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The Latest Issues and Trends in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance

Strategies for Gender Equality
and Effectiveness in the Field
March 2007
Vol. 25, No. 3
It’s no secret that women in relief and development face
many challenges. Under-represented in leadership and, at
times, constrained by the cultural environments in which they
work, it is forgivable for some women to feel as though they
are at a disadvantage. However, more and more women are
defying stereotypes and taking leadership and management
positions in the field, or in their own communities. These
women do not wish to be seen as doing their job better than
men, but wish to have the same chance as their male peers
to improve their world. In this issue, we examine how women
all over the world are working with their colleagues and
neighbors to realize a more just world.

Front cover image: courtesy of Hilary Wallis

06 Congressional Agenda: What’s in it for the
World’s Women?
07 Real Change for Millions of Women: The New
MCC Gender Policy
08 Gender Equality May Finally Arrive at the FORUM 2007
United Nations
Don’t forget to register online.
10 Women Lead to End Conflict and Build More
Responsive Governments

12 The Power of Partnerships: Parliamentarians
for Women’s Health
14 Women on the Frontline: Women Agricultural InterAction has moved!
Extensionists in North Darfur Sow Knowledge Please update your records.
and Moral Courage Our new address is located at:
16 Through Our Eyes: Participatory Video in West
1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 210
Washington, DC 20036
20 Thoughts from Women Leaders Our general phone number, fax, and email
addresses have stayed the same.
24 The LEAD Campaign: Empowering Women
to Lead and Succeed in Microfinance
26 The Gender Audit: An Effective Tool for Want more information on this issue?
Organizational Transformation Check out our resource page at
28 More Breakthroughs Next month
Look for the April issue of Monday Developments,
highlighting trends in development.
03 Inside this Issue: An Overview Oops!
Please note that in the photo in the January 2007 issue,
04 Inside Our Community page 6, was taken by Ron Storer for Episcopal Relief
23 Your Thoughts and Development.
30 Position Announcements

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It’s No Secret
It is no secret that women play a vital role in influencing and
leading change that improves human well-being from village
councils to international boardrooms. Their contribution
in the business, social and political arenas both in the
developing and developed world have been invaluable. So
have their efforts to organize for women’s empowerment at
the grassroots, national, and international levels.

Why profile something so obvious? Ironically, women still
continue to be under-represented and overlooked in the
very areas where they excel.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, this issue of
Monday Developments explores women’s leadership roles in
the world of international development and breakthrough
efforts for accelerating women’s advancement. As a sector,
we are committed to gender equality in our programs and
our organizations. The articles in this issue reflect on the
strides we have made in promoting and achieving gains for
women, their families and their communities. We shine the
spotlight on key leadership roles and innovative programs.
Image: courtesy of Hilary Wallis
March 8, indeed the whole month of March, is not enough
time to chronicle the strides made by women across the
globe. It is time that we as a community intensify our
commitment to achieving gender equality in a very realistic MONDAY DEVELOPMENTS
and strategic way. This includes gender parity for women
Managing Editor Monday Developments is
in leadership roles in our organizations, as well as how Julie Montgomery published 12 times a year by the
we structure our programs to reflect this critical piece of Communications Department of
InterAction, the largest alliance of
development. Eliminating gender inequality is key to Editors
U.S.-based international development
Robyn Shepherd
accomplishing our sector’s mission of eradicating poverty, and humanitarian nongovernmental
Kathy Ward organizations. With more than
disease and illiteracy. 160 members operating in every
Copy Editor developing country, we work to
Hilary Nalven overcome poverty, exclusion and
We are always eager to hear what you, our readers, have to
suffering by advancing social justice
say about the issues we discuss in this magazine. What are and basic dignity for all.
Advertising & Sales
your thoughts on the state of gender equality in international Josh Kearns InterAction welcomes submissions
development? Send your comments to publications@ of news articles, opinions and Communications Department announcements. Articles may be
Nasserie Carew, Director reprinted with prior permission and
Josh Kearns, Advertising & Sales attribution. Letters to the editor are
Julie Montgomery, Publications encouraged.
Robyn Shepherd, Media
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Tel: 202.667.8227 ISSN 1043-8157
COMMUNITY Northwest Medical Teams Announces New Name:
Medical Teams International
With more than $1 billion in medical aid and 35 million people
USAID Honors International Youth Foundation with served around the world, Northwest Medical Teams is changing
its name to Medical Teams International, a name that better
“Alliance of the Year” Award reflects its global impact.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
has selected the International Youth Foundation (IYF) from “For 27 years, Northwest Medical Teams has sent thousands of
among 400 alliances worldwide as the recipient of the 2006 volunteers to help people in need around the world,” says Bas
Global Development Alliance Excellence Award for its entra 21 Vanderzalm, president of Medical Teams International. “Today
initiative. with pride in our Pacific Northwest roots and our reach extending
to more than 100 countries, we are acknowledging that we are
Entra 21 is an innovative workforce development program now a more global humanitarian aid agency with programs, staff
operating in 18 countries throughout Latin America and the and partner organizations around the world. Medical Teams
Caribbean. In five years, entra 21 has provided training to more International continues to be based in the Pacific Northwest,
than 19,000 disadvantaged youth and young adults ages 16- with its international offices and distribution center in Tigard,
29 in information technology and basic work skills needed for Oregon, and a second office in Bellevue, Washington.
success in the modern workplace. The employment rate for entra
21 graduates is 50 percent, and the majority of those working
American Jewish World Service Launches National
have jobs that pay minimum wage or more and provide one or
more benefits. Targeted Divestment Initiative Against Sudan
American Jewish World Service announces the launch of a
“Public-private partnerships are a vital part of leveraging resources targeted divestment initiative as part of its ongoing advocacy
to advance human potential,” said USAID Administrator campaign to end the genocide in Darfur. This initiative will
Ambassador Randall Tobias. “The entra 21 Program has brought promote individual, institutional and government divestment
together a diverse group of public and private sector partners to from companies that help finance the Sudanese government’s
do just that by providing high-tech job training to nearly 20,000 brutal campaign against the people of Darfur.
disadvantaged urban and rural youth in Latin America.”
As the first national Jewish organization to promote targeted
IYF established the entra 21 alliance in 2001 in partnership with divestment, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) will promote
the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American and support targeted divestment efforts through a multi-pronged
Development Bank. Through its Office of Global Development approach. At the core of this effort will be the mobilization of
Alliance, USAID has supported the program with more than AJWS’ grassroots network of 24,000 Darfur activists who will
$4.4 million in funding. be called on to support targeted divestment personally, in their
community organizations, cities and states as well as by the
Gates Foundation Provides $15.4 Million to Opportunity federal government.
International AJWS will serve as a resource and clearinghouse for this national
Opportunity International announced it has received a $5.4 targeted divestment initiative. Information and tools will be
million grant and a $10 million loan from the Bill & Melinda provided on the AJWS website to help individuals screen their
Gates Foundation. The $15.4 million of capital will fund start-up investments ( These will include answers
microfinance banks to serve the poor in the Democratic Republic to frequently asked questions, a link to a tool for screening
of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, as well as expansion mutual funds, and sample letters for contacting money managers
of its banking operations in Ghana. Opportunity International and investment firms. At the government level, AJWS will work
operates banks or financial institutions in 28 countries and is the with local activists to support municipal resolutions as well as
world’s largest microfinance bank organization serving the very binding targeted divestment legislation proposed by states and
poor. by Congress. Soon AJWS will make available an interactive
The $5.4 million grant is Opportunity International’s second map on its web site that will have information about legislative
from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In November 2005, activities in cities and states.
the foundation provided $2.2 million over three years to fund
rural banks in Malawi and Mozambique. The new grant is made World Learning Names New Senior Vice President of
in combination with a $10 million loan for program related International Development
investment (PRI), which will be repaid over 10 years at 1 percent World Learning has appointed Mark Viso to the position of
interest. Senior Vice President of International Development. Viso joins
Opportunity International will use the low-cost PRI loan during World Learning from World Vision US where he most recently
the second or third year of operations at its new banks, a time when served as Vice President for International Programs Operations.
it is typically difficult for microfinance banks to attract enough At World Learning, Viso will oversee the World Learning
customer savings or commercial debt to generate growth. PRI for International Development division and its portfolio of
funds used as intermediate loans strengthen the bank’s balance projects worldwide focused on building local capacities in the
sheet, making it more attractive to external commercial lenders, areas of civil society and social change, education, training and
while also greatly increasing the amount of loan money available exchange. As World Learning celebrates the 75th Anniversary
to poor entrepreneurs. of its founding program, Viso’s appointment completes a newly
formed leadership team headed up by President and CEO Carol
Bellamy, former executive director of UNICEF.

Gender, Disability and Development Institute Highlights
Inclusion of Women and Girls with Disabilities SAVE THE DATE
By Michael Szporluk (Mercy Corps), Linda Lotz (American Friends Service Committee), Suzan A special invitation for
Dawe (Holt International), Marième Daff (Trickle Up), and Susan Sygall and Lydia Shula (Mobility InterAction members…
International USA) A Global Health Revolu-
tion will begin in Virginia
Every three years Mobility International (MIUSA) brings together women leaders with
disabilities from throughout the world to take part in MIUSA’s Women’s Institute on
Beach, Virginia June 7–9!
Leadership and Disability (WILD) in Eugene, Oregon. The most recent WILD, held on Will you join us?
August 9–27, 2006, included grassroots leaders from 30 countries, committed to the human In the developing world, the risk of a
rights of women and girls with disabilities. As part of the longer program, MIUSA facilitated woman dying in childbirth is one in
a Gender, Disability and Development Institute (GDDI), where WILD participants were 48, compared with one in 10,000 in
joined by representatives of 10 international development organizations, many of which are the U.S.
InterAction members. Every year nearly 11 million young
children die before their fifth
The GDDI was conducted in American Sign Language, English, French, Russian and Spanish, birthday, which equals 30,000
in a beautiful outdoor retreat center. In interactive seminars and hands-on workgroups, children a day, mostly from
participants explored practical ways development programs can include women and girls with preventable illnesses.
disabilities. By exchanging experiences and ideas and raising key questions, WILD delegates Forty million people are living with
and development professionals highlighted the importance of including women with disabilities HIV. AIDS is the leading cause of
for effective and good development. premature death in Sub-Saharan
Bridges were built at GDDI between disabled women’s organizations and development Tuberculosis kills 1.7 million people
agencies, in formal discussions and dialogues, as well as in late night conversations, amidst a year.
songs and dancing around campfires.
Norfolk-based Physicians for Peace
and InterAction member, invites you
At the end of the session, representatives from InterAction members Trickle Up, Mercy Corps,
to join with some of the most noted
American Friends Service Committee and Holt International identified the need to do a better
thought-leaders and practitioners in
job of sharing best practices between organizations. InterAction members can and should
the world to talk candidly about real
consider undertaking the following actions that would facilitate more effective inclusion of solutions. You’ll be able to network,
people with disabilities in all facets of their programming: build skills and share ideas on some
of the best practices today in global
a Create an InterAction working group on inclusion of people with disabilities. health.
a Conduct more field-based trainings, both organization-specific and sector-specific (e.g.
If you are a physician, nurse, student
health, literacy, and civil society), including helping local disabled peoples organizations or anyone involved in health
train development organization staff. care…or a volunteer or professional
a Disseminate information in alternative formats (e.g. Braille, large print, cassettes, and sign involved in humanitarian or
language). development work…or simply just
a Budget for inclusion (e.g. include budget lines to pay for ramps and sign language inter- interested in making a real difference
preters). in the world, your time is now.
a Focused outreach to recruit women with disabilities as program participants, consultants, Qualified health care professionals
trainers and staff. can earn CME and CEU credits.
a Train program staff on inclusion. Sponsored by The George
a Hold programs and meetings in accessible locations. Washington University Medical
Center and Physicians for Peace.
Discussions between the national disability rights leaders and representatives of international
Co-sponsored by the Eastern Virginia
development organizations proved especially valuable, deepening understanding of the Medical School, Old Dominion
challenges women with disabilities face in developing countries in diverse regions, and University, Virginia Commonwealth
exploring possibilities for collaboration. University School of Medicine and
The University of Virginia School of
WILD graduates from 2006 represented: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Medicine.
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras,
Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mali, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Moldova, Romania,
Register today at:
Rwanda, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, USA, Vietnam and Zambia. Contact information for
WILD graduates and GDDI participants is available through MIUSA ( for
InterAction members who want to reach out to women with disabilities in their programs.

