• What matters to us

Justice on the Rails

Sister Maria Dos Santos Barros Fonseca-micro

The following “Flashpoint” appeared in a UNANIMA International Update. UI brings the voices of the people, the cries of planet earth, to the United Nations.)

In the major port city of São Luis, the capital of Maranhão which is Brazil's poorest state, Sr. Maria dos Santos Barros Fonseca lives the SASV mission in solidarity with the local community and in support of social pastoral movements and other networks including Justice on the Rails. This international organization confronts the socio-environmental injustices resulting from the activities of Vale, one of the world's largest multinational mining corporations.

The mining industry has had a devastating effect on the agriculture, water supply, fishing industry, the land and the livelihood of the Brazilian people. Justice on the Rails raises up the voices of those living in extreme poverty, promotes their basic human rights, and addresses the cries of our planet.

The SASV educational mission is lived among the Brazilian people as Presence, Hope, and Witness to the Gospel and is lived in support of UNANIMA's global vision of achieving a more just world.

Judith Curley
sasv representative at UI

UNANIMA International

Update April 2015

Happy Easter from your board!

It is always exciting when the UNANIMA board comes to town-full of energy and creative ideas, and bringing lovely prayer experiences / reflections. At the spring meeting in early March they shared information about what is going on in each community, learned about a two-year planning process by the UI staff, and got a short history lesson about the Commission on the Status of Women. The purely “business” side of the meeting-such as review of finances-was balanced by a dynamic guest speaker, Aine O’Conner RSM, the chair of the Mining Working Group at the UN.

Can you find your board member in the picture?

(Back row, left to right) are Jean Quinn DW, Karol Brewer for the MSC, Suzette Clark RSC, Kathleen Butler CSB, Kathleen Scanlon RJM, Maureen Foltz CCV, Sally Ann Brickner OSF for the CSA, Stacy Hanrahan CND, leadership guest Teresa Schlackl SDS. (Middle row, left to right), Bathilda Heqoa SNJM, Mary Jean Audette SUSC, Margaret Scott ACI, Dianna Ortiz OSU, Ellen Sinclair SDS, Judy Curley SASV. (Front row, left to right) Coalition Coordinator Michele Morek OSU, Sylvia Obrigewitsch NDS, Mary Kaye Nealen SP, Lucille Goulet SSA, incoming board member Barbara Spears SNJM, and Mary Akinwale SHCJ.

Commission on the status of women:

So...how far have women come since “Beijing 1?” This was the big question this year, as women all over the world celebrated “Beijing plus 20”. In addition to re-affirming the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and another document (not yet agreed upon), we had vigorous discussions on how to get human rights language into the Post-2015 agenda (some countries will not agree to it because of the accountability it implies). There was great emphasis on YOUTH, and a strong push to mention “girls” whenever “women” are mentioned in UN documents. There was a strong demand to give NGOs more speaking time in the CSW. The overall spirit of this CSW showed an increase in networking among allies forming across intersections of race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, age, and ability. No country has achieved gender equality, but there certainly are more women in the world who know that they should have it! There are more women in the world who know that they have human rights. There are more women in the world who know that violence against them is not acceptable. There are more men and boys who know that they need to be a part of the solution. Step it up for “50-50” by 2030!

Our CWS event:

UNANIMA presented a very moving side event at the Commission on the Status of Women, for an audience of over 85 persons. “Women of Courage and Forgiveness” featured three women, each of whom had moved from an experience of violence, through forgiveness and healing, to a healing ministry for the world. Dianna Ortiz OSU shared her experience of abduction and torture in Guatemala, and how she moved through years of suffering to action for justice and care for other survivors of torture. Rose Mapendo-see the January 2014 Update-was able to be with us via video to share her remarkable story of how she survived a Congolese death camp and how she used that experience to start a foundation to help women victims in Africa. The schoolgirls in attendance were spellbound at Jasmine Marino's personal story about how a typical girl in the USA could be trafficked into prostitution; her experience of trafficking and drug dependency has made her into a mentor for at-risk girls, an advocate for women in safe houses, and the founder of an outreach ministry called Bags of Hope.

Dianna Ortiz OSU                           Rose Mapendo                           Jasmine Marino

UI Assistant Tori Larson participated in another CSW panel discussion on migration (and she made a good score on her law school admission test!)

Speaking of women of courage...

It is time to start thinking about who we should nominate for 2016, since the board will vote on the nominees at their fall meeting. Do you know any “Women of Courage?” A nomination form will be attached to this mailing for your convenience.

What about Maxima, Woman of Courage 2015?

Even as this newsletter is being translated, a group of lawyers and indigenous leaders are in Washington DC to testify before an international commission on behalf of Maxima and other citizens of Cajamarca Peru who are victims of land grabbing. Maxima and her family are emotionally exhausted from recent events, so will not be with them but are sending a recorded message for the commission. Thanks to some unexpected donations received recently, UI sent a modest donation to help with their expenses.

Indigenous peoples forum:

April 20-May 1; contact us and see http://undesadspd.org/indigenouspeoples.aspx

Flash points:

“Camelamos naquerar!” (We want to speak!) The Religious of Jesus and Mary operate a nursery school in a barrio in Pinos Puente (close to Granada, Spain) which is part of a project of inclusion with the Gypsy and Paya community in Pinos Puente. Here they also offer a weekly workshop for women, especially the Gypsy and Paya women who have children in the school, to give them a place where they can speak freely, be heard, hear other voices, and discover other aspects of reality. It is open to every woman who seeks a place to feel comfortable and at ease.

Bathilda Heqoa and Barbara Spears SNJM

The Quebec Province of the Sisters of Providence was represented at the Association of Religious for the Rights of Women in November 2014 in Montreal at the Congregation of Notre Dame. The association had chosen a program in harmony with the theme of the 2015 World Women's March, “Liberate our bodies, our lands, and our territories.” Three indigenous women joined them and Mrs. Viviane Michel spoke with the sisters on “the indigenous woman in her culture, her family, her social milieu: to be feminist while respecting the tradition.” Listing rights that are often disregarded, the women pleaded for a place in the government so that justice might be done, including the 147 indigenous women who have disappeared.

The Sisters of Sion have been working with over 200 women from the Pacific coastal town of Real Queson in the Philippines, in establishing a paper-making business and learning how to do banking. This business, called Nature's Garden, is designing beautiful greeting cards for all occasions, as well as book marks, jewelry, booklets, and gift paper-to make money for the women's families. It is a real success story of women's empowerment.

Several UNANIMA communities were present at the Commission on the Status of Women: the CND, CSB, DW, MSC, NDS, RSC, SDS, SNJM, OSU, and maybe more!

Jean Quinn DW