GENEVA — Franciscans International is marking the 25th anniversary of the organization’s official accreditation as a non-governmental organization with the United Nations and resurrecting its newsletter, Franciscan Voice.
“Twenty-five years on, we are proud to uphold the vision of FI’s founders and continue breaking new ground in international advocacy,” said Br. Markus Heinze, OFM, director, in the January 2014 issue of Franciscan Voice. “Over the past year, we have spoken out on the issues of children’s rights, trafficking, the rights of indigenous peoples and extreme poverty, among others.”
Franciscans to Fight For Environmental Justice
FI and the Franciscan Action Network invite Franciscans to join them in New York City from March 10 to 14 during the annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and for a training and planning session on upcoming advocacy and awareness-raising opportunities for 2014-15.
During this gathering of the Franciscan family, FI and FAN aim to deepen participants’ shared knowledge about the realities of human trafficking around the world, especially relating to extractive industries. The organizations also plan to hold training and planning sessions for upcoming advocacy opportunities, including a Rio+20 follow-up.
One of the events will take place at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, West 31st Street, New York City. On March 11, Franciscans International and several other organizations — including St. Francis of Assisi Parish and its Migrant Center, and FAN — are sponsoring an interactive community evening on environmental justice and human trafficking.
Activists from Guyana, Colombia, Peru, Canada, El Salvador and South Africa will speak about the connections between mining and human trafficking in their countries. Attendees will participate in breakout roundtable discussions with the activists to learn what faith-based groups are doing in Washington and at the UN to advocate for change.
The event — open to the public — is scheduled for March 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Province’s San Damiano Hall at 129 West 31st St. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by sending an email to Events@Francisanaction.org.
Combating Modern Slavery
FI and several other organizations are also sponsoring a panel discussion on “Gendered Impacts of Extractivism: Modern Forms of Slavery.” The event will identify root causes of modern slavery that the UN’s post-2015 agenda must address in order to implement a just and equitable model of development, said Amanda Lyons, FI’s New York-based advocacy representative to the UN.
The panel discussion will take place March 12 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on the 10th floor of the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.
This work continues FI’s advocacy for women’s rights. For example, during a July 2013 consultation in Yaoundé, Cameroon, FI’s partners reported on issues of child trafficking, maternal morality and forced marriages. In light of the consultation, FI submitted an alternative report for the upcoming Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women review of Cameroon, scheduled for Feb. 12.
FI’s report recommends political reforms and practical measures to Cameroon’s government, including the ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and the creation of an effective system of supply for blood transfusions that will aid expectant mothers. FI also recommends that the country organize an awareness-raising campaign against early and forced marriages. The full alternative report is available on FI’s website. Additional information about FI’s current initiatives is available on the organization’s website.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.