This year, for the first time, the UN-NGO office brought four sisters from Latin America to New York to participate in the 57th Session of the Commission for Social Development, February 11-15, 2019. This year’s theme was “Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.” The four who participated were: Rita Bosch (Argentina – Buenos Aires), Paulina Oviedo (Argentina – Cuneo), Heidi Aguirre Enriquez (Mexico – Lyon) and Nilva Dal Belo (Brazil – Chambéry). They were joined by Sue Wilson and Joan Atkinson (both from Canada – Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph in Canada) and Varka (Canada – Toronto).
Preceding the meeting, the Latin Americans were given an introduction to the UN and the Commission for Social Development by Marianne Sennick and Barbara Bozak and then discussed social protection, or the lack thereof, in their countries, led in this by Sue Wilson and Joan Atkinson. This was made possible through the able translation of Donna Cicalese (US – Philadelphia).
Monday through Thursday they were able to follow the panel discussions on the topic of Social Protection at the UN and heard the remarks from various countries of what they are doing to address this issue. On Friday they participated in the NGO Forum on Social Development, where they joined others from Latin America to discuss the reality in the different countries.
Three times during the course of the week the group met at lunchtime, with a translator, to process their experience, which they all found very rich.
In the word of Nilva Sal Bello: “The experience of these days reveals the importance of the charism and strengthening the ‘family of St Joseph.’ . . . (It) motivates us to embrace in our goals Agenda 2030 (Sustainable Development Goals), to transform the world through listening to the cries of the poor and vulnerable. We also experienced the important contribution of Civil Society Organizations (NGOs) together with governments.”
Rita Bosch echoed these sentiments when she said that this experience “helped me greatly to grow in my awareness of ‘being one,’ to unite ourselves worldwide” to denounce injustice and the inequality which causes so many to suffer lack of personal dignity.
Barbara Bozak, csj