A photo of the U.N. General Assembly in New York

By: Sr. Barbara Bozak

As I have just recently begun in the new position of coordinator of the U.N. presence of the Congregations of St. Joseph, my report focuses more on what we will be doing in the coming year and less on what has been done since September 2017.

Although I have been part of our UN-NGO team over for five years, I have not had any responsibility in that regard until this past July. Presently I am working with Justine Senepati, our official UN-NGO representative until January 2019, Marianne Sennick, a member of the Brentwood congregation whose deep knowledge of and commitment to the work of the United Nations is invaluable, and Kristen Whitney-Daniels who is working part-time in the area of communications. Thanks to Kristen we now have a Facebook page and an active Twitter account. Together we are improving the CSJ-UN-NGO website.

As a member of the six-person core committee of the International JPIC (Sue Wilson, [Canada], chair; Linda Pepe [Chambéry, USA]; Joan Atkinson [Canada]; Rita Bosch [Argentina]; Jeannette Londjdam [French federation, Algeria]; myself) I am happy to report that we will continue our monthly meetings via Zoom to continue moving forward along three paths: (1) Encouraging involvement at Geneva, the locus of all discussion and decision-making linked directly to human rights; (2) Preparations to engage the grassroots to send in relevant material for a Statement on Social Protection to be submitted by the Global Sisters of St. Joseph to the 55th meeting of the U.N. Commission on Social Development (February 2019); (3) Planning a process to invite Sisters from around the globe to the U.N. in New York to participate in U.N. Commissions.

Graziella Zocchi (Italian federation, Congregation of Cuneo) and Jeanette Londadjim (French federation, member of l’Institut Saint Joseph) have attended meetings in Geneva during the past year and point to the need for ongoing attendance to identify how to engage these structures most effectively. At this time, we are working on how to continue our presence there given the fact that Jeannette is no longer the representative of the French federation.

Statement to be Submitted to UN Commission on Social Development 2019
The theme for the upcoming Commission on Social Development (CSocD) is “Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.” In preparation for CSocD, the Core Committee of I-JPIC sent a letter to the grassroots requesting information/stories on the situation in the various countries in which the Sisters of St. Joseph live and work. This information will be woven into a statement to be submitted at CSocD 2019 and possibly used in an oral statement at the same meeting.

Such statements enhance our presence at the UN by (1) allowing us to contribute to the wider Civil Society dialogue in preparation for a Civil Society position on the CSocD theme (2) enabling our U.N. representatives and delegates at CSocD to present facts, dialogue and advocate for change with Ministers from those countries in which we are located, and (3) contributing facts and stories to our Quadrennial Report which is essential to maintaining our status at the U.N.

In addition, the process of creating a statement will allow the global body of Sisters of St. Joseph to (1) deepen the collective understanding of the importance of a Social Protection Floor among the Sisters of St. Joseph, (2) strengthen advocacy efforts as we share the final statement in each of our home countries to advocate for change, (3) allow us to contribute to a global movement for change rooted in the Social Protection Floor, (4) continue our efforts to strengthen a sense of the global body of Sisters of St. Joseph, (5) build stronger lines of communication and networking between the UN-NGO and the grassroots.

Participation in U.N. Commissions/Forums (2019)
We have developed a plan to use already-approved UN-NGO funds to bring an average of 4 sisters from countries in the Global South to the U.N. in New York in 2019 for each of the following meetings. We will use only two languages at each event to keep interpretation manageable. We will also send out a general invitation to the sisters in North America, Europe and Australia but these sisters will be expected to cover their own expenses.

For the Committee on Social Development (February 11-21, 2019), we are inviting sisters from Latin America who speak English or Spanish (or Portuguese). The Justice and Peace committee of Sisters of St. Joseph in Latin America has asked if they might come to this meeting and we have agreed. We will cover the cost of the trip for four of the eight members. Those coming must understand Spanish or English to follow the official meetings since these are two of the six official languages of the U.N. used for simultaneous translation of all meetings.

For the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (July 9-18, 2019) we will invite sisters from Africa and Europe, who can understand French or English (two of the official U.N. languages). We will focus on those countries that will be offering a voluntary national review of how they are implementing Agenda 2030/ the SDGs and where we have sisters: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom.

While we will work with the leaders of the congregations in order to determine who will receive an invitation to participate in the HLPF, we will invite women who are familiar with the JPIC issues, are engaged in the issues under discussion and are willing to network with others on the topic.

We foresee that the experience of the U.N. at work will develop to a greater extent a sense of partnership and mutual support between our sisters on the ground and both our UN-NGO and the United Nations. While they are here we will work with our sisters to help them identify NGOs in their home country with whom they might network and help them explore the political implications of their U.N. experience. We believe that this process will foster an awareness of belonging to a global group of CSSJs and create a sense of being one, beyond cultural differences.

We trust that such experiences will be able to be continued into the future.

[Sr. Barbara Bozak, a Sister of St. Joseph of Chambéry- West Hartford, is the coordinator of the Congregations of St. Joseph United Nations NGO]