‘It started with a dream in 1974, a dream of having the efforts of local grassroots women, from various ethnic backgrounds, recognized and respected. We came to see that the enemy was isolation from others as committed as we are, discouragement, and a lack of attention to our own self-development. The complexity of community life today presents problems so difficult that we believe women need a special kind of network to empower and support us becoming strong, effective and efficient leaders.’
-Jan Peterson, Founder of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW) and Global Chair of the Huairou Commission
Dispelling stereotypes that poor women are merely victims of vulnerabilities and hazards and are not organized at a scale to address them, grassroots women participated in International Day of Disaster Reduction (IDDR) this past October 13. Through their participation, they visibly demonstrated the wide spectrum of effective actions they are taking in their communities to reduce hazard risks and build resilient communities. UNISDR, Huairou Commission, Gender and Disaster Network, Oxfam, and Plan International, along with partners anchoring the Community Practitioners' Platform, teamed up on this day to advance the common theme of "Women and Girls - the [in]Visible Force of Resilience" to pinpoint women's contributions, engage partners, and foster institutional champions to help grassroots women's groups function as full public partners in disaster and climate risk reduction.
My personal experience with Hurricane Sandy was hardly life-changing. In preparation, I bought liters of bottled water, stocked up on beans, filled my tub and pots full of water, and locked myself in my Brooklyn apartment with a friend waiting for nature's wrath to pass. When it was all over, it turned out my only inconvenience was a lost internet connection for about eight hours.
Other New Yorkers were not so lucky.
Hurricane Sandy is responsible for 41 deaths in New York City, 2.19 million power outages, destruction to over 305,000 homes, and an estimated $32.8 billion in repair and restoration costs. Residents of the City that Never Sleeps saw Lower Manhattan living in darkness for a week, flooding and subsequent paralysis of the 24-hour subway system we are so proud of, and devastation in parts of Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn, including a fire that destroyed the homes of 100 families. As often happens in disasters, Hurricane Sandy has brought together the many different enclaves of this city and its people, for the common cause of helping heal and rebuild this urban metropolis that we all call home.
“The moment they told me they cannot give me the visa, I nearly screamed,” said Ruhia Bawa, an HIV-positive activist and grassroots caregiver from northern Ghana, recounting her thwarted attempt to attend the International AIDS Conference held in Washington, D.C. this past July. As unpaid workers, caregivers carry the weight of the HIV healthcare structure without compensation, often even spending their own money on supplies and transportation. Ruhia’s visa denial ultimately prevented her from attending the conference to advocate for recognition and compensation of the work that thousands of home-based caregivers are doing in their communities. The greatest irony? Her visa request was denied precisely because she does not receive an income.
“I want people to know that care is about humanity. It’s about people’s welfare. It needs to be realized as an important tool in fighting HIV and AIDS. ”
At the 2012 International AIDS Conference, a top-down, business efficiency model dominated the discussions, taking women and communities most affected by the pandemic out of the picture- a potentially catastrophic ‘tide turning.’ Despite their significant contribution, documented through evidence-based research, a number of myths circulated surrounding the role of grassroots caregivers in linking to decentralizing healthcare systems.
December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day to bring awareness to the pandemic that has killed over 25 million people and currently affects an estimated 34 million people globally. This day seeks to spread awareness about HIV infection and prevention, and to remind governments to prioritize the fight against HIV by placing resources with those who care for people living with HIV.
Huairou Secretariat Program Associate Regina Pritchett analyzes the gains toward women's empowerment achieved at the Sixth World Urban Forum, and offers a glimpse of what challenges lie ahead.
One by one, each participant stepped into the circle to introduce herself to the group, stating her name and where she came from, then pausing to allow her introduction to reverberate through translations into five different languages. The patience required to get through even the introductions of the fifty-five participants demonstrated the commitment of each woman towards transcending differences in culture, language and even generations present in the room. A landmark event for various reasons, this Women's Multi-Stakeholder International Academy hosted by Huairou Commission & GROOTS International brought together participants from a total of twelve different countries to contribute to the discussions about women's contributions to sustainable urban development.
And so began the three-day Multi-Stakeholder Academy at the University Federico II in Naples, Italy, a city with its own challenges, that demanded recognition of the merging socioeconomic issues of north and south countries in our present day. Aptly so, the women were prepared to enter this space for discussion to consolidate the ideas among grassroots community practitioners, academics, urban planners and NGO's. They aimed to prepare a defined agenda to assert at the Sixth World Urban Forum, the global urban conference organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), which would immediately follow the Academy.
Asociada del Programa de la Secretaría de la Comisión Huairou, Regina Pritchett, analiza los avances logrados en el empoderamiento de mujeres en el Sexto Foro Urbano Mundial, y ofrece una mirada a los desafíos que hay por delante.
New York, NY - Violet Shivutse of GROOTS Kenya, Jhocas Castillo of DAMPA in the the Philippines,and Haydee Rodriguez of the Cooperative Union Las Brumas in Nicaragua arrived in New York last week to attend the first UN Women Global Civil Society Advisory Board Meeting, which convened on Wednesday, October 10 at UN Headquarters in New York. The advisory group, according to UN Women's Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet, has the objective to "play an important consulting role, and provide strategic perspectives on advocacy on gender equality and women's empowerment and on UN Women's thematic priorities."
Nueva York, NY - Violet Shivutse de GROOTS Kenya, Jhocas Castillo de DAMPA en las Filipinas, y Haydee Rodriguez de la Unión Cooperativa las Brumas en Nicaragua llegaron a Nueva York la semana pasada para asistir a la primera Reunión de ONU-Mujeres Consejo Asesor de la Sociedad Civil el miércoles 10 de octubre, en la Sede de las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York. El grupo asesor, según la Directora Ejecutativa de ONU-Mujeres, Michelle Bachelet, tiene el objetivo de “desempeñar un papel importante en asesoramiento, brindar perspectivas estratégicas sobre la defensa política de la equidad de género y el empoderamiento de mujeres, y las prioridades temáticas de ONU-Mujeres.”