The General Workshop for the core team members of the five issue based advocacy networks, namely a) Education, b) Ecology, c) Governance of Natural and Mineral Resources (GNMR), d) Displacement and Migration and e) Peace and Human Rights, started in the name of Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) by the Social apostolate of the Society of Jesus was held at Loyola, Spain from June 18-23.
Twenty five core team members, along with Fr. Patxi Alvarez, Secretary of the Social Apostolate of the Society of Jesus and his staff, local organizing team members from Alboan and two resource persons gathered at this holy shrine of St. Ignatius to discern and to plan the course of action on the above 5 different global advocacy networks which have evolved to be the frontier mission of the Social apostolate during the past 4 years.
With a clear intention of making this initiative a global one, the core team members were chosen from different conferences by their Conference Presidents so that this becomes truly a global venture of the Society of Jesus.
Five members representing South Asian Assistancy participated in four networks. The participants include, D.M. Solomon, (Leader - GNMR), Walter Fernandes (member - GNMR), Xavier Jeyaraj (member – Displacement & Migration), Trevor Miranda (member - Education) and M.K.George (member - Peace and Human Rights). The search for a person to join the Ecology network is still on.
The Methodology followed was focussed on evolving a concrete plan of action. Hence out of the 22 sessions, ten were among the individual issue based advocacy core groups, trying to evolve specific plans for the future of the networks. It is to the credit of the workshop that every core group came out with time bound action programmes.
As a first concrete plan of action, the participants decided to go for an internal and external mapping of each of the networks, which would gather information on key institutions and persons who are working in one or several of the five thematic issues of the networks. This will help us to know where we are, what we are already doing, our perspectives, interests, concerns of our people at the grassroots, strengths of the social sector and other Jesuit institutions and our capacities in the Society of Jesus on the issue of advocacy.
A similar mapping of the external resources available within the Church groups, civil society institutions and organizations, people’s movements and others who are working on these issues will also be done. It will also look for the most relevant international institutions with which we can initiate advocacy links and networks.
Following the mapping process each of the networks will come together for a specific workshop with more members from various conferences to finalize the advocacy network plans that are envisioned.
In and through all these processes, GIAN hopes ‘to transform international and domestic policies, laws, practices, power relations that generate injustices and exclusion by strengthening the capacity of people to participate and decide. It is a part of the broader process of promotion of Justice. And for us Jesuits and collaborators it will be a tool for the mission of Faith that does Justice’ says Lucia Rodrigues, the leader of the Right to Education advocacy network.
(M.K. George S J)
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