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Loretto at the UN Adapts to Virtual Commission Meeting in Style

Posted on April 1, 2021, by Beth Blissman CoL

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a functional commission of the United Nations Eco-nomic and Social Council (ECO-SOC), is composed of 45 member states that serve on a rotating basis. The CSW is dedicated exclusively to agendas on gender and the advancement of women, and, in a typical year, delegates from member states would gather in person at United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ) in New York City to evaluate progress on gender equality in various fields, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote and advance women’s rights worldwide.

But this is no typical year.

Loretto has exhibited great resilience throughout its nearly 210-year story, and the current global pandemic offered yet another opportunity for creativity. Instead of welcoming BVM Sisters / Associates, Loretto Volunteers and/or students and teachers from Loretto schools to New York City for CSW, this year we hosted delegations for an entirely online Commission and a virtual NGO (non-governmental organization) Forum.

Screenshot of online meeting participants
A screenshot of Loretto and BVM members at the U.N. Zoom gathering.
Photo by Beth Blissman

Fortunately, our previous experience on the Zoom platform made preparation for the 65th CSW much easier. We hosted a Zoom orientation for those interested in learning more about the Convocation Day, general discussion, side events, parallel events and various interactive meetings of the session. Of the 15 attendees, a dozen brave souls submitted the necessary paperwork to join the official Loretto / BVM delegation, with access to all events, and nearly a dozen others opted for the NGO Forum only on the “Pathable” platform that featured over 650 parallel events. We sponsored three parallel events, including hosting a Conversation Circle on “Feminist Approaches to Climate Justice.”

The priority theme of CSW65 was “women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” In the 25 years since the fourth U.N. World Conference on Women in Beijing, opportunities for basic safety, let alone the empowerment needed for full and effective participation and decision making in public life, have been denied to many girls and women, especially in the global south. (See the CSW65 NGO Statement assembled by the Working Group on Girls, supported by the Loretto Community and others, written and submitted in October 2020.)

We will share more later this year regarding CSW65 events, and hope that you might choose to investigate something on www.webtv.un.org. As always, if you have questions or wish to hear more about Loretto at the U.N., please contact Beth Blissman, Loretto’s U.N. Rep, through the form below.

Loretto at the UN Welcomes Winter Term interns

Loretto at the U.N. was able to work with two January 2021 interns from Oberlin College: Abhisri Nath (OC ‘23) and Claire Schmelzer (OC ‘24). Along with another new volunteer, Peggy Green (niece of Kathleen Tighe), they received some U.N. orientation, assisted with social media and some prep work for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) — you can hear about their experience in their own words via this thoughtful reflection video: https://youtu.be/bHevgv6kv4k

The United Nations recognizes March 8, 2021, as International Women’s Day

The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 was “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World.” The theme celebrated the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is the link to the 2.5-hour event on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hyOOQ_6L-2I

Angelica Hale, age 13, who starts just before 28 minutes in, offered one of the musical highlights of the event! (The Pihcintu Multi-National Girls Chorus at 1:09:00 also was inspiring.)


Beth Blissman CoL

Beth, a Loretto Co-member, is the Community’s UN NGO representative.
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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!