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College of Notre Dame Students to Attend UN Commission on the Status of Women

February 8, 2011

A delegation from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, including students from SSND-sponsored College of Notre Dame of Maryland, will attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York this month as the CSW addresses the issue of “access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work."

During the annual two-week meeting of the commission, Feb. 22-March 4, the CSW also will evaluate the outcomes of its session in 2007 which addressed the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child. Member states, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations such as the School Sisters of Notre Dame and of U.N. entities, will participate in the session. 

“For us, education means enabling persons to reach the fullness of their potential, and we believe that individuals will reach their full potential when they do have equal access to education in all fields, including science and technology,” said Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND, director of the SSND UN-NGO office. “We approach this year’s commission meeting committed to raising awareness about barriers to women’s full access to these key fields in the 21st century.”

The agenda will include roundtables of high-level participants from nations’ capitals focusing on experiences, lessons learned and good practices. In addition, interactive expert panels will meet to identify key policy initiatives, and parallel events will be organized by member states. 

The congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame also has joined with other NGOs in submitting two written statements on the issues that will be presented to the CSW for consideration. 

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of member states gather at the United Nations Headquarters to evaluate progress on gender equality, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. 

As educators with a world vision, School Sisters of Notre Dame are especially sensitive to the needs of women, children and those who live in poverty as they strive to create a global community where human dignity is respected, the environment is treasured, spirituality is nourished, and justice is practiced. 

The School Sisters of Notre Dame has been a registered NGO (non-governmental organization) with the U.N.’s Department of Public Information since 1993. In 1998, SSND received special consultative status with the ECOSOC. 

In addition to Sister Eileen, the SSND delegation includes Ethel Howley, SSND, assistant Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) director for the Atlantic-Midwest Province; Judy Bourg, SSND, JPIC director for the Dallas Province; Carolyn Jost, SSND, vocation director for the Atlantic-Midwest Province, and Maureen Fleming, SSND, pastoral minister at St. Luke, Westport, Conn. Julie Gilberto-Brady, communications coordinator for the SSND North American Major Area, also will be attending.

The College of Notre Dame of Maryland participants include Sisters Miriam Jansen, SSND, director of international programs, and Sharon Kanis, SSND, professor of religious studies. Notre Dame student participants include Eri Watanabe, from Japan; Grace Taylor, Maryland; Sister Limétèze Pierre-Gilles, SSND, Haiti; Adaku Ihekweme, Nigeria; Megan Hobbs, Maryland; Kelsey Guthrie, Illinois; Emily Gore, Maryland, and Yunyun Cheng, China. DePaul University graduate student Glenance Green, from Chicago, also will be attending.

The congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame is an international community of women religious. The Sisters educate with a world vision believing that the world can be changed through the transformation of persons. The sisters and their colleagues seek to empower women, youth and persons who are poor or marginalized and strive to change systems of poverty and injustice. More than 3,500 SSNDs minister in 36 countries.