LatinaLista — Women helping women. It’s not a new concept and one that is practiced on a daily basis in every neighborhood around the world. Yet, it’s not as often that women from around the world come together to lend their support and voice for a particular group of women, who by the constraints of their own culture, politics or geography, have had their voices drowned out on the global stage.
It’s precisely that reason that a special group of women are now visiting the Thai-Burma border, South Sudan and Chad. They are the Nobel Women’s Initiative’s (NWI) women’s rights delegation and they are visiting this region of the world to “amplify women’s efforts for peace and justice, with a view to promoting effective resolutions to the political crises facing both Sudan and Burma.”
Nobel Women’s Initiative visits and listens to Burmese women.
This group of special women includes: Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997), Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate, 2004 and Mia Farrow, activist and actor. Delegation members include:
Dr. Sima Samar – United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan
Qing Zhang – Chinese Labour Activist
Reverend Gloria White-Hammond – co-founder of My Sister’s Keeper, a humanitarian women’s
group that partners with women in Sudan.
So far on the trip, the delegation has been in Bangkok and along the Thai-Burma border through Chiang Mai and Mae Sot meeting with women and grassroots groups. Last week in Thailand, the women held an event at Chiang Mai University where they met with Thai women of various ethnic minorities and women from Burma. Then they participated in a four-hour seminar before an audience of 700 people.
The delegation is gathering testimonies from women who are survivors of a recent cyclone, along with, members of women’s groups, prisoner rights groups and civil society organizations. The delegation is hearing stories that all too often never leave the region of these respective countries.
To share what they are learning, a blog has been set up at the NWI website with links to delegation photos posted online.
Women’s rights is a topic that should interest all women. The NWI is asking all women to support the delegation by reading their blog posts, supplying ideas on how to promote the delegation to local networks and joining the NWI on Facebook.
In the latest blog post, delegation leader Jody Williams reflects on one stop along her route which underscores the need for the rest of the world’s women to be the voices for those who aren’t heard:
The sky is full of clouds and it is raining this morning in Addis – not a surprise as this is the rainy season here and no one should complain given the famine gripping parts of Ethiopia because of the drought that has hit the eastern and southeastern parts of the country bordering Kenya and Somalia.
The combination of lack of rain devastating food production in the region and skyrocketing global food prices which affect relief operations makes for a very dismal situation. Some reports indicate that over ten million people are in varying degrees affected by the drought. Ethiopia’s population is 80 million. I don’t know if the rain is finally reaching the drought-affected areas, but hope that it is the case.
As I sat down to start writing, I could hear the sound of the morning call to prayer wafting through the air from a distant mosque somewhere in the city. To me it sounded a bit mournful, but it was also beautiful.