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Three AIC representatives participated in the 59th session of the Commission for Social Development at the UN in New York

The 59th Session of the Commission for Social Development, took place in New York from 8-17th February, 2021, with a priority theme, “Socially just transition towards sustainable development: The role of digital technologies and social development on the well-being of all”. Only the opening and closing sessions of the Commission held in-person meetings for delegates, all other meetings were virtual. Since all the official sessions were available on UN Web TV, participants could join the sessions from anywhere.

The AIC representatives helped to organize the Civil Society Forum on digital inclusion and a side-event about how digital technology can help end homelessness. You can find out more about these events below. Our representatives also helped to prepare written statements on these topics, which were presented to the Member States. For the first time ever, the Civil Society Declaration was open to public affirmation and was co-signed by several AIC associations. The statement on using digital technology to end homelessness was prepared in conjunction with other branches of the Vincentian Family.

Keep reading for more information.

The Civil Society Forum on Digital Inclusion

The Civil Society Forum (CSF) organized by the NGO Committee on CSocD was also held virtually this year. MaryAnn Dantuono, AIC representative and a member of the Executive Committee of NGO-CSocD, was part of the organizing committee. The opening session, held on a platform called REMO, allowed participants to move from table to table for interaction with people from around the world.

Besides the opening and closing sessions, CSF held three thematic sessions on “Digital Inclusion in Education and Social Protection for all”, “Digital Technology and Financing for Development: Eradication of Poverty and Promotion of Equality at Global, National and Local Levels”, and “Digital Technology and Good Governance: Creating a Legal Environment that Protects Human Rights, Respects Privacy and Prevents Abuse”. All these issues are critical to address to bridge the digital divide and inequalities, in access, affordability and availability of internet for the 3.7 billion people who are left offline. Digital inclusion is not just access to the internet, it is about social justice, equity and human rights. Digital inclusion should create an enabling environment to restore dignity to people who are left behind and provide pathways for social, financial and political inclusion. Internet and broadband access should be a global public good and a fundamental right for all.

The Civil Society Forum also prepared a Civil Society Declaration, which was open to public affirmation, and many signatures were gathered, including several signers from AIC.

Those interested can watch the major sessions of the Commission here:

AIC speaks up about how digital technology can help end homelessness

AIC, along with four NGOs from Vincentian Family: the Sisters of Charity Federation, the Company of the Daughters of Charity, the Congregation of the Mission, and the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul, submitted a written statement to the Commission. In conjunction with the Salesian Missions and Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the group also hosted a side event, titled: “Digital Technology at the Service of Ending Homelessness” on February 9, 2021. The speakers brought best practices from their field to show how technology is currently used by persons experiencing homelessness to enable them to connect with family and friends; restore missing/runaway children to their families; provide education and extracurricular activities to homeless children; access health care and other services; access skills training, and find jobs and shelters. In the absence of reliable data on homelessness, the event highlighted how technology can assist in data collection and develop solutions to end homelessness. The event was recorded and the link is given below. You will need to use the pass code.

Recording of the side event:

Passcode: o8YzE#qu

*Adapted from the NGO News in the Sisters of Charity Federation Newsletter. With gratitude to Sr. Teresa Kotturan, NGO Representative of the Sisters of Charity Federation, for her collaborative spirit.

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