Catholic Daughters Attend United Nations Conference


Our own “delegation” attended a three-day conference at the United Nations recently.  National Regent M. Joan McKenna (second from right, as you look at the picture) led the five-person group, which included, standing in front of a global statue at the United Nations, from left to right, special CDA Consultant Mary Moore; Executive Director Peggy O’Brien; National Regent M. Joan McKenna; and National Legislative Chairman Helen Johnson. The group joined 1788 attendees from 86 countries.   National Public Relations Director Tom Panas, absent from this picture (because he was taking it), was part of the delegation.

Entitled, “Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Partnerships and Renewal,” the conference was held at the United Nations building in New York City from September 7-9.  Its purpose was to provide an opportunity for non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”*) to voice their views on how to strengthen the United Nations as it confronts the challenges of extreme poverty and global security.  Also discussed were the United Nations Millennium Development Goals ("MDGs"**).


This was our first foray into the UN in our newly acquired NGO status. The CDA acquired NGO standing in order to further its presence as an international organization, and to advocate for relevant issues – such as human trafficking, peace for all nations, and the eradication of poverty, among others.


Each day the five attended two plenary sessions, where they heard from an array of speakers from different countries talking on various topics of international concern.  It was a thrill to sit in the General Assembly Hall, where delegates from the world over meet to discuss the important issues of the day.


The group then split up to attend interactive workshops, with themes relevant to CDA concerns, a few examples being, “Families and Education: Their Role in Peace, Partnership and Renewal;” “The Challenges of Providing Services to Migrants and Refugees in a Hostile Environment;” “Successful Development in Education and Healthcare.” Click here to visit NGO Conference Website

 A wonderful and inspiring moment occurred when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed the gathering.  Everyone was moved by the outpouring of love and admiration that his presence elicited.  He was accompanied by his gracious and lovely wife.


There was much fear at the Conference that a “World Summit Outcomes Document,” which is being prepared by diplomats from UN member nations for approval by a gathering of world leaders, would be watered down and ultimately ineffective.


It is hoped that the document will elicit financial and timeline commitments from the world leaders to accomplish the UN’s Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Many present believe that we are seeing an historic opportunity to strengthen the world community in its ability to deal with global problems.


It was a thrill to be in the general assembly of the United Nations, where world leaders converge regularly to discuss international issues of the utmost importance.  Above, the Catholic Daughter entourage works during a plenary session.  From right to left, are Executive Director Peggy O’Brien; National Regent M. Joan McKenna; National Public Relations Chairman Tom Panas; special CDA consultant Mary Moore; National Legislative Chairman Helen Johnson.


A statement issued by the Conference which M. Joan McKenna and the Catholic Daughters of the Americas heartily endorse is below:



A Call to Action


“We, the hundreds of NGOS meeting at the UN today, urge at this crucial time in the world’s need for security, peace and development, that you embrace the larger vision of the UN to benefit all the people of the world.  We urge you to yield narrow interests and to compromise with each other for real change, expressed in concrete terms in the 2005 World Summit Outcomes Document.  Please do not squander this important opportunity.


58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference

9 September 2005


What is an NGO? (From the United Nations website)

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a not-for-profit, voluntary citizens’ group, which is organized on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good. Task-oriented and consisting of people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of services and humanitarian functions.  They bring citizens’ concerns to Governments, monitor policy and program implementation, and encourage participation of civil society stakeholders at the community level. NGOs provide analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms and help monitor and implement international agreements. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, the environment or health. Their relationship with offices and agencies of the United Nations (UN) system differs depending on their goals, their venue and their mandate.

About 1,400 NGOs with strong information programs on issues of concern to the UN are associated with the Department of Public Information (DPI), giving the UN valuable links to people around the world. DPI helps these NGOs gain access to and disseminate information about the issues in which the United Nations is involved so that the public can better understand the aims and objectives of the world Organization and support its work.

What are the Millennium Development Goals? (From the United Nations website)

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

The Goals

  • Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development