Gender Equality

First FAWCO NGO Forum Event at CSW63

March 14, 2019

Realizing the 2030 Agenda requires mobilizing resources, talents and goodwill. People around the world are stepping up to the challenge, making contributions, filling gaps and providing services for people in need, leaving no one behind. When governments don't provide adequate social services, people fall through the cracks, and may not be able to access needed services. Why? Political decisions not to provide services to certain groups of people, discrimination against marginalized groups, lack of resources or capacity, or corruption. In January while I was developing the concept for this event, I saw a front page article in the NY Times: “As government pulls back, charities step in to help released migrants” — a reminder that when disadvantaged people fall through the cracks, NGOs provide for their needs, even in the US.

When we recognize unmet needs, people don’t wait for the government to solve problems. We respond and take action with people-centered, self-reliant approaches, based on human connections and self-organization. 
At an NGO Forum event at CSW63, a panel of FAWCO women who work with NGOs in their communities described their experiences of the challenges and rewards of partnerships. We started out by acknowledging that we are women of privilege, able to mobilize resources and tap in to the power of the FAWCO global women's network of commitment and generosity, giving back to our communities,.

The panelists were FAWCO members who provide hands-on services, creative leadership and financial resources to organizations delivering housing, water supply, maternal and child health, education and vocational training and psychosocial support in Cambodia, India, Kenya and Jordan. 

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Yolanda Henry (FAUSA) works with the Tabitha Project in rural Cambodia to help break the cycle of poverty, providing housing, savings, water and rural development, as well as a newly-opened hospital for women in need. Tabitha developed a cottage industry project which employs 200 women. Housebuilding groups of volunteers from around the world were inspired to get involved in fundraising and awareness raising. Tabitha‘s Wells for Clean Water project received FAWCO Target Project funding from 2011-2013, and thousands of families benefitted. Many were able to send their children to school - girls and boys. A hospital for women and girls opened in late March 2019. Through Tabitha’s programs, over half a million families have been able to improve their lives.

Dorothy Wagle (AIWC Mumbai) works with National Maternal and Child Health (NMCH) in Mumbai, India. NMCH has half a million beneficiaries and plans to expand to serve over seven million. Pre- and post-natal care, especially nutrition for women and their babies in the first 1000 days, enable them to achieve their full potential physically and intellectually, making them more productive citizens. NMCH works with provincial government agencies, complementing government services to help them develop better programs. 

Claire Mathijsen (AAWE Paris) and Elizabeth Tunoi, her lifelong friend, were disturbed by the high rate of youth unemployment in their rural area. They founded  Rafiki Ya Maisha, to provide vocational education and training in rural Kenya. 75% of people under age 30 were long-term unemployed, but the area lacked skilled workers. Rafiki now offers training in trades such as electricians, plumbers, secretaries. They have learned through the support coming from the outside world that somebody somewhere is thinking about them. Claire has tapped her network of FAWCO and other friends to mobilize funds for Rafiki. Rafiki has provided young people in rural Kenya with the most priceless commodity of all: hope. 

Honorary FAWCO member Amanda Lane is Executive Director of Collateral Repair Project (CRP) in Amman, Jordan, a community center serving the needs of urban refugees. CRP’s Hope Beyond Displacement project was the FAWCO Target Project from 2017-2019. CRP’s programs respond to the basic needs of refugee families and promotes social cohesion between refugees and Jordanians. Refugees who receive services from CRP are now helping other refugees, by volunteering in the center. This helps to increase their sense of self worth, rebuilding confidence and self esteem, skills building, leadership, self care and wellness, and learning tools to deal with stress. 

The common thread running through the presentations was that the women who got involved with the four NGOs initially provided hands-on assistance, then made connections with their clubs and networks, and applied for and received Development Grants from the FAWCO Foundation. Tabitha in Cambodia and CRP in Jordan both became Target Projects and received significant funding support from FAWCO member clubs, mobilizing additional resources. 

FAWCO members also engage in advocacy, calling on governments to provide services and improve policies. NGO support to provide services for communities in need 
should not take the place of government investments in sustainable development, but be complementary and work in partnership. The message of the event was that a combination of individual commitment and hands-on work with FAWCO fundraising can make a real difference to NGOs delivering critical social and community services. Attendees at the event responded enthusiastically that these small-scale, grassroots community-based projects are more effective than projects organized from outside the community by larger NGOs. Local solutions are more responsive, better at identifying local needs and developing bottom-up approaches. 

These projects help to achieve nine SDGs:

Goal 1 No Poverty
Goal 2 Zero Hunger
Goal 3 Good health and well being
Goal 4 Quality education vocational training
Goal 5 Gender equality
Goal 8 Decent work and economic growth
Goal 10 Reduce inequalities
Goal 11 Sustainable communities
Goal 17 Partnerships

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