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United Nations Conference Has Positive Impact on AHA Students
2017 Apr 5

Jaya Sharma and Arianne Rowe from the Academy of the Holy Angels

Jaya Sharma and Arianne Rowe (pictured L-R) from the Academy of the Holy Angels recently attended the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The trip was coordinated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

Attending the 61st United National Commission on the Status of Women clearly had a positive impact on Arianne Rowe and Jaya Sharma. These students from the Academy of the Holy Angels represented the School Sisters of Notre Dame at this year’s conference, which focused on women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND, director of the SSND UN Non-governmental Organization Office, coordinated AHA’s participation in this event. Jennifer Cucchisi, an international studies/history teacher from Holy Angels, accompanied the Academy’s delegates.

In just a few days, Rowe, Sharma, and Cucchisi attended a rally for women and multiple conferences, including “Leave No Girl Behind,” “It Starts with Safety: Adding Girls to the Global Agenda,” “The Changing World of Work: The View from the Bench,” and “The Role of Young Female Leaders in the Decision Making Process.” Speakers addressed a multitude of issues, including child marriage, gender-based violence, and access to education.

“We heard speakers from many different parts of the world, including Pakistan, Nepal, Kenya, the U.S., Denmark, Nigeria, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and South Sudan, and many others,” Cucchisi reported. “The conferences were about one-and-a-half to two hours each, so we had two very busy days, and the rally for women was about an hour-and-a-half in the cold, but the girls absolutely persevered and we stayed until we had to leave due to our next event.”

She added that the students took notes, asked questions at the conferences, and discussed their reactions to the topics being discussed.

Sharma and Rowe made a presentation about their experiences during Awareness Day at Holy Angels. In addition, the students’ impressions of CSW 61 have been memorialized in a series of videos.

Rowe said the seminar about young women leaders made a big impact on her.

“I’ve always wanted to go into politics. I’ve always wanted to do something on the international level, but recently I wasn’t really sure because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make a substantial impact,” Rowe said. “After going to that event, it was solidified in my mind that’s what I want to do because they talked a lot about how young leaders can have a lasting impact in their communities.”

Sharma plans to encourage her peers to dedicate some part of their lives to the goal of women’s empowerment, and decided to begin by raising awareness at Holy Angels.

“My participation in CSW has left me with a whole new perspective on how I view women’s issues. The unforgettable firsthand accounts of various panelists’ own struggles are cemented in my memory. Witnessing their courage and commitment to the cause has motivated me to use my own voice and power to contribute to the advancement of women,” Sharma said. “The main takeaway for me from the conference was that, in order for society to reach its full potential, girls and women have to be empowered and gender equality must be achieved with full participation from both men and women alike.”

Since 1879, thousands of women have passed through the portals of Academy of the Holy Angels high school, the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts and athletics. Our goal is to provide each girl with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially and physically, by offering a first–rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity and giving service to others.

- Jennifer Crusco, the Communications Assistant, The Academy of the Holy Angels