MARCH 2018
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Commission ‘Veteran’ Shares UN Experience with 2018 Delegates

Demarest, NJ: As Miyu Yamasaki and Marin Kishida prepared to travel to New York City for this month’s 62nd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, these students from Kyoto, Japan, found a knowledgeable ally in Jaya Sharma. Sharma, a student at the Academy of the Holy Angels, attended last year’s conference, and generously shared everything she knows with her peers on the other side of the world.

Yamasaki and Kishida are students at Notre Dame Jogakuin, which was established by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the same Catholic sisters who founded AHA.

Sharma’s email correspondence with the Japanese students was an outgrowth of the connection established by English teacher Dean Williams from Notre Dame Jogakuin and AHA’s international studies teacher Jennifer Cucchisi. Williams contacted AHA in the fall of 2017 with the goal of establishing a pathway for his students to practice their English language skills. That project is ongoing. As the friendships between the individuals at both schools developed, Sharma realized she would be able to assist Kishida and Yamasaki with critical information.

The Commission on the Status of Women first met in Lake Success, New York, in 1947. Since that time, the group has established relationships with non-governmental organizations, including the SSNDs. As an accredited NGO, the SSNDs send delegates to this conference and encourage students from SSND-sponsored schools to participate. Each year, students from a different SSND school attend the CSW.

“Miyu has asked me a lot of questions,” Sharma shared. “She asked me about the schedule, the lengths of the panel discussions, a list of documentaries to watch, and, since it will be her first time in NYC, about the weather!

“I gave them information about what my personal experience was and how it motivated me to take action. Additionally, I clarified the sequence of events and panel setups, as well as recommended documentaries relevant to this year's theme (achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls). I hope that my information has made them feel more prepared for the event.”

Last year’s topic centered on women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. Conferences included “Leave No Girl Behind,” “It Starts with Safety: Adding Girls to the Global Agenda,” “The Changing World of Work: The View from the Bench,” and “The Role of Young Female Leaders in the Decision Making Process.” Speakers addressed a multitude of issues, including child marriage, gender-based violence, and access to education.

Sharma and her fellow delegate, Arianne Rowe, who graduated with the AHA Class of 2017, made a presentation about their experiences during AHA’s 2017 Awareness Day. The experience encouraged Sharma to urge her peers to dedicate some part of their lives to the goal of women’s empowerment.

“My participation in CSW has left me with a whole new perspective on how I view women’s issues. The unforgettable firsthand accounts of various panelists’ own struggles are cemented in my memory,” Sharma said after she returned from last year’s CSW. “Witnessing their courage and commitment to the cause has motivated me to use my own voice and power to contribute to the advancement of women. The main takeaway for me from the conference was that, in order for society to reach its full potential, girls and women have to be empowered and gender equality must be achieved with full participation from both men and women alike.”

This year's conference is being held in the United Nations Headquarters from March 12 to 23.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

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