ND Seishin High School, Hiroshima, Japan visits the UN

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Students in the SNDatUN NY Office

 

I was quite delighted to welcome 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, another faculty member. Below are comments from some of the students on the experience of their visit to the United Nations.

 

WHAT WE ARE DOING FOR THE WORLD.

My hometown, Misuzugaoka, has a strong connection, and we are acting to achieve SDGs 11: “SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES.”

Until recently, the conditions of garbage in my city had been terrible.  Crows and cats had always ruined there because the garbage bags were covered by only plastic sheet.  We couldn’t stand these things any longer, so we began to collect recyclable materials by ourselves and selling them. We used the money we made to purchase iron cages.  Now, we put garbage bags in these cages, and see no crows or cats around there.  Finally, we all live in a clean town.  I’m proud of this community.  I hope other cities in similar situation would learn from our city.

In the future, I want to work at the UN and engage myself in making world peace.  Thank you so much for giving us a chance to listen to your lecture. By Riko Fujiwara

 

I thought about SDG #5: “GENDER EQUALITY”

In the world there are a lot of countries where gender equal society does not yet exist.  In my country, sex abuse or unfair terms of employment still exist.

However, I thought we can’t create sustainable society unless women with ability and knowledge lead the world and create true peace and equal world.

I have heard about efforts by the United Nations to address the problem of gender inequality in the world.  I will try to share all that I saw and heard with my family, friends and other people. By Mizuki Kanou

What impressed me most during my visit to the United Nations was Sustainable Development Goals.  I had never known this project until I went to the United Nations.  This time I went to America for the first time, and I realize the difference between America and Japan.  I thought different countries have different problems.  Japan has many problems, too, so I want to take part in this project and contribute to solving them and building sustainable society.

Thank you for telling us about the United Nations.  By Kaho Ohara

 

There are many things that had impact on me during my visit to the United Nations Headquarters.  I was especially impressed by a statue which had been exposed to radiation in Nagasaki in 1945 and the guide introduced Hiroshima and Nagasaki for everyone.  I was surprised at this and happy, because I want people all over the world to know about Hiroshima.  I have learned about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, atomic bomb and peace since I was little.  I think that if more people know about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we can come a step closer to world peace.  I learned that world peace could be accomplished with all countries and all people in the world, so I will try to do something about it as a person living in the world.  By Saki Nishimoto

 

Thank you for talking about the UN.

I’m interested in the UN and NGO works, so I was very excited.  I was deeply impressed when I saw the “Non-violence” and “United Nations General Assembly”, which I had watched on TV or read from books.

Now, there are many social issues in the world, and I’m worried about them.  I usually think what I should do especially for refugees and global warming.

I will study hard to develop my language skills and always pay attention to social issues.  Then, I want to be back to the UN again.   By Natsumi Ohara

 

I was so glad that I could go to the United Nations.  When I knew many commitments which are taken there, I realized again how cool the United Nation is.  When I saw the conference hall that I often see on TV, I was surprised at how large that was and knew from experience that here is the center of the world.

I conjure up visions of the conference atmosphere making many people all over the world discuss many problems.  When I saw that, I did want to work there and work out a lot of problems all over the world.  I got motivation from this experience.

Thank you so much.   By Sumi Sato

 

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62ND COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN: “CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY AND THE EMPOWERMENT OF RURAL WOMEN AND GIRLS.”

1There is currently a sweeping global movement for women’s rights, equality, and justice. This global activism for gender equality has also been fueled by the recent #MeToo, #TimesUp, and other local campaigns/movements against the exploitation and marginalization of women in public and private spheres. From the global North to South, women are increasingly reclaiming their agency and speaking out against centuries of injustices, socio-economic and political exclusion, and discrimination. It was within this climate of women’s activism on gender equality, that over four thousand women from all walks of life from across the globe, gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The commission took place from March 12 – 23. The CSW is the UN Commission that draws the largest number of participants from around the world (largely comprised of women).

The CSW is the principal intergovernmental body primarily designated to promote 2gender equality and the empowerment of women. It is a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), established by the General Assembly Council resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946. The CSW is dedicated to promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and in shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women (UN Women). The main theme for the 2018 Commission (CSW62) was, “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” Speaking at an event to mark the International Women’s Day on March 8, the UN Secretary General noted that, “achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge of our time.” And one would add that this challenge is even greater for women and girls within rural areas.

A message from H.E. Geraldine Byrne Nason, Chair of CSW62: http://bit.ly/2DrgXLE

CSW62: https://bit.ly/2AEUBoN

WOMEN IN PEACE NEGOTIATIONS: SUSTAINABLE PEACE NEEDS WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP AND REPRESENTATION

02By Juliana Maria Marques Boyd (former intern, SNDATUN): 2017 marks the 17th Anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 (SCR 1325). SCR 1325 not only recognizes the severe impact of war on women, but also the essential role that women play in preventing conflict and in the peacemaking processes. The resolution represents a breakthrough in women, peace and security. This resolution also serves as a reminder on the importance of enabling a large pool of women to have full participation at all levels in conflict negotiations and peace treaties.

