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Mary Ward Women at the Civil Society Conference 2024

Mary Ward Women

The Civil Society Conference (CSC) was held in Nairobi, Kenya last May 9 and 10, 2024. We were fortunate to be able to invite and have eight delegates from our network participating, including two students from Loreto Msongari together with their teacher. They are: Jackline Mwongela ibvm (Anti-Human Trafficking); Leonida Kwamboka Oriki ibvm (Women for Women in Africa); Pauline Wambui ibvm (Loreto Neema); Maureen Wanyora (Loreto Msongari); Phylice Nyabate (Teacher at Loreto Msongari); Keendi Mwangi and Latifa Okoyo (students at Loreto Msongari). Also attending the event to represent Pax Christi International was Teresia Wamuru Wachira ibvm.

Our delegation met on the first day to attend the Plenary Opening and organize which events and ImPACT Coalition sessions each member would attend. For almost all our delegates, it was their first time attending a UN conference, and there was a palpable mix of excitement and apprehension as they were unsure of what to expect. However, the CSC Co-chairs and various Committee Co-chairs provided an excellent introduction and explanation of the conference’s purpose and the two-day program.

Prior to the CSC, some of our delegates attended two pre-conference meetings with the Faith for Earth team and Girl Deliver partners. We also attended a meeting with the UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda after the first day of CSC.

Faith for Earth
Pauline Wambui IBVM and I attended a meeting organized by Rohan Dominic CMF of Claretian – Fondazione Proclade Internazionale. The meeting, held for members of Religious at the UN (RUN) attending the Nairobi conference, was with the Faith for Earth Coalition team. This coalition, established under the UN Environment Program (UNEP), aims to involve faith actors in environmental protection and conservation efforts. Currently, they collaborate with 15 religions and 90 congregations, providing resources such as an environmental consumption audit process and sustainable festival guidelines.

During the meeting, the coalition emphasized the crucial role of faith community engagement at the UN and explored ways for us to participate in their efforts. This session served as valuable preparation for the upcoming conference.

Read about the Faith for Earth HERE

Girl Deliver
Together with our two delegates from Loreto Msongari, we participated in the Girl Deliver partners’ meeting to strategize on advancing adolescent girls’ rights at the upcoming CSC and Summit of the Future. Keendi and Latifah, the only girl delegates present, represented our group and shared their perspectives. Each organization presented their advocacy action plans: the Working Group on Girls (WGG) highlighted our submission to the Pact for the Future and introduced the Conversation Circle Toolkit, while Plan International presented the Girls Pact for the Future.

The meeting concluded with an agreement to continue collaboration and focus on common advocacy priorities. Many of us, as organization representatives, also planned to engage in the ImPACT Coalition on Youth and Intergenerational Engagement: Collective Action for Youth, Adolescents, and Older Generations.

Read the Working Group on Girls Pact for the Future recommendations HERE.

UN Women
Our two Girl Delegates, Latifah and Keendi, had the privilege of meeting Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, at the meeting hosted by UN Women at their Nairobi office. They were the youngest delegates present and confidently addressed their passionate concerns about social issues, specifically mental health and gender violence.

During the meeting, the significance of solidarity and relationship building was emphasized. The tendency for women and girls to sometimes take their “rights” for granted was also acknowledged. It’s crucial to remember that “rights are not given, they are taken.”

Photos: Top: IBVM/CJ NGO delegates at various events during CSC. Middle: Members of Religious at the UN (RUN) with Faith for Earth team.