Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) served on the United Nations Association of San Diego (UNA-SD) delegation to the United Nations 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), March 13–24, 2017. Attendees of the annual meeting included delegates from UN member states, civil society actors, and non-governmental organizations accredited by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
UNA-SD is one of only four UNA chapters that has achieved annual attendance status, resulting primarily from the leadership of NSDI board member and former UNA-SD president, Anne Hoiberg. Ms. Hoiberg is also the founder of the Women’s Museum of California, which hosted an official CSW61 side event entitled “Refugee Women Leading Women Worldwide from Abuse to Economic and Social Empowerment.” This event focused on resilient women, such as NSDI founder Elizabeth Lou, who have transformed their hardships into opportunities to serve others.
On Friday, March 10, 2017, Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) will host a follow-up to recent community dialogues convened to discuss refugee and immigrant mental health. During the March 10 meeting, NSDI will share the emergent themes from past dialogues and will solicit community feedback.
On October 5, 2016, NSDI convened the first roundtable mental health discussion. Ethnic, faith, and community leaders from the San Diego refugee community discussed growing concerns about the mental health needs of diverse refugee populations.
Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) will be attending the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) from March 13 to March 24, 2017, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, NY. The theme this year is “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.” The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
During the event, NSDI will be representing the United Nations Association of San Diego (UNA–SD). While at CSW61, NSDI also will be participating in the California Women’s Museum official side-event “Refugee Women Leading Women Worldwide from Abuse to Economic and Social Empowerment” at 4:30pm, Friday, March 17, 2017, at the UN Church Center, second floor.
On January 25, 2017, Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) presented “Female Genital Cutting: A Conversation in San Diego,” an event that included short video introduction followed by panel discussion among local experts across several sectors
In December 2016, NSDI released Defenseless Against Female Genital Cutting, a new publication covering the topic of FGC in San Diego County. The publication highlights the reality of FGC in the San Diego region, given its large refugee population. San Diego is one of six nationally designated refugee zones in the United States. Approximately 150,000 refugees and former refugees reside in the county. Locally, an underreported 8,000 women and girls are potentially predisposed to FGC.
Globally, February 6 marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). Currently,more than 513,000 women and girls are at-risk of undergoing FGC in the US. California is the most impacted state, with more than 57,000 women and girls at risk. San Diego is the largest refugee resettlement site in the state, which warrants the need for greater action.
Due to the leadership of the Honorable Senator Toni Atkins, the State of California has passed SR-17 (Senate Resolution 17) relative to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) Awareness Day. This measure will increase awareness of FGM/C across sectors and strengthen California’s response to end this practice. The measure will empower not only at-risk communities, but also stakeholders working on their behalf, with the knowledge needed to address the practice. SR-17 will enhance grassroots efforts to break the silence surrounding FGM/C.
San Diego Refugee Forum (SDRF) has elected Rebecca Paida, Senior Program Manager of Nile Sisters Development Initiative, to be the 2017–2019 Chair. The SDRF is a professional consortium of more than 40 organizations, including refugee resettlement agencies, social services providers, healthcare providers, other entities, and individual partners. SDRF connects the refugee community with opportunities and tools needed to advocate for, educate, and empower persons fleeing from war and persecution.
Of her new role, Rebecca says, “I am humbled to work alongside amazing refugee champions, and I look forward to joining the collective voice uplifted on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in our region in the next two years and beyond.”
On December 15, 2016, Nile Sisters Development Initiative hosted its annual Adopt-a-Basket drive. The initiative allows community members, faith-based entities, local school groups, businesses, and other stakeholders to help offset some of the financial difficulties that refugee and immigrant families encounter towards the end of the calendar year.
Adopt-a-Basket supporters donated new and gently used basic household consumables, school supplies, personal hygiene products, and children’s essentials totaling an estimated value of $8,105, or about $100 for each of 200 recipients. Depending upon individual needs, beneficiaries of the baskets received additional critically needed items, such as diapers, warm winter clothing, and kitchen utensils.
Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) presents Female Genital Cutting: A Conversation in San Diego, to take place at the University of San Diego, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice on January 25, 2017, from 6:00–8:00pm. The event will feature a short film screening and panel discussion among female genital cutting (FGC) survivors and activists, health care professionals, and other experts on the topic of FGC.
The end of the calendar year is a difficult time for refugee and immigrant families in San Diego County, so Nile Sisters strives to relieve some of the stress by building partnerships with local businesses, schools, and organizations to collect household items, personal care items, and children’s essentials to distribute directly to the refugee and immigrant communities via two charitable programs—Adopt-a-Basket and Adopt-a-Family.
On Wednesday, October 5, 2016, Nile Sisters Development Initiative hosted a round-table discussion on the mental and behavioral health needs of refugees and immigrants, and stakeholders engaged in dialogue to identify and share key issues impacting their communities.