Maria Grazia Caputo meets the members of La Salle religious congregations

From the 10th to the 14th of October 2011, Bice  BICE (Bureau International Catholic Child Bureau) along with the secretariat of the Lasallian educational mission, co-organized a training course on “Human Rights, the Right to education and education to human rights” addressed to the South American members of the religious congregations of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools of La Salle.

Sr. MariaGrazia Caputo, Main Representative of IIMA and VIDES to the United Nations, showed her support of the course by giving a speech on “the religious congregations’ work for the right to education and collaboration with BICE: the Salesian Sisters’ example” which was held on Thursday October 12th, at the International Catholic Center of Geneva (ICCG). “We all share the same feeling: the wish to guarantee education for all,” commenced Sr. MariaGrazia. She then continued to explain the strategic importance of presence “where the educational policies are decided, giving voice to the weak through the universal human rights language.”
At the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva Sr. MariaGrazia represents members of IIMA working in the field from 95 countries worldwide, where they often face situations of extreme poverty and inequality and strive to provide people with the right to education. Therefore, “IIMA policy at the UN is compelled to approach a positive and constructive dialogue with all the representatives from these countries.”
Sr. MariaGrazia then illustrated the four pillars of the IIMA Human Rights office in Geneva:
1)   Advocacy and Lobbying. The office strives to influence institutions and inform United Nations experts by forwarding them reports on the condition of the human rights protection in certain countries; organizing side-events and meetings on current human rights concerns; showing examples of good practices and issuing positive denunciations to the diplomatic representatives of the countries involved.
2)   Training. IIMA and VIDES international organize training courses for operators in the field. This is in order to provide operators with wider knowledge of their own rights and teach them how to interact with UN mechanisms addressed to enhance the protection of those rights at a national level.
3)   Networking. The mission of the Geneva office is to create a network of connections with the many institutions and organizations active in the area. The one mandatory requirement is that they also are committed to the right to education.
4)   Communication and information. A tight web of communication between the IIMA members in the field, the Geneva station and other interested actors, is necessary to guarantee more productive action. in pursuit of this action the office continuously updates the work carried on, by giving news, handing out reports and drafting a calendar with all the events to be covered in Geneva. At the same time, the office reports activities taking place at the UN that are aimed to monitor educational policies and relevant human rights dynamics.
Sr. MariaGrazia Caputo recalled how important it was, during her early days working in Geneva, the support of Alessandra Aula, BICE representative. She also highlighted the difference between the UN headquarters in New York and that in Geneva, explaining that in Geneva the NGOs are an active counterpart and can really make a difference. The Salesian sister remarked on the fundamental contribution of all her collaborators through their punctual and precise work. Sr. MariaGrazia lastly reminded everybody that the road in defense of human rights is long, and often it does not produce immediate results; although, subjects that once were taboos are now approached daily. She concluded saying “We are not trying to pursue bombastic results, we try to reach the ears of the powerful people so to improve the conditions of the poor.” One of the participants defined her speech as “an experience that keeps our dream alive”.