MARCH 2007 
What’s in it for the World’s Women?
By Anugraha Palan, Communications Director, Women’s Edge Coalition

he last few months have seen the violence, and trafficking. But despite the the U.S. bilateral program known as
emergence of a Congress that has clear benefits to women in the form of PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan
not only a Democratic majority, increased self-esteem, greater leadership for AIDS Relief). While Congressional
but also a new woman Speaker in their communities, increased status in action to reauthorize the program likely
and more female elected Members than their households, and greater ability to will not take place until 2008, much of
ever before. What does this all mean for care for their children, public funding the debate and negotiation on reauthori-
global women’s issues? Below are some for microfinance has stagnated in recent zation begins this year.
key issues on the Congressional agenda years. Organizations such as the International
this year. The Micro-enterprise Coalition, chaired Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
by Opportunity International, represents will focus on prioritizing gender concerns
Women’s Economic Opportunity
the leading U.S.-based microfinance net- in global AIDS policy and programs like
The Global Resources and Opportunities
works and is working to increase appro- PEPFAR. For example, they will work
for Women to Thrive (GROWTH) Act,
priations for microfinance as well as to to expand PEPFAR’s efforts to combat
legislation developed by the Women’s
build microfinance provisions into other gender-based violence and to integrate its
Edge Coalition, will be reintroduced to
related bills. While there is significant pri- AIDS programs with other reproductive
Congress this spring. The GROWTH
vate support available for microfinance, health programs, including family plan-
Act is groundbreaking legislation that
it is important that there be a strategic ning. Another advocacy opportunity this
proposes important changes to U.S. in-
use of public dollars to leverage these pri- year is to strengthen PEPFAR’s working
ternational assistance and trade programs
vate funds to ensure that microfinance is group on gender, which reviews country
to prioritize greater economic opportu-
available to the most marginalized popu- plans to integrate gender into programs
nity for women living in poverty world-
lations, especially woman. and to help create guidelines for field of-
wide through means such as more credit
fices that convey gender’s importance to
and training for women to start and Family Planning and Reproduc-
the success of HIV/AIDS programs.
grow businesses, greater access to prop- tive Health
erty ownership and increased access to The recent congressional elections re- Convention on the Elimination
the benefits of trade. sulted in important gains in the level of all forms of Discrimination
Gender-Based Violence of political support on Capitol Hill for against Women (CEDAW)
The Women’s Edge Coalition, in part- family planning and reproductive health CEDAW, commonly known as the inter-
nership with Amnesty International and (FP/RH) programs, according to Popu- national treaty for the rights of women,
the Family Violence Prevention Fund, is lation Action International. For the U.S. was signed by President Jimmy Carter
working on a new campaign to increase government’s 2008 fiscal year, the Bush in 1980 but has not been ratified by the
U.S. leadership to end gender-based Administration has recommended a 25 Senate; it remains in the Senate Foreign
violence globally. The centerpiece of the percent cut to these programs, which Relations Committee (SFRC). The U.S.
campaign is the International Violence would be the second consecutive year is the only industrialized nation that has
Against Women Act (I-VAWA) that will of proposed reductions. Last year, fam- not yet ratified the convention. Given the
be introduced in Congress this year. The ily planning champions on Capitol Hill, composition of the new Congress, there
year will be focused heavily on building including Representative Nita Lowey have been calls from several organizations
broad support for the bill by reaching (D-NY) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D- working on women’s rights to work with
out to women’s organizations in other VT) were successful in rejecting the Bush SFRC Chairman Senator Joseph Biden
countries, as well as within the U.S. Administration’s proposed budget cuts to move to CEDAW to the floor of the
to international FP/RH programs, and a Senate for a vote this year.
Women in Micro-enterprise similar effort is expected this year. Efforts
to overturn the Global Gag Rule and United Nations Development
Micro-enterprise development is an issue
provide U.S. contributions to the U.N. Fund for Women
that benefits from bipartisan support.
Population Fund (UNFPA) are likely to See June Zeitlin’s article in this issue of
However, while there are 100 million
continue as well, though currently sup- Monday Developments for more on this
people currently reached by microfi-
porters of international FP/RH programs new U.N. agency.
nance, it’s estimated that many millions
more could benefit from micro-loans, do not have the two-thirds majority votes
in either the House or Senate needed to Special thanks to Opportunity International,
a safe place to save their money and a Population Action International, and the In-
way to access micro-insurance to protect override a veto by President Bush. ternational Center for Research on Women for
them from devastation. Some members Women and HIV/AIDS their contributions to this article.
of Congress have stressed the link be-
tween microfinance and reaching wom- This is an important year for decision-
en who are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, making on HIV/AIDS, particularly for

Real Change for Millions of Women:
The New MCC Gender Policy
By Ritu Sharma Fox, Co-Founder and President, Women’s Edge Coalition

he Millennium Challenge support and oversight needed to make effort to tackle the HIV-AIDS epidemic:
Corporation (MCC), the implementation of the gender policy something both the Lesotho parliament
international assistance agency possible. and the MCC have recognized.
created by President Bush in
Also uniquely, the MCC requires that In Nicaragua, the local MCC office is
2004, has recently announced a new
all of its projects must state both the working with representatives of women
gender policy that goes further than
income and sex of their intended farmers to shape the work being done on
any other U.S. assistance program to
beneficiaries. This means that countries rural development and land ownership.
integrate gender into every stage of its
must clearly lay out who they are targeting Honduras, in its Compact, requires that
work. MCC has a mission of “poverty
and report back during evaluation about the rural development project include a
reduction through economic growth,”
whether the targets were reached. This strategy to increase the overall number
and a vision of creating “transformational
also makes it possible to clearly evaluate of female farmers and employees. In
change” in the countries in which it
whether the MCC’s work is benefiting Armenia, where a third of all farmers
works. The gender policy influences
the most vulnerable section of most are women, a rural credit program has
$2.3 billion worth of current projects
societies: women living in poverty. specific targets to help women to obtain
in several developing countries, and will
credit and use it effectively.
be mandatory for any new countries that The Women’s Edge Coalition (Edge) has
sign agreements, or Compacts, with the taken the lead over the last three years In Mali, rural women will be able to
MCC in the future. in advocating with the MCC on gender grow what they choose on new garden
issues. Edge’s MCA working group, which plots either for their families’ use or for
The MCC gender policy requires the use
includes the Academy for Educational sale at the market. They will also receive
of “gender analysis,” a process that takes
Development, Amnesty International training and education on both land
into account men and women’s different
USA, the Basic Education Coalition, cultivation and land rights. In Cape
roles in society and their different needs,
Bread for the World, the Hunger Project, Verde, a women’s organization, one of
before projects are planned to ensure
InterAction, the International Center the largest providers of microfinance in
that they are most effective. Gender does
for Research on Women, the National the country, has been a leader in shaping
not only mean women: such analysis
Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is, and that country’s MCC projects.
can make projects more effective for
World Learning, first worked with the
both sexes. However, the effects are Tanzania has prioritized women’s
MCC to introduce an indicator looking
typically greater for women, who are access to water and electricity in its
at girls’ primary education completion
more vulnerable to poverty worldwide proposal. MCC-funded infrastructure
rates to gauge countries’ commitment to
because they tend to work in the lowest improvements around the country are
gender issues, and followed that up with
paid sectors, have less stable incomes, being made with a view to decreasing
extensive advocacy on the new gender
work longer hours and have less access to women’s time spent on water and
training and education. firewood collection. Also, seven countries
There are many encouraging examples that are now implementing MCC-funded
Several aspects of the new policy make it
of ways in which women are being projects have local gender specialists on
unique. First, it integrates this gender
incorporated and empowered as a staff, who will ensure that women in
perspective through all aspects of its
result of the new policy. In Lesotho, for their country are benefiting adequately
work: from consultation with women
example, married women were legally from the new programs.
in designing the programs, through
minors in the area of economic rights
implementation and evaluation. The Decades of research and experience have
and could not own property or open a
model goes further in a more practical way shown that when gender differences are
bank account on their own. The MCC
than any other international assistance not taken into account, international
had been working with the government
program of the U.S. government. development efforts often fail to meet
of Lesotho to ensure that women were their objectives. Most often, this means
The policy also states that disbursement legally guaranteed equal economic that the efforts fail women. The MCC
of funds will be conditional on rights before signing a Compact. The policy illustrates how a major policy
following the new gender policy, and Parliament of Lesotho recently enacted change can both support and greatly
funds may not be disbursed if the policy a law it had been working on for over a magnify work on the ground, and how
is not followed. This is also a first for year to end the minority status of married it can impact millions, not thousands, of
U.S. international assistance programs. women. This is a major milestone for women. Edge will continue its advocacy
Unlike other programs, countries millions of women in a country with to ensure that this policy is implemented,
receiving MCC assistance design and many educated female role models in and that the promise of change for
implement their own proposals for public life but also some of the highest millions of women is made real.
poverty reduction and must meet certain HIV-AIDS infection rates for women
criteria to receive assistance. The MCC in the world. Empowering women has
is also obligated to provide the training, a direct impact on the success of any The MCC’s new gender policy
is available at

