News Archive: Changes in the World that Impact Women

September 2011 News

World Bank Report:

A recent World Bank Report notes impressive gains in gender equality world wide, and yet report that nearly 4 million women are “missing” each year.  “About two-fifths are never born due to a preference for sons, a sixth die in early childhood, and over a third die in their reproductive years.”

The report highlights that while gender equality is important in its own right, it is also smart economics.   “Countries that create better opportunities and conditions for women and girls can raise productivity, improve outcomes for children, make institutions more representative and advance development  prospects for all. . .”

Here are examples of how the World Bank believes countries could gain by addressing disparities between men and women:

  • Ensuring equal access and treatment for women farmers would increase maize yields by 11 to 16 percent in Malawi and by 17 percent in Ghana.
  • Improving women’s access to agricultural inputs in Burkina Faso would increase total household agricultural production by about 6 percent, with no additional resources—simply by reallocating resources such as fertilizer and labor from men to women.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that equal access to resources for female farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent.
  • Eliminating barriers that prevent women from working in certain occupations or sectors would have similar positive effects, reducing the productivity gap between male and female workers by one-third to one-half and increasing output per worker by 3 to 25 percent across a range of countries.
    (Read World Bank report here)

This is significant!   It is important that large institutions recognize the value women bring to the whole.  And you and I know that there is much more to it than is even recognized.  Women bring different vision, possess different competence for creating community, and skills for creating peace.  We own a deep sense of the whole.

AND we know that just because the World Bank highlights these examples does not in any way mean that the changes will come about easily.

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Juliet Theresita, the woman we featured when we launched this site in August, 2010, shares news of her work today – seeking those very things that are outlined in the above excerpt from the World Bank Report.

It is budgeting time in Tamil Nadu, India and most unorganized workers rights are denied by state restriction.  Inn order to call government attention to this Juliet and others organized conducted a demonstration from August 22nd to September 07,  2011.

Here are their four demands:

1. Demanding the budgetary allocation for the unorganized workers.
2.  Demanding the proper social security for the life and livelihood of the unorganized workers
3.  To realign the agriculture welfare board and the fisheries welfare board from the respective department to the labor welfare board along with other demands.
4. To allow the Head Load Women Fish Vendors to carry their goods in the public transport.

Juliet is the woman in the gold sari in the bottom left of the picture above.  You can contact Juliet directly if you like, at



July 2011: Women are Creating Change ~ All Around the Globe

The WAAPONI Foundation in Cuenca, Ecuador, with funding from UN WOMEN and the Municipality of Cuenca, is engaged in a project to strengthen the democratic participation of women in rural areas surrounding the city and to reinforce the institutionalization of gender that is promoted by the Department of Gender Equality of the city itself.

Nena Siguenza, co-founder of the WAAPONI Foundation, is deeply committed to enabling transformative leadership.  This is the inner work that enables us to be effective in our work in the world.  As the women who participate in this project learn to appreciate and value themselves, they are more successful in achieving their personal and professional goals.

These women are clear about the role they want and the power that they want.  They are not interested in simply flipping social power from male dominance to female dominance.  They realize that would only continue the “power over” model.  Instead, in a recent presentation to municipal leaders, these women laid out new approaches that would enable women and men to decide together on the future of the community and work together to achieve the future they want!

Ananda Zeas and Barbara* * * * *

Ananda Zeas has translated Barbara’s essay,Women Hold up Half the Sky into Spanish.  See the Articles and Essays section of this site to read this essay in Spanish.  Ananda, who holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology, is the Methodological Advisor at the WAAPONI Foundation in Cuenca, Ecuador.

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Margaret Wheatley is leading a Learning Journey to South Africa
November 1-12, 2011.  Noting that women are playing the pivotal role in creating change, around the world, Wheatley reminds us that “in community after community, women as informal leaders have stepped forward to solve local problems without waiting for formal authority or resources.”   This is nowhere more true than in South Africa, where courage and creativity trump despair over and over again.  This journey will be an insightful and transformative experience.

Check out for the itinerary or to register.

Wheatley has long inspired and challenged us with her definition of a leader as “anyone who wants to help.”  In our web site, we meet these leaders again, and again, women who see a need and step up to meet it, or see an opportunity and step into their own power to maximize it.


