UN Conference Hall.  UN Photo

One of the merits of our accreditation to the United Nations is that it avails Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and our affiliates opportunities for participating in many of the UN forums, commissions, and conferences. Three of such major UN conferences usually takes place in the first quarter of each year. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Associates of Notre Dame or our other affiliates can apply through the SNDatUN NGO office to attend any of these UN meetings. There is no fee to attend these sessions, but participants are responsible for their housing, food, and transportation. Funds are available to assist Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Latin America and Africa. If you are interested in attending any of the major UN meetings in New York in 2019, contact Sister Grace Amarachi Ezeonu as soon as possible at  You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at Below are some of the major UN sessions taking place between February and April 2019.


  • 11 – 21 February, 2019: 57th Session of the Commission on Social Development (New York).                                                                                                                          Priority theme: Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.”
  • 11 – 22 March 2019: 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (New York).
    Priority theme: “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”
  • 22 April – 3 May 2019: 18th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York)                                                                                   Theme: “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission, and protection.”




1“Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free of fear, violence, and insecurity, the world cannot pride itself on being fair and equal.” These were the words of the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, at an event to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This day is observed every year on November 25 to raise awareness on gender-based violence. The theme for the 2018 celebration is Orange the World: #HearMeToo. The color orange is used to draw global attention to the pandemic issue of violence against women, while the hashtag is encouraged to amplify the message of survivors and activists and to put them at the centre of the conversation.

Below are some alarming figures from the UN, highlighting the prevalence of violence against women and girls:

  • 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner
  • Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care
  • Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2012; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances
  • 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 42 of these women and girls are sexually exploited
  • Violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combined.

Are you aware of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign which begins every year on 25th November and ends on 10th December (International Human Rights Day)? According to the UN Women, 16 Days of Activism is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.  The theme of the 2018 campaign is “End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work.”

What can you do from where you are to contribute to ending violence against women and girls?

Read more:

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women:




Sr. Jeannette and the women

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur first went from the United States to La Savane, Haiti, in 2009, at the request of Monseigneur Alix VERRIER, Bishop of the Diocese of les Cayes. La Savane is one of the 32 slums in the Les Cayes Province, with a population of about 25,000 inhabitants. This was according to a study done in 2009 by a team of interdisciplinary researchers. Haiti is described as the poorest country in the Northern Hemisphere. The country also faces constant challenges with natural disasters, such tropical storms, lightning, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. These factors exacerbate the already deplorable economic and social conditions of the population. Women in La Savane, as in many parts of Haiti are the worst affected by the economic and social conditions in the country. Many of these women are single mothers, and with little or no education, most of them cannot provide for the basic needs of their children. As a result, many children as young as six, roam the streets begging or scavenging for food from dumpsites. This situation, unfortunately, exposes the children to situations of exploitation and abuse.

Sister Jeannette Pierre-Louis, SNDdeN has continued to respond to the needs of the


Women in a culinary art class


women and children of La Savane, since 2009. She administers the Notre Dame Family Education Center where about 120 women are enrolled in the basic literacy program, culinary and pastry art, sewing, embroidery and floral art. With the skills these women acquire from the center, they are able to start their own small businesses through which they generate some income to feed their families and pay tuition for their children. Many of the women now make uniforms for their children, and clothes for themselves and other families members. About 50 children, aged, 6 to 12 are also currently enrolled in the Notre Dame Family Education Center. The children learn basic reading, writing, and Math. In addition to learning to read and write, the children also engage in sporting and other extra-curricular activities. They receive one free meal a day from the center as well.


Children having their meal

Thanks to Sister Jeannette’s determination, and support from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Notre Dame Associates, Notre Dame Americorp Volunteers, and donors, most of the children at the Notre Dame Family Education Center who probably would never have had an opportunity in life for a formal education, can now read and write. Quite characteristic for a Sister of Notre Dame, Sr. Jeannette believes that “every child has a right to education because education is key to a brighter future.” Sr. Jeannette continues to proclaim God’s loving care   and goodness to the people of La Savane, Haiti.


Watch Video of Sister Jeannette Pierre-Louis in La Savane, Haiti:


3International Day of the Girl is celebrated on 11th October every year. The aim is to empower girls and to highlight some of the challenges faced by girls around the world. Advocacy groups for the advancement of girls’ human rights under the auspices, Day of the Girl Summit, has in the past years organized 11 Days of Action (advocacy campaign) to highlight some of the challenges faced by girls and to promote girls’ human rights. The 11 Days of Action campaign begins on 1st October and culminates in the celebration of the International Day of the Girl. Different NGOs or coalition of NGOs choose to sponsor the event for each day of the campaign, focusing on a particular theme/s to promote girls’ empowerment. This year, SNDatUN co-sponsored the event of 2nd October, in collaboration with the Society of the Sacred Heart at the UN and Loretto at the UN. We hosted a twitter chat with a focus on; “The power of education for non-violence and gender equality.”