MARCH 2007 
Gender Equality May Finally Arrive
at the United Nations
By June Zeitlin, Executive Director, Women’s Environment & Development Organization

equality and the reality on the ground. The The working group of UN officials must
UN Reform process provides a chance to set up an open and inclusive process to
revamp the UN and re-prioritize gender consult with women’s rights groups and
equality, globally and on the ground. For include their perspectives in shaping the
months, the Women’s Environment and structure of the women’s entity.
Development Organization (WEDO)
and women’s rights NGOs around the Appointing an Under-Secretary Gen-
world have been pushing to ensure the eral (USG) to head the new women’s
agency so that women have a seat at
inclusion of women’s rights in the UN
the decision-making table at both the
Reform process.
headquarters and field levels.
Women Seize Opportunity
Response: The establishment of a new
in UN Reform USG post must accompany the creation
Prior to his departure, former UN Sec- of the consolidated structure. There
retary-General Kofi Annan appointed must be an open, transparent and global
a high-level panel to make recommen- search for candidates with substantive

dations on greater coherence in de- expertise in gender equality. We urge
he United Nations has been velopment, humanitarian affairs and that civil society be consulted during this
an important global force for environment. (See open search process.
social change, particularly for panel/html/page1.html.) After a cam-
advancing gender equality and paign by women’s rights advocates, the Substantially increasing resources for
women’s human rights. In 1995 at the Panel also directly addressed the need to work on gender equality and women’s
Fourth World Conference on Women strengthen the gender equality architec- human rights.
in Beijing (following Rio, Vienna, and ture at the UN.
Cairo and subsequent follow up world Response: The current combined
conferences) governments committed The Panel’s recommendations for UN budget for the three women’s agencies
to a far-reaching agenda for women’s reform and gender equality marked (DAW, OSAGI and UNIFEM) totals
rights. Some progress has been made a major victory for women’s rights around $65 million. This is less than fif-
for women in every part of the world, advocates. For months, women’s groups teen percent of the budget of UNFPA,
yet women still comprise the majority of pressured the Panel to make strong which is around $450 million; and it can-
the world’s poor and disadvantaged and recommendations on women’s rights, not even be compared to the $2 billion
remain under-represented in decision- and for the most part the Panel listened. budget for UNICEF. The Panel initially
making. (See Beijing Betrayed, www. Its bold recommendations included recommended $200 million for the new the following points, each of which is women’s agency, particularly to increase
Improvements in women’s daily lives still followed by the collective response of its field and programming capacity. Some
lag far behind the promises governments a number of women’s organizations believed this was too low a target and that
have made to the world’s women. involved in pressing for change: far more resources should be made avail-
The reasons for this are well-recognized. able at the outset. In any event, women’s
Consolidating the existing women’s
groups will be undertaking a campaign
There has been a lack of political will, a agencies (Division for the Advance-
lack of commitment at the highest levels ment of Women, Office of Special Ad- to press donor countries to substantially
of government, and a lack of resources visor on Gender Issues, and UNIFEM) increase their funding for the new con-
to implement these commitments, along into a single agency that would have solidated women’s agency.
with a backlash in many parts of the both normative and programmatic
responsibilities at both the global and Expanding its in-country field pres-
world against women’s progress. This has ence and programs.
resulted in a lack of adequate capacity in country level.
international and many national agencies Response: For this agency to function as
Response: The mandate of the new en-
charged with advancing gender equality. a driving force throughout the UN sys-
tity must have a relevance to the needs
There is an opportunity now to address and concerns of women in all regions, tem, particularly to better address wom-
this gap between the rhetoric on gender especially those in which it will operate. en’s needs and experiences at the country

level, it is critical that every UN country are urging their governments to support
team include senior-level gender equality the consolidated women’s agency, led
experts with adequate resources and sup- by a new Under Secretary-General, with
port who can lead the team’s efforts to substantial resources and an expanded
New AED book highlights
support programs that advance women’s field presence. the benefits of girls’
human rights. This will result both in
stronger women-specific programming
Global leadership has a responsibility secondary education
to mobilize, inspire, and, in turn, learn
and more effective gender mainstream- from and support women’s rights and
ing in the work of other UN agencies. grassroots movements. The evidence on

Not surprisingly, this is one of the most the importance of women’s empower-
controversial and ill-defined aspects of ment continues to pile up: empowering
the report. Many of the details will need women leads to poverty eradication, helps
to be worked out in the implementa-
tion process. But from the perspective of
women activists and allies, the expanded
halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, and leads
to sustainable development. It is now up THE
to the UN and governments to commit
presence on the ground is absolutely crit- to action that will change the world. At
ical to the success of the new agency. And the 51st meeting of the Commission on
women’s groups will be both advocating the Status of Women (CSW) meeting
for these recommendations and monitor-
in New York, women from around the GIRLS ’SECONDARY EDUCATION
ing their implementation. world made their case directly to their
government representatives and to the
Change Ahead Requires Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and
Because primary education
Action the new Deputy-Secretary-General Dr. is only the beginning.
Asha-Rose Migiro. For more information
The UN General Assembly will take up
on the CSW meetings, visit the UN
the Panel’s recommendations sometime
website at www.un/womenwatch/daw/ Available now at
this spring. In the meantime, activists

The 51st session on the UN Commission on Presenters and organizers of
the Status of Women, an annual meeting of the workshop on the Women,
UN member states, was held from February Faith, and Development Alliance
presented by InterAction and
26 – March 9 in New York. Each year, the
partners at the CSW, from left
meeting also provides a venue for NGOs to right: Jean Duff (Washington
to network and advocate for women’s National Cathedral’s Center
empowerment globally. for Global Justice and
Reconciliation (CGJR)), Thu
Over 4,000 representatives from NGOs Cao (InterAction’s Commission
and women’s organizations registered for on the Advancement of
this year’s meeting which focused on the Women (CAW)), Pauline
elimination of all forms of violence and Muchina (UNAIDS), Suzanne
Kindervatter (CAW), Joyce
discrimination against the girl child and
Jackson (World Vision Ghana
the inclusion of boys and men in achieving and East Africa), Fatuma Hashi
gender equality. (World Vision), Dianne Forte
(Heifer International), and Mary
Look for more information on the outcomes Pat Brennan (CGJR)
of these meetings in the next issue.

MARCH 2007 
Women Lead to End Conflict and Build
By Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri, Communications Director
The Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA)

uch has been written about the profound effects
of violent conflict on women and girls. They face HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
increased risk of physical and sexual assault when
violence erupts, shoulder the responsibility for taking a In rural Kenya, Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji demonstrates the impor-
care of community members left in the crossfire, and make up tance of a “bottom up” approach to conflict resolution in a com-
many of the refugees and internally displaced people worldwide. munity where women and girls can become targets of retribution
Women and girls also have been targets of retribution between between warring clans. Her approach includes engaging com-
warring parties in places where they are viewed as symbols of munity elders in practical solutions that put the needs of women
community values. and girls at the center. For example, building wells closer to
Women are often portrayed as victims of conflict, yet their roles opposing villages to resolve water conflicts and in the process
in preventing violence and rebuilding communities have often creating a safer zone for women and girls who are responsible
been overlooked. They often are excluded from formal peace- for collecting water.
making efforts or reconstruction attempts that follow conflict.
a In the Solomon Islands, Catherine Adiflaka worked to break
Pioneering women and their organizations around the world are down barriers to women’s participation in the public arena. De-
working to change that. These leaders are challenging existing
spite a lack of role models, connections, donors and political
social norms to promote peace and prevent further escalation
institutions often necessary to win public office, Adiflaka and the
of conflict. The moment the shooting stops, these women take
women’s networks succeeded in launching a sustained women’s
advantage of the window of opportunity to advance women’s
leadership, foster democratic systems and create new policy political movement. Her work helped women to begin to see
frameworks, governing structures and institutions to benefit en- themselves as leaders and decision-makers—a vital first step in
tire communities. increasing women’s political participation.

In October 2006, The Centre for Development and Population a For 30 years, CEDPA has invested in over 5,000 emerging lead-
Activities (CEDPA) brought together 15 women leaders for a ers through training programs that build women’s core compe-
month-long WomenLead in Peace and Stability workshop. These tencies and self-confidence. These women gained technical,
women exchanged strategies and best practices in shaping peace leadership, management and advocacy skills in a supportive
and post-conflict efforts while gaining new leadership, technical learning environment that emphasizes individual strengths. They
and management skills.
returned to their communities as change agents, and now influ-
One participant was Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji, an ethnic Somali ence decisions about budget priorities, the type and quality of
woman from northeastern Kenya. Conflict has long plagued her health services, placement of schools and other social services,
pastoral region as communities fought over scarce resources for and government policies. Some have gone on to lead at the
their own survival and their livestock. Much of this tension has highest levels in their nations.
been increased by political divisions and differences between
clans, according to Al-Haji.
Women in the generally Muslim society have traditionally suf- Kenya undergo the most severe form of female genital cutting,
fered discrimination and marginalization, Al-Haji said. For ex- causing life-long ill health. This harmful procedure has been
ample, almost 99 percent of all Somali women in northeastern considered by many to be a long-standing traditional practice
that could not be questioned, especially by women. “A Somali
woman was supposed to be seen and not heard,” Al-Haji said.
In response, she founded WomanKind in 1989 to improve the
lives of girls and women. Much of her work is accomplished
through conversation and negotiation to help resolve tribal
clashes that affect women in her community. She recalled one
incident where a group of boys from one village assaulted ten
girls who had come out from another village to get water from
a nearby well. Then men from the girls’ village retaliated by at-
tacking 20 girls from the first village. The violence threatened to
escalate further.
Al-Haji’s group intervened, stationing themselves at the well and
talking there with elders from both villages and then with oth-
er villagers from both sides. “You stand there and discuss what
Participant Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji from Kenya. is happening,” she said. “Everyone gets to complain and sug-
Photo: courtesy of © Max Taylor Photography gest solutions.” Tensions diffused after several days of talking.

More Responsive Governments

Everyone agreed to dig wells closer to each village, creating a
safer zone for the women and girls charged with getting water.
Al-Haji’s WomanKind group now runs programs in education,
health, water and sanitation, conflict management and peace-
building. It opened schools for girls orphaned from conflict and
from AIDS. Girls who attend these schools do not undergo fe-
male genital cutting. Staff members conduct educational cam-
paigns and visit families in their homes to change attitudes about Participant Catherine Adiflaka from New Guinea.
the practice, describing to tribal elders its legacy of pain, infec- Photo: courtesy of © Max Taylor Photography
tion and disability.
However, the women’s networks began to break down some of
One of the primary obstacles Al-Haji faces in her work is the fact
these barriers. Some 26 women ran for parliament in 2006, in-
that women’s opinions are rarely accepted in the public arena. “I
cluding Adiflaka again. “We all lost,” she said, “but three came
come from a culture that does not allow men to sit with women,
in second, so that is progress.” Now that the islanders are used
or women to address political issues,” she explained. But her
to the idea of seeing women on the campaign trail, Adiflaka is
work has made an impact. She engages clan leaders, mostly older
optimistic that the tide will turn in 2010. “My daughter will have
men, to gain their support. “We take them from where they are.
an easier job of it,” she said. “That’s my hope and my belief.”
They talk about what is good and what is not good. We explain
that women are human beings,” she says, and eventually leaders CEDPA’s WomenLead program has involved similar trailblaz-
have been moved. ing women from both sides of Sudan’s civil wars, from Sierra
Leone’s ethnic battles, from Nepal’s democracy movement, and
Al-Haji’s group has broken down barriers to women’s participa-
from other struggles in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, the Philippines and
tion in the public arena—a continuing challenge for many of the
Uganda. These women are leading student peace movements,
women who participated in CEDPA’s WomenLead workshop.
providing reproductive health care for refugees, bringing women
Catherine Adiflaka, head of the Solomon Islands Full Gospel into the political process and writing new constitutions.
Women’s Association, is a case in point. In the late 1990s, she
The efforts of these women leaders illustrate the range of ap-
and other prominent women were the go-betweens who worked
proaches necessary to defuse conflict and build a more respon-
hard getting warring ethnic groups to agree to begin peace talks
sive government. Some work so that warring groups learn to
in the tiny islands southeast of New Guinea. “But then the men
discuss, accommodate and compromise early on, as Al-Haji’s
didn’t involve us in the talks,” she related, and women were ex-
group has demonstrated. Others, like Adiflaka, use conflict as an
cluded from the agreement. “We were really disgusted, to put it
opportunity to mobilize, converting women into activists and
mildly,” Adiflaka said.
leaders ready to run their nation.
She realized that until women were fully represented in decision-
What is common to all of their work is the commitment to ensur-
making bodies, their rights and needs would not be addressed in
ing that women are represented at all stages of the process of se-
the laws that emerged after the peace talks, and that their priori-
curing and maintaining peace. Long-lasting stability is only pos-
ties would not receive adequate funding.
sible if there is broad community participation in peace-building,
As a result, Adiflaka decided to run for office, and got others and these women leaders are critical to that change.
to run as well. She and a loose network of Solomon Islands’
women’s groups organized workshops and training for aspir-
ing women candidates. They recruited women political novices,
many of them subsistence farmers, educating them on the need A MUST-HAVE RESOURCE
for more women’s champions in government. The women dis-
cussed ways their families and children could benefit from legisla- Bringing Women Into Governance
tive initiatives they might launch if elected, particularly on rural This handbook focuses on efforts to bring women into
health care and education. governance, illustrating ways that organizations and activ-
Some 13 women ran in the 2001 parliamentary elections, but ists around the world can foster greater gender equity in
none won. Women candidates had to battle “the cultural mind- civic engagement, advocacy, voting and governance efforts
set that says, ‘You’re a woman and you should be at home,’” to improve the quality of life for everyone. Five chapters
Adiflaka said. “In our culture you’re taken over to the husband’s highlight key approaches to supporting women’s leader-
family or tribe. Women ourselves believe we should stay at home, ship to make governments worldwide more responsive to
and some are not prepared to see other women in front,” she the needs of women. The publication can be downloaded
said. Many friends had urged her not to run so that a male rela- for free at
tive might win instead.

