OLCGS Women and Girl Representatives at the UN

OLCGS Women and Girl Representatives at the UN

OLCGS Women and Girl Representatives at the UN

OLCGS Women and Girl Representatives at the UN

OLCGS Women and Girl Representatives at the UN

OLCGS Women and Girl Representatives at the UN

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The annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) came to a close on Friday, March 22nd, with the adoption of the agreed conclusions on the priority theme “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.” This theme is central to the ministries of our Congregation worldwide – eradicating the systemic, cyclic, and oppressive poverty that girls and women are experiencing.

Do our hearts not break when we see and hear the cries of people whose all is destroyed by war? Do our hearts not break when we see and hear the cry of people trafficked? Do our hearts now break when migrants and refugees are unwelcome in our countries?  Do our hearts not break when we see the persistence of oppressive systems and structures that exclude, violate human rights, and further oppress girls and women? These are the issues of CSW68.

The two-week UN event was filled with formal and informal events that sought to discuss, analyze, report, and share innovative solutions to the problems of poverty and gender inequality. GSIJP Office’s main advocacy point throughout the Commission was financing universal social protection for every girl, woman, and child everywhere – with a specific emphasis on universal child benefits. This issue – central to eradicating poverty and empowering girls and women – was referenced in the CSW68 agreed conclusions.

Ahead of the opening of CSW68, Kimberly Happich Moloche of the GSIJP Office facilitated the Global Adolescent Girl Leadership Town Hall with OLCGS girl representatives from Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa – some of whom were involved in planning the forum. Following these virtual events, about 70 girls attending CSW68 gathered in person for the Working Group on Girls Teen Orientation, at which Winifred Doherty presented the keynote address.

Our girl representatives participated in mission visits and were panelists at multiple events throughout the first week of CSW68. The GSIJP Office facilitated a visit for16 of these girls and their mentors to the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN where the girls shared their stories and conversed with Ambassador Fergal Mythen and mission staff, including Fiona Broderick and Jacqueline O’Halloran Bernstein. In addition, girl delegates from Ecuador and Bolivia were members of a girls’ team who took part in a virtual visit to the Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN.

During CSW68, every facet of the life of girls and women was discussed at the hundreds of events held. Winifred Doherty was a respondent at a session entitled ‘Reimagining the Role of Institutions in Building Gender-Equal Societies.’ The content was the statement submitted to the CSW68 by the Bahá‘í International Community.

Kimberly Happich Moloche moderated the second day of the three-day CSW68 Youth Forum, which was held between the UN Headquarters in New York and the United Nations International School. Her role as facilitator was on behalf of GSIJP Office and was a significant factor in ensuring the engagement of girls at the United Nations.

During the opening session of the Youth Forum, Executive Director of UN Women Sima Sami Bahous told the 400 youth activists in attendance: “It is high time that we stop thinking about you as the leaders of tomorrow and start working with you as the leaders of today.”

The value of our mission was evident in how other participants referred to the Congregation in their contributions. During a parallel event featuring the documentary film In-Visibles, panelists Katie Boller Gosewisch, Executive Director of Alliance To End Human Trafficking, and Sr. Hortencia Del Villar, Senior Program Officer at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation spoke of the work carried out at the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Washington and about the work of our sisters and partners-in-mission in Mexico City, where they support men on building dignified relationships with women.

Of the significant events, Sr. Winifred noted how one in particular remained with her. “It was on the issue of prostitution and pornography,” she said, “with its persistent and relentless pursuit of the objectification, commercialization, exploitation, and dehumanization of girls and women and their bodies.”

She spoke about how she felt the CSW68 agreed conclusions merely paid lip service to these issues without addressing their root causes or declaring that attempts to normalize the ‘sex industry’ or the promotion of ‘sex work’ are complicit in the corporatization of women’s bodies and acts of violence against girls and women.

Having come to a close, attention is already turning to next year’s 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. The 69th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW69) will take place in March 2025 in New York, USA.

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