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As a 3 month human rights intern with the Justice and Peace Office in Geneva, from the Province of Sri Lanka/Pakistan, it was a privilege for me to attend the 54th CEDAW session at the UN and take part in a mentoring programme which was conducted by IWRAW (International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific) an international women's human rights organization.

CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) mandates substantive equality and gender related laws, policies and programmes that are based on human rights. It requires state parties to condemn discrimination against women and ensure its elimination. The states who have ratified the convention are obliged to submit reports to the UN every five years and have constructive discussions with the CEDAW committee members on the implementation of the convention in their respective states.

At the 54th CEDAW session scheduled from 11th February – 1st March 2013 the CEDAW committee reviewed 8 state parties - Pakistan, Austria, Hungary, Cyprus, Greece, Angola, Macedonia, and the Solomon Islands.

As an intern, for my learning I concentrated on the Alternative report of Hungary which was prepared by our sisters in Hungary. The weekend work shop with IWRAW helped me to understand the CEDAW convention as well as the process of the session, the NGO oral presentation, how to effectively lobby committee members and the follow up work that could be done once NGO representatives return home. We were 10 participants representing 5 NGOs from Hungary and Pakistan.

The first three days were spent in writing the oral statements and learning how to present it at the informal meeting between CEDAW and the NGOs. The three days programme focused on the following: how to effectively lobby the CEDAW committee members, an introduction to each committee member including their areas of interest, country rapporteurs, inviting the CEDAW secretary for meaningful dialogue, and conducting mock sessions etc. It helped all NGO representatives to be at ease in forwarding their concerns to the committee members.

Then from Monday to Friday we were at country sessions, presenting our oral statements for lobbying CEDAW committee members at lunch briefings, meeting them and feeding them information from the grassroots level, attending the sessions of reporting by the country delegation, listening to constructive dialogue between the delegations and the CEDAW committee members and daily debriefing with the resource personnel. It was an enriching experience for me. This training helped me to understand how effectively NGOs can work with the CEDAW convention before, during and after the session. Personally I felt that it would have been much better if I was able to come up with the alternative report of my own country. Whenever GS participates in writing alternative reports on our own country we must not miss this opportunity; because as an NGO working towards the empowerment of women, this will be the best opportunity to raise our voice for the voiceless who are violated and disempowered.

I am grateful to the Congregation for giving me an experiential learning opportunity. I am confident that this will enable me to be more effective in my ministry.


Who participated in the meeting?

Sr Noreen O’Shea, Coordinator, Congregational Spirituality Centre, Angers (Chair)

Sr Hanan Youssef, Lebanon/Syria (Continental Link Person, RIMOA)

Sr Irma Del Valle Gallo, Argentina and now based at the Congregational Spirituality Centre (Continental Link Person, South America)

Sr Raquel Toledo Contemplative Sister, Canada (Continental Link Person, North America)

Ms Melinda Stricklen, Mid North America (Mission Partner, Continental and Province Link Person, North America)

Ms Jane Marie Ng, Singapore-Malaysia, (Mission Partner, Province Link Person)

Sr Vivienne Fernando Contemplative Sister, Ireland (Province Link Person)

Sr Pelagie Ratsaramananjato, The Isles (Province Link Person)

Sr Maria Los Morales Rodas Contemplative Sister, International Contemplative Community, Angers

Sr Caroline Price, Australia/Aotearoa New Zealand (Continental Link Person, Asia Pacific) (Minutes)

Sr Anne Josephine Carr (CLT Link Person), in attendance, and translated French/English.

Sr Odile Laughier (consultant) Province of BFMN Europe (present on Thursday 22 May).

(Photograph Left to Right: Pelagie, Caroline, Jane, Irma, Noreen, Odile, Anne Josephine, Hanan, Vivienne, Melinda, Raquel, Maria Los)

About the work of the Committee to date

The Congregational Spirituality Committee has been meeting since 2010. The Four Aspects of the work of the Congregational Spirituality Committee grew out of a 2009 session on Spirituality. That session made certain recommendations to the Congregational Leadership Team which led to the establishment of the Congregational Spirituality Committee, to work with the Congregational Spirituality Centre.

Outcomes of this meeting

Initiative 1. Develop a coordinating body to develop a worldwide spirituality network

The set up of the Congregational Spirituality Committee to work with the Spirituality Centre based in Angers, is part of this initiative. Naming continental link persons, and province link persons for spirituality was another part. For us here in Asia Pacific this began after the last Intercontinental Assembly and we were well established before other parts of the Congregation. Our meeting in Indonesia in March 2013 brought us together, and has kept us in touch ever since.