MARCH 2007 11
Parliamentarians for Women’s Health
By Sandra Bunch, Communications Director, International Center for Research on
Women (ICRW) with Laura Wood, Program Officer, Realizing Rights

on. Elma Dienda says that she became a member of
parliament in Namibia by accident: “It wasn’t my HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
plan.” Yet activism seemingly has been in her blood for
years, if not decades. She helped fight for her country’s a Links women parliamentarians to a common agenda
independence, which came in 1990, and served as a union rep- a Connects women members of parliament and women at the
resentative during most of the decade that followed. When she
community level
joined the Parliament in 2003, she was well aware of the toll
AIDS was taking on her country—Namibia is one of the top five a Provides a mechanism for national policy and legislations to be
AIDS-affected countries in the world. Motivated to take action, informed by the grassroots
she just needed to know how.
The project, Parliamentarians for Women’s Health, linked her
up with the women and communities who could help her find and communities living with the infection and disease, they will
those answers. be better positioned to take action and make decisions that im-
prove women’s health.
Building Parliamentarians’ Capacity Nearly 60 percent of women in sub-Saharan Africa are liv-
Dienda is one of nearly 20 parliamentarians in Botswana, Ke- ing with HIV. In many of these countries, women’s and girls’
nya, Namibia and Tanzania who are part of the leadership initia- health needs are woefully underserved, especially when it comes
tive known as Parliamentarians for Women’s Health. Led by a to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Current efforts to increase
consortium of international partners, it builds on the idea that their access to health services are falling short, largely due to the
if leaders have accurate and timely information about women’s gender-related economic, political, social and cultural constraints
health, specifically HIV and AIDS, and are connected to women that continue to impede their access to health services.
International donors increasingly are aware of the problems that
many African countries face in fighting the spread of AIDS, in-
cluding a shortage of health care workers, the need for a consis-
tent supply of antiretroviral therapies and the infrastructure to
provide related services to the people who need it, especially in
rural areas. Several donors have committed millions of dollars to
scale up and expand HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention ser-
vices, but questions remain about how this money is being spent
and how much national leaders know about these issues.
Where most HIV/AIDS programs in Africa are working with
community organizations and service providers to expand out-
reach and services, Parliamentarians for Women’s Health works
with parliamentarians to develop their technical capacity and un-
derstanding of women and AIDS so they can make informed
decisions and take country-specific actions.

Linking Leaders with Communities
The project focuses on disseminating information, furthering
communication and strengthening parliamentarians’ ties with
HIV/AIDS communities at the local, national and internation-
al levels. The project started with national workshops in each
country, where various leaders, community representatives and
technical specialists met to discuss issues related to women and
Body mapping exercise for the Namibia HIV/AIDS and set country-specific project priorities and goals.
reproductive health training. Based on this input, parliamentarians are participating in a series
Photo: courtesy of Parliamentarians for Women’s Health of activities aimed at improving their ability to make a positive
impact on women’s access to health care.

Connecting National Leaders to Women, Communities with AIDS Brings Unforeseen
Changes in Attitudes and Policy

For example, in Botswana last year, participating parliamentari- And something is exactly what she and the other parliamentar-
ans, representatives from government service agencies and mem- ians are doing. After finishing the community assessments, Hon.
bers of civil society requested training on HIV/AIDS-related Elma Dienda formed a sub-committee within the HIV/AIDS
stigma, gender-based violence and reproductive health rights Committee of Parliament to work specifically on women and
—issues they had identified as key barriers to women’s access to AIDS issues.
health services in their country. She and the other parliamentarians also are debating whether
In Kenya and Namibia, in addition to requesting training semi- HIV testing should be compulsory for pregnant women, and if
nars, parliamentarians expressed an interest in visiting communi- so, how to safeguard that information and what to do about the
ties living with AIDS to gain a firsthand understanding of the fathers who have not been tested. Another discussion: Should
problems—particularly access barriers to and gaps in women’s the parliamentarians use their leadership positions to get tested
health care services. themselves and share that information publicly to help combat
AIDS-related stigma?
The impact has been amazing.
“Health policy is not friendly to women,” Dienda said. “Women
Better Understanding of Women and feel no doors are open to voice their concerns, and that people
AIDS, Better HIV/AIDS Law don’t listen. They are ignored.”

In Kenya, the participating parliamentarians are political veter- Through efforts like the Parliamentarians for Women’s Health
ans, well-informed on issues related to HIV and AIDS. They project, Dienda and the other parliamentarians hope to change
wanted to gain insights on how to influence their colleagues that reality by encouraging political discussions that reflect what
within Parliament and improve their colleague’s understanding women and communities living with AIDS are saying. “I am
and support of women and girls affected by HIV and AIDS. proud of being a member of parliament because people in the
street stop me and say they like my focus on health issues,” Di-
By traveling to communities and talking to HIV-positive women enda said. “People say I am speaking their language and that I
and other people affected by AIDS, the participating parliamen- see their problems.”
tarians gained a greater sensitivity and understanding of issues
that affect women’s health and well-being. In one case, a woman
parliamentarian, Hon. Julia Oijambo, returned from the assess- Parliamentarians for Women’s Health includes the following partners:
International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Centre for the Study
ment and immediately began to engage in the internal debate of AIDS at the University of Pretoria (CSA), International Community of
in Parliament regarding a new HIV/AIDS bill. She worked to Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW), and Realizing Rights: The Ethical
encourage her colleagues to support the bill and ensure that it Globalization Initiative (EGI).
would pass. Recently, it was entered into law.

Changed Attitudes, Changed Actions
In Namibia, the visits and talks with different communities and
women living with HIV and AIDS helped the parliamentarians
gain a greater understanding of the complexities and burdens
associated with the disease.
A male parliamentarian, Hon. Penya Mushelenga, acknowledged
that he had not known as much as he thought he had about
women and their health care needs. “I had previously thought
that the main barriers and issues in women’s health were rape
and domestic violence,” he said. “I was unaware of the other
health issues.” Women in the communities he visited reported
that AIDS, maternal health and pregnancy issues were of greatest
concern to them.
He also walked away with a greater appreciation of the link be-
tween women’s health and Namibia’s economic success: “Where
there is no health, there is no nation… it is where we derive the
strength of our manpower…when you talk about economic pro-
duction, you must deal with health.”
Members of Parliament who participated in the Namibia
Hon. Ida Hoffman came away from the community visits with a assessment. Mr. Kanguatjivi, the parliamentary secretary
commitment to act. “I saw the extreme suffering of the women. on the left, Hon Elma Dienda, in the middle, Hon. Peya
They have no shelter and no food. They have to hunt in the Mushelenga on the right.
bush,” she said. “The experience has made me promise myself: I Photo: courtesy of Parliamentarians for Women’s Health
will do something, I must do something.”

MARCH 2007 13
Women Agricultural Extensionists in North
Darfur Sow Knowledge and Moral Courage
By E. Ross, Sudan Program Manager, Relief International

n the fields of North Darfur, 60 local Agricultural Exten-
sionists—30 of them women—alight from their homes each HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
day to visit local farmers and make technical presentations
at demonstration plots. The first program of its kind in the a The RI AE program takes the traditional role of woman as do-
region, Relief International (RI) solicited the support of its part- mestic farmer and transforms it into one with new value as a
ners in the Sudan Ministry of Agriculture, the UN Food and technical profession—serving to elevate the status of women
Agriculture Association and the Women’s Charity Society of as actual experts in agriculture.
Kabkabiya to train a cadre of local experts. Selected by their peers
in the farming community, the pioneer team of “AEs” started a Because 50 percent of AEs are women, they provide female
work in August 2006 to improve harvests and the sustainability farmers with an ease of discussion that assures that a transfer
of their land. of knowledge is achieved where gender barriers with men might
impede free communication.
The conflict in Darfur, Sudan has torn the country apart since
February 2003: a situation described by the UN as one of the a As the lead farmers in their households, women put their lives
world’s worst humanitarian crises, displacing 1.9 million Darfu- and well-being at risk to reach their fields in the Darfur conflict.
rians, creating 220,000 refugees in neighboring Chad, and kill- The AE program provides women with a unique form of moral
ing more than 200,000. To reach their fields of millet, sorghum, support to navigate these risks in this challenging time.
groundnuts, and tomatoes—food for their families, their ani-
mals, and their source of income—rural farmers in North Darfur
must overcome the very real threat of violence that has resulted
in charred and trampled crops, displacement, rape, hunger, pov-
erty and death. As expressed by AE representatives Fatima (26) How has being involved in this program changed
and Leila (24), the inclusion of women AEs in RI’s program your lives?
has indelibly altered their personal lives and achieved unforeseen Fatima: It has changed how we farm. The quantity of feed I
benefits for the community that go well beyond family food se- used to plant has completely changed. Now I know differences
curity and result in a new kind of moral support to war-affected between type and quality. This is very important for me. I
families struggling to live each day with dignity. The following discovered that if I am going to plant a specific crop in a specific
are excerpts from an interview with both women about their place, I have to change what I plant in that location in the next
experience in the project. season. I used to farm the same crop for many years in one place.
This completely affects the soil. I can now better identify the
Describe your interaction with the farmers. How types of diseases affecting crops. After my AE training, I decided
have you been received? I can organize my own house depending on environmental
health—my kitchen, the animals and how far apart they are for
Fatima and Leila: We add a new experience for the farmers. good health—this is an advantage of having had this education.
They have their own experience, the community. Not the
scientific ways. The community is unable to experience the Leila: For me, right now I am able to, for the first time, have the
scientific methods on their own. AEs can help the community courage to talk to the community if I have to meet with them.
understand the scientific principles better. Distances between Before, I was unable to address the community in a meeting.
seeds, for example. Before farmers had confusion on how to Finally, I am able to publicly address people, even if they are large
spread seeds. Now they do not. We teach safer pest control. groups. And now, because I have this important role, my life has
to be scheduled and on time! It is very amazing to do this.
Fatima: Standing in the opposite direction to the wind when
applying pesticide. That you don’t need to use pesticides in most Fatima: I agree. I have a complicated schedule now to manage.
cases. Just extreme cases. I have my own life and I don’t want to give all of my time to
collecting firewood and charcoal the way I used to. My house is
Lelia: The advantage of the plough and the different ways of not as it was before. I feel it is more organized; there are flowers!
using it. Of planting more than one crop. It is much better. I am doing a lot for the community. After I
became an AE, everyone in the village is respecting me.

