International Women’s Day 2011
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The Hunger Project (THP) celebrated International Women’s Day (acknowledged by the United Nations) on 8th March throughout the world. This year’s one hundredth celebration was particularly special. Here are some of the highlights:
THP-Malawi was invited to present in a national celebration of Malawi’s International Women’s Day themed: Equal Access to Education, Training, Science and Technology and Assurance of Safe Motherhood and Total Empowerment for Women and the Girl Child. Among the attendees was honorary guest, First Lady Madam Callista Mutharika.
Led by Mrs. Edina Chikulo, THP-Malawi’s Microfinance Programme Officer, women from THP-Malawi’s Nsondole savings and credit cooperative (SACCO) were able to present their many successes directly to the First Lady. By taking active leadership roles in the SACCO, these women have been empowered to achieve self-reliance and contribute to the development of their homes and communities. In addition to their financial successes, an HIV/AIDS animator shared how the women have a new voice in their sexuality and family planning thanks to the distribution of female condoms, a programme heralded by the First Lady herself.
“For women, every day, every human right. With women, we build a stronger Mexico.” Such was the motto of the official International Women’s Day event attended by THP-Mexico and organised by the National Women’s Institute and the Mexican Government. President Felipe Calderón and the First Lady, Margarita Zavala participated and offered their continued commitment to the empowerment of women.
The event concluded with a panel consisting of the First Lady, a representative from UN Women and a representative of the Gender Equality Monitor. With only five percent of Municipal Presidents being women and the challenges of overcoming gender obstacles at the local level, the panel made a call to action for all Mexicans to work toward the social, economic and political empowerment of women.
THP-Bangladesh continued its annual tradition with The National Girl Child Advocacy Forum-led multi-organisational event in honour of International Women’s Day. This year’s event was intended to raise awareness of the international theme of Equal Access to Education, Training, Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women.
Organised around the two main presentations, a parliamentary style debate and an award ceremony, the event was presided over by Tahera Afroze, Lecturer at Badrunnessa Women’s College and Nasima Akhter Jolly, Secretary of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum and Deputy Country Director of THP-Bangladesh. Speeches were given by Forum President and THP-Bangladesh Country Director, Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar; Latifa Akand, retired professor of Dhaka University and member of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum; Rafiqul Islam Sharkar, Director of Baishakhi TV; and the guest of honour, Promod Mankin, State Minister of the Ministry of Culture. All presenters emphasised the immediate need to move forward in establishing a society free from discrimination and repression.
Soniya Akhter Brishti from the Acid Survivors’ Foundation presented on female empowerment, gender equity, violence against women and concerns about the rising numbers of acid victim. Following her presentation, State Minister Mankin emphasised the government’s commitment to the constitution and the elimination of systematic barriers to women’s empowerment. He expressed his disapproval of the patriarchal system currently in place and the hindrance to women’s development it creates.
The topic of the debate was “Only Economic Development Can Ensure Female Empowerment” and it was moderated by Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiran, the Chairman of the Debate for Democracy Society. A team of five students from Dhaka Residential Model School and College spoke in support of the statement while a team from BAF Shahin School and College spoke opposing it.
The concluding award ceremony honoured three women — Biva Shangma, Kumudini Hajong and Shimul Yousuf — for their notable work on issues of women’s empowerment.
Other activities included the singing of the National Anthem and other songs by several groups of students and a number of impromptu speeches from inspired audience members. Representatives from various social and cultural organisations, members and representatives of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, teachers, parents and students from various educational institutions were in enthusiastic attendance.
THP was on the Host Committee for the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet celebrating International Women’s Day at the Mercy Corps Action Centre to End World Hunger in New York, NY. The evening featured a screening of the film ‘Sisters on the Planet’, on the movement to invest in women and fight hunger around the world, as well as a hunger banquet, a powerful way for people to experience inequalities around the world and understand the impact of policy on poverty. Among the more than a dozen other hosting organisations were Amnesty International and Bread for the World. About 200 people, including THP investors and staff, attended the very successful event.
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