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Archive for the ‘Global’ Category

The role of women in international housing

Posted by egehl on August 22, 2012

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of traveling to the other side of the world for the first time.  I’ve always heard that being in Asia was quite different and a unique experience, and I certainly found that to be true when I ventured to the Philippines.  The purpose of the trip was to join my colleagues from Habitat for Humanity to take part in an international development course to learn about informal housing, urbanization, and what to do about the housing crisis facing cities worldwide.  I am new to international housing as my work has always focused on US related matters and policies, therefore I found this chance be exposed to the housing issues and challenges facing populations in need abroad an exciting opportunity.

The Philippines is known for having a large poor population, especially overcrowded Manila which is the most densely populated city in the world, with almost half of its citizens considered to be urban poor.  The city is grappling with how to properly house its neediest citizens, and what to do about the existing substandard housing that so many live in.  NGO’s like Habitat are trying to address this challenge and come up with ways to deal with the lack of adequate housing in a growing city.  It’s overwhelming when you think about it, but there are incremental ways to tackle this problem and one of those is by empowering women.

The full involvement of women is the best guarantee that any housing project will be a success.

Women must play a full role in all planning and implementation of improving living conditions.  They are the ones who already have strong social networks within a community and are often the primary caretakers of the community’s homes and households.  They have the most to gain from a good community housing project, and the most of to lose if their housing conditions are bad or unsafe.

Current statutory and customary laws in many countries limit women’s access to land and other types of property.  In fact, women own less than 15 percent of land worldwide, which is why a new land tenure law in Bolivia is notable.  The new law state’s that property rights should be registered in favor of both spouses or partners, detailing their full name.

Until now only a man’s name was on land rights documentation and if he had a spouse or partner it would not say the actual name of the spouse.  This caused confusion around land rights, and if the man had a mistress she could claim rights to the property.  This change appears to be such a small development, yet so consequential for Bolivian women because a full name on documentation is the first step to ensuring their land rights.

Involving women in housing around the globe, whether it’s around land rights or improving their living conditions, is key to creating healthier, safer, and better housing for families.  When improving informal housing settlements, often women have the greatest ability to mobilize support or opposition to any intervention in their settlement so their full involvement and participation is instrumental to any housing project.  Involving women in housing, like the example in Bolivia, also builds capacities and confidence while it enhances a woman’s status and helps undermine entrenched patterns of inequality.  When women play a large role in their housing situation, it ensures that the design of the home and community matches their family’s needs, and it enhances their status in the community as key actors in its long-term development.

There have been policies to address women’s needs in poor countries such as the Global Resources for Women to Thrive, or GROWTH Act, which passed in 2010.  This bill created an incentive fund at USAID to actively encourage economic opportunity projects that incorporate women’s needs in developing countries.  It offers women a range of tools to lift themselves out of poverty by helping them start and expand businesses, enhance their land and property rights, and help to ensure their access to the benefits of trade.

In order for countries like the Philippines to address their housing challenges and be able to provide affordable homes for their low-income populations they must take gender equity into consideration, especially if a woman is the head of the household.  This entails three key elements including advancing women’s equal participation as home partners and financial managers, protecting human rights for women and girls, and reducing inequality to resources by including women as decision makers at the household and community level.

Posted in Advocacy, Financial Security, Gender Discrimination, Global | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

International Women’s Day: Its Our Day

Posted by weeksm on March 6, 2011

 March 8, 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day of recognition.  Thousands of events are being held around the world to celebrate women’s achievements, discuss issues and inspire women. This year’s theme for IWD is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology:  Pathway to decent work for women.”

In 1910, Clara Zetkin, leader of the “Women’s Office” for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day at the 2nd International Conference of Working Women.  The conference attendees, more than 100 women from 17 countries, unanimously approved the suggestion.  The very first IWD was launched the following year on March 19th in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.  More than one million women and men attended rallies supporting women’s rights.  In 1913, IWD was moved to March 8th, which has remained the global date ever since.

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating March 8th as IWD. The General Assembly cited two reasons for adopting its IWD resolution:

  • To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms requires the active participation, equality and development of women; and
  • To acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.

The day has traditionally been marked with a message from the U.N. Secretary-General.

While women around the world have made great strides since the first IWD, women still do not receive equal pay to that of their male counterparts, they are underrepresented in business and politics, women’s education and health are worse than men’s, and rates of violence against them are higher.  BPW Foundation continues to work to transform workplaces in the United States by strengthening the capacity of organizations and businesses to create work environments that are inclusive and that value the skills and contributions of working women.

So in March, as we begin celebrations for Women’s History Month in the United States, let’s think globally.  There are 154 IWD events across America from Alaska to Florida listed on the IWD website at www.internationalwomensday.com. Be a part of the global sisterhood!

Posted in Diversity, Equal Pay, Feminism, girls, Global, Pay Equity, Successful Workplaces, Women's History Month | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Face AIDS on World AIDS Day

Posted by joyinhome on December 1, 2010

HIV/AIDS is nature’s oxymoron. Sex is supposed to bring forth life, but now, it can potentially destroy it. Let’s ALL stay safe. Know your status. Get tested. Drop the stigma. Face AIDS.

