By Beth O’Connell
“Life for women in Bolivia is difficult. ‘Machismo’ culture is deeply entrenched. Sexism, misogyny, and violence are everyday occurrences. Many women are economically inactive and have limited job opportunities.”
So explains Calixta Choque Churata, leader of a project in Bolivia for women which is supported by the International Women’s Convocation. It gives women marketable skills, like sewing, baking or hairdressing, to build confidence and economic independence and to challenge patriarchal norms.
This is just one example of the work the IWC does in connection with UU and Unitarian communities around the world to support grassroots women leaders and locally based, women-led initiatives that can effect transformative change.
The IWC has helped design and direct, or co-sponsor and raise funds, for projects that empower women, especially in cultures where they are marginalized and often victims of domestic violence. Some of these projects include:
- a micro-loan program in Mutundwe Village, Kampala, Uganda
- a five-module leadership school for Unitarian women and grants to local empowerment projects inTransylvania
- a six-module leadership development program in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in India
- a violence awareness and prevention program in UU communities in the Philippines
- a violence awareness and prevention program in Unitarian communities in India.
And now the IWC is taking its mission to empower women to the global stage. It has been granted special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the highest status bestowed upon non-governmental organizations by the UN. The IWC has an official voice to speak up for advancing the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal no. 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
From March 9–20, IWC members will take part in the 64th session of the Committee on the Status of Women, which is marking the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), at UN headquarters in New York City. It will also host a parallel event showing the grassroots initiatives that are at the heart of IWC.
EUU has generously given donations to the IWC, and if you or your fellowship would like to make a contribution, please contact IWC board member Beth O’Connell at email@example.com or visit the website at www.intlwomensconvo.org. March 8 is International Women’s Day and an ideal time to show global support and solidarity.