Tag Archives: New York

Letter From San Franciso #8

April 24th, 2013 by

I see me.

This was what a donor said when speaking about the importance of recognizing the diversity of the philanthropic community in a video presented to us at the recent Women’s Funding Network conference. I thought about how powerful this concept is in many other contexts too.

I see me.

It’s what Stella Cornelius always coached me about when teaching me conflict resolution skills – look for the points of commonality to open up options and dialogue.

If men could more often say ‘I see me’ when they see the struggle of women in their families and communities, they would begin to change the equation for women, for their families and communities, and effectively reduce hunger in the process.… Continue Reading

Women in the World

 Day 1

stories and solutions

(Stunning) Performance by Michaela Deprince

  • Born in Sierra Leone, orphaned by its civil war and adopted by an American family when she was 4 years old
  • Began dacing at age of 5 and by 13 attended the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive
  • Now a ballerina with the Dance Theatre of Harlem

 

Co-hosts: The Women I’m Here For (views and voices of women from the ground presented by high profile US women)

  • Michelline Kadiriho, Congo presented by Former Ambassador Melanne Verveer – a rape survivor from the Congo where violence and rape continues each moment of the day, impunity reigns and the war against women continues
  • Souad, Syria presented by Lauren Bush Lauren, Co-founder, FEED, the violence continues unabated, we’ve lost our homes, we live in camps, “we want our lives back, we want to live in peace”
  • Maria Da Penha, Brazil presented by Nizon Guanaes, Chairman, Grupo ABC – “my husband shot me in the back, leaving me paralyzed and he then tried to kill me. He was arrested but then released on a legal technicality. I succeeded in changing domestic violence laws in Brazil and this new law bears my name”
  • Delmy Palencia, Mexico presented by Maya L Harris, VP, Democracy, Rights and Justice, Ford Foundation – I am an undocumented mother who started a movement of mothers to create citizenry for mothers like me who want to keep our family together – we belong together
  • Najood Ali – Yemen presented by Diane Von Furstenburg – forced to marry at age 9 and then sought a divorce at age 10.  One of 50 girls in my class, now in 2nd year of primary school. “I finally feel I am a girl again, a normal girl like before”
  • Gladys Kirante, Kenya presented by Dr Hawa Abdi, Founder, Hawa Abdi Foundation “I was forced to undergo female genital mutilation – I almost bled to death and I was lucky to survive and now I’m working to end this practice in my community, in my country
  • Marianne Ibrahim, Egypt, presented by jane Harman, Director, Woodrow Wilson Center “we need to move Tahrir Square to the political square”
  • Jennifer Barnard, Trinidad and Tobago presented by Al-Jen Poo, Director, national Domestic Worker’s Alliance – experienced so many inhumane conditions as a domestic worker and finally walked away from my last position when I was refused my normal day off. “We have a right to be treated respectfully, no matter who we are. We must learn to give ourselves love”
  • Nasrin Sotovdeh, Iran presented by Julie Hemp, Chief Communications Officer, Toyoto – wrote a letter to her daughter from jail saying “justice arrives just at the time when we have given up hope. Seek peace and tranquility upon your oppressors so we too can enjoy peace and tranquility and peace of mind”

 

Ireland’s Firebrand – A Tribute to Inez McCormack – Meryl Streep

  • Feminist, human rights advocate, 1st female president of Irish Congress of Trade Unions
  • Represented the rights of the “excluded ones” and the “invisibles”
  • Advocate, champion, cheerleader
  • Equal pay for equal work (that radical idea)
  • Stressed the importance of testing any public policy with the most invisible and that they be involved in this measurement – “only through participation can rights be realized and kept
  • McCormack told Streep the story of saying to a woman who was marginalized “these human rights are yours” and this woman responding: “well, that’s the best fucking secret in the world”
  • Streep: “McCormack was a real time living heroine who died six months ago, hers was a call to arms – for everyone to link arms. Her great heart beats in us all”
  • Streep:  “McCormack’s message was that one life can stand for the benefit of many but everyone must participate”

 

