High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2017
[For more information on this report, contact Grove Harris: groveharris at gmail.]
In July 2017, a second set of countries presented their progress on the SDGs to the United Nations. Civil society (NGOs and other nonprofits) raised concerns on many fronts, including the shrinking space for diverse people’s voices, the degree of progress, and the rise in attacks on front line human rights defenders around the globe. The Temple of Understanding worked with the Women’s Major Group, mourning the deadly violence against women human rights defenders.
Resurj, also a member organization of the WMG, has written an extensive summary report of the HLPF, “Going beyond Aspiration: HLPF analysis 2017.” (Conclusions appended below.)
Diverse Civil Society efforts include a “spotlight” report that directly challenges barriers.
“Unbridled privatization, corporate capture and mass-scale tax abuse are blocking progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, argues a new report by a global coalition of civil society organizations including the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR).”
Other Civil Society colleagues prepared an overview of the country reports:
“Voluntary National Reviews: What are countries prioritizing?” (Conclusions appended below.)
A side event held by religious NGOs released a popular education resource for communities, produced collaboratively and published by the International Presentation Association. “Critical Hope for the SDGs: Advocating from the Margins for Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice in the Context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals” aims to ensure the SDGs become a people’s agenda, serving communities “on the ground.”
The Sustainable Development Goals are really a battle between commodities and the commons. As a feminist alliance, RESURJ’s approach to justice includes that we understand and address the interlinkages between women’s bodies, health, and human rights in the context of the ecological, social and economic crisis that we face.
As part of RESURJ’s ongoing advocacy within this process we have over the past two years, focused on how we leverage evidence based on people’s realities for a justice approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and other key processes. In particular, we aim to share examples of the interlinkages and experiences of people to inform policy advocacy, resource allocation, and interventions. We have also started to explore how certain interventions have the potential to impact multiple goals and targets, and are potential key tools in the realization of the agenda. One such example is how Comprehensive Sexuality Education can have a positive impact on young people and adolescent’s lives including contributing to reducing inequalities and violence, improving health and education outcomes, reducing poverty and increasing opportunities. Exploring interventions and policy that could have multiple effects on multiple goals is a learning process for us and we are taking this challenge on because we know that the interlinkage and intersectional perspective called for in moving the Agenda 2030 forward cannot come from governments alone.
We will not achieve the transformational aims of this agenda, if we silo our responses to the economic, ecological and social crises that we face. Holding the realities of people and our planet at the center, is the critical approach that we have missed before, and cannot risk missing again.
Voluntary National Reviews: What are countries prioritizing?
Countries should be more explicit in reporting on the VNR process, including efforts to engage stakeholders. Together 2030 calls on governments “to strengthen efforts to publicize their plans and processes for national review, and opportunities for participation, sharing common challenges and identifying best practices in stakeholder engagement.”
Countries need to step up the pace. They should not wait for their first VNR report before getting started on implementation.
Countries should report on progress toward all 17 SDGs, recognizing the indivisibility of the agenda and interlinkages among the goals.
Main Messages should include more substance on implementation, including specific activities, progress and challenges.
Civil society must keep demanding meaningful participation. It’s positive that many countries mentioned youth and women, but more stakeholder groups need to be included.
The Temple of Understanding collaboratively organized three successful sessions and an interfaith service of remembrance during the 61st Annual Commission on the Status of Women.
For the overall proceedings, we suggest this report by colleague Kate Lappin, of APWLD and the Women’s Major Group, who assessed Four wins at CSW this year:
- Committing to gender responsive just transitions in the context of climate change
- Recognising the role of trade unions in addressing economic inequalities and the gender pay gap
- More detailed methods to ensure the redistribution of unpaid care work
- Referring to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) [Read more]
Also recommended is the Report on CSW61 and Analysis of the Agreed Conclusions by Ms. Lakshmi Puri, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.
This year’s interfaith service again remembered women murdered for standing up for their rights. Four months after the death of Berta Cáceres, her colleague Lesbia Yaneth Urquia was murdered for the same work: trying to stop a hydroelectric project that threatened water and land. The Council of Indigenous People of Honduras (Copinh) is quoted as writing, “The death of Lesbia Yaneth is a political femicide that tries to silence the voices of women with the courage and bravery to defend their rights.”
