Sharing joy

Posted September 27, 2011 from United States

Welcome sisters! It is good to see you in this virtual space, thank you for joining. To help us get to know each other a little better, I'd like to ask each of you to share a short paragraph about your organization and to tell us personally what brings you the greatest joy in working with or for with adolescent girls.

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  • INFOTEKA Zenica
    Oct 17, 2011
    Oct 17, 2011

    And we believe that SHARING is the key word for all of our work. SHARING knowledge, sharing news and information, sharing space, sharing hope, sharing despair, sharing ideas, sharing work, sharing responsibilities, sharing visions and enthusiasm.

    INFOTEKA Zenica is a small women's organization from Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our work and mission is based on feminist principles and beliefs that all women and girls should live a life free of all forms of violence and discrimination. INFOTEKA started its journey way back in 1995 when we were a project of a bigger women's NGO that supported women victims of war violence. Over the years, INFOTEKA has grown, as well as the activists gathered around INFOTEKA'S ideas and missions, and some 3 years ago we have registered ourselves as an independent women's feminist organization. We believe that women can make difference. We believe that by investing in women we can make enormous changes. We believe that the have to SPEAK UP our minds and make the society hear and understand the voices of women. Our premises are located in the center of a small industrial town of Zenica. We have a large library containing all sorts of publications on various women's issues open for the public, and our goal is to serve as a resource and service center for women's organization in our Zenica-Doboj Canton. We network and collaborate with other women's organizations in BiH and the region. We can say that our two main areas of activities are women's social and political rights and combating all forms of violence against women. We are organizing public events such as Coffee with the Parliamentarians and various street actions, and non-formal educational events such as workshops and seminars. We have an active Facebook group and profile that we use to communicate with our friends and supporters. Although we are struggling for funding as many women's organization in the world, we are managing to maintain our center open and our monthly activities and regularly taking place. We believe that the results of our activities are very visible. When we read the letters from our workshop participants, and when we hear their voices explaining changes that our efforts initiated within them - we gain the much need fuel for our future work. Changes in attitudes towards the "outside" world is something that we are looking for. We are supporting young women and girls to speak up for themselves, to vocalize their visions and hopes and to embrace the world in a new way. We are empowering young women, and we are teaching them to recognize violence and discrimination. We provide them with tolls and skills to fight for their/our rights.

  • Gayatri Buragohain
    Oct 17, 2011
    Oct 17, 2011

    Hi Everyone,

    Sorry about a delay in introducing ourselves.

    We are Feminist Approach to Technology or FAT in short. Both the long name and short name are a part of our politics. We believe that a feminist intervention in the science and technology framework is urgently required. The fact that science and technology is male dominated field of work does not only mean limitation of livelihood and education options for women, but also means women do not have much control over science and technology that seems to have so much effect in our lives. We believe that women can move at par with men in making and using technology and that women can truly feel empowered only when the perceived technological divide has been bridged.

    We love the acronym of our name, FAT. As feminists we believe that the stigma around being FAT, and many other perceived “undesirable body images”, is a form of violence that everyone inflicts on themselves as well as others. We believe that being FAT is cool, and we are proud to be FAT.

    We work with adolescent girls directly through our tech center project where we train underprivileged young women on technical skills. So far we have been able to provide training on computer skills, Internet, still photography and videography. For us these skills are only a means of leadership development and to confidence among the girls. We use technical projects ans exercises as a medium to talk about women's rights and issues that the girls face in their day to day lives. And we have been pleasantly surprised by the results we have seen so far.

    What excites us most about working with adolescent girls is the joy they feel when they get to know about the world beyond theirs, the curiosity they have for information, and the change in their confidence as each day passes.

    We look forward to sharing all these excitements here in this forum with all of you. We look forward to growing FATTER from FAT :).

    Last week we organized a national consultation on Women's Movement and Technology here in New Delhi, India.

  • Theresa Michael
    Oct 18, 2011
    Oct 18, 2011

    The Women's Centre for Peace and Development (WOPED) is the first indigenous, non-profit, non-governmental, national women's peace organisation in Nigeria committed to the elimination of all forms of social exclusions, economic insecurities and violence against women and children, as crucial ingredients for peaceful co-existence, improved living conditions, social justice, and gender-responsive development in indigenous communities. WOPED specialises in advocacy and special interventions to achieve its objectives. WOPED began operations in 1997 and is duly registered in Nigeria.

