Taking the Pulse of Poverty
Opportunity Collaboration Fellowship – Ixtapa, Mexico – October 15 – 20, 2010
Voices of Women (VOW) San Diego, California, USA
Founded in 2001 VOW has staged 50+ dynamic educational events that address the needs of women and girls who are living in poverty. We utilize the power of theatre, speakers, panels, documentaries, conversations, and hands-on workshops to highlight the imbalance in gender economic justice. We believe that when citizens are empowered by factual, appropriate information, they can make a difference. Synopses of these events can be read at www.voicesofwomen.org under Past VOW Events.
The mission of Voices of Women is: Through educational programs, Voices of Women expands knowledge of global issues, advocates for human rights, and supports the equal participation of women and men in advancing human security.
VOW believes that in order for a woman to be economically empowered, she and her children (especially the girls) must first be educated. One of our success stories features our collaboration with the Afghan Women’s Educational Center (AWEC) in Kabul. In 2007, VOW donated $3,000 to literacy programs for women in Mazar-al-Sharif, and $5,000 towards two children’s school centers for working street children. (VOW received an award from Project Concern International for the efforts with AWEC.)
In 2009, VOW gave a monetary award and recognized the efforts of the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC) in rescuing, sheltering and restoring the lives of victims who are sex-trafficked between San Diego and Tijuana and beyond. Most of these victims are lured by the promise of money or wealth.
One of VOW’s programs highlighted CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) and the Common Objections rallied against the Convention. Armed with information, the audience members were able to contact their Representatives to speak out on behalf of the world’s poor women.
VOW collaborated with the Cambio Club of High Tech High International to make reusable grocery bags, to raise funds for the school the students are supporting in Ecuador.
In February 2010, two VOW Board Directors traveled with a Ugandan native who lives in San Diego to Kampala, Uganda to start a project with women and girls. The program provided them with business strategies and concepts, and leadership skills that stressed the power of collaboration and cooperation. In order for the women to move from poverty to financial independence they learned that the power of many far outweighs the power of one. Instead of each woman trying to establish a business on her own, when she forms a cooperative with another woman or women, the reach of her business becomes wider, the results stronger and her likelihood of success greater.
In San Diego, VOW is currently collaborating with refugee women from Somalia and Ethiopia to elevate their business skills, help them to become more assertive, and to gain the jobs they are qualified for, rather than settling for second best. In addition, the collaborative (WEAVE – Women of East Africa share their Voices for Empowerment) plans to author a handbook for the San Diego community in which the needs and requirements of refugee women are explained and documented.
VOW understands the far-reaching effects of opportunity collaboration, especially when it concerns women and alleviating poverty.