By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver
What do digital storytelling, gender budget analysis and social media outreach have in common? They were each showcased at the recent AWID International Forum as powerful mechanisms to bring about real social change for girls and women around the world.
The forum was vast and incredibly diverse, with an overarching theme of “Transforming Economic Power to Advance Women’s Rights and Justice”. Over 2,000 participants from civil society organizations, youth advocacy groups, media outlets, research institutes and artistic collectives gathered from around the world for this monumental event.
I attended on behalf of Women Deliver to moderate a panel entitled “Invest in Women: It pays!”, and to gather ideas for our upcoming conference in May 2013. This panel featured Dr. Mabel Bianco, iconic feminist, medical doctor and President of Fundacion Para Estudio y Investigacion de la Mujer (FEIM); Patricia Munabi, Executive Director of Uganda-based Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE); and Ana Maria Enriquez, Chief, UN WOMEN Fund for Gender Equality.
Mabel Bianco presented on women’s health and empowerment in Latin America, with a look at progress made around reproductive health reforms including access to contraceptives and safe abortion services. She also highlighted areas of continued challenge and the need for increased advocacy in the region. Her powerpoint is available HERE.
Patricia Munabi discussed the advocacy work of FOWODE in Uganda for greater access tohealth for girls and women, particularly those in low-resource settings. She underlined the vital connection between health, education and empowerment, and demonstrated the positive impact of these rights on families and communities.
Ana Maria Enriquez presented on the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, an innovative funding mechanism designed to bring resources to the women that need them most. Through Women’s Political Empowerment and Women’s Economic Empowerment grants, the UN Women fund provides $200,000-$1 million in funding for women’s community-based, national or regional non-governmental organizations.
Women Deliver also announced the upcoming launch of a new funding platform for girls and women, which will launch in September 2012.
After the panel, I had the opportunity to participate in the plenary and breakout sessions. High-level plenary sessions featured speakers such as Yakin Erturk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; Rebecca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator; Ester Mwauru-Muiri, Founder of the urban slam advocacy group GROOTS Kenya; and Radhika Balakrishnan, Exectutive Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
Breakout session topics varied from deconstructions of beauty myths to Middle Eastern feminist advocacy efforts to nonconventional tactics for providing women with access to reproductive health services. Evening activities included film screenings, a staged reading of a play on queer Arab women, and AWID’s anniversary party.
All in all, the forum was an incredibly inspiring reminder of the power that comes from convening powerful stakeholders to work together for social change. I was excited to learn of all the different forms advocacy can take- from empowering women to tell their own stories through digital storytelling, to marching through city streets demanding equal rights, to convincing donors to allocate greater funding to supporting girls and women. Thank you to AWID for an amazing job in putting this conference together!
AWID Forum 2012: Intersecting Arts, Empowerment and Advocacy
May 2nd, 2012
By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver