human trafficking, and to catch a spark of their enthusiasm to energize my mission as a Sister of Notre Dame who strives to take a stand with poor people, especially women and children.

Pam StonerPamela Stoner: I am so excited to be attending the 2016 Session of CSW and surrounding events. I hope to learn about women’s and girls’ issues in relation to the global goals on sustainable development, and to interact with others about how gender equality and empowerment in education are instrumental and central to progress on these goals. While I am disappointed that my friend Anu Puri, a college student in Nepal, is unable to attend and contribute to this session as we hoped, I am delighted that I will be attending with my daughter, Katie Blawie, and my sister, Jean Stoner. It makes this session all the more special.

Isabelle Izika SNDdeNIsabelle Izika, SNDdeN: I am interested in attending CSW because I learn by hearing about different experiences and women’s problems. I receive courage to teach women to address their issues, which is what I do where I work in a very rural area. Women are becoming aware. Everywhere they talk about education that empowers women. In rural areas that is not the case. Many families send boys as well as girls to school, even to higher education. But despite efforts to study, the majority of these women remains unemployed or in jobs that pay no decent salaries. Many women renounce education because they do not get the benefits. They go back to traditional practices and nothing changes. Girls do not care and in some cases get married very young. We have to keep in mind that not all women are empowered by education. It depends on where the woman is and what her conditions are.