Home » Features » From Loretto at the UN: A Quick Pivot Leads to an Inspiring Visit 

From Loretto at the UN: A Quick Pivot Leads to an Inspiring Visit 

Posted on July 1, 2020, by Beth Blissman CoL

Photo courtesy of David, from the Amnesty International NGO office.

In a typical year, Loretto at the UN welcomes an intergenerational delegation of feminists in mid-March to U.N.’s headquarters in New York City for the annual Commission on the Status of Women. This year, however, was not a typical year. It was the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women and the 75th anniversary of the UN. While we were expecting a delegation of more than 40 from Loretto schools, the Loretto Volunteer Program, LEN, LFN and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa, to attend CSW64, things did not turn out as we had planned.

On March 2, with the outbreak of COVID-19, member states made the difficult decision to condense CSW64, the largest annual gathering of feminists globally, from two weeks to a half-day. CSW64 deliberations were postponed, our Loretto schools cancelled their trips in short order, and our office was thrown into the chaos of uncertainty about what might happen.

Despite that uncertainty, a small and energetic delegation of seven traveled to NYC and participated in a scaled-down version of CSW. We did a quick pivot and were able to celebrate International Women’s Day by attending an open house with our friends at The Grail in the Bronx. While there, we heard moving stories of child marriage, sexual abuse, mental health challenges, living on the street – and of resilience and redemption through safety and education with help from The Grail. We were so impressed by the young Grail members from other countries who had already arrived for CSW64, we decided that we needed to create a platform for their voices to be heard on a larger scale.

On March 11, we pulled off an intergenerational dialogue, “From Beijing +25 to an Ecologically Sustainable Future: Sharing the Vision of Loretto Students and Loretto/BVM/Grail Community Members,” in real-time and on Zoom. We learned more about the Loretto and BVM presence at Beijing in 1995, then listened closely as girls from Mozambique, Uganda, Mexico and the United States shared what they think governments and grassroots organizations should be doing to follow through on previous commitments to girls/women. The energy that girls bring to help others in challenging situations overcome difficulties and transform their lives was deeply inspiring.

We also had a social at the home of Paulette Peterson, as well as meetings or programs with staff from Amnesty International and the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Institute.

Overall, we had an excellent time, perhaps best summarized by one of our attendees from Dubuque, Iowa, Roberta White, BVM: “Even though we did not have the scheduled experience … we DID have a much more personal, deep interaction with a few women we now know by name and can call friends. We felt each one’s pains and hopes. We talked on the subway, at lunches and on breaks. We now hold one another closely in our hearts and prayers; we all are transformers of women’s futures across the globe!”

Additional Resources:

“A New Era for Girls: Taking Stock of 25 Years of Progress,” a February 2020 UNICEF article.

Follow the hashtag #GenerationEquality on social media for the latest on 25 years after Mary Peter Bruce, Marian McAvoy and Maureen McCormack represented Loretto in Beijing.


Beth Blissman CoL

Beth, a Loretto Co-member, is the Community’s UN NGO representative.
Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!