April 2011: Local and Global – Individual and Collective Action

Girls and Technology

Fourteen year old, Tristan Spraker brings this to our attention – a remarkable program that reveals the individual/collective connection.  “Girls Gather for Computer Science” is a four week, non-residential camp for 7th and 8th grade girls.  The goal is to provide an opportunity for girls to think of themselves as scientists.  The camp will be run by all-female instructors from Pacific University, middle schools involved and undergraduate computer science students.  For the thirty girls who are selected, the camp is free.  It is sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation and will be held at Pacific University in Oregon.

So a collective effort makes possible opportunities for individual girls to step up and learn new skills, develop new self-concepts, and enhance the contributions they will make to our society

Betty’s Good News

Betty Kogoro, whose story was featured in our October web update has received approval of the Uganda NGO Registration Board.  Teen Empowerment Uganda (TEU) is now an officially registered NGO! ! !  Way to go, Betty!  It took at entire year.  Yes, persistence and perseverance is definitely a big part of leadership. You may contact Betty directly at

UN Women, 5th World Conference on Women

This is global collective work that is needed, the “global” part of the local/global connection.  Sign this petition if you support the Conference.  And engage with  government agencies, NGOs, or other organizations that are promoting women’s rights and supporting women’s leadership, in order to amplify your own voice.

Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., author, feminist, activist has been championing this effort to bring about  a UN sponsored 5th World Conference on Women.  There is a strong sense of the need for this conference, as Bolen says, “not as an end in itself, but as a huge step toward a global women’s peace, justice and empowerment movement.”

The petition to convene the Conference has now reached the UN Commission on the Status of Women.  This body, representing forty-five member-countries, is asked to support the statement and advance it to the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.  As you can see there is a long process to gain the necessary commitment to this conference, but progress is evident.

The launch, on February 22, 2011,  of new superagency for women, UN Women, under the leadership of Michelle Bachelet, is another event to celebrate.  Bachelet, former President of Chile, is a pediatrician, a single Mom, an activist who was imprisoned by Pinochet, Chile’s deposed dictator.  One of the Hubert Humphrey Scholars from Chile commented that women literally stood taller and walked with more confidence when Bachelet was elected President.  Here was a person they could relate to, and whom they could respect.

November 2010: Leading From Positions of Power

In keeping with our collective story, A New Story in the Making, we want to acknowledge that it is all women that are creating this new story. Our primary intention in this site is to provide stories of women who are making a difference in the world. We often focus on women who are making a difference – in the world – through making a difference in their local area, because, that is where most of us have the greatest impact.

However, we also want to acknowledge women who are publicly recognized, who lead through their position or reputation. These women influence policy decisions, directly or indirectly, and often have significant impact on creating a world where all leadership gifts are welcome. For a powerful and inspirational story, read the biography of the President of Liberia, Mary Johnson-Sirleaf. Her story, This Child Will be Great, reveals the violence she, and her country, experienced and the tremendous personal strength, vision and resilience she brings to the leadership of her country.

Not only are these women role models for other women stepping up to positional leadership, they also need the support and/or challenge of all the women in the nations they lead.  They need clear and persistent messages about the national policy that needs to be established in order that women throughout their countries can manifest their leadership.

  • The Nobel Women’s Initiative was founded in 2006 by six women Nobel laureates who joined together to use the visibility and prestige of the Nobel prize to support women’s rights activists, researchers and organizations that address the root causes of violence and that advance nonviolence, peace, justice and equality.
  • In November, the G20 Summit was held in Soeul, Korea. G20 refers to the group of 20 major economies of the world. Established in 1999, the intention of the G20 is to bring together industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. Leaders of these nations, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meet once a year. This year four of those countries are led by women:
    • Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
    • Christina Fenandez de Kirchner, President  of Argentina
    • Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia
    • Dilma Rousseff, President-Elect of Brazil

