The IBVM/CJ NGO Office in collaboration with VIVAT International, Sisters of Loretto and Mary Ward International Ireland held a side event at the High Level Political Forum on July 13, 2022. The event was titled: Quality Education and Gender Equality: Keys to Building Forward to achieving the SDGs to highlight the importance of SDG4 and SDG5.
We were honoured to have Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, the Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Ireland at the UN as our key note speaker. She was joined by Sr. Orla Treacy IBVM (Director of Loreto Rumbek), Fr. Benigno P. Beltran SVD (CEO Sandiwaan Centre for Learning – SCL), Helena Rial Isaac (Graduate of Loreto Rumbek) and Maria Angelica Solomon (Graduate SCL). The event was expertly moderated by our Youth intern, Riya Bhargava.
Ambassador Byrne Nason began by congratulating Sr. Orla and her team on the work they were doing to educate girls in South Sudan. She then reminded us that seven years since countries committed to SDG2030, we are “not the half-way point toward achieving the SDGs we had hoped for” and that even before the pandemic, we were falling behind. Sadly, globally, “women, young people and children remain the most vulnerable.” Amid the pandemic, early marriages and gender-based violence rose and many women, especially mothers, left the labour market.
But she also spoke about hope and acknowledged the work being done not only by governments but the many “unseen and often unheard” committed people, many of whom were present at the webinar, who are working towards the achievement of the SDGs. The SDG2030 is our blueprint to transforming our world so that no one is left behind. Ambassador Byrne Nason encouraged us “to maintain our determination and drive. 2030 is in sight, and our shared Goals remain attainable.”
Sr. Orla shared how girl child education was a new concept to South Sudan when the Sisters arrived and what practical steps they took promote gender equality (SDG5) in quality education (SDG4). She demonstrated how integrated the SDGs are in their practices to support a girl’s education. The Loreto Rumbek team is definitely part of the “unseen and unheard” committed people mentioned by the Ambassador.
Fr. Benigno shared the new educational philosophy underpinning the Sandiwaan Centre for Learning to reach the most vulnerable students. Their philosophy of “Learning to Think, Thinking to Learn” offers an alternative method of online education. This method combines mindfulness with the principles of critical thinking, systems and design thinking that teach learners how to become better human beings and prepare them for this complex world.
We also heard from graduates Hellena and Maria Angelica who shared their stories and the impact of education they received from both institutions. These two young women leaders demonstrated how educating girls benefits the whole community and is key to achieving the SDGs.
The speakers called on us to think about the intersection of all the SDGs especially gender equality and access to education. They gave us hope and inspired us in the knowledge that together we can advocate and act to achieve the SDGs.
You can watch the recording of the webinar HERE.
Fr. Benigno’s presentation can be accessed HERE.
Author: Janet Palafox ibvm
Photo: Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Fr. Benigno P. Beltran SVD, Riya Bhargava (moderator), Maria Angelica Solomon, Sr. Orla Treacy IBVM, Helena Rial Isaac and John Gilroy (Permanent Mission of Ireland)