Home » Features » Investing in future leaders: The Loretto/BVM Delegation to #CSW68

Investing in future leaders: The Loretto/BVM Delegation to #CSW68

Posted on April 29, 2024, by Loretto Community

For Loretto, attending the 68th U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) was an invaluable opportunity to explore pathways to a better world. At a time when women and girls globally are experiencing extreme poverty in greater numbers, it was empowering to join with more than 6,000 feminists of all genders who attended the conference in person – and another 15,000 who attended virtually. Our Loretto/BVM (Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) delegation of 28 included three BVM Sisters and 15 high school participants from Loretto Academy, St. Mary’s Academy and Wahlert Catholic High School in Dubuque, Iowa. We joined U.N. officials and government representatives, topic experts, activists of all ages and other members of civil society organizations.

A diverse group of young women gathers with Irish Ambassador Lisa Carty and Loretto at the UN representative Beth Blissman for a photo.
The Loretto/BVM CSW68 delgation gathers for a photo with Irish Ambassador Lisa Carty (center) and Loretto at the UN representative Beth Blissman (middle row, at right).
Photo by Celia Bard

Together we explored reasons why women and girls currently experience increasing amounts of gender-based violence, hunger, domestic violence and inequality in their access to education. We drew connections between sexualized violence and a lack of land access, work opportunities and financial literacy – and noted that women, including young girls, often shoulder the most responsibility for the care of their families.

For the Loretto Community, creating the framework to host high school students at annual CSW gatherings is investing in the future of leadership. These young women represent the next generation of decision-makers, change agents and trailblazers. By empowering them with knowledge, skills and exposure to global issues, the Loretto Community nurtures potential leaders who will drive positive transformation in society.

Leslie Baron, Loretto at the UN 2023-24 intern

CSW68 (March 11-22) addressed these challenges under the theme, “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.” Members of civil society usually have limited access to the official proceedings, but we had ready access during CSW68 to a series of side events – workshops and presentations by U.N. governments and their NGO partners – and parallel events and conversation circles led by other members of civil society. Our delegates took full advantage of this process, and broadened their knowledge base on many topics.

In essence, attending CSW68 is more than just a trip to New York — it’s a transformative experience that equips high school girls with the tools, knowledge and inspiration to become future leaders of the world. The Loretto Community recognizes the importance of nurturing and empowering these young women, knowing that they hold the potential to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive future for all.

Leslie Baron, Loretto at the UN 2023-24 intern

Other highlights of CSW68 included:

  • Teen Orientation hosted by the Working Group on Girls (WGG) March 10 at the Convent of the Sacred Heart High School gym on the upper east side
  • Our exciting mix and mingle evening event, where we played CSW68-themed bingo and got to know the other members of our in-person delegation
  • Hearing from Loretto Co-member Alice Kitchen about the Cities for CEDAW movement, which is organized through the Women’s Intercultural Network
  • Two different opportunities to meet with diplomats from both the U.S. and Ireland.
  • Fourteen members of our delegation participated in an invitation-only Interfaith Dialogue hosted March 15 by the Taiwanese Buddhist organization Tzu Chi
  • Several opportunities for informal dialogue and celebration at receptions, including an open house hosted by The Angel Band Project, an organization in St. Louis founded by two graduates of Nerinx Hall High School that helps survivors of sexual assault heal through music therapy.

On Loretto’s Facebook page and Instagram posts this week you’ll hear more about our two parallel events held in collaboration with the Kila Dada Initiative (KDI) in Tanga, Tanzania, Loretto Academy and the Loretto Feminist Network – and you will hear more reflections on the experience in the coming months in the voices of students, sisters and lead educators.


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