We can hear African drums being played from the speakers as we make our way into a room which feels like a giant cinema. Greeting us are over 2,000 women and girls, ranging in age from 7 to 80, from over 140 countries. It is a sea of colourful, traditional dress depicting histories and cultures from all parts of the world, all gathered for the 12th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights in Development.
"Before I entered the Female Food Hero competition I had never been outside Tanzania, however I have always believed I could be a leader. I believe I have leadership qualities," explains Mandiwe in an interview conducted by a journalist writing for the Hurriyet newspaper, one of Turkey’s leading national newspapers.
The city of Istanbul, Turkey is no stranger to the word ‘’transformation’’ having served as a capital for many empires throughout history from the Roman to the Byzantine, to the Latin and then finally the Ottoman Empire. So perhaps it was with this city’s historic ability to recreate, led to the organisers of the Association of Women in Development (AWID) choosing it as a venue to welcome over 2,200 women’s rights activists from around the world.
After two successful summer school sessions in 2010 and 2011, Oxfam Novib once again organizes a summer school on Women, Peace and Security in The Hague, the Netherlands this year.
The last year’s Arab Spring events have demonstrated the immense power that grassroots organizing, social media, and collective power can have in creating change. We’ve seen revolutions and protests, campaigns and online actions, resonating with greater impact than ever before. Women, and women’s rights organizations, have remained an essential part of the momentum of these movements and activities.
In spite of the old adage “don’t count your chickens,” these days we take chickens for granted. Walk into any supermarket in European and North American cities and increasingly across the developing world and you will find them in serried ranks in their plastic packaging. A generation or two ago, chickens were a luxury item; nowadays, a chicken costs less than an hours’ minimum wage of a UK worker ($9.52).
When I was studying at a university in Bangladesh back in the 1980s, the university had enforced a ‘sunset rule’ for women students. Which in practice meant that the gates of the women’s residence hall would close at sunset, after which no students were allowed to enter or leave the grounds of the residence hall. A perfect rule to keep female students invisible from public places, events and even from libraries. The rule was introduced to ‘protect’ women and keep them ‘safe.’
“Sometimes we simply don’t realize the dreadful impacts of our actions in other parts of the world,” says Maria Heubuch, a dairy farmer from Germany. Farmers all across the globe are connected by markets and production chains. And yet many of them face similar challenges: to prevail against industrialized farming.
When it comes to the role of women in society, the East African country of Somalia receives a great deal of negative attention. Given that the country has suffered from years of conflict, and is currently enduring a food crisis, it certainly is a difficult, sometimes dangerous environment where women can be left vulnerable.
Boundaries become seamless on 8 March – International Women's Day. Millions of women, men, boys, girls, from across over 30 countries, in different time zones, from diverse ethnic, linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds are coming together to celebrate, to show solidarity, and to recognize the rights, the dreams, the aspirations and empowerment of small-scale women farmers and producers.