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Rights-Based Advocacy for SDG Workshop

Sr. Prasanna CJ and Sr. Sanjana CJ from Bangalore Region attended a three day (13th-15th August, 2022) workshop at St. Joseph Vaz Spirituality Centre, Goa that was organised by the Justice Coalition of Religious for Catholic priests, sisters and brothers. There were 38 participants from 18 Congregations. The workshop was trained the participants on rights based advocacy in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals. The various topics were: Opportunities, Threats and Challenges to Mission; Development Trajectory of Goa; Documentation, Advocacy and Networking; Spiritual Leadership in the UN System; The Sustainable Development Goals; Introduction to Justice Coalition of Religious; Migration, Trafficking and Vulnerability to Sexual Abuse; Rights based Framework; Steps of an Advocacy Campaign; Understanding Social Exclusion and Marginalisation; Learning About UN Advocacy Processes and the Role of Women and Men Religious at the United Nations.

The sessions by the resource persons were very enriching and an eye opener for both Srs. Prasanna and Sanjana. They could not believe when we heard that Goa still has a caste system. They also learned that the problems of migrants and the victims of social exclusion are increasing. It is during these sessions that they realised that social exclusion or social marginalisation is the process in which individuals or groups are denied full access to rights, participation, decision-making, access to opportunities and resources that are normally available to the members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration and protection of human rights within that particular group. The Religious in all parts of India are doing tremendous service to these marginalised groups of people.

The group discussions were a great help and provided the participants with an opportunity to know the way of functioning, the mission and the different ministries that are carried out by other religious congregations. It was indeed very enriching experience. It was during the interactive sessions that they came to know the work  and the way of functioning by the Religious of different congregations, to remove the barriers to inclusion and towards protecting and promoting the rights of migrants and marginalised.

They realised that if they want to increase inclusivity and reduce marginalisation then they need to work together as religious and not just one community of sisters or individual congregations. The sessions demonstrated how social workers can be advocates and increase the sense of our connection to a network of India-based Religious beyond one’s own congregation. They can collaborate and utilise each other’s strength, engage in collective action and  respond  to injustices.

They were asked to share about how CJs document their work and link their work with JPIC and SDGs in relationship with the UN. Sr. Sanjana shared a brief presentation (5-7 min.) on the Congregation’s documentation in collaboration with the Loreto sisters. Many were inspired and taken up by our way of functioning and proceeding. Some of them were inspired to apply the same in their Congregation.

They became aware of the importance of documentation of our work. Religious congregations need to improve upon documentation. The input sessions and the group discussions ended up with a challenge to the participants to do a lot more to change the ‘disabling structures, environments, practices, policies and laws within the society.” The Action plan at the end of the workshop focused on relating their work to the SDGs and to ensure that ‘No One is Left Behind.’

Authors: Sr. Prasanna CJ & Sr. Sanjana CJ