The elite connection between the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the United Nations will allow four Academy of the Angels students to represent the SSNDs at the 67th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. As an accredited non-governmental organization, the SSNDs hold a UN seat, and may invite individuals from their sponsored schools, including AHA, to UN events.
Sister Beatriz Martinez-Garcia, SSND, director of the SSND UN-NGO Office, is facilitating this year’s visit for AHA seniors Caroline Dupas of Pearl River, NY, and Hannah Janiec of East Rutherford; and juniors Mia (Aiko) Chang of Valley Cottage, NY, and Alexandra Valdez of Oakland. AHA attended CSW in 2017 and 2014, when four Angels made a formal presentation on human trafficking.
Chaperones are history teacher Jennifer Cucchisi and AHA Director of Mission & Ministry Joan Connelly.
“The charism of the SSND community calls us as educators to respond to urgent needs, especially of the poor, and to educate with a world vision,” Connelly said. “Whenever we can offer our students the chance to participate in an international event such as this, I believe it helps us to fulfill our mission as an SSND school and to form students' perspectives on issues regarding human rights and human dignity. It is in keeping with the message of the gospel to build the reign of God.”
According to www.uncomen.org, CSW “is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” Established in 1946, CSW is a commission of the Economic and Social Council. CSW promotes women’s rights, documents the lives of women around the world, and shapes global standards on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The CSW first met in Lake Success, New York in 1947.
CSW67 will be held at the UN Headquarters in New York City from March 6 through 17, 2023. This year’s priority theme is innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
“As a woman myself, there have been countless situations where I have felt undermined and ignored,” AHA delegate Hannah Janiec shared. “Thankfully, Holy Angels has fostered a comfortable, efficient learning environment for me to prosper, but middle school was a different story for me. As a result, I always seek opportunities to advocate for women and other marginalized communities such as people of color, the disabled, et al. I believe this conference is an amazing opportunity to learn how to be a catalyst for change against feminine inferiority and how I can do my part in eliminating this global issue.” She added, “As I graduate from Holy Angels this year, I plan to major in psychology with a minor in linguistics on the path of attending graduate school to gain my Ph.D. and become a speech pathologist for disabled minority youth.”
Caroline Dupas added, “I've always wanted to be an international legislator or lawyer, and hearing the authentic experiences of individuals, especially women, will inform my passion and inspire me to pursue change. I'm excited to meet thousands of individuals hugely important in the pursuit of women's rights worldwide and have meaningful exchanges with them that shape my interest in global affairs.
“After attending the UN Day of the Girl, I've been inspired by the uplifting, international collaboration and compassion I witnessed at the UN -- a place it would be a dream to work at in the future, and was hopeful to receive the opportunity to go again. Even during a one-day event, last time at the UN we listened to so many powerful, global voices of women and were taught to see every issue from all different perspectives, which will be important for me as I pursue human rights and global affairs and hopefully become a global legislator.”
Dupas, who is co-president of Model UN at Holy Angels, is using her first experience at the UN to train the Academy’s delegates to “debate issues in more nuanced, empathetic ways, and realize that Model UN is more than a simulation: It represents real issues and real life.”
Mia (Aiko) Chang and Alexandra Valdez were also inspired to return to the UN after attending the 2022 UN International Day of the Girl.
“The overall mission of the Commission on the Status of Women of promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women is something that is incredibly important and relevant to our world, and I am interested in seeing how such a large international organization like the UN is working to address and act upon women’s issues stemming from various nations,” Chang said. “I feel like it will be very beneficial for me to attend since I can use this opportunity to further my knowledge on specific global women’s issues and what is being done to act upon them.”
Valdez recalled meeting two women from Africa at the UN International Day of the Girl.
“They traveled so far to continue to advocate for rights in their country that we already have here,” she said. “It made me very thankful for the rights that I have, and it also made me interested in the topic of international women's rights as a whole.
“I think that it's incredibly sad that, while women in America have made a lot of progress in gaining equality over the years, there are millions of women around the world who are still struggling…I want to see what the leaders of our world are doing to address this issue.”
Valdez is interested in politics, international relations, and journalism. While she has not decided on a career, she noted, “My dream is to work for ‘National Geographic’ and travel the world writing about different cultures and their histories.”