Millennium Goals and Microfinance: Fonkoze - Building a Staircase Out of Poverty
On Tuesday, April 9, 2013 Matt Balitsaris, chair of the board of Fonkoze USA, spoke to us about how Fonkoze grew to be Haiti's largest microfinance institution. Adapting to some of the most challenging conditions on earth, Fonkoze developed an innovative suite of programs designed to meet its clients wherever they are on their journey out of poverty.
Millenium Development Goals and Sustainability/Agriculture
February's gathering introduced me to a new aspect of women's empowerment: the challenging advocacy work that happens behind the scenes to ensure women's voices are heard at the UN policy-making table. Our two speakers, Cate Owren and Eleanor Blomstrom, were from WEDO, Women's Environment & Development Organization.
What intrigued me most about the presentation was how the organization was formed. A few female friends of like mind saw a need, a gap, and they knew they had to do something to fill it. WEDO founding member Thais Corral of Brazil said it all started with a question, "What if we, as women, use this opportunity of the UN Conference Environment and Development to be the change we want to see in the world?" So this group of friends, of female activists, decided they must take action. They moved forward. Now, twenty years later, the results they have achieved on behalf of women's worldwide are outstanding.
What struck me most about the program was the direct connection the speakers clearly established between a sustainable environment and the well-being of women. Improving their lives is already difficult but climate change and a deteriorating environment make it impossible. The world / we MUST deal with those issues.
Carole Cohn, WIL Member and Program Committee Chair
This program write up was provided by Patricia Omoqui, WIL member.
UN Millennium Development Goals: Promoting Gender Equality and the Empowerment Women
We learned that countries that invest in promoting the social and economic status of women tend to have lower poverty rates and result into large development payoffs. Women take care of the health and welfare of their families and communities. We learned how Trickle Up empowers women living in extreme poverty - on less than $1.25 a day - by providing them with the tools to build livelihoods that grow their income, skills, savings and confidence. According to the World Bank, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women are key to ending poverty and accomplishing the Millennium Development Goals by the year 2015. To learn more, read a copy of the Millennium Development Goals 2012 Report.
Sex Trafficking: A Global and Local Issue - April 24, 2012
In Krista Hoffman's thought provoking presentation she explained that human trafficking doesn't have to be any movement of a human being but forced fraud or coercion or an exchange of services. Some confuse trafficking, when the trafficker retains control of the victim, to smuggling, in which the relationship ends, crossing a boarder and consent is present. A recent study revealed that there are 2.5 million victims in the world at any given time which makes up a total of $32 billion per year in revenue. Of all human trafficking, sex trafficking makes up 79 percent, with labor trafficking representing 18 percent. Specifically there are 14,500-17,500 humans trafficked into the United States each year. Krista explained that like Santa Claus and other fictional characters that adults created as a fantasy, the child prostitute is a construct that adults have created so people will buy the fantasy. The reality is a child victim of sexual abuse. Traffickers are parents, family members, employers, pimps, middlemen, husbands, boyfriends, other women, and strangers.
- To learn more about Krista's work visit the PCAR Web site.
Hugh Organ went on to discuss his work at Covenant House, an organization that aids runaways, the homeless, and trafficked youth (21 and younger). The Philadelphia Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition was formed with 62 various organizations, including non-profits and law enforcement, to stop human trafficking. Hugh presented various cases throughout our local community ranging from a man in Delaware County selling a young girl on the Internet to the Ukrainian Brothers forced labor. Domestic trafficking makes up about 300,000 youths in the United States including runaways and throwaways with the average age being 12-13 years old. These children are sometimes treated as criminals if caught by the police. There has been a targeted outreach plan to help identify possible locations, meet with law enforcement to review the locations, meet with community leaders to raise awareness, scout the locations, and develop foot outreach.
To report human trafficking call the hotline at 1-888-3737-888. We were encouraged to join the coalition in supporting Senate Bill 338, the National Hotline Bill requiring posting of of the national hotline nunber in areas of transit.
- To learn more about Hugh's work visit the Covenant House Web site.
Thank you to our sponsor KPMG for providing the space, wine and hors d'oeuvres for this program.
Annual Members Only Book Discussion - March 2012
S. Zakiya Islam was our facilitator and provided us with a thoughtful evening and helped all of us see Islam in a rich light.
If interested in continuing your education and insights into Islam, Zakiya recommends talking to young people who practice the faith and has suggested three books:
- Islam: An Introduction by Annemarie Schimmel
- Muhammad: Man of God by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
- The Heart of the Qur'an: An Introduction to Islamic Spirituality by Lex Hixon
Zakiya also brought several copies of a recently translated version of the Qur'an that she recommended to us: The Holy Quran translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali
Sam Daley-Harris, a recognized expert on global microfinance, was our speaker for the evening on January 17, 2012. Daley-Harris's insightful and inspirational talk focused on three topics related to microfinance: Purpose, Pitfalls and Redemption.
Social Entrepreneurship: The Impact on Women in Developing Countries
Connie Duckworth, (October 24, 2011) founder and chief executive officer of Arzu, Inc., spoke to us on the topic Social Entrepreneurship: The Impact on Women in Developing Countries and how Arzu's innovative model of social entrepreneurship empowers Afghan women by providing fair-labor, artisan-based employment and access to education and healthcare.
Empowerment of Women in Tanzania
Empowerment of Women in Tanzania, (May 9, 2011). Happiness Mwamasika, founder and director of business development for the investor and development consulting firm, Africa First International, was the featured speaker for this members only event. Happiness spoke to us on the women of Tanzania with a special focus on the Maasai people.
Bobbie Gohn Inspiration Award
The Bobbie Gohn Inspiration Award (March 1, 2011) recipient was Lori Greenawalt, a partner at KPMG. Lori inspires us as a leader in her work with children in crisis in Philadelphia, families in Peru and sustainable development in Mali West Africa. Trudy Rubin, our guest speaker, spoke to us on the topic "Will We Abandon the Women of Iraq and Afghanistan?" and on her recent return from assignment in Cairo, the situation on the ground and the improving status of women in Egypt.
Persepolis: a discussion
Persepolis: a discussion (January 24, 2011) was WIL's annual book discussion. The discussion was facilitated by Pari Hashemi and Dameron Stoddard. We enjoyed Persian food and interesting insights into the lives of women in Iran.
Empowering Women Globally: Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Empowering Women Globally: Best Practices and Lessons Learned (November 4, 2010) a lively panel discussion with our own Natalie Agraz from Augustinians Province of St. Thomas in Villanova; Jim Goodman from The Hunger Project (THP); and, Kerri Kennedy from Women's Campaign International.