No text or manual would have more insight and value than the resource provided by an
assembly of local women. Taking the time before a project begins to illicit their issues
as they see them on equity, the nuances of domestic and professional life, and the most
effective means by which they can and will be receptive to making their own change.

How is the conflict in Darfur affecting farmers?
Leila: During the conflict, we know that the areas that people
used to plant get run over by the animals used by the militia.
There is no farming in the places when there is severe conflict.
Even for those who have courage enough to plant during the
conflict, they used to plant only very small spaces, because they
were afraid they will be trampled by militia and their animals.
The situation is improving. It is still challenging to go out to the
farms. Women keep going, but still not as much.
Fatima: Number one, farming is income generation. So women
still must go to their fields, somehow. So this is a very important
job, not just for us, but for what we can give to the community.

As women AEs, are you able to offer farmers
something different?
For the AEs it is more important that they are female, because
most of the farmers are female! Sometimes we see that the wom-
en farmers are not comfortable asking the men AEs the same
questions they would ask us. Because we are women, they are
more comfortable asking us any questions. So we can help them
more. And we talk to them about their troubles trying to reach
their crops when they are scared to go out for fear of attack or
that they might find their fields destroyed. And we give them
support to overcome their fear, as much as we can.

The author wishes to thank RI Field Manager Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, for
translating the interview. Relief International’s North Darfur program is
supported by the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Who is responsible for farming activities?
It is the cultural belief among the people of North Darfur
that it is the responsibility of women to undertake farm-
ing activities. Women plant, weed, harvest, and save seeds.
Women also manage surplus food for market sale. Togeth-
er, women and men manage food stores between livestock
and family needs. The primary crops women sow are mil-
let, sorghum, groundnuts, okra and tomatoes. Their pri-
mary livestock resources are goats, cows and sheep.
Top to bottom: Relief International agricultural
Why use the insight of local women? extensionists demonstrate treadle pump for
irrigation. An example of irrigation by treadle
No text or manual would have more insight and value than
pump. Portrait of a Relief International
the resource provided by an assembly of local women. Tak- agricultural extensionist.
ing the time before a project begins to illicit their issues as
Photo: courtesy of Relief International
they see them on equity, the nuances of domestic and pro-
fessional life, and the most effective means by which they
can and will be receptive to making their own change.

MARCH 2007 15
Participatory Video in West Africa
By Tegan Molony, Zeze Konie American Refugee Committee and Lauren Goodsmith
Communication for Change

he American Refugee Committee (ARC) and
Communication for Change (C4C) collaborated on
a community-based media project designed to raise HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
awareness of and help prevent gender-based violence a Effectively breaks the silence surrounding gender based
(GBV) in conflict-affected communities. This initiative, entitled
violence, while simultaneously encouraging women to seek
Through Our Eyes, has been piloted in Guinea and Liberia. Teams
comprised of ARC field staff and community members produced
local-language videotapes on various aspects of GBV and the a Conquers the barrier of illiteracy and is accessible to all
overlapping issues of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) regardless of education level.
and HIV/AIDS. Local screenings of these tapes are followed
by discussion sessions, during which community members a Local people using their voices to raise local issues and to
share experiences and gain information about available services, tell their own stories in everyday language. The participatory
including legal aid and micro-enterprise programs that foster process allows participants to build a diverse range of skills
women’s economic independence. —technical, planning, management and team work.

A Background in Gender-Based Violence a Involvement of men

in Liberia and the ARC Response
GBV was an integral part of the Liberian conflict and remains
pervasive today. According to an IRIN special report, an Participatory Video and Prevention of
estimated 40 percent of all Liberian women are survivors of
conflict-related sexual violence, including rape, gang rape, sexual
Gender-Based Violence
slavery, and physical assault. In a survey conducted for the UN Worldwide, participatory communication has proven to be a
Population Fund (UNFPA) in camps in Sierra Leone, 74 percent powerful tool in promoting dialogue, building consensus, and
of Liberian refugee women said they had survived sexual abuse advocating for the welfare of disenfranchised or traditionally
prior to displacement; 55 percent said they had experienced underrepresented groups. As the Making Waves report for
abuse during displacement. the Rockefeller Foundation has documented, participatory
communication projects have addressed issues ranging from
In ARC participatory assessments, communities consistently
workers’ rights to women’s health, from environmentally
reported a high rate of GBV including domestic violence,
damaging practices to domestic violence. Prior C4C projects
sexual assault, rape, early/forced marriage, and harassment.
have demonstrated that participatory video activities can initiate
These assessments indicated that community members had little
a dynamic process of engagement and dialogue on issues of local
awareness of the negative health and psychosocial impacts of these
concern, including highly sensitive topics.
acts, nor of the link with reproductive health issues, particularly
STIs including HIV. Reported cases are usually mediated at the Participatory Video in the Field
community level where very few response services exist in the
health, psychosocial and legal sectors. After a comprehensive training by C4C, Liberia-based ARC staff
shared their skills with a group of community peers trained in
As of October 2006, ARC’s GBV caseload consisted GBV. The community then produced their first video: a profile
overwhelmingly of rape and domestic violence cases (51 of a local man, a former alcoholic who used to abuse his wife,
percent and 44 percent respectively). Other types of cases ARC but who overcame his addiction and has become a responsible
frequently handles include early/forced marriage, abandoned husband and father. Other productions followed on the
pregnancy, and sexual exploitation (four percent). Of the consequences of settling rape the ‘family way’ and of not treating
reported rape survivors, almost 90 percent are under 18 years of STIs. The team has also produced video to address the issues of
age. ARC Liberia’s GBV unit began work in Liberia in August stigma and HIV, child abuse, the importance of girls’ education,
2004, facilitating the return process for refugees from camps in and rape and the law.
Guinea through information and protection while implementing
prevention and response activities in communities of return. With Community screenings, or “playbacks,” of the team’s video
the facilitated and safe return of thousands of vulnerable women productions have increased the demand for ARC’s comprehensive
and children from Guinea, ARC has moved out of the camps services. Community peers and field staff open video sessions by
and now concentrates on its community-based GBV activities, describing ARC’s GBV program and available services, including
working in ten districts throughout Liberia. medical and legal advocacy, counseling, and micro-enterprise

programs. After the screenings, which are usually attended by their lives, what messages they want to deliver, and how best to
30 to 100 people, audience members are encouraged to discuss deliver them. Furthermore, the video medium is accessible to all,
the issues raised in the videotapes. Some share personal stories regardless of educational level—a major consideration in a nation
or offer ideas on how to tackle the problems. Counselors in all where the national literacy rate is 33 percent.
project locations report that between 15 and 30 women regularly In addition, the use of video is highly motivating for field staff.
seek assistance immediately following a community screening. One field supervisor for ARC Guinea hopes to use her new
These women seek help for problems directly depicted in the skills to, “bring a great change in the community and in the
films, such as domestic violence, forced/early marriage, STIs, international world.” The Liberia-based video team has chosen
and rape. the Kpelleh name Kuma-afalen (‘We Can Change’) for the NGO
they hope to establish one day.
Benefits of Participatory Video
ARC field staff note the increase in reporting of adult rape and The Effectiveness of this Approach
war-related rape following the introduction of participatory video
Participatory video is easily incorporated into existing GBV and
activities. Marie Kolenky, GBV Program Manager, considers
HIV prevention and response activities. Video is a highly effective
the program “a dream come true.” As she notes, “foreign” or
tool for awareness raising, promoting community dialogue, and
externally-made videos lack credibility and relevance for local
encouraging the reporting of incidents—all of which ultimately
audiences. In contrast, she has observed the powerful impact of
contribute to improving survivors’ access to services.
“seeing a Liberian talking on the video and explaining their own
life story.” There is little doubt that audience members identify Community video also has wide-ranging applications. The ARC
with what they see in the productions. video team plans to use their new-found skills to produce films
about evolving conditions in Liberia for the refugee community
Another important result is the psychosocial benefit to those
as well as to showcase “success stories” from ARC’s microfinance
involved in the production process. Participatory video enables
and community development activities. The team is also
GBV survivors to take control of their stories and present them
considering making instructional films aimed at service providers
on their own terms. In doing so, they can shed some of the
and as part of an outreach programme for remote villages.
stigma associated with their experiences, emphasize the fact of
their survival, and help others at the same time. The power of participatory video lies in its inherently enabling
nature: from conception though production and playback,
The experience of gaining the technical, interpersonal and team
individuals from the community drive the process. As a result,
skills associated with community media also contributes to a sense
the themes and topics are highly relevant to local audiences and
of self-efficacy. Learning new skills and using them to promote
are presented in culturally appropriate ways.
change in the community can be immensely empowering for
individuals who have been subjected to the traumas of long-term
conflict. Within the context of the Through Our Eyes project, this For more information, and to view a short video on the Through Our
Eyes project, please visit A longer version of this
applies to field staff and community members alike. article is available in the recent issue of the Forced Migration Review at
The participatory process also strengthens a sense of community
as teams reflect together on the kinds of violence that have affected Photo: courtesy of ARC Liberia

MARCH 2007 17
34th Annual
International Conference
on Global Health
ASHOk AlexAnDer
Director, Avahan-India AIDS Initiative
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

workinG toGetHer rICHArD HOrtOn
The Lancet

May 29 – June 1, 2007 JACquelIne pItAnGuy
Founding President and Director
Omni Shoreham Hotel CEPIA (Citizenship, Studies, Information
and Action), Brazil

Washington, D.C. BAnquet eMCee

reGISter nOW At /conference/ Dr. SAnJAy GuptA
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent,
Emcee of Global Health Awards
Banquet, Thursday, May 31

The Global Health Council is the world’s largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by
improving health throughout the world. Please join us to: Strengthen our advocacy alliance
for global health learn more about global health issues and best practices Connect with
the key players in the global health and development field Share your knowledge

For details, visit us at or email

MARCH 2007 19

Young women are increasingly being drawn to pursue careers in the nonprofit sector. For those interested
in international relief and development, they must often work in areas where women are not expected to
take on leadership roles. Several female directors and managers in the field share their thoughts on the
influx of young women into the relief and development community.