    Such interventions have included designing projects that give girls the lift out of the frustrations of stifling traditional bottlenecks that limit their choices. To address one of such obstacles facing girls career choices and economic mobility, WOPED launched the SAVE Talents Academy to train and support adolescent girls entrance into rare and male-dominated occupations for which they have natural talents. The Peace and Anti-Violence Education (PAVE) Clubs in schools have also benefitted adolescent girls since 1998. WOPED PAVE clubs raise a crop of young school leavers, boys and girls, who are well informed about the human rights of women and girls to freedom from all forms of violence from the classroom to conflict situations. The Pavers, as they are known, organise independent activities and campaign within and outside their schools to propagate the messages.

    What is most interesting about the work of WOPED is its unique approach which enables the work to be done with great impact, because it ripples, draws the attention of the targetted publics, empowers the beneficiaries and brings support to the organisation to do more. We are happy when our beneficiaries are happy, when they come back to let us know and when they demonstrate their joys through bear hugs and dances at the end of our meetings and workshops.

    Theresa U Michael on behalf of WOPED

  • WhitneyRoseGraham
    Oct 18, 2011
    Oct 18, 2011

    Hello Sisters and Friends!

    This is Whitney from the Global Fund for Women. I am a member of the Asia/Oceania Program team and part of this exciting PulseWire project. Because I'm sure you're familiar with the Global Fund, I won't go into much detail about what we do on a larger scale but, specifically, why I think working with girls and young women is a critical part of the women's movement.

    To me, there is nothing more important than empowering the next generation of women. Too often girls and young women are overlooked as change-makers until they grow to be women and only then are their voices listened to. I believe it is critical to both help girls and young women find their voices and express themselves, and to create spaces where these voices can be amplified and heard. I think that the youth carry so much wisdom, insight, creativity, and fearlessness that we need to stop thinking that we have so much to teach them and allow them, instead, to teach us. I believe that there should always be reciprocity in our work with adolescent girls.

    Like Gayatri mentioned, confidence is one of the biggest tools and obstacles for girls and young women. I believe it is our job to give girls the tools, support, room, and time to build confidence so that they can overcome the many obstacles that they face as young women. For me, the biggest JOY in working with girls is watching that confidence slowly grow and strengthen. That, and I love working with girls because they bring so much joy and laughter that it is impossible not to feel happiness and optimism when doing my work. I've experienced similar joy to Theresa's and there is simply nothing better than receiving a big huge and a smile from a confident, excited, animated girl.

    Thank you for all of your comments so far! It is so very exciting to hear about you, your group, and why you love to do your work. I am excited for all of our conversations to come!!

  • Suparna Kudesia
    Oct 23, 2011
    Oct 23, 2011

    Dear Sisters and Allies,

    Our sincere apologies for a slow response and a tremendous dose of excitement to join this sharing!

    It has been inspiring to learn more about each of your work and commitment to creating safe spaces for feminist, womyn-guided narratives and voices to be heard, just as Whitney wrote. It is a privilege to share this space with each of you and the communities you serve.

    I write from RAHI (Recovering and Healing from Incest) Foundation, which is an NGO in New Delhi, India, working towards prevention and intervention in the area of incest and child sexual abuse (CSA). RAHI came to life with humble beginnings in 1996 as the first incest and CSA organization in India, and continues to thrive today as a counseling, support, education, training, research and communication center in the movement to build a world free of incest and CSA.

    I also write as a survivor of incest and CSA and a RAHI Peer Educator who benefited from RAHI’s Peer Education Program (PEP) as an adolescent girl. RAHI’s commitment to building resources among adolescent girls and its peer advocacy model is embodied in the PEP, which is a student-led peer intervention program.

    Similar to INFOTEKA Zenica’s pledge to provide young women with the tools to fight for their rights, a Peer Educator (PE) is trained to bring change at the grassroots educational level by supporting her peers, other young women. As a PE, I resonate deeply with FAT’s observation of a change in confidence. My personal healing and journey as a survivor were and remain beautifully connected to my social advocacy and justice work as a PE.

    RAHI has gifted me, along with hundreds of other young girls and women, the gift of healing through its counseling and support work. RAHI’s PEP has also given us a ground from which to engage other adolescent girls and survivors from. Just as WOPED’s Pavers organize, PE’s design educational activities for our peers, which create safe spaces to question the silence that shrouds the trauma of a terrifyingly high number of lives of young girls.

    In engaging my peers in critical discussions, learning how to handle disclosures, and practicing responsive listening, my confidence as a young woman and my healing as a survivor are continually and positively transformed.

    The greatest joy with working for and with young adolescent women comes from being an active agent of change and knowing that adolescent girls don’t only become activists and survivors when they are able to access our services at RAHI, but when we as RAHI PE’s create empowering spaces for adolescent girls to break the silence, disclose, heal, and become a phenomenal part of the movement to build a life free of incest and CSA.