Our joint DPI/NGO session was entitled “Women as Roots of Change: Sustainable Food Production and Sovereignty.” Speakers included Sister Celine Paramunda, Medical Mission Sisters; Betty Lyons (Onondaga Nation), American Indian Law Alliance; Roberto Mukaro Borrerro, International Indian Treaty Council; and Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier, Chief, New York UNCTAD. It was a pleasure to collaborate with DPI colleagues Hawa Diallo, who brilliantly introduced the panel, and the production team including Krystal Fruscella and Chioma Onwumelu (all pictured below).
The complete session can be viewed on UN Web TV by clicking the image below:
Our session “On a Gender-Just and Sustainable Trade Agenda,” co-sponsored by UNCTAD and the Women’s Major Group, both highlighted the need for more advocacy towards a gendered understanding of trade policies, and commended women’s activism in pushing for it. UNCTAD has a set of online publications that are part of their gender initiative. They write, “Taking into account gender perspectives in macro-economic policy, including trade policy, is essential to pursuing inclusive and sustainable development and to achieving fairer and beneficial outcomes for all.”
This event, held in the Ex-Press Bar, was hugely successful. The room was filled to capacity (over 80 people) and the audience included a graduate class of women training in international affairs.
Grove Harris moderated and showed the film, Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice. Speaker Kate Lappin was brilliant, explaining that development funding reverts profits back to the donor countries and further demystifying trade. Then Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier congratulated women’s activism, which has driven UNCTAD’s new gender and trade initiative. After the panel, Dr. Carpentier expressed appreciation for the opportunity to keep working with the NGO community on trade and financial concerns.
Speakers from the floor included Alina Saba, an Indigenous youth from Nepal who spoke to a community perspective, rather than an implicitly individualistic one. Nick Anton spoke on the new People’s Water Guide, and Ana Alvarez brought up the issue of corporate power. Theresa Blumenfield questioned UNCTAD’s uncritical acceptance of the corporate strategy of developing robots to avoid paying human workers.
Our session “Roots of Change: Reclaiming Economics for Women and Community” gave the audience an opportunity to exchange personal views and voice heartfelt concerns. We are especially grateful for the presence of speakers Crystal Simeoni of FEMNET and Sister Celine Paramunda of Medical Mission Sisters. Simeoni’s background in rural economic development and fighting inequality was coupled with clarity and insight. Sr. Paramunda offered heartfelt remarks on women’s leadership and spirit. She also led a brief meditation about breath and relationship, relating us to trees and the cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
FEMNET, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, offered a set of Red Flags expressing grave concerns about the direction of CSW61. Naming eighteen areas of concern, they warn, “The 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women is heading toward a weak, even regressive, outcome that fails to address the current state of the world of work, let alone address future challenges.” These areas will require ongoing monitoring and activism.
[4/19/17 UPDATE: Scroll down for photos of this beautiful event!]
Temple of Understanding, Parliament of the World’s Religions,
Interfaith Center of New York, World Peace Prayer Society, International Yoga Day Committee at the UN,
United Religions Initiative, and United Methodist Women invite you to attend
The Third Annual Interfaith Service of Gratitude and Remembrance
Thursday, March 16, 2017, 4:45 – 6:00 PM
Church Center for the United Nations, Chapel
44th Street and First Avenue, New York
Join us in prayerful remembrance of those who have gone before us and who continue to inspire our lives. We carry their courage and commitment forward.
There will be a time to remember those who have passed during this year.
Special music will be provided by The Performance & Peace Initiative with Brandon Perdomo on flute and Caitlin Cawley on Percussion.
- Rev. Dionne Boissiere, Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations
- Grove Harris, MDiv., The Temple of Understanding
- Dr. Kusumita Pedersen, Interfaith Center of New York
- Denise Scotto, Esq., International Yoga Day Committee
- Monica Willard, United Religions Initiative
“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision – then it becomes
less and less important whether I am afraid.“ – Audre Lorde
* * * * *
Photos from the event:
The UN Department of Public Information (DPI),
in partnership with the Temple of Understanding, presents
Women as Roots of Change: Sustainable Food Production and Sovereignty
Part of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (Side Event)
Thursday, March 23, 2017, 11 am – 12:45 pm
Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Building on the intersections between Sustainable Development Goals 2, 5, and 6, this briefing will feature the voices of Indigenous people and highlight women’s leadership role in sustainable food production and sovereignty.
- Sister Celine Paramunda, Medical Mission Sisters
- Betty Lyons (Onondaga Nation), American Indian Law Alliance
- Roberto Mukaro Borrerro, International Indian Treaty Council
- Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier, Chief, New York UNCTAD
The relevant Sustainable Development Goals include:
The Temple is extremely grateful to Tribal Link for their collaboration on this event.
