Working to keep homelessness at the forefront of the UN agenda

Figure 1. Sr. Catherine Prendergast moderating a panel of speakers at the UN related to homelessness.   The panel included Brian Flynn, left, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN, and Iris Bailey, from New York.

The Daughters of Charity at the United Nations have worked diligently over the past few years to highlight issues related to homelessness.   Because COVID-19 is launching millions into poverty, and so many struggle to pay rent, homelessness remains an important topic in the new year.

Perhaps the biggest opportunity at the United Nations to advocate for solutions to social issues is the Commission for Social Development.   This year’s Commission, held in New York, takes place virtually from February 8-17.   The theme of  the 2021 Commission is, “Socially just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all”.

Figure 2. Sister Margaret  O’Dwyer speaking at a UN event.

The Daughters of Charity are joining other Vincentian Family representatives to the United Nations in sponsoring a panel of speakers during the Commission.  The title of the event is, “Digital Technology at the Service of Ending Homelessness”.   A specific date has not yet been assigned.   Sr. Margaret O’Dwyer, who represents the Daughters of Charity at the UN in New York, co-chairs the Working Group to End Homelessness, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations. The Working Group also plans an awareness-raising event related to using digital technology to address homelessness.

In November, 2017, Sisters Margaret O’Dwyer and Catherine Prendergast collaborated with others to form the Working Group to End Homelessness.  The Working Group advocated for homelessness as a theme of the 2020 Commission for Social Development.  During the Commission, the Daughters of Charity served on several panels related to homelessness, including one in which Sr. Margaret highlighted the plight of children surviving on the streets with input from our sisters serving children without homes in Africa.   The Commission passed a first-ever resolution related to homelessness, which, in June, was passed by the UN’s Economic and Social Council.

Figure 3. The Working Group to End Homelessness, a collaborative effort to advocate at the UN to end homelessness, was formed in November, 2017.  At the time, Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, CM,  (front) served as chair. Sr. Margaret O’Dwyer now serves as Co-Chair.

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