  • Finally, we want to call attention to those countries that currently have a woman as Head of State.  While these women certainly should be recognized, we need to see more women joining this level of leadership.Listed by country, in order by the length of time they have been in office:
    • Ireland, President Mary McAleese
    • Finland (1st), President Tarja Halonen
    • Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel
    • Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
    • India, President Pratibha Patil
    • Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
    • Bangledesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed
    • Iceland, Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir
    • Croatia, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor
    • Lithuania, President Dalia Grybauskaite
    • Switzerland, President Doris Leuthard
    • Kyrgyzstan, President Rosa Orunbayeva
    • Costa Rica, President Laura Chincilla
    • Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
    • Finland (2nd),  Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi
    • Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard
    • Slovakia, Prime Minister Iveta Radicova
    • Brazil, President-elect Dilma Rousseff



Secrets to Leading with Confidence, October 25, 2010

Secrets 1Through the efforts of Nena Siguenza, Executive Director, and the WAAPONI Foundation staff, 25 women gathered on October 25, 2010 in Cuenca, Ecuador, to explore together how to expand the impact of their leadership through

  • leading from their own center
  • engaging with others
  • drawing together diverse perspectives to serve the common good.

Though these women’s experience is perhaps much different from your own, and though it is different from one person to another in terms of the participants themselves, the shared commitment to fully live out their potential in service to the world was an amazingly powerful common bond.

Secrets 2The context of the workshop was the awareness that the work of each individual, and of the collective that had gathered, was nothing short of creating a new social order.  The intention of the workshop was to  develop leadership that moved our social systems from a “power over” way of being to a “power with” way of living and working together.  Recognizing that Yin and Yang energy are both necessary, and that each individual embodies both forms of energy, the group became clear that one way of increasing one’s power is discerning what energy is needed in each particular situation.

Engagement was high as every woman created a symbol that represented something important and good that had happened because of something she  had done or said.  In small groups, as each person told her story, listeners in the group identified strengths and skills demonstrated by the person sharing her  story.  Not only was the power of each individual affirmed in this process, but the knowledge, skills and abilities within the collective became obvious.  What a foundation – on which to build additional impact!

Secrets 3Imagining together the future they wanted to help create, laid the groundwork then for each person to determine one major goal that she intended to pursue within the next year – as a way of moving toward that future.

Energy increased as women moved around the room  – viewing the visual representations that had been created – absorbing both the strengths represented and the goals and visions identified.  As the women read the goals of others, they noted on that person’s poster any ways they could support that individual – experience with a similar project, contacts, perhaps a willingness to be a listener as the individual developed her strategy for meeting her goal.

Secrets 4The workshop concluded by learning how to locate one’s personal power center in the physical body and how to deal with the “mind chatter” that can distract us from our primary intentions and decrease our energy.

The opportunity to come together, to affirm one another, and to learn with and from one another – – – is a powerful experience.  Thanks goes to each person who participated, for creating together an exciting, productive, and satisfying learning experience.

Secrets 5

World Pulse (

You will want to check out this web site on your own, but we wanted to highlight one of the amazing things they do. Each year they select, through a competitive application process, 30-40 young women from countries around the globe–and train them, through an on-line curriculum, to be citizen journalists. At the conclusion of the training each young woman is assigned a mentor. These young women write their stories, which are published on the World Pulse web site.  Their mantra: “Don’t speak for us; we speak for ourselves.”

If you want to know what is going on in Brazil, Kenya, Nepal, or many other countries–through the personal experience of one who lives there–or if you simply want to be inspired by the courage, creativity and persistence of young women living in very challenging situations, watch for the stories, Voices of our Future, on the World Pulse web site.


September 2010: UN Women and Ashley Judd

UN Women is of major significance in two ways.  First,  it brings together four previously distinct agencies that work for gender equality and women’s empowerment for more focused direction and concentration of resources.  Secondly, it also acknowledges the huge work to be done.  The challenges faced by women and girls across all societies is cause for shame, and must be changed.  Violence, harassment, lack of health care, high rates of women dying in childbirth are common place.  The creation of this agency is a step in the right direction.  It will be headed by an Under Secretary-General who will be a member of all senior UN decision-making bodies and will report to the Secretary-General.  It is important that we continually insist that our own government support this work through the United Nations.  This new entity only came about because of tireless efforts of women and men of the countries that are members of the United Nations.  It is with gratitude that we take a moment to appreciate their work for the greater good. Visit:

The story of Ashley Judd reveals the impact that one person can have when she steps into her own leadership with courage and conviction.  An American actress and an activist, Judd is perhaps best described as a person who demonstrates fierce determination and fearlessness, both in her own life and in many of the characters she portrays.  She has traveled the world, connecting with, and calling attention to vulnerable people, often women and girls, and the issues they face.

