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:

ND Seishin High School, Hiroshima, Japan visits the UN


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.



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



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:



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


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;


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:

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;

Explore the facts: Violence Against Women;


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.


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.