Georgiana Kasineanu Ruth Messinger
Base Manager at Air Serv President of American Jewish World
Abeche, Chad Service
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Georgiana has been in aviation for New York, NY
thirteen years. After joining Air Serv International, she served
Women’s leadership makes
first in Iraq, then Abeche, Chad and now Afghanistan. Chal-
a difference. It is no acci-
lenge is a daily reality in Abeche, where Air Serv is available
dent that so many of the
around the clock, helping provide a life-line to Darfur refugees
groups which AJWS and
along the Chad/Sudan border. Georgiana recently reflected on
other international orga-
her experiences in Abeche.
nizations support around
In Abeche, our two women pilots and I had to fit into a male- the world are started and
dominated culture. We obviously disturbed the balance. We run by women in societies
opened a new dimension! Local faces would reflect a multitude where that is itself particu-
of emotions seeing us fix trucks or fly planes. They were amazed by our abilities, larly difficult. It is women
strength and determination. We became teachers, while still students ourselves. At who see the possibility of change, want to organize oth-
the end of the day, a life saved, a mouth fed, and a child’s dreams for a better future ers to work for that change, and collaborate easily to
wash away the frustrations. That is our reward! reach the goals they have in mind. It is fitting then that
there are a growing number of women in positions of
The biggest challenge is giving up what some call normalcy and dedicating yourself
power and authority in American NGOs, although it is
to helping those less fortunate. It is not easy witnessing the suffering of others.
also the case that it is not always easy for a woman to
Struggling to bring them hope affects your entire life.
be in a position of leadership in this country. Too often
One challenge I repeatedly encounter is being accepted as a helping hand. Often, women are not given the top spot in their organizations,
I must be quite vocal to ensure my ideas receive fair consideration as people tend or their ability to make tough decisions, deal with fi-
to ignore or undervalue them, simply because I am a woman. But such challenges nances and work under pressure is not recognized. It
can be conquered with perseverance and confidence. is accordingly incumbent on us to support each other,
Younger women in NGOs should not be intimidated by the burden such work may serve as role models for younger women, look for op-
bring. We have the chance to make the world a better place! portunities to promote women in our organizations, and
challenge institutional sexism.
Ruth W. Messinger is the president of American Jewish
World Service, an international development organiza-

Sarah Newhall
tion providing support to more than 300 grassroots
social change projects in Africa, Asia, and the Ameri-
cas. Prior to assuming this role in 1998, Ms. Messinger
President of Pact was in public service in New York City for 20 years.
Washington, DC She serves on the boards of several not-for-profit or-
ganizations, including InterAction. Ms. Messinger has
I am heartened by the increasing number of women in top management positions in in- three children, seven grandchildren, and one great-
ternational development organizations. However, as a group we haven’t always identified grandchild.
our value-added to each other, nor have we done a creative job organizing ourselves to
be a strong voice in shaping development policy and practice. If better organized, we
could also become a powerful force in recommending and supporting emerging women
leaders to fill significant positions. In short, we need more of us. It’s always been a struggle to
maintain a work-life balance, and few international organizations are truly family friendly because
of the demanding nature of our work. To younger women I would say, it’s important to learn the
skill of taking off your managerial hat as you walk through the front door at night. I have noticed
that this is greatly appreciated by my mate when I do.
Sarah Newhall joined Pact in 1992 and became President and CEO in June 2000, overseeing a
period of rapid expansion at Pact. She is a champion of Pact’s WORTH women’s empowerment
program, corporate community partnerships, and advocacy and capacity building with local and
national government institutions. She is the Chairperson of InterAction’s Commission on the Ad-
vancement of Women, Membership and Standards Committee and an InterAction board member.
She is just completing a term as the Chair of the Women’s Edge Coalition.

Sardarni Kuldeep Kaur Camille Wilson
IFES The Combined Disabilities Association
Jaipur, India Kingston, Jamaica
At 72-years-old, Sardarni Kuldeep Kaur is an un- Ms. Camille Wilson, a recent alumna of Mobility International USA’s Women’s Insti-
likely activist. According to India’s 2001 census, tute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) is spearheading a breakthrough project:
the Sikh community Kaur is a member of has Women with Disabilities in Action which targets young women with disabilities in
the lowest ratio of female to male children: 786 rural areas of Jamaica. Working with the Combined Disabilities Association, Ms.
girls to 1,000 boys. Long aware of this prob- Wilson ensures that these women and girls have opportunities and resources to
lem, Kaur was inspired to act after attending a build confidence and take leadership in their communities. “Young women with
workshop sponsored by IFES in 2005 disabilities spend much of their lives desperately trying to measure up to society’s
expectations,” says Ms. Wilson, 23, who is blind. “I learned from a very early age
Kaur created a network called Samooh Stree
that [experiencing] prejudice and discrimination could either hinder or motivate. I
Satsang, comprised of temple-going Sikh wom-
chose to be motivated.” Ms. Wilson’s project brings established women leaders
en who meet to pray and discuss female feticide. The attendees then
with disabilities together as mentors for younger disabled women, to promote
spread the word in their own neighborhoods and ask as many people
leadership skills and to challenge the discrimination that prevents girls with disabil-
as possible to sign an oath stating that they will never kill female chil-
ities, especially those far from urban centers, from receiving education, vocational
dren or allow it to happen. In two years, Kaur has formed 20 such
skills, health care and reproductive information. “I am teaching young women with
women’s groups and her network recently inspired one community
disabilities something invaluable that I learned at WILD: that every person can con-
to dedicate a mass wedding to the issue and obtain oaths from the
tribute greatly to the success of a team. Through this project, rural women with
couples and 1,000 wedding guests.
disabilities will become strong, renewed and positive citizens who will contribute
Kaur’s greatest challenge is trying to change peoples’ mindsets and to to their community and to our country.”
keep working until female feticide is eradicated. “I am not getting any
Ms. Camille Wilson provides lead-
younger,” she said with a smile. The work requires strong partnerships
ership training to women and girls
between Indian and international organizations to tackle issues such
with disabilities in rural areas,
as banning dowries, providing girls with vocational training, changing
heads personal development pro-
the perception that girls are a burden, and spotlighting the issue in
grams for the School for the Blind,
public for a.
and conducts public education
Kaur said although women’s leadership is emerging in India, more campaigns on the rights of people
women must come forward and support each other. “My advice to with disabilities in Jamaica. Ms.
younger women is that they must understand that women can change Wilson has a degree in guidance
the world. They need to discover their strength and power from within counseling. She is married with
themselves and work together to break silences. Even our scriptures one daughter.
say, ‘Why should we talk ill of her, who gives birth to kings?’”

Kimberly A. Hamilton
Anne Lynam Goddard Former president of NetAid
CEO of Christian Children’s Fund Washington, DC
Richmond, Virginia I am deeply inspired by the young women
Sometimes getting ahead in the NGO community who pass through NetAid’s programs every
requires women to jump through hoops. Anne year. Enthusiastic, organized and global,
Lynam Goddard, new President of Christian Chil- these early leaders engage their peers and
dren’s Fund, didn’t miss a beat. When she started communities in discussions about global
working in Africa 25 years ago, very few women poverty, work alongside their male friends
held leadership roles in the humanitarian communi- as peer educators, and deliver results that
ty. Appointed by CARE in 1999 as the first female are, by any measure, extraordinary. They
Country Director in Egypt after 50 years of male balance a dizzying number of demands:
leadership, she says men respected her for her expertise and collaborative friendships, academics, higher education
managerial style. choices and sports. At the same time, they
are more likely than young men to volunteer
Goddard believes that her long career with NGOs, including her recent role as and to choose careers where they can “give
CARE’s Chief of Staff, has prepared her well for her new position. “It gave me back” to society. While these attributes benefit our collective work, they
a level of knowledge and experience at the executive level to understand all also highlight challenges for emerging women leaders and for our sector.
aspects of the organization, to negotiate difficult business decisions and the More than ever, the expectation for young women to be all things to all
challenges that face all international development organizations today.” people is mounting. This means that young women who take a stand
Goddard advises younger women to pursue a number of different NGO jobs on controversial issues, differentiate themselves, and assume multiple
early in their careers, learn all parts of the business, and build their skill set leadership roles may face ostracism by their peers and early burn-out. We
working strategically towards an executive position. She believes humanitarian are all at risk of losing their passion and talents. Before that happens, we
emergencies are a good starting place. “It requires both flexibility and determi- would be wise to help the young women who follow us to find their unique
nation in very difficult settings but offers a lot of opportunity for a wide range voice and style, understand and use their intellectual and political power,
of experience.” and know that tough decisions can also be the right ones.
“I see a pipeline of younger women in the next five to ten years that will fill Kimberly A. Hamilton, PhD, is the former president of NetAid, now an initia-
NGO leadership positions formerly occupied by men. Women must earn their tive of Mercy Corps. NetAid ( works nationally to educate,
stripes for these positions. Fast-tracking women is a real disservice if it means inspire, and empower young people to take action against global poverty
not building a wide base of experience. But American women need to realize throughout their lives. Using technological innovation, peer-to-peer educa-
that moving up overseas may be harder now because many NGOs are hiring tion, and leadership training, NetAid provides the knowledge, perspec-
nationals for leadership positions.” tives, and skills to create new generations of informed global leaders.
Elegy for the Unsung Heroes
By Lynn Heinisch, Press Officer, CARE USA

colleague was murdered last A 25-year veteran
month. He and his wife were of CARE, Geoffrey
carjacked on their way home Chege, was killed
in Nairobi and the thieves shot January 27 in
him. He was 56 years old and the father Nairobi during
of three girls. a carjacking
attempt. Chege
In the last few years, our staff has received directed CARE
too many emails that begin, “With a USA’s programs in
heavy heart, I regret to inform you …” East and Central
About the murder of Margaret Hassan, Africa.
our country director in Iraq, kidnapped Photo: ©CARE
in October 2004 and then killed. About
Robin Needham, country director in
Nepal, who died in Thailand in the 2004
tsunami, shepherding people to higher
ground. About the January 27th killing
of Geoffrey Chege, regional director
for East and Central Africa. All three
devoted their lives to helping others and
had much more they wanted to do. They or memorials outside of station houses. most importantly, they remind us to do
were the kind of people you want to work Our role models are scattered around our best. In a staff memorial service for
with and to have as friends. the globe, often in remote areas, so the Geoffrey, many people referred to him as
Those are just the most public incidents. outside world takes little notice of their our “wise man,” the one we went to for
Another colleague was shot and killed daily feats. But the impact of their loss counsel and for encouragement.
in a camp in Darfur. Six died in Angola is immeasurable, extending well beyond
In “On Angels,” the Polish poet Czeslaw
in December 2003 when their vehicle families, friends and colleagues into the
Milosz wrote:
detonated a landmine. Too many others communities they serve. CARE’s long-
have been killed in road accidents while time security director, a retired U.S.
traveling through treacherous areas to Marine Corps Colonel, recently wrote: I have heard that voice many a time
deliver help. In the last two decades, “I have witnessed more quiet heroics in when asleep
more than 130 CARE employees have this organization than anyone has a right and, what is strange, I understood
died in the line of duty. In 2006, violence to imagine.” more or less
against aid workers reached its highest an order or an appeal in an unearthly
These heroes are not sober Florence
level in a decade. During the year, 83 aid tongue:
Nightingales, toiling away with grim
workers were killed, 78 were wounded determination, weighed down by the
and 52 kidnapped. Most of the deaths day draw near
sorrows of the world. They are often
were in Afghanistan (26), Sri Lanka (23) another one
the ones with the most boisterous
and Sudan (15). do what you can.
laughs, the first ones on the dance floor.
Like others in public service industries, If anything, these folks seem to have
the community of aid workers forges a rare perspective. While some of us They must have heard it too. So, yes, we
strong bonds in the bleakest situations get bogged down by life’s frustrations mourn. We will remember. And, if we
—wars, famines, floods, earthquakes, and focus on the setbacks, people like are wise like they were, we will do what
grinding poverty. Yet, unlike soldiers, Geoffrey seem to get the big picture we can. It is the truest way to honor and
firefighters and police officers, there is and live with optimism and faith. They build upon the legacy of people who
no formal process for honoring those encourage us to grab life while we can, have blessed our world.
who have fallen. We have no folded flags appreciate its joys, and make the most
of the moments we are given. Perhaps