Initiative 2. Research and Translation, Sharing Resources

The workshop held in Indonesia on the database of material and human resources was the big project for this initiative. An update given to us by the Congregational Archivist shows that some provinces have yet to fully respond. And in the next few weeks, those provinces will receive a request from Sr Noreen regarding this. The database has been a big project and will be the first time that we as a Congregation have this information all together in one place.

Initiative 3. Shepherding in 21st Century

Sr Noreen O’Shea, Coordinator of the Congregational SpiritualityCentre, had worked with a theologian on a series of resource reflections on Shepherding in the 21st Century. These were developed to share with the Congregation. However, they have been ‘on hold’ because we have had other reflections and papers regarding the Journey of Enrichment and preparation for the Province Chapters and Congregational Chapter. These reflections may be developed into retreat resources, and eventually they will be available on the Congregational website.

Initiative 4. New ways of seeing our spirituality and identity in the light of the cosmological perspective

During the previous meeting of the Spirituality Committee in Argentina, a workshop was held with Sister Gail Worcelo. Gail had worked with the Contemplative Sisters at their Contemplative Intercontinental Assembly in Quito, Ecuador in 2008. And the Contemplative Council requested the Spirituality Committee to work on this initiative, on their behalf. It has taken time to get these resources together, but now the Notes and a powerpoint resource are available on the international website:

Extensive notes were taken by Sr Noreen O'Shea during the workshop. If you or the sisters in your unit would like more information, please contact Sr Noreen O'Shea at the Congregational Spirituality Centre.

You can also look at the website for Sr Gail Worcelo: It describes the work she does and what the monastery stands for. There is a YouTube clip available:

Using Resources

These resources are useful for retreats, reflections on our relationship with creation and our cosmos, in the light of the challenges we face on our planet.

Other resources are being developed

  • 1. In the next few months a series of reflections on Blessed Maria Droste will be circulated. We are encouraged to use these in our communities and units as appropriate, in support of the journey towards canonisation.
  • 2. Resources from the international retreats held at the Spirituality Centre and Mother house during 2012 and 2013 are also now available on the international website.
  • 3. The letter from the meeting of the Committee will be sent later in June to your Provinces. We know that there are a lot of new Provincials and new Leadership Teams.
  • 4. And this is an important time for us as Province Link Persons to make ourselves known to the new Province Leadership, and share with them what we do! The Role Description for Province Link Persons is a good resource for this.

Message from Caroline Price

We have a wealth of resources at our fingertips now!

I hope that you find this information helpful for your work of animating spirituality at the Province level. We are all living these days in the Spirit of Pentecost... may the spirit of our Shepherd God continue to guide us.

Blessings and peace,

(Asia Pacific Link Person for Spirituality)


You educate a man; you educate a man.
You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”

Brigham Young

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

Calling for change, celebrating acts of courage

Increasingly, International Women's Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Role of the United Nations

Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN's efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.

The work for gender equality continues

International Women's Day inspires us to celebrate achievements in women’s equality and freedom worldwide. The day also brings attention to areas of continued inequality, where acts of courage and determination are still needed in order to make the world more just. Our programmes should address issues such as: domestic and gender-based violence, healthcare and education, career training and small business support. (Written by the Sisters in Mulakalapalli, India)

Click below for photos and stories about Good Shepherd events

Central East India

Multiple celebrations, full of life. For the first time, Good Shepherd Sisters in India organise a Public Hearing, in Mumbai. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Central East India.

Karjat India

Women from tribal areas gain new awareness of their rights, and enjoy the celebration. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Karjat, India.

South West India

Girls living at the crossroads of life respond with appreciation to a workshop on Self Esteem. Click here for: IWD celebrations in South West India.

Sri Lanka

Many women including factory workers enjoy receiving information, and hope of a new means of livelihood. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Sri Lanka.

South Korea

At City Hall, Sisters publicize their work and promote human rights. Click here for: IWD celebrations in South Korea.


Mission Partners listen to stories of women, promote The Trading Circle and share an Aussie barbecue. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Australia.

Aotearoa New Zealand

The Trading Circle receives a lot of support at a fundraising breakfast event. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Aotearoa/New Zealand


Girls watch an enlightening film, discuss support for each other and pray for women around the world. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Indonesia.


Women are encouraged in their role as family educators, and call for an end to government corruption. Click here for: IWD celebrations in the Philippines.


Celebrations in Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and Perak affirm human dignity, show links with social justice and present a practical twist. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Malaysia.


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