Roots of Change: Reclaiming Economics for Women and Community
Part of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women
Thursday, March 16, 10:30 am
Salvation Army, Downstairs
221 E 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022
Women’s opportunity and necessity has traditionally been in farming and textiles. It is crucial to re-vision women’s roles in a broader context. Women’s economic empowerment needs to involve equity, ownership, and a community focus. Our 10-minute film Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice demonstrates the dangers we face as corporations replace local family farms and fisheries. It features women’s perspectives and includes men on all levels, suggesting the values we need to foster in order to reclaim our economic future.
Speakers will address concerns such as loss of local knowledge, community based solutions, innovative practices, and the impacts of international trade. In our interconnected world, women’s empowerment lies in a robust local community as well as justice in the global community.
- Sister Celine Paramunda, Medical Mission Sisters
- Crystal Simeoni, FEMNET
- Grove Harris, Temple of Understanding
Co-sponsored by the Temple of Understanding, the Women’s Major Group, and the Mining Working Group.
On A Gender-Just & Sustainable Trade Agenda
Part of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women
Monday, March 20, 2017, 1:15 – 2:30 pm
Ex-Press Bar, Third Floor
United Nations HQ, New York
- Grove Harris, Temple of Understanding, moderating and introducing short film Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice
- Chantal Line Carpentier, PhD, Chief, UNCTAD New York Office
- Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
- Respondents, with local/regional updates and promising practices
Temple of Understanding
United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD)
Women’s Major Group
Mining Working Group
UNCTAD – Trade, Gender and Development
Women’s Major Group Joint Statement – UNCTAD 14
Temple of Understanding – Food Sovereignty
From Grove Harris, TOU Main Representative to the United Nations:
This gathering of a million people was so large that actual marching was pretty limited. (With 600,000 confirmed people on public transportation, it had to be larger than estimates.) From the crowds on the metro platforms to the solid masses in the streets, it was a time to slow down and enjoy the thoughtfulness of people’s expressions. I enjoyed handing out cards about our online video, Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice, and listening to most of the speakers online later.
People came together peacefully to reclaim our democracy, to affirm women’s humanity and rights, and to celebrate reclaiming our streets and our capital. We found common ground for collective action. It was a powerful affirmation of renewed civic engagement.
Enjoy these images from the march! Photo credits: Grove Harris
Imagine your birth certificate being the only thing that can stop you from becoming a child bride. A piece of paper that could change the course of your life.
In Nepal, a girl’s cheena, or astrological chart, is playing a crucial role in deterring her from being married off before she reaches adulthood.
It’s a deeply embedded tradition where marriages are arranged — and often forced through — by parents or relatives of the girl. Some are as young as 12 months.
This can have a variety of inherently detrimental consequences. In the short-term, girls are more likely to drop out of school and are less likely to have access to information about birth control and contraception.
In the long-run, they are more likely to suffer the dangerous impacts from early childbearing. And in a vicious intergeneration circle, the women are less likely to rise out of poverty so that they can spare their own daughters from enduring the same fate.
Surprisingly, astrologers, Hindu priests and shamans could hold the key to ending this perilous cycle.
In a remote far western part of Nepal, some of these religious leaders are using their standing in traditional communities to educate families about the consequences of child marriage.
Read more about Hindu priests combating child marriage in Nepal >>
A film project documenting the Dakota Access pipeline protests at Standing Rock!
This short film features an exclusive interview with Sky Bird Black Owl, first woman to give birth at the Standing Rock Protests. The filmmakers ask that you please watch, like, share, and donate what you can. With your help, the voices of the women of Standing Rock will be heard.
Click the image to view the film.
The UN General Assembly elected its next Secretary-General on October 13 — António Guterres of Portugal, the ninth man to hold the position. Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the UN, spoke on his disappointment that the position has not yet been held by a woman.
The Council members were totally insensitive to a groundswell of support worldwide for a woman as the next Secretary-General. They advanced the legacy of ignoring the 50 per cent of humanity in their action. This is an absolute aberration of the system whereby the 15 members of the Council impose their choice prompted by P-5 pressure and manipulation upon the total membership of 193, not to speak of wide swath of civil society opinion and activism for a woman Secretary-General.
It is so very unfortunate that in the selection process politics has trumped women’s equality, violating UN Charter’s article 8 which underscores the eligibility and equality of men and women to participate in any capacity in all its organs – principal or subsidiary.