“Our goal is to highlight the courageous voices of survivors, the testimonies of those who bear witness to gender-based violence, and bold visions for change that demonstrate the rising leadership of grassroots women in bringing an end to violence.
from World Pulse
I was particularly moved recently by an international group (24 women from 16 countries and 4 continents) who came together recently for 12 days at the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC) in Israel for an intensive training workshop to address the crosscutting issue of violence against women in their countries.
The women, carefully selected professionals working in the fields of domestic violence and trafficking in women, represented Argentina, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Nepal, Serbia, Tanzania and Thailand.
They had the opportunity to meet with their counterparts working in Israeli NGOs that help women and children in need. All had their own tales to tell; the professionals related case-studies of gender-based violence they had witnessed and how they had chosen to deal with it; they heard the strong voices of some survivors, their testimonies giving courage and hope to others. There were many bold visions for change too, to demonstrate the rising leadership of grassroots women in bringing an end to violence.
One such bold vision was expressed in a case study on Financial Independence as a Key to Break the Cycle of Violence Against Women. It was given by the Head of Fundraising of the Israeli NGO Women's Spirit: Financial Independence for Women Victims of Violence. This meshed perfectly with the aims and ideals of the workshop host – for MCTC was founded over half a century ago by MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation - to advance the socio-economic situation of women in the developing world. Indeed MCTC/MASHAV’s raison d’être is training for employment for women, as a tool for poverty alleviation and economic empowerment.
The case study represented the personal credo of one woman who had personally rehabilitated herself through the organization, finding that financial independence was the key to breaking the vicious circle. In her presentation, Founder and CEO, Maki Neaman, explained the basic assumption of Women's Spirit and described how the NGO targets women victims of domestic and sexual violence who suffer from financial deprivation and dependence and experience difficulties in integration into the employment market.
By calling the Women’s Spirit hotline, however, they can put themselves on a positive path leading to employment empowerment and a business program of their own, complete with a follow-up employment mentoring program. Women who have undergone the program were quoted as saying:” The coaching gives you the tools for you to believe in yourself” “It builds self-confidence”.
The secret of Women’s Spirit’s success must lie in the belief that each woman can fulfil her career ambitions. Women are supported on equal terms and provided with individually tailored programs to fit each one’s unique needs and abilities for an all-encompassing long-term solution to keep them off the slide down into the trap of domestic violence.
Some of the most vulnerable women, migrating across the developing world, find their way inadvertently into the hands of traffickers, consequently becoming victims of violence. According to the testimonies of the professionals who gathered at MCTC for a training workshop on Human Trafficking, the extensive international networking they are able to do while attending the training course and the experiences that they can exchange are really positive and valuable. Thus, Ivana, from the Serbian Border Police: “gained extensive knowledge about trafficking in human beings in the Far East and Asia, especially India and Bangladesh. Also hearing experiences of our colleagues from Africa helped me identify a couple of cases where we had persons from sub-Saharan Africa…” Carlos, from the Colombian Human Trafficking Think Tank admits to “better comprehension of the trafficking phenomenon” and appreciates now being “part of a network of human trafficking experts worldwide”.
As a training institution ourselves, what better accolade to end with than the words of Agnes, Training Manager of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control in Uganda, who says that: “Ever since the training, I have incorporated human trafficking and violence against women into our training curriculum. .I acquired skills and knowledge on how to develop comprehensive training curricula and programs…… The International experience was particularly valuable; to be able to learn what was happening internationally through the eyes of the practitioners, experts, academicians, professionals, working in different regions of the world. Global problems require global approaches and collaborations. The Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center provided that for its participants”.
Stressing as we do, gender equality, women’s leadership and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, MCTC will continue offering its training programs to put an end to gender-based violence and to support and rehabilitate its survivors for as long as there is an apparent international need.
Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC)
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012.