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Time to Join Our Forces!

Once again, I had the opportunity to participate virtually at the parallel civil society events that took place concurrently with the 60th session of the UN Commission on Social Development (CSocD60) from 7 to 16 February 2022 held at UN headquarters in New York. 

We are on the threshold of history, and we need to change. In addition to the peace, we need to achieve the tranquillity and lucidity necessary for this armed conflict that we have witnessed in these last days to come to an end, we can no longer miss the step.

We need to address the deepest social problems, especially poverty, unemployment, violence, and social exclusion. We need a society that responds more effectively to the material and spiritual needs of individuals, families, and communities.

They were important days for:

  • first, enlivening hope in a world in which all people can live with quality and harmony in this Home that is common;
  • second, understanding the importance of thinking about a new Social Contract that values inclusive collaboration, ensuring respect and dignity for the most vulnerable populations, so that all people have the same opportunities and,
  • finally, the possibility of overcoming these gaps left by the pandemic, and now, by this armed conflict, to join our forces, creating ties and taking the necessary collective measures to build a more equal world.

The important role of the Commission
Over these 76 years, the Commission has been promoting the social inclusion and dignity of the most vulnerable people, including older people, young people, and people with special needs. Through the commission, it is possible to debate the emerging issue, highlight critical issues, raise awareness, share innovative solutions, and establish partnerships and alliances between different groups and sectors of society.  And in this way, strengthen the spirit of global solidarity to seek concrete results in the confrontation, above all, from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, hunger and poverty.

At the opening session, Ms. Maria Del Carmen Squeff, chair of the 60th Session of the Commission for Social Development, stressed that it is essential to work on the needs of the most vulnerable. The Commission would not only discuss strategies for coping with the impact that the pandemic has generated, exacerbating the problems with hunger in the world, but, above all, it could be an opportunity to seek effective solutions to the problems that were exacerbated as a result of Covid-19. There are many challenges, weaknesses are underway and the feeling of abandonment in many parts of the world is latent, but we need to ensure a dignified life for all people.

The remarkable work of Civil Society
The Parallel Events are the responsibility of Civil Society and it is essential that the parties involved can be given a voice within the problem presented, raise awareness among the other people participating, share innovative solutions and create ties for future alliances.

Ms. Maria-Laura Fornella-Oehninger, co-chair of the Committee of NGOs for Social Development, also emphasized at the opening session of the event that we should listen to the cry of all voices and that a renewed social contract will be paramount to guarantee basic social rights, end discrimination and invest in human dignity and the well-being of all people.

The opportunity to participate in side events
More than 40 parallel events online, covering a variety of relevant topics, was open for all people from the various delegations and countries to participate. It provided a significant space for speaking, listening and raising awareness.

In the Webinar “Hunger and Trafficking in Persons: Interventions and Good Practices of Faith-Based Organizations,” (co-organized by the our UN NGO office with the Sovereign Order of Malta and with the cooperation of the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Center, Mary Ward Loreto Albania and RENATE), we had the opportunity to understand how religious organizations are actively responding to the needs of people affected by poverty and hunger due to the pandemic, especially the children and women. Migrant women, who are part of the group of the most vulnerable, become targets for labour or sexual exploitation.

Dr. Michel Veuthey, Ambassador of Malta’s Sovereign Order to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, stressed that multidimensional poverty directly affects people’s dignity, leaving them more vulnerable to so many “lacks” – lack of nutrition, mobility, education, housing and sanitation, work, and opportunities. These lacks enables this type of labor and sexual exploitation.

Sister Imelda Poole ibvm, president of RENATE (European Network of Religious) said that we cannot turn a blind eye to this sad reality. It is crucial to know that forced labor and human trafficking are horrific crimes that yield $150 billion annually in illicit profits. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), it victimizes about 40.3 million people, including 24.9 million in forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriage. One in four victims of modern slavery are children.

I have heard, reflected, and debated many other things, and we need to work on fostering these reflections. Now it’s time to “roll up our sleeves” and join forces because, as Beto Guedes, a Brazilian composer, inspires us, “one plus one is always more than two!”

Author: Lia Andriani (UNNGO Delegate Brazil)