- Unitarian Universalism Connection
Philippines. In 2015-16, in response to disturbing incidents of sexual assault, the International Women’s Convocation (IWC) partnered with the Women’s Association of the UU Church of the Philippines to implement workshops to enhance awareness of violence against women. The program – titled Awake Women & Men through Knowledge & Education (AWAKE) – carried out violence awareness workshops in four UU communities: Bagong Silang, Ulay, Banay Banay, and Aquino, with funding assistance from the UU Funding Program. About 200 women, 30 men, and many youths attended the trainings. Their experiences revealed the urgent need to expand the program to other UU communities.
Bolivia. IWC organized a pilgrimage and gathering in South America in November 2015 to meet our sisters in faith, build and nurture intercultural exchanges, learn about the ongoing work for advancing women’s rights, environmental issues, and justice for the indigenous peoples. Thought-provoking presentations at the Women’s Gathering in Bolivia, which brought together more than 30 women from Bolivia and Brazil, revealed challenges faced: gender inequality in every aspect of women’s lives, from access to education and health assistance to economic and political discrimination, from climate-change induced inequalities to domestic violence. Among the action plans put forth to address these challenges was the need for a new empowerment initiative in Bolivia, including public speaking and advocacy training – in view of the persistent barriers preventing women from participating in decision-making roles. Please watch the video of the Gathering.
How will the funds be used?
Philippines: Funds will be used to conduct the Awake Women & Men through Knowledge & Education (AWAKE) program in three or four target communities chosen by the Women’s Association of Philippines. The workshops will address violence in the local community, legal systems and public policy frameworks, as well as educate participants on the rights of women. Each workshop will provide approximately 50 women and men with resources and training needed to enable them to spread the information in their communities and initiate community-coordinated responses. Funds will be used for educational materials, training supplies, logistics, and the cost of trainers.
Bolivia: Funds will be used to implement a 50-hour training of a pilot program focused on capacity building in areas such as self-esteem development, gender equality, public speaking, economic empowerment, prevention of violence, environmental education and women in environmental decision-making, and healthcare. 35 women from the District of Viacha (22 km southwest of La Paz) will be selected by the local organizing team to attend the pilot phase. Training sessions will take place over three months, twice weekly. Funds will be used for educational materials, training supplies, logistics, and the cost of trainers.
Cecilia Hofmann, co-founder and executive director of GWAVE (Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation) and member of IWC’s Global Sisters Leadership Council, Philippines
AWAKE participants, Aquino, Philippines: The Violence Against Women and Children program that we attended in March 2016 was very helpful to us. It gave us a new way of handling or taking care of our children. We were educated about our rights as women and we understood our role as women, wives, and mothers. This program is a great help to our lives – we hope that it can continue so that we can build violence-free communities.”
Calixta Choque, project leader, Bolivia: The leadership training program is designed to awaken the leadership potential of Bolivian women, promote entrepreneurship, and address domestic violence. As the project leader of this initiative, I believe that participants will gain skills and confidence to unleash their leadership potential – and will be empowered to spark change in their own lives, and in the lives of their families and communities.
Renee Hills, leader, Brisbane Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and member of IWC’s Global Sisters Leadership Council, Australia