Syria:  Women in War – Eyewitness accounts of the latest atrocities in Syria

Dr Mouna Ghanem, Cofounder and Deputy to the President, Building of the Syrian State Movement;  Coordinator, Women Make Peace Platform and Zainab Salbi, Founder, Women For Women International. Moderated by Barbara Walters, Correspondent, ABC News, Creator, Co-Executive Producer and Co-Host, ABC’s The View

  • Mouna – “women’s issue is not just a gender issue, it’s a security issue, a foreign policy issue”; “it’s related to broader violence in Syria”; “women are not in the negotiation process” “there’s no democracy without women; US needs to advocate for democracy; we need to care about what’s happening to women; US and Russia must put pressure on the Syrian regime as a political process; the regime must be involved in the transitional process and through negotiations, and the support of the Syrian people, Assad must leave; Islamicist power is the rising power in the region; Assad should go in a way that doesn’t cause the disintegration of the country; we need to support women’s political voices to be heard – more than 70,000 people have been killed and more than a million are refugees from Syria. Women in the camps are experiencing forced marriages, prostitution, exposure to HIV/AIDS and children are literally freezing to death. Enough is enough. We want peace. We want democracy. We want human rigths
  • Zainab – “only four women in the Syrian Opposition are women, that’s got to change”; “rape of women and violence is being committed by all sides”; America’s lack of decisionmaking in Syria has created a political gap – the US must have  a position; the US can influence a negotiation process and bring the Russians on board; women must be involved in the political process; in the Middle East, women are the battlefield; Assad has to leave y negotiation that is decided by the Syrian people; we need a democracy and human rights to be restored to Syria; I would wish we got all the women from all sides in a room and to listen to what the women say; we need to raise our voices – we are tired and we want peace

 

South Africa’s New Power Player – Dr Mamphela Ramphele, the legendary firebrand against apartheid is forming a bold new political party

Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, Leader, Agang interviewed by Charlie Rose, Executive Editor and Anchor, Charlie Rose; Anchor, CBS, This Morning

  • South Africa needs restoration of values and principles that so many of us died for and so many of us hope for.  There are few text books in schools at present and teachers are either unskilled or absent from schools
  • It’s a betrayal of our children and of our beliefs
  • “Every 34 seconds, a woman is raped in South Africa”  One day of these statistics being sustained is one day too many
  • Nelson Mandela’s shining legacy of courage, endurance and transcendence – “he made the greatest contribution of any human being and we want to stop the betrayal of his legacy”
  • “South Africans today feel like they are the forgotten people”
  • “We want to hold the ANC to account in the same way the ANC held the ruling party to account during the decades of apartheid’
  • People want to free themselves from the notion of being victims
  • “Nelson Mandela’s message was the right to live in in dignity…that includes equality for women.  “This consciousness is relevant to the need to evoke that …feminism and the solidarity the women’s movement inspired that made me who I am as a citizen and as a woman”
  • “You have no choice but to be a change agent…it’s about standing for social justice
  • “My son (with Steve Biko) is 35 years old) and he’s written a book called The Great African Society to mobilize his age group to ensure they come together to secure the promise of freedom that his father died for”
  • “The most important thing is to believe in yourself”
  • South Africa needs the promise of its values restored – if that means I lead the country as President then so be it
  • It’s about South Africa’s people beating the odds time and time again
  • “It is right for us to be in a country where our children are better educated than we were”
  • “When the men were afraid, the women marched on Pretoria. Again, we’re going to mobilize women to restore the freedom of the people of South Africa”

 

The Next Generation of Malalas – Oscar winning filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy introduces us to two young women from Pakistan who are risking their lives for the rights of women and girls

Humaira Bachai, Foundr and President, Dream Foundation Trust

Khalida Brohi, Founder and Director, Sughar Women Program

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, CEO SOC Films

Moderated by Christiane Amanpour, CBE, Host, Amanpour, CNN International; Global Affairs Anchor, ABC News

Humaira –  in the film made by Sharmeen, Humaira goes and talks to men in different villages who say that women need to be protected and sending them to be married early is a way to retain their honor, and that of their families; Humaira has managed to work in villages and send 2,000 Pakistani girls to schools; “This is the power game – men want to treat girls and women like animals”, “I am here because of my mother’s struggle to sell firewood to pay for my school fees” and as a result my relatives told my father “Your family cannot live here because you are educating the women”. “Every day in Pakistan, new Malalas are born.” We continue to struggle for change. We cannot allow for our lives to be taken.”

