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Advocacy: Collaboration is essential

AIC International is an ECOSOC-recognized Catholic NGO at the UN.  At the UN in New York, for nearly two decades we have fought the feminization of poverty with a small group of volunteer representatives.  For anyone who has engaged in this work, it is obvious that one cannot keep pace with the proliferation of ubiquitous meetings. We have continued knowing that it is a privilege it is to raise our voices in support of ending poverty and enabling women to achieve their rightful human dignity.  Over the last few years, the AIC at the UN in NY has benefited and served others more effectively by working with the Vincentian Family. We have developed strong bonds of collaboration with the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, the Sisters of Charity Federation and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. These bonds have been strengthened by the formalization of periodic meetings and planning sessions.  This year as a Family we are focused on two Vincentian priorities: ending poverty and ending homelessness, while at AIC we also focus on the issues facing women in poverty.

By working together and building on the leadership of each Vincentian group at the UN we are lifting up the issue of homelessness as a means of ending poverty.  Mark McGreevy, the CEO of the global FAMVIN Homeless Alliance, spoke at a High-Level Panel on January 29 at the Commission on Social Development.  His talk highlighted how this issue effects three of the Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 1, eradicating poverty in all its forms; SDG 3, ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages; and third, SDG11, making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.  He also called upon all nations to measure street homelessness to the end of designing effective strategies to alleviate this suffering. On January 31, thanks to the Daughters of Charity’s relationship with the Mission of Ireland, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and ATD 4th World, the Vincentian Family and NGOs who share the Vincentian Family’s concerns on street homelessness hosted a side event that featured Mark McGreevy, and a man and a woman, who have experienced homelessness. The Vincentian Family working together was the key to making this event an advocacy success.

Continuing collaboration will move this issue forward in the most important global policy body, the United Nations. Involving people affected by the issue in designing strategies to solve the problem is key to systemic change. Both these Vincentian foci are a part of this work.  Our AIC representatives in Europe will benefit from the dialogue that has begun in New York. But most importantly people who live on the street, in slums and inadequate shelters, will benefit as our efforts to recognize housing as a human right, understood to be not only a physical structure but also a right to human dignity and community are realized. We are most powerful when we work together to effect change.  As Vincent de Paul encouraged, “We should assist the poor in every way, and do it both by ourselves and by enlisting the help of others”.

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