MARCH 2007 23
Empowering Women to Lead
and Succeed in Microfinance
By Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy, U.S. Army (retired), Opportunity
International Board of Advisors

uring the 1980s, the Army was in the midst of a
complete transformation of its equipment, doctrine, HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
logistics and leadership development. The Army knew
it needed to prepare its soldiers of that era to become a Meets human capital needs through women’s leadership
leaders of the rapidly changing world and into the 21st century. development.
Part of that transformation was redefining the role of women as
a Supports training and staff development through fundraising.
leaders and as integrated members of the U.S. Army. The same
is true today for the microfinance industry. As the sector enters a Focuses on both staff and client measurement.
a phase of commercialization and rapid expansion, microfinance
a Based on metrics and a clear tracking system.
organizations must transform in order to develop future leaders
in banking and finance.
Just as the American military led the country in breaking
The campaign began with broad organizational research in
down the racial walls that divided us and also was a pioneer in
2005. Results from an assessment of Opportunity International
overcoming the gender barrier, Opportunity International is
programs indicated that the organization’s network of programs,
determined to invest in human resource development and gender
offices and partners was not reaching its goal of gender equity in
equity through initiatives such as the Leadership, Empowerment,
leadership positions such as loan officers, local board members
Access and Development (LEAD) campaign. LEAD, a campaign
and managers, even though 86 percent of Opportunity
which I advise and support as a member of the Opportunity
International’s clients are women. This is a common trend
International Board of Advisors, is a program to identify and train
among microfinance organizations, which often lack women
thousands of senior and mid-level managers in the 28 countries
in governance, management and operations. Consequently,
where Opportunity International operates. I am proud to have
women’s voices and perspectives are not always incorporated into
been a part in the evolution of the United States Army, and I
the design and implementation of products and services. Many
am proud now to support Opportunity International’s efforts to
microfinance institutions would like to achieve gender equity but
cultivate and train its women leaders.
struggle with the many demands on their resources.
A global microfinance organization founded in 1971,
LEAD builds on the framework established by Opportunity
Opportunity International faces the same challenges hindering
International’s official gender policy to achieve greater gender
many microfinance organizations in developing countries,
equity which calls for women to hold:
particularly many in Africa. These include the need for new
skills across the emerging, globalized workforce and the cultural a At least 40 percent of middle and senior management staff
exclusion of women from business. During this period of rapid positions.
growth, the microfinance industry’s need for leadership may a A minimum of 25 percent of the network’s local board
not be able to keep up without significant, deliberate effort. seats.
Commercialization and regulation of microfinance create
greater need for high-level bankers and information technology The LEAD campaign addresses the talent issue facing international
professionals as well as chief financial officers and experienced microfinance organizations through the recruitment and training
human resources managers. However, microfinance institutions of a previously untapped resource—women. Opportunity
are challenged to find qualified workers because educated International acknowledges that it does not have enough human
professionals often emigrate to more economically advanced capital to grow rapidly without increasing the participation
countries. In addition, while women in developing countries of women in all levels of the organization. Therefore, the
are well suited to be microfinance leaders, they are traditionally LEAD campaign aims to facilitate the growth of Opportunity
excluded from formal education and leadership positions. International by calling for women to fill 65 percent of all loan
To address this, Opportunity International developed the LEAD officer positions within Opportunity International’s network
campaign in 2006 to raise $10 million to invest in 5,700 leaders and to significantly increase the number of women at the senior
and decision-makers through training and recruitment by 2010. management level.
This strategic initiative incorporates disparate components We are closing the gender gap. Opportunity International
—professional development for clients, staff and local boards, measures the percentage of women in leadership positions
client measurement and gender awards—all to achieve gender throughout the entire network each quarter. As of December

2006, women represented:

a 52 percent of Opportunity International’s total staff. STEPS OF THE LEAD CAMPAIGN
a 42 percent of senior management.
a 51 percent of senior loan officers. Increase Leadership
a 47 percent of loan officers. a Develop leadership from top to bottom, beginning with the
a 25 percent of the network’s local board seats. highest ranks of the organization—training senior and mid-level
The percentages of women holding various leadership positions
have surpassed the objectives set by Opportunity International’s a Teach skills necessary to run a formal financial institution rather
gender policy and are close to reaching the goal of gender equity. than an NGO.
These statistics, however, represent aggregate data for all network
partners; many partners are still working to reach the enhanced Empower Staff and Clients
gender equity standards set by LEAD.
a Implement grassroots-level empowerment and training
While the initial focus of the LEAD campaign was on staff programs to ensure that programs meet women’s needs.
development, Opportunity International realizes that its largely
female client base is a key component to the continuing success a Carry out market research to determine what services the
of the network, not only because they are the reason the poor are looking for and how to train, retain and empower high-
organization exists, but also because successful clients signal a quality loan officers.
successful program. As well, over the years, many of Opportunity
International’s best loan officers have started out as clients. Broaden Access – Especially for Women
LEAD includes a Client Impact Information Management a Provide access and special opportunities for women leaders
System (CIIMS) that collects data on 54 categories including through professional development, including traditional and
finance (e.g. savings, loans and insurance), demographics, access non-traditional education and training.
to utilities, education for children, business activity, savings,
autonomy in decision-making, health, community participation a Monitor leadership potential and foster mentor relationships to
and client satisfaction—all disaggregated by gender. Opportunity enable succession of women throughout the organization.
International sees CIIMS as a means to determine the effects of
microfinance services on clients and to identify ways to improve Develop and Train Management
a Invest in long-term training and development efforts to ensure
The LEAD campaign also incorporates an incentive system by organizational sustainability and growth.
offering Gender Excellence Awards, which provides $10,000
grants to Opportunity International partners that exhibit a Promote the role of key HR leaders who will then invest in their
excellent gender equity in the composition and development of own organizations.
their leadership and general staffing. The Awards are presented
annually at a high-profile event that places a strong emphasis
on sharing best practices with others in the network. In 2006,
ASKI (Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc.), an Opportunity International
partner in the Philippines, won the Gender Excellence Award and MUST-HAVE RESOURCES
used the award grant to promote work-life balance for women in
“Empowering Women Through Microcredit,”
leadership positions.
Microcredit Summit Campaign, 2002 (Susy Cheston
To date, Opportunity International has raised $2 million & Lisa Kuhn)
towards its goal of $10 million by 2010 to support the LEAD
campaign by 2010. I believe women deserve the opportunity
to be empowered through education and leadership positions in
order to better serve the poor through microfinance. But more “’Just the Facts, Ma’am’-Gender Stories from
important is the improvement to microfinance’s business success Unexpected Sources with Morals for Microfinance,”
that will be achieved when we call upon all sources of talent— Microcredit Summit Campaign, 2006. (Susy
including women—for leadership. Cheston)
Claudia J. Kennedy is the first woman to achieve the rank of three-star
general in the United States Army, taking her from the Women’s Army
Corps in the late 1960s to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Revealing the Power of Gender Mainstreaming
Intelligence in 1997–2000. She oversaw policies and operations affecting (InterAction)
45,000 people stationed worldwide with a budget of nearly $1 billion. She
has been named to a list of “Best Women Role Models” and Vanity Fair’s
“Most Influential.” General Kennedy serves on the Board of Advisors of
Opportunity International.
CAW’s Gender Audit Facilitator’s Guide CD.
Opportunity International, a global microfinance organization founded in (InterAction)
1971, is committed to improving the lives of the extremely poor. Serving
over 900,000 poor entrepreneurs in 28 developing countries, Opportunity
International is a pioneer in offering small business loans, training in basic
business practices, counseling in personal development and other financial
services to women and men living in extreme poverty.

MARCH 2007 25
An Effective Tool for Organizational
By Meredith Richardson, Principal, Southern Cross Associates

xperts in gender and development agree that promoting
women’s empowerment needs a two-pronged strategy:
targeted women specific initiatives and integration WHAT IS GENDER MAINSTREAMING?
of gender equality in all planning and programming. In 1997, the UN Economic and Social Council fullys defines gender
Gender integration or gender mainstreaming, which became mainstreaming in this way: Mainstreaming a gender perspective is
a priority after the 1995 Fourth World Women’s Conference,
the process of assessing the implications for women and men of
has been under considerable scrutiny in recent years. Critics say
any planned action, including legislation, policies or programs, in
that gender mainstreaming hasn’t worked or that it has in fact
any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making the concerns
“disappeared” a gender equality agenda. Gender mainstreaming,
however, is a large basket that includes many different approaches. and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the
This article examines one strategy which shows how gender design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and
mainstreaming can in fact be a force for women’s empowerment programs in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that
and gender equality. women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated.
InterAction’s Gender Audit, an organizational self-assessment The ultimate goal of mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality.
and action planning process, has been effectively used by many (Agreed Conclusions, 1997/2)
InterAction members. The Gender Audit is designed to build
the capacity of international development and humanitarian
assistance organizations to systematically integrate gender a An organizational culture that promotes and practices
equality throughout their field programs and in organizational gender equality.
structures and processes. In 2003, the CAW developed a five- Since 1995, Plan has had a program in place to integrate a gender
day course to train participants on how to facilitate the Gender perspective at every level of program/project management
Audit process in their own organizations. In addition, a one-day cycle for itself and its partners. In 2004, in support of that
introductory workshop was also created for those that want to effort, Plan Asia, which has extensive programs in 15 countries,
learn more about the process. Since its inception, seven courses commissioned a regional gender survey using the InterAction
and four workshops have been offered to over 200 participants Gender Audit to determine the status of gender-related policy,
from 144 organizations. InterAction member organizations that practice and attitudes in its work, and to gather information to
have undergone the process have noted the transformational frame its own regional gender strategy in alignment with Plan’s
effect the Gender Audit has had on institutional processes and global gender equality protocol.
on the lives of the women and men they serve in communities
The survey found that Plan Asia had the structure, resources
around the world.
and will necessary to integrate gender equality into its work,
A Case Study: Plan Asia’s Experience but needed to take additional steps to achieve this goal in an
efficient and systematic manner. It also found female respondents
with the Gender Audit tended to view their country offices’ achievements in relation to
Plan, an international humanitarian, child-centred, development gender less favorably than did their male colleagues, and that
organization without religious, political or governmental males and females viewed gender differently and had different
affiliation, believes that gender equality is central to achieving levels of comfort in Plan based on their gender—regardless
its goals. Plan’s Gender Equality Protocol states, “Through of their seniority or length of tenure with the organization.
our daily work, we see the negative impacts on boys and girls Operationally, the survey concluded that training the staff (and
of gender-based discrimination, gender power relations and the making them gender sensitive) was the most important factor
denial of women’s rights.” Plan believes that gender equity leads to ensure gender equality, followed by further attention to the
to gender equality and defines gender equity as “the process of formulation of gender equality strategy, operational planning
being fair to women and men, boys and girls. To ensure fairness, and budgeting, and the creation of a gender unit or appointment
measures must often be available to compensate for historical of gender equality specialists.
and social disadvantages that prevent women and men, girls and In response, Plan Asia set itself the goal of becoming role model
boys from otherwise operating on a level playing field.” Plan for gender equality practices and developed the following
therefore strives to ensure: principles:
a All its programs address gender-based discrimination. a To be an organization where women and mean enjoy equal
a Equal participation of women and men, girls and boys, in treatment and opportunities; where systems and proce-
activities and decision-making processes that affect their dures enable such equality to flourish; and where a nurtur-
lives. ing, safe and non-discriminating environment prevails.