Khalida – was empowered by her parents. “My mother was married off when she was nine and had never seen a school.” My Dad went back to college and gained an education and was about to find an educated girl to marry as he didn’t think he could be with someone who wasn’t educated and then on the eve of a marriage he decided to again return to my mother who was in my father’s house and to instead teach her from scratch and, in the process, they fell in love. I am the eldest of six children.” In the film made by Sharmeen,

Khalida goes to talk to the men in the villages about allowing girls to go to school.  The men in these villages respond by saying “if a girl wants to be independent, our response is the bullet.” “If a woman compromises her honor, our response is the bullet.” “If a girl has any questions regarding her empowerment, our response is the bullet.”

Khalida says to the audience after we hear these words from men in the video “I was being patient because I knew that one day these men would be working for me.” “I need to change the mindset of my community.” “I tell my parents, if I don’t do this work I will die. If I do this work, I will live.” “We are holding cricket tournaments for the men and in the commentary we are including messages such as ‘educate girls’ and ‘honor killings are not okay’ so that the men listen to these messages.” “Never underestimate the power of talking – it is part of doing dangerous work in a dangerous country.”

Sharmeen – (award winning filmmaker) “These are the women who are staying on to educate a new generation of Pakistani girls.”  In response to what we hear from the men, Sharmeen says “If you live in darkness, how would you know what light is.” “We need to keep educating the men.” “It’ll get a lot worse before it gets better. We’re concerned about the types of political parties that come to power and how many more girls will not be allowed to go to school.  In the conflict areas, many girls are prevented from going to school. Education for all is the game changer”

 

Angelie Jolie:  Malala Undaunted – Angelie Jolie showcases Malala Yousafzai’s powerful new initiative.

Angelie Jolie, Writer, Director, Actor and Special Envoy to the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees

  • “The Taliban shot Malala in the head and it made her stronger
  • A poll to determine the most powerful people in the world saw Malala at number 6.  President Obama was at number 7.
  • When told, Malala said “I don’t think human beings should be categorized that way”
  • Malala has announced a new initiative called Malala’s Fund to ensure the right of every girl and every boy to an education.  Her goal is progress, not notoriety
  • “Let’s start with educating 40 girls and turn those into 40 million girls”
  • Jolie pledges $200,000 to this foundation

Web address is www.witw.mobi  Follow twitter #wiw13

 

 

Letter from the UN

March 12th, 2013 by

I was in New York to attend the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The priority theme this year was Prevention and Elimination of Violence to Women and Girls (VAWG). This was in response to the fact that almost 70 per cent of the world’s women have suffered some form of violence.

Representatives of Governments came to report on their progress to advance the rights of women and girls and to report on their implementation of the commitments they’d made under the Beijing Platform For Action (PFA) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).… Continue Reading

Letter from New York # 33

August 12th, 2012 by

Events of the past week in the US and in other parts of the world have reminded me of the importance of strong and wise leadership – whether it comes from our politically elected leaders, former world leaders or citizens assuming leadership in response to a crisis.

For instance, the wisdom of the Global Elders in making dignity the centerpiece of their work.

The Global Elders are a group of people brought together by Nelson Mandela and they comprise Martti Ahisaari, Kofi Anan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graca Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu, with Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela being honorary members.… Continue Reading

Letter From New York #32

July 25th, 2012 by

The shooting at the Aurora, Colorado premiere of the Batman movie Dark Knight Rises exposed violence like a tripwire. Moviegoers watching a graphically violent film were gunned down by a Jokerman who’d been studying mental disease before dropping out of his PhD program and accelerating his intake of drugs and slugging alcohol.

While we look to the guy with the gun, we’d do well to think about the conditions that gave rise to what happened. Watching an interview that Bill Moyers did this week with journalist Chris Hedges was illuminating.… Continue Reading