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.


Trafficking Presentation & U.S. Mission Briefing

SSND delegation at the UN
The SSND delegation, from left: Sister Kathy Jager, Sister Eileen Reilly, Mariajose Ortiz, Caitlyn Lowry, Linda Pham, Micayla Wilson, Corey Fletcher, Sandy Montgomery, Allison Moser and Tony Smith.

Sister Eileen Reilly (left) and Erica Higbie, co-chairs of the Advocacy Task Force of the Working Group on Girls, worked to get language naming girls into the political declaration.
Sister Eileen Reilly, was a panelist for a UN CSW session on human trafficking.

At a briefing at the U.S. Mission Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell heralded the newly approved political declaration that provides an overarching reaffirmation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a comprehensive blueprint for advancing women’s rights.

The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on Monday approved the declaration, which marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and includes revisions and language that Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND, had advocated for so that issues faced by girls would be elevated.

Sister Eileen served as the co-chair of the Advocacy Task Force of the Working Group on Girls to lead the efforts to include girls in the comprehensive commitments under the areas of concern. The Working Group on Girls faxed all 45 member countries of the CSW with their proposed changes and then visited more than 30 of those countries to meet with representatives and explain the changes.

“We were quite perplexed when the first draft came out,” Sister Eileen said. “Twelve times it said ‘empower women,” and at no time did it say ‘empower girls.’ Now it says seven times ‘empower women and girls.’ The phrase ‘empowerment of women and girls’ is really important.”

Girls must be empowered if there is to be real change. For instance, girls are the ones who will be influential in ending child marriage and in demanding safe schools, she said.

 “Empowerment of girls is what is going to bring about change for the next generation,” Sister Eileen said.

Ambassador Russell also noted that the declaration also reflects a strong support of civil society, which includes Non-Governmental Organizations such as the School Sisters of Notre Dame. 

Read the political declaration on the UN Women website. 

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