Shaheen Hamid on Empowering Women
Q: I am exploring ways of empowering women in developing countries through education and self awareness and nurturing their spirits, (I know there are numerous programs already in place, but more are needed). The aim is to have a ripple effect in positively influencing their children, husbands and families. I envision starting long distance training for corporate women to generate revenues which can be applied to help low/no income women.
Is there someone who will help fine tune this idea and work with me to make it practically possible?
Patrick O’Heffernan responds:
There are four organizations that I work with that seek to do this, the Global Fund for Women and the International Museum for Women (IMOW), both in San Francisco. The GFW understands fully Kofi Annan’s words that nations which marginalize the female half of their population will never succeed financially, politically or culturally. The GFW provides grants to organizations that help women get an educational start businesses, escape from poverty and brutality and religious or sexual slavery. They also build women leaders in developing countries. I cannot praise them enough.
IMOW works to demarginalize women by bringing their works and successes out of the shadows and letting the world know that women have been responsible for at lest half of humanity’s progress. IMOW seeks to educate men while it gives women voice. Their "Imagining Ourselves" online exhibition attracted over 1 million participants – many from developing countries – mostly women who told their stories and the stories of the heroines of their countries in art, song, dance, poetry, stories. Going through the online exhibition is a breathtaking experience. And it does not ignore men…they are represented, telling stories about the women that inspire them.
The Center for Partnership Studies in Carmel, founded by best-selling author of The Chalice and the Blade, Riane Eisler, seeks to educate men and women about the inherent structure of many societies that puts men in a position of dominance over women – and over other men – by devaluing the work and role of women and of caring in society .
Regionally, NamesteDirect Foundation provides small grants and technical assistance to women in Guatemala, Ecuador and southern Mexico to help them become financially independent. There are many micro loan organizations like this, but I work with them and love to see the power they give women in male-dominated so-called "traditional" societies.