Africa, Asia, North America


The School Sisters of Notre Dame are active in a wide variety of ministries including education, health care, social outreach and pastoral ministry.


A Day in the Life - at the UN CSW

Monday, March 10

The School Sisters of Notre Dame delegation attending the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women began their week with a variety of sessions and panel events. Several of the Mount Mary University students from Milwaukee who are part of the delegation began by participating in "Development, Gender and Equality across Latin America and the Caribbean."

At this event, the students participated in a round-table discussion on gender-based violence and sexual abuse. The main topic focused on finding the root cause of discrimination, and many people posed several ways to address the issue. Several teachers mentioned that education is an essential tool to eradicate gender discrimination and abuse, while others said dealing with poverty and cultural norms of gender bias could be a solution to ending violence.

Kathryn Roell and Heather Thomas-Flores attend a panel discussion on higher education and implementing Millennium Development Goals.

Several male participants offered thought-provoking questions and suggestions. One young man suggested that legislators should focus on constructive steps to reform behavior. Another emphasized teaching youth about media literacy in order to challenge violent messages in music and popular culture. In addition, he mentioned how important it is for parents to teach their boys to not suppress their emotions.

Shamae Amore, a Mount Mary senior majoring in International Studies, said that she was interested in the speakers' behavioral suggestions.

"I thought that was really important because we don't allow men to be humans and allow them to express their true feelings or to show emotions,” Shamae said. She added that whenever men exhibit such behavior, they're seen as less manly or weak. Referring to her own behavior and how she used to judge men who expressed their emotions, she corrected herself, saying that it's "never a good thing to do."

Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND, addresses participants at the Girls' Caucus.

Higher Education Influences Leadership

Mount Mary Professor Julie Tatlock and students Hayley Robinson, Tiyara Townsend, Kathryn Roell, and Heather Thomas-Flores also attended a panel discussion called "From Higher Education to Women's Leadership," hosted by Open A Door Foundation. The speakers explored why it is important to include higher education in implementing the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Daniela Kaisth, vice-president of external affairs and initiatives at the Institute of International Education (IIE), said that many statistics from the World Bank show how higher education for women not only benefits women but also provides a necessary resource of information for society. Simin Wahdat, a legislative fellow and alumna of Open A Door Foundation, said that she was fortunate enough to grow up in a home in Afghanistan where her parents supported her education.

Delegates Facilitate Girls' Caucus

Later in the day, Hayley Robinson, Tiyara Townsend, Kathryn Roell, Heather Thomas-Flores, and Laura Chapman helped Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND, facilitate the Girls' Caucus at the Salvation Army building. The students worked with a group of teenage delegates to rephrase the terms of the draft document that UN Women members will be composing this week.

Five main areas are covered in the report, including protecting women's and girls' human rights, reinforcing and investing in gender equality, creating more opportunities for female political participation, and holding member states accountable to enforcing policy. Each group rewrote their respective topics in a simpler way and shared their thoughts with the rest of the girls. Many of them were persistent to find out how their opinions could be counted by the member states and NGOs.

Laura Chapman applauds a teenage participant on her suggestion at the Girls' Caucus.

Lasting Impressions

After attending many sessions, taking notes, and sharing their personal views on relevant issues, many of the students found that this experience already has had lasting impact on them. Kathryn Roell, a third year public relations student said that the topic of domestic violence touched her heart.

“It's such a complex issue that you have to look at all the facets that affect it before you can start to make and see change,” Kathryn said.

Sister Paulina Raymond, SSND, a graduate student in education, shared a point made someone at a session, saying that U.N. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that give aid to various countries should first approach the people they serve before giving them what they think the people want. Bringing your own agenda does not always work, she said.

Sister Angela Ezugwu, SSND, who is majoring in theology at Mount Mary, shared what she learned about an NGO that specializes in solar cooking in Kenya. She said solar cooking could be a good alternative to the traditional way of cooking which can be very time-consuming and involves gathering wood and fetching water. She said solar cooking "has relieved women and girls in a way that statistically the girls are improving in their performance in school."

By Machan Bowman

Transforming the world through education