During the last several years, the SNJM Congregation has been a member of two NGO’s: Unanima International and Development and Peace. Under this title the SNJM members are entitled to participate in certain sessions at the United Nations where the NGO’s are particularly active.
From the 3rd to the 9th of this past May, six SNJM’s, including an Associate, went to New York City. Sister Claudette is sharing some of her experience:
At a time in our history when financial food and ecological crises are plaguing our world, the seventeenth Sustainable Development Commission, held May 4 – 15, 2009 at the United Nations in New York, was debating current and relevant issues. Topics such as agriculture, land, drought, desertification and Africa were among its priority themes.
Why were we there, we the members of UNANIMA International? Together with the many members of other NGO’s (non-government organizations), we are attempting to persuade officials in our respective countries to better manage sustainable development. How was this accomplished? Three ways: meeting one of our country’s official delegates to express our point of view; making a two minute presentation in the delegates’ hall during their meeting; and, new this year, participating in roundtable discussions between delegates and NGO members.
During one of these roundtable discussions, women’s place in agriculture was a predominant topic (in Africa, women produce 90% of the food). It was stated that women should be provided with adequate training, access to modern technologies and the right to land.
As a witness to the commitment of the more seasoned NGO members, I think their contribution to these Commissions is indispensable. They provide their experience on the ground as well as real-life problem situations. In this way officials are exposed to the reality that makes up people’s lives and see how their deliberations can make a positive change.
Claudette Bastien, s.n.j.m.