Sharing of Good Practices to Achieve MDG# 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

March 2, 2010 - UN Church Center, New York
At-the-UN/CSW-Conferences/CSW54-Parallel-Event-2010
By: Motoko Sugiyama

WFWPI Parallel Event

The parallel event panelists presented good practices from grassroots efforts and experiences to achieve MDG #3. These diverse speakers shared their experiences in the areas of education, training, income generating activities to fight poverty and a successful women's dignity campaign.



Moderator, Ms. Motoko Sugiyama, VP and Director of UN Office of WFWP International opened the meeting before a standing room only crowd. She welcomed and introduced WFWP International President Prof. Lan Young Moon Park and delegations from Japan, Europe, Asia, Africa and USA and gave brief biographies of the four speakers.

Dr. Nessie Ndive-Hill, Professor of Essex County College in New Jersey and President/Founder of Gender and Development Inter-Action Global Organization ( GADIAGO) examined the status of women in higher education in her home country of Cameroon. She stressed that investing in women via higher education and training yields large social and economic returns and breaks intergenerational cycles of poverty with long term benefits for poverty reduction. However there are barriers to women achieving higher education including socio-cultural factors, high tuition costs and other fees and constraints to access and enrollment. She recommended that policies and program reforms and intervention must influence higher education in a cost effective manner and include internal government policies and the grassroots level. Universities should build partnerships with businesses in order to help fund education for women and provide them decent employment. Women's organizations should conduct workshops to train women in micro-credit schemes and financially sponsor higher education for women. She concluded that the lack of women in higher education is a global concern and catastrophy and it needs immediate intervention in order to promote gender equality, empower women and save humanity.

Ms. Keiko Nozaki, Vice Project Director of WFWP Japan for Senegal gave a power point presentation on the JAMOO Project, Social Self- Support Assistance Center in Senegal. She introduced the present economic situation of Senegal. GNI per capita: $820 USD, Unemployment rate: 48%, 17% of the people live on less than 1 dollar a day; and the adult literacy Rate: 52 % (for males) and 33 % (for females) (Data 2006-2007). She explained how the project began. Ten WFWPI volunteers from Japan went to Senegal in 1994 to research and identify a project to help women in the country. The volunteers decided to open the Social Self-Support Assistance Center in November 1995, naming the center JAMOO which means Bringing Peace- in Wolof, a Senegal dialect. The curriculum for four courses:1.Embroidery 2.Knitting 3.Sewing 4. Homemaking Education has been developed over the years. Students acquire all skills within four years. Women age 12-40 years old are eligible to apply. Students pay $5 per month, part of the education material fee. Graduates receive official government certificates. Since opening the center in 1995, a total of one thousand students enrolled and were trained. In 2001 Salon de Couture JAMOO, a training shop was opened to empower the graduates toward complete self sufficiency. So far sixty women graduates have become independent business owners. Ms. Nozaki reflected on the great joy she experiences when students, their husbands and families show smiling, happy faces because of their success and peace of mind.

Ms. Delia C Javanasundara, Vice President of WFWPI for Asia Region and Coordinator of International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF) of Vietnam shared her experience and efforts in tackling achievement of MDG #3 in Asia. Her power point presentation focused on three themes. 1. WFWP support to eliminate gender disparity in education through the Foster Parents scholarship project. Last year, over 65% of the more than 500 recipients were girls. In addition, non-formal education projects provided learning opportunities to adult women in Bangladesh, India and Taiwan. 2. Training women for jobs in the non-agricultural sector through vocational schools in Nepal and India and empowering women through microfinance projects in Bangladesh and Vietnam. 3. Seminars on gender awareness and other women's issues including women and climate change for women in national parliament.

The final speaker, Ms. Ingrid D Lindenmann, Director of Education of WFWP Europe and Co-Founder of the European Dignity Project introduced the launch of the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women on Feb. 25, 2008 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. At the time, Secretary General Ban stated, I call on men around the world to lead by example: to make clear that violence against women is an act perpetrated by cowards, and that speaking up against it is a badge of honor. She stressed that violence towards women in Europe still continues. It is by far the most frequent violation of human rights despite the shift of women's right to vote, receive education, and gain full employment. Women face serious dangers of degradation through prostitution, pornography, advertisement, FGM, widow burning, honor killing and rape as part of the strategy in war. Nearly 500,000 Eastern European women are abducted each year and forced into prostitution in the European sex trade. Ms. Lindemann explained two aspects of the Dignity of Women project. They are: 1.Restore the image of womanhood in society. The campaign slogan is, Let us awaken human awareness fully to the original value and the original beauty of women. 2. Inspire women to experience the beauty and value of true femininity, to discover and live their immanent God given dignity. WFWP Europe has featured the campaign since 2007 in countries throughout Europe. A call to action appeal was sent throughout the European countries. WFWP members held seminars, signature campaigns against rape in Bosnia and sex and violence on TV, used book tables, a website, networking with other NGOs and conferences including the WFWP Europe annual conference to conduct outreach and engage people in the Dignity of Women project.

(Cosponsored by WFWPI and WFWP Europe)