a To advocate for gender equality and cooperate with other a Disaggregated by gender the majority of program data sets.
organizations for enhanced gender understanding and a Incorporated a gender equality clause into the Memoran-
greater gender mainstreaming. dum of Agreement for partners and into consultant and
a To ensure that everyone in the organization is familiar with service agreements.
gender equality concepts; that men and women work in a Implemented various family-friendly policies such as four
true partnership and treat each other fairly. months’ maternity leave and allowances for travel and
a In its work in the communities, to address gender equal- accommodations of babies and one companion staff for
ity issues and to eliminate gender-based discrimination nursing mothers.
through gender analysis and integration of gender con- a Integrated gender equality into Plan’s institutional video
cerns in all its programs. To work towards a world where and made routine the checking of all publications to ensure
every individual is trusted, respected and provided all the gender sensitivity.
opportunities to attain their maximum potential irrespec- a Created a separate budget code and line for gender equal-
tive of their gender. ity activities and on-going monitoring of budget alloca-
In 2005, Plan Asia committed to the following measures to
implement these principles: In other innovations, Plan Bangladesh has formed a gender and
child rights network. Plan’s West Africa Regional Director has
a Continue the operations of the Gender Task Force (GTF)
also been a champion, adapting many of the lessons learned in
that had conducted the survey to advocate for and support
the implementation of Plan Asia’s gender policy and strat-
egy. Plan is now considering a longer-term evaluation to measure
a Recruit and employ a Regional Gender Advisor (RGA) to the extent to which these steps have achieved the actual results
ensure the adequate gender technical expertise and ongo- envisioned in its gender equality protocol.
ing support.
a Hire a country gender advisor for each country office to
Source: Plan Asia Regional Gender Audit: Results from Focus Group
ensure gender competency in country operations and pro-
Discussions, December 2004 to January 2005; Manila, February 2005 —
Lydia Domingo.
a In each country, use consultative workshops to develop
specific gender integration objectives, plans, and budgets
to implement the Gender Audit.
a Include attention to gender awareness competencies, and
gender practice management and programming integration Southern Cross Associates is a network of international
in job descriptions and performance reviews for a variety of consultants in organizational effectiveness. Southern Cross
program, country and regional level positions. Associates provides each client with consultative, training
a Ensure the job description and performance review of each and change management services in strategic impact, lead-
manager and supervisor include implementation of human ership, gender and diversity, human resources and capacity
resources policies and procedures for an environment that building. The approach of Southern Cross Associates en-
supports gender equality. sures that we identify and augment the capabilities of our
a Comprehensively integrate gender into programming clients and transfer our capacities. Southern Cross Associ-
(implementation, monitoring and evaluation) and ensure ates uses a change management approach with interven-
equal prioritization of Plan’s gender equality principles
tions based on thorough analysis, field based experience,
a Partner with groups that share its commitment to gender
and the use of the most appropriate tools for its clients. Its
equality, influence change in groups that do not yet share
creative processes engage the spirit and expertise of our
its commitment, and emphasize the link between gender
clients’ people. Southern Cross Associates team members
equality and child rights in campaigning, advocacy and
communications. coach and train clients so that they identify issues and own
the results.
Two years later, steady progress on the implementation of
the survey recommendations has been across the region. The Southern Cross Associates is led by Meredith Richardson,
GTF continues to provide on-going implementation support. who has a background in operations management, staff
Every Plan Asia country office has appointed either a Gender and organization capacity building, gender equity and
Advisor or assigned responsibility for gender matters to a diversity, and human resources. She designs processes
staff member. Moreover, the offices have implemented the and facilitates strategic impact conferences, retreats and
other recommendations in a variety of innovative and country workshops for groups as diverse as village women, church
appropriate ways. The following example from the Philippines is leaders and senior corporate executives. She is the creator
indicative of the progress of all the country offices: of the Participatory Institutional Assessment, a framework
a Adapted the vision for gender equality and developed a to measure NGO capability and plan for capacity building.
seven-point plan for immediate implementation. Southern Cross Associates draws upon an experienced net-
a Added responsiveness to its basic project planning docu- work of associates with expertise in civil society and peace-
ment in the review checklist and incorporated gender into building, resource mobilization, gender and human rights,
its Participatory Rural Appraisal tools. financial and risk management, leadership development
a Hired a Gender Advisor and conducted gender analysis and coaching, organization development, and intercultural
and gender sensitivity training for staff. and diversity management.

MARCH 2007 27
Peer Exchanges: AJWS’ Strategy for
Mutual Empowerment
By American Jewish World Service
In 2006, American Jewish World Service was one of several organizations
awarded funds from the Nike Foundation’s Grassroots Girls Initiative (GGI). The
GGI focuses on adolescent girls, a vulnerable and often neglected population
in development programs. This initiative seeks to provide a holistic approach
to help adolescent girls thrive by focusing on education, health and security,
economic rights, social rights, and leadership development.
AJWS granted GGI funds to grassroots organizations in Ethiopia, India and Ke-
nya to empower girls, create safe spaces, and help them become agents of
change in their communities. Projects include designing social support networks
and leadership training for Ethiopian girls, promoting economic empowerment
for tsunami-affected Indian girls, and operating peer education programs on
HIV/AIDS for Kenyan
In-country and cross-
national exchanges
among grantees are
a unique and excit-
ing feature of AJWS’
participation with this
initiative. Adapted
from a model by
Groots International,
peer exchanges
GEM Certificate Training bring together field
workers, community
May 28 – June 1 Photo: courtesy of AJWS
volunteers and or-
ganizational staff to
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia share information,
compare objectives and strategies, and define areas of mutual support. New
Pact Ethiopia has organized a GEM Certificate solutions often emerge for participants as they inspire one another with in-
training program on “Appreciative Inquiry” in collab- novations and successes.
oration with GEM Institute and Innovation Partners Given that gender discrimination pervades every region of the world, AJWS
International for the last four years. They are again has found that one of the best ways to energize women is to give them a
chance to come together and showcase their own work. Through peer ex-
offering this course from May 28 to June 1, 2007 changes, AJWS helps to break down isolation, create synergies, and assist
at the Ethiopian Red Cross Training Center, Addis women as they work together to transform their lives.
Ababa, Ethiopia. Participants from Ethiopia and During the past few years through its core grant making program, AJWS has
other African countries in the previous training pro- brought together African women to share stories and ideas for improving HIV
prevention and care strategies for people living with HIV/AIDS. In Kenya, peer
grams have “appreciated” the positive change they exchanges allowed participants to share recipes for developing nutritional
acquired in their personal as well as professional supplements for nursing mothers and pregnant women as well as people living
life due to the training on AI. This gave them the with HIV/AIDS. Women and youth agricultural workers in Central America met
to share cultivation strategies. In each of these exchanges, women shared
chance to join an African regional learning commu- their wisdom and experiences and brought back new ideas and approaches
nity of Appreciative Inquiry practitioners. to their communities. They became role models for each other, affirmed each
other as leaders, and motivated each other to do even more.
Contact: Aster Birke, Pact Ethiopia, at abirke@ AJWS is now developing peer exchanges with GGI grantees, including a or Ada Jo Mann, Innovation Partners planned exchange among the organizations in India and another that brings
together organizations in Ethiopia and Kenya. The organizations involved have
International at begun the process of selecting topics and strategizing about the formats.
The peer exchanges themselves will begin in early 2008 with group meetings,
Registration deadline: April 2 visits to participating organizations and issue-specific trainings, such as legal
rights and peer education in reproductive health.

Victims No More:
Honduran Women
Speak Out on Domestic
By Christina Green, Project HOPE
Sonia became a role model in her community,
balancing her family and business while providing
answers to women with questions about health.
But as her social status grew, so too did the
bruises under her clothes.
Like so many men in the machismo dominated
Honduran society, her husband didn’t like her
newfound confidence as a small business owner,
even though her profits were used to help their
family. Unfortunately, like so many women, Sonia
saw no alternative but to endure the beatings
and insults.
Photo: courtesy of Project HOPE
Until 1997, assaulting a wife or a girlfriend wasn’t
considered a crime in Honduras. One year after
the Law Against Domestic Violence took effect “We began with casual training sessions, TV fo- “On occasion, during workshops some men were
—making domestic violence and sexual harass- rums and radio spots about claiming justice and not in agreement with the content of the educa-
ment criminal offenses—approximately 3,000 the law against domestic violence,” explained tion, stating that their wives could denounce
women who filed complaints under protection Marco Antonio Suazo, Project HOPE Country Di- them as a result of the information being pro-
of the new law were still waiting for their day in rector for Honduras. vided and that they could resolve these issues at
court. home,” said Suazo. “The concept that the man
With support from fellow VHB members and
has the right to treat his wife or partner however
Unfortunately, domestic violence still remains staff, Sonia filed a denouncement with the Family
he pleases, machismo, was evident in the work-
commonplace today. According to the United Na- Court soon after being chased out of her home
shops as some men did not want to be educated
tions Population Fund’s State of the World Popu- by her husband. She joined a support group pro-
on this topic.”
lation 2005 report, “In Honduras, almost one in moted by Project HOPE and facilitated by one of
six women over age 14 reports having been the its partners, the Family Counsels of the Secre- “On the other hand, some men began to change
victim of physical violence.” While official Hon- tary of Public Health. She also participated in a their attitudes just knowing their wives were
duran statistics estimate incidents of domestic course for legal promoters and other educational learning about domestic violence, according to
violence occur every 45 minutes, unofficial data events on domestic violence. members’ testimonies,” he said. “Regardless,
compiled by women’s organizations show that the disclosure of informative materials and the
Under leadership of survivors like Sonia, VHB
the actual rate is closer to every 20 minutes. training of promoters and community trainers on
members began coordinating public outreach
domestic violence in the community added to
A Safe Haven events to raise awareness about domestic vio-
the education received through the VHB, allow-
lence and promote ways to end it. These events
When the law was approved, Project HOPE had ing women to learn to value themselves and their
included community leaders, the police, legal
already been working for three years in San rights and to improve their self-esteem.”
workers, women’s rights organizations and do-
Pedro Sula, Honduras, with low income women mestic abuse survivors. A Chance for a Happier Ending
through its Village Health Bank (VHB) program
—an innovative combination of micro-credit and The Other Side of the Issue Today Sonia is a leader in her community as the
health education to teach women how to use President of Communal Board, the main commu-
Reactions from men were mixed. “Some of the
their new income to make healthy decisions for nity organization in her village, and is recognized
members’ partners did not look well on the do-
themselves and their families. as a person who can help in cases of domestic
mestic violence education that the women were
violence. She facilitates domestic violence edu-
Recognizing the VHB meetings as a safe place receiving, believing that it was better for them to
cation at health fairs promoted by Project HOPE.
to discuss sensitive issues like their bodies, safe remain ignorant on the subject,” said Suazo.
Most importantly, she has learned to put an end
sex, and how to claim their right to make de- To help men become more comfortable with the to domestic violence in her life and lives happily
cisions about their own health and that of their complexities of personal and legal issues related on her own with her children.
children, participants began inquiring about their to domestic violence, HOPE began inviting them
right to a safe, secure home. At the VHB mem- To learn more about Project HOPE and the Village
to activities. As expected, some men expressed
bers’ request, Project HOPE began gradually Health Bank program, visit us online at
anger at such frank discussions about where
introducing education about women’s rights in
women can seek help, including legal protec-
abusive relationships into its VHB curriculum. tion.

MARCH 2007 29