The crucial role of women in sustainable peace and security was the central theme of the side-event, “Women Mediators, Words to Action,” held at the UN Headquarters on September 21, 2017. Several government representatives, members of civil society

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Courtesy;  UN Women

organizations, and Women Mediator’s Networks (from Nordic, African, and Mediterranean countries) attended the event. Speakers highlighted the importance of the inclusion of women in mediation leadership positions. In her remarks at the event, the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Angelino Alfano, stated that, “though, women are powerful agents of peace and security, they are still well underrepresented as official participants at the UN.” Despite resolution 1325 (2000) calls for women’s participation in peace building processes, it is still a challenge to integrate women in international peace mediation positions.

Women are significantly outnumbered by men, or excluded in some cases, in peace consultations.  According to the UN Women, between 1992 and 2011, less than 10 per cent of negotiators at peace tables were women.

This trend is unfortunate, because the significant role women hold as advocates can pave the way for successful peace building and for sustainable peace. It is therefore crucial that the UN Security Council and Member States strongly enforce resolution 1325, in order for more women to participate fully in peace negotiations. This action will help rectify the perception many have about women simply being victims in conflict.  Far from it, women are not just victims, but are also vital agents of peace and reconciliation, spanning from local communities to the international sphere.

Read more: Facts and Figures: Peace and Security;  http://bit.ly/ZWlt0u

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

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.

 

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

PARTICIPANT VOICES AT THE 61ST COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN: SNDATUN DELEGATES

By Eileen Burns SNDdeN; Executive Director, Notre Dame Education Center, Lawrence, MA,2 US. When you take a tour at the United Nations, they explain to you that you are no longer in any country but are standing in international territory owned by all of the nations. It struck me forcefully how needed the UN is to have a spot-on earth dedicated to conversations, to dialogue leading to actions in the pursuit of peace. The 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women was held in New York from March 13th to the 24th and about 8,000 delegates came from across the planet to participate. The theme was “Women in the Changing World of Work.” We are so blessed to be an accredited non-governmental organization at the UN, and Sr. Grace Amarachi Ezeonu is representing us well. I was able to attend plenary sessions in the General Assembly hall as well as multiple parallel events sponsored by many countries and side events sponsored by civil society organizations.  It was a great gift for me to attend and I encourage others among us to consider participating next year.

There is a place                                               Ideas and actions tried were shared

That defies boundaries                                 Many faiths, no faith, women gathered

Where all are invited                                     The Spirit moves within

To show their face                                           The dreams that were dared

 

Women gathered at the UN                            How long, O God, how long?

Coming from near and far                              Till strong women, weak women, all women

To focus on gender equality                           Are valued and cherished

And ask how and when                                   For who they are as they sing their song

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Gabriell Pascarella and Nahnsejay Mouwon are both Student Nurses at the Seton Hall University-College of Nursing, South Orange, NJ, USA.                                                                             

3By Gabriell Pascarella: My experience attending the United Nations 61st Commission on the Status of Women was definitely one that I will never forget. We were greeted by the many waving flags representing countries from all over the world. Once inside the UN we viewed our first exhibit. There was a wall of accomplishments made by women. Its purpose was to show advancing women’s leadership and its importance. Along with this wall of accomplishments, were the photos of the many strong women around the world. After viewing this exhibit we were able to attend some separate side events.

The first side event we attended had to do with the effects that alcohol has on women both physically and emotionally. In this session, we listened as representatives from the country of Botswana talked about different ways in which they are combatting this problem. The speakers discussed the linkage between alcohol and violence, as well as the linkage between alcohol and HIV. Some of the statistics they shared were very eye opening. Most of those affected are young women. Attending this side event made it clear that there are many issues going on in the world that we need to bring more attention to.

The next side event that we attended was my favorite event of the day. The topic of this event was the importance that the role of family has in a woman’s life. We first heard from a speaker who focused on the relationship between a woman and her father. He spoke about how the media and certain celebrities cast a dark shadow over the father-daughter relationship, when in reality, there are statistics to show all of the benefits this relationship can provide in a woman’s life. At many points the speaker himself, as well as the audience, became emotional thinking of their own personal father-daughter relationships and its importance.

The next speaker at this event focused on the family unit, and how parents should teach4 their children, especially their daughters, about good character. She spoke about how in schools’ children are taught a wide variety of topics, but none of them include how to have good character. I believe this side event was one of the most important because it spoke about issues that many in the room could relate to. It also brought up the point that we need to enlist more men in the fight to women’s equality. Many of the points and recommendations they touched upon are things that I will bring back to my own family unit.

I am so honored to have taken part in this amazing experience. With such a strong interest in women’s healthcare it meant a lot to see some of the issues that women face all over the world. It gave me the determination to help combat many of these issues, and I will most definitely share my experience with the many women that I encounter.

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 By Nahnsejay Mouwon: As a global intergovernmental body, the United Nations promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women; something that I truly admire. During the 61st Commission on the Status of Women, I learned more about the promotion of women’s rights, how to document and speak to the reality of women’s lives throughout the world. The idea of shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women is something that I believe worth global discussion, and at such, I feel honored to be part of such discussion.

5Thanks to the UN for giving hope to women and children around the world, helping them to gain courage to make the world a better place. This conference provided the right platform to talk directly to youth and women issues. As a person who is passionate about women rights and gender equality, I am determined to teach others what I learned from the conference. I have already started to speak about some of the major topics outlined during the conference. I believe that when women start to actively engage policy makers regarding gender equality, sexual violence and other women related topics, the world will become a much better place.