A September 2 CNN News article describes her recent work in the Congo:  In the Congo Judd is working to raise awareness about conflict minerals – tin, tantalum, tungsten – which are used to make our cell phones, computers and other electronics.

Military commanders control most of the mines where these minerals are extracted.  Women, as well as children as young as 11, work as miners along with village men.  The military has absolute control over working conditions, taxes imposed, and destination of the minerals.  Most of the minerals are transported out of the country by plane, often to nearby countries where they may be mixed with other minerals.  Once the minerals are refined into metal it is impossible to determine the origin.

A CNN interviewer asked Judd:  “Could you help us to connect the dots between the rape victims you’ve met in these camps and the materials used in the electronics industry?”

Judd’s response:  “The armed militias make war on a woman’s body. In Congolese society, women are the pillars. They are the backbone. They are the heart, and so when an external force wants to destroy a society, wreck havoc, disrupt, the most efficient, direct and — in a way — sickeningly cunningly brilliant way to do it is to literally attack the woman’s body.”

Judd suggests three actions that can make a difference:

  • Anyone can go to and literally with a click and a small financial commitment put money in the hands of a survivor of gender violence.
  • Contributions can be made to Population Services International, which has grass-roots health interventions and helps poor women deal with preventable disease, family planning, HIV, because a lot of them become HIV positive after they’ve been raped, because they’re raped by so many men, their exposure to HIV is very high.
  • AND, To genuinely end the root causes of mass rape in eastern DRC, people can send an e-mail immediately to the world’s top 20 electronics manufacturers and absolutely insist that these manufacturers create a clean supply of minerals that they use in their products and that end up in our pockets.


SUMMER 2010: Petition for a UN 5th World Conference on Women

A petition to the UN, signed now by nearly 10,000 individuals around the world, is urging the UN to sponsor a 5th women’s world conference in 2015.  Designated as the 5th, to highlight that it follows the other four, specifically the Beijing Conference in 1995, the intention is to bring to fruition the goals and aspirations that were put into the Beijing Platform for Action.  The petition is absolutely clear that the conference would NOT reopen debate on those issues or add new items.  The intention is to actualize those identified goals.

The United Nations needs to be the sponsor of the Conference, so that women from all 192 UN countries know that it is about and for them.  Many will be able to come only because it is a UN Conference, recognized by their government.  The Petition asserts, “It would be as significant to women working for women as the Olympics are to athletes.”

Because of the technology available, email, web sites, cell phones, youtube, etc., “events leading up to the Conference, the Conference itself, and the ripples radiating out from it, including meeting in circles, would raise consciousness and oxytocin levels, moving us toward reaching a critical mass.”  (Quotes are from the web site)

A UN women’s super agency equivalent to UNICEF for children, was authorized by the UN general Assembly in September, 2009.  This agency could organize such a Conference.

Visit the web site:
for more information, and to sign the petition.


SUMMER 2010:
Book: Half the Sky

One of the most powerful books ever, this book brings global attention to the treatment of women, the cost to both the individuals and to the economy and culture of their countries, and highlights straightforward actions that can change this reality.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn, Pulitzer Prize winning husband and wife team, through statistics and stories of individual women, describe the terrible suffering of women, day by day, in countries around the world, and the amazing resilience and bravery with which women turn brutal treatment and unbelievable challenges into ways of creating a better future. Women endure gang rape, stoning, genital cutting, honor killings, beatings, horrible fistulas as a result of no health care for pregnant women.  They are sold into brothels or married off as little children.  Because of gendercide, more girls have been killed simply because they are girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century, they claim.

The authors’ call to action highlights what can be done.  Local women are the most effective change agents.  Providing a list of hospitals, school and charities that are effectively supporting these individuals, readers are challenged to become aware, become involved and contribute to making a huge change in the world.