Cohort Two New York Immersion
MGA was thrilled to have Cohort 2 of the Mercy Global Action Emerging Leaders Fellowship arrive in New York for their immersion from March 12 to 21, 2023. From the moment the Fellows arrived, they hit the ground running with final preparations for our Parallel Event at the Commission on the Status of Women. It was amazing to see their hard work pay off as they spoke with skill and passion about our experiences with the Fellowship and in the context of the priority theme of "Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls" to a crowd of both in-person and 115 online participants.
Attending a town hall-style meeting at the General Assembly and having the opportunity to ask United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' representatives questions was an incredible experience.
Staying at Thomas Berry Place in Queens provided a welcoming and comfortable environment for the Fellows to reflect and debrief on their experiences and connect with one another. The Fellows were able to attend various CSW events and discussions hosted by Missions at the United Nations and Civil Society, which deepened their understanding on on global issues and commitment to leadership.
Meeting with Ambassador Antonio Manuel Revilla Lagdameo at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations was a highlight of the immersion. It was an honor for the Fellows and the MGA team to have the opportunity to connect with such an accomplished individual and hear his thoughts on the importance of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Lastly, the Fellows had time to prepare for their research project on either the Degradation of Earth or the Displacement of People with guidance from the MGA team The Fellows' research project highlights the Mercy Emerging Leadership program's focus on creating leaders committed to positively impacting society. It's inspiring to see the Fellows dedicating themselves to these critical issues, and MGA has no doubt that they will go on to make a difference in their respective communities.
Wednesday, March 15, 2023 Reflection
"If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together." This is the powerful phrase I heard today from one of the African panelists during a CSW67 side event led by Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe about Constitutional Gender Commissions. And yes, it is true that all that is happening during our immersion cannot be successfully done or realized if I only walk by myself. I am just so overwhelmed by the experiences and surprises each day of our immersion here in New York.
Listening at the events challenged me to expand my ways of collaboration and connection. It opened up my conception that if we collaborate with other nations and/or NGOs and GOs that have the same plea and interventions, then our aspirations and ideas will be addressed. This is a virtue that a leader should also adopt. It is not enough to have advocacy champions only from one country. We need to shout out to be heard and be an inspiration for others. Working together is more influential than working alone. This is what I experienced also with the MELF fellows. The parallel event would not have been successful if we had not worked by helping and uplifting each other rather than being competitors. Truly, as leaders we need to walk together to walk that far!
Sr Paula Carron rsm shared very heartwarming and inspiring words this morning that also lifted me up: A leader must be gentle and firm! As I engage with others, I will keep in my heart the image of a hand holding an egg in a way that best supports the egg to thrive. Words from Catherine McAuley are a gift to me and to us, "I have great confidence in you to do what you think is best. State your opinion and always act with courage."
Lastly, I am so grateful and will always be grateful to the MELF team and MGA staff for untiringly and courageously leading us in this immersion. They helped us realize that we don't need to be superhuman or perfect to be in a diplomatic conference; just simply live the best we can, and surely God will guide and take care of the rest!
-Reflection written by: Derby Mercado rsm
Saturday, March 18 Reflection
Today centred on Human Rights and Advocacy with a focus on laws affecting women. This started with a talk by Màire Cunningham around how women are reflected in and affected by laws and constitutions around the world. Màire explained the need for more just representation of women in our legal systems. She emphasised the role of advocates working with governments and other stakeholders to develop policies and programs that support women's representation in laws and constitutions. The conversation flowed onto how we can empower ourselves and our peers as women in the workplace through skills such as building effective CVs, being mindful of microgressions and the importance of mentorship.
We reflected on our conversations with Màire at "The Women's Rights Pioneer Monument". Located in Central Park in New York City, it is a powerful tribute to the struggle for women's rights and a reminder of the sacrifices made by the women who fought for equality. The monument depicts three women who were instrumental in the women's suffrage movement: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. Anthony and Stanton were leaders of the suffrage movement. They played key roles in the fight for women's right to vote, particularly learning about Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women's rights activist who fought for the rights of both women and African Americans. It is significant for honoring these women because it is the first statue of real women in Central Park. For many years, the park was filled with statues of male figures, but there was no representation of the countless contributions made by women throughout history.
The Women's Rights Pioneer Monument serves as a symbol of progress and a reminder of the ongoing fight for gender equality. Our visit acknowledged the importance of monuments like this one in acknowledging and honoring the contributions of women to society. Such monuments can also serve as inspiration for future generations of women and girls, showing them that they too can make a difference and contribute to a more just and equitable world.
-Reflection by Sarah Brown, Stellah Mathe and Sr Derby Mercado rsm
Monday, March 20 Reflection
The morning began with a call to count our blessings and with timely words from Catherine McAuley. Those that resonated most with me were:
“Every place has its own particular ideas and feeling which must be yielded to when possible.” (Catherine McAuley to Frances Warde, 17 November 1838)
“Our mutual respect and charity is to be cordial; now cordial signifies something that revives, invigorates and warms; such should be the effects of our love for each other.” (Cork Manuscript)
“I would like to tell you all the little cheering things that God permits to fall in our way.” (Catherine McAuley to de Pazzi Delaney, 3 October 1837)
We then held space for reflection and sharing and all the “cheering things.” On this last programmatic day, themes that surfaced were gratefulness, the diverse gifts each fellow brings including unique leadership style, and our cohort’s honoring of each fellow’s need and gifts.
The next session provided each fellow an opportunity to provide a project update and receive feedback, focus, support, and resources from other fellows and the MELF Team. It impressed upon me again how remarkable, compassionate, intelligent, determined, and generous these women are and how blessed I am to be and journey in this experience with them. The MELF Team encouraged us to use the diverse gifts we bring in Mercy to inspire hearts and action.
Though difficult to believe, the time came for our closing ritual which the fellows planned and facilitated. We began with “Break the Shell” by India Arie, a song that held meaning and encouragement for our cohort on the first immersion in Cambodia. It was followed by readings, shared reflections, written affirmations, and expressions of gratitude for each other and to all who made this immersion possible especially the MELF and MGA team members. We look forward to what the rest of our fellowship year will hold and to completing our projects and graduating in Dublin, Ireland in July.
-Reflection from Dominique Marendy, Rebecca Rathbone and Sr Michelle Gorman rsm