In the training material sent to volunteers this spring, AIC has chosen to focus on the importance of its international representation work (See: The sentinel role of AIC from the local to the international level). In this time of pandemic, the AIC representatives are continuing their advocacy work from home through online meetings.
However in recent months, the AIC representatives have been very active and participated in various high-level events to further the fight against poverty at international level. We would like to take this opportunity to look at AIC’s recent international representation achievements in the different organizations in which we work.
UN: Getting a UN resolution on homelessness
AIC’s representatives at the UN work with the Vincentian Family, which founded the Working Group to End Homelessness, bringing together organizations from all over the world.
The advocacy efforts of this Working Group made it possible for homelessness to become the priority theme of the 58th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) in February 2020, which focused on “affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness”. At the end of this Commission session, the UN adopted the first resolution describing homelessness and asking countries to measure it. It emphasizes “the need to make concerted efforts to identify people experiencing homelessness”. This is the first time that the UN is considering homelessness as a mainstream policy issue in its 75 years of history. AIC’s representatives played an instrumental part in making this happen.
The resolution now has to be adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in the summer, and then hopefully by the General Assembly. The Vincentian Family’s aim is to include homelessness in the Sustainable Developments Agenda 2030.
The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life: The importance of elderly people
Gabriella Raschi, President of AIC-Italy, represented AIC at the first International Congress on the pastoral care of the elderly organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life held in January 2020, in Rome, which brought together 550 participants from 60 countries and 5 continents. The objective of the event was to highlight the “richness of many years of life”.
With the number of elderly people rising, the Dicastery feels it is important to promote an “apostolate at the service of older people”. Older people are often forgotten, lonely and marginalized, or seen as a burden. The Congress stressed the importance of caring for them and stated that there should be programmes to support them in all parishes. At the same time, the increase in life expectancy has offered many people an extra stage of life, where they are free from work commitments and still in good health. The Congress also looked at how these years can be lived in a Christian way, as after all, we never retire from the Gospel!
UNESCO: Challenging inequalities
AIC representatives attended the 11th International Forum on NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO on the theme “Challenging Inequalities” in Paris in December 2019.
The Forum looked at different kinds of inequality: inequality at birth, which can be reduced by solidarity; inequality in structures, e.g. sexism and racism, which can be tackled by laws and education, and inequality in economic and cultural transmission. The importance of education for everyone was emphasized, as was building confidence and trust.
The AIC representatives contributed to the Forum by responding to a detailed questionnaire and presenting examples of AIC projects, in particular AIC-Colombia’s inter-generational environmental project in Mocoa and AIC-Madagascar’s educational “Tsiry” project.
Rome Forum: Building a society that leaves no one behind
AIC’s representative Isabelle Chaperon attended the International Forum of Catholic-inspired NGOs in Rome in December 2019, along with more than a hundred other representatives of NGOs and international organizations (United Nations, UNESCO, Council of Europe, Human Rights Council, etc.), as well as representatives of the Holy See, heads of dicasteries and congregations.
The Forum focused on the importance of building a society that leaves no one on the peripheries through seven key themes: human rights, development, health, education, family, youth and migrants. AIC was particularly involved in the preparation of the education section.
With Christine Roche, President of CCIC, Isabelle Chaperon was able to discuss the Global Compact on Education with Bishop Thivierge at the Congregation for Catholic Education, and present the activities of CCIC and AIC to the Pontifical Council for Culture, where the two ladies were received by Bishop Polvani. They also discussed the various societal issues encountered at grassroots level with Mrs Gambino, Under-Secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life.
Pope Francis granted the participants of the Forum a private audience during which he praised the audacity and imagination of the NGOs, urging them to always give priority to the dignity of the human being and insisting on the need to train members of NGOs.
AIC is looking forward to making further advocacy achievements in 2020!