United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 2017

School Sisters of Notre Dame delegation to participate in UN Commission on Status of Women

A delegation from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, including students from SSND-sponsored high schools in New Jersey, Maryland and Missouri, as well as Notre Dame of Maryland University, will attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meeting March 13-24 in New York as they address the issue of women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

In addition to the priority on women’s economic empowerment, the CSW will evaluate progress on the implementation of the agreed conclusions from the 58th session in 2014 when the CSW focused on challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. The CSW also will discuss an emerging issue, the empowerment of indigenous women.

Member states, as well as representatives of United Nations entities and of non-governmental organizations such as the School Sisters of Notre Dame, will participate in the two-week session.

“This year’s theme is especially relevant to us because School Sisters of Notre Dame see our mission of education as enabling persons to reach the fullness of their potential, and in our 21st century world, we believe that the economic empowerment of women is essential if women are to thrive.” said Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND, director of the SSND UN-NGO Office.

As a registered NGO (non-governmental organization) with the U.N. Department of Public Information since 1993, the School Sisters of Notre Dame also have Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC, which provides them with the opportunity to submit statements for consideration by the U.N. secretary general and the CSW. SSND has submitted such a statement for this session, advising the CSW to ensure that girls have a place at the table and a voice during these deliberations.

“When creating programs, such as initiatives and trainings that potentially empower women, include a range of teen girls, in a block large enough that their voices can be joined in conversation and discussion with each other and with the adults in the room,” the SSND statement advises. “They are the guides as to what they need in order to emerge, to be supported, to be empowered, and to be given the chance, structure, and opportunity to flourish economically and otherwise. In such venues and surveys, it is critical to provide space to actually listen to the voice of girls in these designated settings (or isolate the specific data from girls in fact-finding initiatives).”

Committed to ensuring that these voices are heard, the SSNDs have been sponsoring high school or college students at these commission meetings for more than 10 years. High school and college students have a unique role to play in reminding participants that girls must not be forgotten in the push for gender equality, Sister Eileen said.

In addition to Sister Eileen, the SSND delegation during the first week of the CSW will include Sister Kathy Schmittgens, coordinator of the international SSND Shalom office; Julie Gilberto-Brady, SSND communications coordinator, and faculty and students from four SSND-sponsored high schools. Participants from the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, N.J., are teacher Jennifer Cucchisi and students Arianne Rowe and Jaya Sharma. Participants from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, Md., are teacher Gail Caltrider and students Elena Benassi and Madison Tewey. Participants from the Institute of Notre Dame in Baltimore are teacher Sister Johanna Mignogno, SSND, and students Charlotte Flury and Meaghan Schneid. Participants from Notre Dame High School in St. Louis are teacher Kathleen Mallette and students Maggie Meystrik and Joey Wagner.

During the second week of the CSW, Sister Eileen and Gilberto-Brady will be joined by faculty and students from Notre Dame of Maryland University: Angela Sherman, professor and chair of the chemistry department; and students Gerriza Balmes, of San Jose, Philippines; Tran Ann Bui, Saigon, Viet Nam; Micah Castelo, Philippines; Hillary Flowers, Portland, Oregon; Christiana Showunmi, Washington, D.C.; Kelly Tandan, Paris, France; and Megan Wood, Lancaster, Penn.

The congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame is an international community of women religious. The sisters educate with a world vision believing that the world can be changed through the transformation of persons. The sisters and their colleagues seek to empower women, youth and persons who are poor or marginalized and strive to change systems of poverty and injustice. Approximately 2,500 SSNDs minister in 32 countries.


March 1, 2017
Julie Gilberto-Brady
SSND Communications Coordinator