Below were some of the arguments we raised in our TWITTER CHAT:


International Day of the Girl, UN Photo

  • “Without an education, a girl has limited options, can be kept in a cycle of poverty and will struggle to earn an income.” ​
  • “We need educated girls to take future leadership in our social, political and economic spheres to achieve gender balance, to help bring new perspectives, and create new ”
  • “Only 22% of the world’s parliamentarians are women. We have 14 female heads of state in the world and women account for only 4.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs.”
  • “Educated women invest over 90% of their earnings back into their communities compared to only 40% of men.”
  • ‘Education has a central part to play in challenging the negative social norms that drive gender-based violence’
  • A culture of non-violence contributes keeps girls in school and greatly diminishes the chances of them being used as a weapon of war (raped) or trafficked as slaves to armed groups.
  • Girls continue to be one of the most discriminated against groups in the world simply because they are young and female. Worldwide, up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
  • A culture of non-violence helps girls to live with a sense of personal safety on the way to and from school, as well as in school.


Learn more:  

International Day of the Girl:

Day of the Girl Summit 2018: 11 Days of Action:  Students of Notre Dame Girls Academy, Amoyo, Nigeria, speak on Girls’ education:


1The United Nations commemorates the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October every year.  The theme for the 2018 celebration is, “Coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.” Over 700 million people worldwide still live in extreme poverty, that is, on less than $1.90 a day (World Bank). In addition to economic exclusion, people living in poverty also suffer social and political exclusion. They often do not have a voice in the formulation of policies that impact their lives. And, as the saying goes, “if you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” So, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty offers opportunity for people living in poverty to take the floor to speak on their experience of poverty. To mark the event at the UN, people living in poverty from within and outside the US were invited to address the global body on some of the challenges they encounter.

In his opening remarks at the event, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, noted2 that; “Ending extreme poverty is not a matter of charity, but a question of justice.” He further stressed that “poverty is not inevitable, it is not a natural state of being or occurrence.”  But as he pointed out, “poverty is often the outcome of choices that society makes.” Studies have shown that it is possible to eradicate extreme poverty in this century, if governments have the political will to dedicate the required resources to building human capital and providing social services. Through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, world leaders made the commitment to eradicate extreme poverty in their respective countries. It is now the responsibility of citizens of every country to hold their governments accountable to this commitment.

As the UN marks the 70th anniversary since the adoption of the “landmark document” on human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human of Rights, it is important to highlight the connection between poverty and human rights. Access to services such as basic healthcare, education, housing, clean water, and sanitation is a human right that governments are obliged to provide for the people.

Learn more:

Watch the event for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty at the UN:

To End Extreme Poverty by 2030, We Need to Tackle Inequality:

World Bank September, 2018, Press Release on Extreme Poverty:



#5The United Nations Department of Information and Non-governmental Organizations relations held its 67th annual conference at the UN Headquarters in New York, from 12 – 13 August, 2018. The theme for the 2018 conference was “We the Peoples: Together Finding Global Solutions to Global Problems.” The conference attracted about 2000 young and not so young representatives from over 300 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) representing about 80 countries. Also present at the conference to discuss issues of global concern were officials from the UN system, academia, members of the media, public opinion makers and so on.

The DPI/NGO conference offers NGOs an opportunity to put a global perspective on specific issues.  Focus of the 2018 conference was on fostering multilateralism in addressing global challenges. The 2019 UN DPI/NGO conference will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Learn more:

Click HERE to read more about the 67th DPI/NGO conference.

The outcome document:



UN GA Hall:  UN Photo

The General Assembly (GA,) which is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN,) draws equal representation from all Member States of the organization. Each year, leaders of the 193 Member States of the UN from around the world gather at the Headquarters in New York for the GA. The 2018 General Assembly, also the 73rd session, took place from 18 September to 5 October with the theme; “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.” The General Assembly, which is led by a president, is the main “deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the UN on matters such as; overseeing the budget, the appointment of the Secretary General and non-permanent members of the security council,” and many more roles. It is worth noting that for the fourth time in the 73-year history of the UN, the GA is being led by a woman, Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés. Ms. Garcés who is currently the Ecuadorian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility was elected the 73rd President of the GA on 5 June 2018. Presidency of the GA rotates regionally among Member States on yearly basis. This is an elective position.

In her opening speech of the 73rd session of the GA, Ms. Garcés pledged to use her office to bring the global organization ‘closer to the people and strengthen their sense of ownership and support for the UN.’

Below were some of the high-level meetings which took place during the 73rd session of


Ms. M.F.E. Garcés

the UN GA:                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                              Learn more:

Six things to know about the 73rd session of the UN GA:

Do you know what your country said to other world leaders? Watch the UN General Debate: