At the Women’s Funding Network Conference this April, World Pulse founder, Jensine Larsen, had the privilege of delivering a bundle of letters from grassroots women leaders worldwide directly to the newly appointed UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet. In presenting the letters, Bachelet responded enthusiastically, “Yes, give these to me, reading these letters is what will keep me going.” In fact, some letters had already reached Bachelet, including that of Fardosa Muse of the Dadaab Refugee Camps, a settlement on the border of Kenya and Somalia. In an effort to source input from women on the ground, and after UN Women advisers suggested these camps as a priority to visit, Bachelet read Muse’s letter from the World Pulse community campaign. Its description of the dire situation for women and girls at the camps helped solidify her decision to visit.
When Bachelet arrived at Dadaab earlier this month, Muse came forward as the author of the letter. In describing the transformational power of participating in the campaign and witnessing her letter's direct impact on her community, Muse said, “My bold voice earns me global recognition, courage, and strength to deliver my services to these destitute communities across the globe. It's my responsibility as a Somali woman to speak on behalf of this voiceless people.”
World Pulse launched the UN Women letter writing campaign this January, on our interactive community newswire, PulseWire, inviting grassroots women leaders from around the world to outline their recommendations for how UN Women can begin to truly effect change, and to guide this new agency as it sets its priorities. The response we received was astounding, demonstrating the desire for grassroots women to have a voice within the new entity and highlighting the need for a mechanism for participation. We collected 65 letters representing women from 27 countries, including regions where women have little representation like Burma, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
The most prevalent themes contributors touched upon included the urgent need to address violence against women; the need for a participatory mechanism for women within the UN system; and an emphasis on creating economic, educational, and leadership opportunities for women at the grassroots level.
Over the past three years, we’ve watched our community of women from 185 countries harness the power of interactive media to rise out of the shadows and drive change. We believe World Pulse is now uniquely positioned to enable the individual process of women using new technologies in creative ways to support movements for democratic transformation. World Pulse is committed to leveraging our platform to support the participation of women at the highest levels of decision-making in furthering the women’s agenda and the participation of civil society, particularly grassroots women, who are often voiceless at the United Nations.
“I believe this place is a forum for the people who are hungry for rights—not only for oneself—but also for all communities among fear, needs, and injustice. I thank you all for showering grassroots to grow with light for seeking truth and grabbing rights. I would like to insist that our collaborations will play the key role for this achievement, and I promise I will commit to the maximum with you all for the better future of civil societies.” — Ni Ni Aye, Burma