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Sisters Present Experiences and Perspectives on United Nations Conference on Women
Sister Patricia McDonald, OP

June 23, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – “Women over recorded history have always made an impact. … We need to improve the world where we are, as we are. This is our turn, my friends. The world we have created is [the product] of our thinking. It cannot change without changing our thinking.”

These words of encouragement came from Sister Patricia McDonald, OP, during a live-stream presentation by several Dominican Sisters who reported on their experiences of the 67th meeting of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), at the United Nations in March 2023. The live stream presentation on CSW 67 by Dominican Sisters was broadcast June 20, 2023.

Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP

Founded in 1947, the CSW is “the biggest global policy entity for women by the United Nations,” explained Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP. The Commission is “driven to advance the rights of women and girls everywhere,” she said, adding that CSW 67 ended with 89 agreed conclusions. 

As the Dominican Representative to the United Nations, Sister Durstyne invited Dominican Sisters from throughout the world to attend CSW 67. The Sisters stayed together at the Center at Mariandale, a retreat center owned by the Maryknoll Sisters, and commuted together daily to the United Nations to attend three or four of the many side events offered to the public. Back at Mariandale, they shared dinner and discussions about their experiences.  

Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP

Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Director of the Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, connected the work of the CSW to the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ 2022 Enactment on Women. The Enactment commits the Congregation to “strive to attain gender equality and women’s full and equal participation and decision making in Church and society.” 

“We all agree that the realization of all human rights and the fundamental freedom of all women is essential for the empowerment of women,” Sister Kathleen said. “What is implicit in our Enactment and in the agreed conclusions [of CSW 67] is a world where women and girls have the right to live free of violence, go to school, participate in the decisions of the societies in which they live, and receive equal pay for equal work.”

Sister Bibiana "Bless" Colasito, OP

Sister Bibiana “Bless” Colasito, OP, General Councilor, spoke to the theme of CSW 67: technology and women. “There is a need to address challenges associated with the misuse of new and emerging digital technologies which can be used to incite violence, hatred, discrimination, and hostility,” she said. “Technology can make or break a woman. It can make a woman when it is used to develop her full potential, but it breaks a woman when it is used to inflict pain and suffering in her life.” 

Other Adrian Dominican Sisters who attended CSW 67 and who spoke during the presentation were Sisters Ellen Burkhardt, OP, Patricia Leonard, OP, and Judith Friedel, OP. Adrian Dominican Sister Judith Benkert, OP, also in attendance, read the written experience of Sister Sarudzai Mutero, OP, of Zimbabwe. Other presenters were Sister Philomena Benedict, OP, of England, and Sister Venentia Velase “Velie” Muthembu, OP, of South Africa. The Sisters from England and Africa represented Dominican Sisters International

Sisters who attended the UN Session but were not quoted in the article, from left to right: Sister EllenBurkhardt, OP; Sister Judith Benkert, OP; Sister Patricia Leonard, OP; Sister Judith Friedel, OP 

Watch a recording of the presentation below. 

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