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


CSW Events Feature a Wealth of Topics

Highlights from the Week

A common refrain heard throughout the first week of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meeting was “Nothing about us without us,” as thousands of advocates, including a delegation from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, attended briefings, panel discussions, workshops and seminars on the theme of “the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges.”

Events, often standing-room only, covered topics that included advancing the rights of women, access to education for girls, communications, land rights, food security, access to medical care, poverty eradication and participation in politics and decision making. A sampling of some of those events follows.

Facilitating Human Rights from a Feminist Perspective

  Panelist Radhika Balikrishnan discusses gender analysis while Ejim Dike listens.

Panelists focused their discussion on the links between feminist policy and the realization of economic and social rights. The discussion that followed included questions and comments from an audience that represented Columbia, Zambia, India, Malaysia, Australia, the United Kingdom, Uganda and the United States.

Gender analysis must be integrated into policies and not just added to the end as an afterthought, said Radhika Balikrishnan, with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and a professor at Rutgers University. Ejim Dike, with the U.S. Human Rights Network, added that social programs must be designed with the specific needs of a woman in mind if they are to be effective.

“When governments care about an issue, they act,” Dike said. “The governments came together to develop the Millennium Development Goals and little has been done since then. But when there was the financial crisis, they came together and developed a bailout.  This is what we should be pushing.”

Technology for the Social Good of Indigenous Women and Women in the Global South

  Elahe Amani (left) and two Women News Network journalists from the United States and Senegal discuss technology.

Access to mobile networks is available to 90 percent of the world’s population, and 80 percent of the world has access to a network for texting, said Elahe Amani, director of technology at California State University.

“It is up to us to utilize the technology for social good, such as advancing literacy, health, education, financial literacy and gender awareness for indigenous women and women in the global south,” Amani said.

Technology can overcome the physical constraints of rural areas, create more efficiency, and promote transparency, accountability and security.

“Empowering women with technology is empowering communities,” Amani said.

Women, War & Peace Screening

  Producer Abigail Disney (left) and Angie Wang discuss the video series on Women, War & Peace.

The face of conflict has changed dramatically, and instigators of violence regularly made the headlines while woman peacemakers do not. Stories like that of Leymah Roberta Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist who was one of three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, is a motivation for governments to look for the real movers behind peace.

Abigail Disney, the executive director of the Women, War & Peace series, discussed the making of the documentary about Gbowee and her longstanding passion for women and peace building. Disney said that when she first heard Gbowee’s story she was mesmerized and haunted. That story, “Pray the Devil back to Hell,” is one of the five-part series, which aired this past fall.

“It is infuriating that there were journalists there who saw the women and who heard the women but never felt it had enough value to bring it to their audiences,” Disney said.

Disney said that she hope these films will be used as organizing tools that will enlighten, educate and bring awareness to the need for women to be at the table for important discussions like peace. The full series is available online at

Demystifying Media at the Grassroots: Rural Women Using Media for Change

  Racheal Nakitare, president of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, and Arshiya Ahsan, IAWRT USA chapter head, consult on the program before the session begins on Demystifying Media at the Grassroots.

Research has shown that media, such as radio, is an important tool for rural women, said Sharon Rolls, executive director of FemLINK Pacific and founder of WAVE Media Network.  Community radio is more than just broadcasting. It brings people together to engage at the community level.

“FemTALK 89FM in Fiji is the Pacific’s first and only mobile community radio,” Rolls said. “It enables women in semi-urban and rural areas and communities to engage in communications for peace building, education and gender and equality. This is really about making media accessible and response to the community, especially to young women as content creators.”

Community radio can play a vital role and be a critical forum for women to insert their voices in national issues, said Michele Montas, a Haitian journalist.


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