A global snapshot:

  • 33.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide
  • 2.1 million of those are children under 15
  • 2.9 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2009
  • 1.8 million people died from HIV-related causes in 2009
  • 67% of the people living with HIV/AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Young people account for half of new HIV infections

What will you be doing to commemorate the day?

More at The Red Pump Project.

Posted in Advocacy, Education, Global, Health, HIV AIDS | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Prince Charming

Posted by gansie on November 17, 2010

I don’t care. Sometimes you just have to give in to the swoon.

Sometimes you want a prince.
Sometimes you want to be a princess.
And sometimes, fairy tales exist.

Engaged: Prince William and Kate Middleton [Huffington Post]

Posted in Families, Feminism, Global, Lifestyle | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Harnessing the Strength of Veterans

Posted by egehl on September 27, 2010

I am jealous of anyone that got to attend the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting held last week.  It sounds like such a powerful event that brings together the world’s top leaders and thinkers to discuss our most pressing problems, and how to maximize human capital to solve them. 

At this year’s meeting President Clinton asked participants to address the challenge of harnessing the human potential, asking participants to consider, “What can we do to get more people involved in our common endeavors?” The meeting also looked at women’s empowerment.  

Members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made commitments valued at $57 billion, bringing hope and opportunity to more than 200 million people around the world.  This year, commitments were announced to support the long-term recovery of the Gulf Coast (which makes me happy!).

The annual meeting must be an amazingly informative, energizing and empowering event to witness firsthand.  In addition to the star studded line up of talented speakers, attendees had the privilege of hearing First Lady Michele Obama give the closing remarks.

She spoke about a topic near and dear to her heart which is how to address the many challenges veterans face as they transition to civilian life.  In particular, she’s interested in how to fully utilize the unique skills and talents of veterans so that they can be successful when they return home.

The First Lady called on business and non-profit leaders to harness the potential of veterans and military spouses.  She went on to talk about how military families often have trouble transitioning to civilian life.  Sixty-one percent of employers say they don’t understand the skills our veterans have to offer.  Therefore often veterans find themselves under-utilized or out of work for months on end.  

Mrs. Obama asked the audience to reach out and engage veterans and military spouses and to take advantage of their talent, dedication and experience.   She emphasized that hiring veteran’s and military spouses is good for an organization’s bottom line because of what they have to offer due to their unique background and experience.  They have highly valuable, transferable, and marketable skills that can benefit any business or field. 

It’s been wonderful for the First Lady to prioritize and be so vocal about this issue.  For years, the BPW Foundation has been talking about the importance of transitioning women veterans to civilian life through the ongoing work of “Women Joining Forces”, an initiative that provides programming and resources to veterans.  I applaud the First Lady for giving this issue such an important place in her platform, because the attention she’s giving it will bolster this important population.

Posted in Career Advancement, Economy, Feminism, Global, Veterans, Women Veterans, Workforce Development/HR | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Politics As Usual…

Posted by joyinhome on September 20, 2010

President Obama during a CNBC appearanceToday, I attended CNBC’s town hall meeting, Investing in America, with President Obama. The President was intelligent, witty and thoughtful as always. He answered questions directly and addressed the concerns raised. I left the meeting excited and positive, feeling that POTUS Maximus was fighting for the American people, like me. I am a staunch Obama supporter and share it openly.

The coverage of this event however is characterizing it as Obama supporters who have lost faith in him as a leader. Please watch the actual broadcast and judge for yourself. The media coverage is a collection of sound bites. And as one gentleman pointed out: “You’re losing the war of sound bites. You’re losing the media cycles.”

What they didn’t capture from this PA small biz owner from Pennsylvania, was his continued support for Obama and his policies, giving examples of the stimulus package and auto industry investment; he outlined how legislation has businesses continue and congratulated on the job he is doing by investing in the country. His advice for the President was to regain the people who are losing faith, not because of what he hasn’t done, but because they are afraid.

The President reiterated that we have to get past the politics and back to making things better. We are in the midst of mid-term elections and a lot of ‘Obama hate’ and selective memory. I question the motivation of the media coverage that I’ve seen. At least I told you my bias from the beginning…

If you watched the broadcast or attended, tell us what you thought.

Posted in Economy, Global, Media, Politics, YWM | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Interesting Strategy to Fight HIV

Posted by joyinhome on July 16, 2010

This morning I heard a concert promotion on the radio. At the tail end, it said to “Go VIP for HIV!” Concert attendees could purchase a ticket for VIP access at a higher price and a portion of the proceeds would go to Metro Teen AIDS, a local group that promotes awareness of HIV/AIDS among teens. How great is that!

First step, creativity, next step a cure.

Posted in Advocacy, Families, Global, Health, HIV AIDS | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Each one, teach one.

Posted by businesswom on July 10, 2010

Across the bridge and a minibus taxi ride away sits an unassuming women’s shelter with an amazing mountain view in Cape Town, South Africa.  The shelter is for women who have been victims of domestic violence and is in an area commonly known as being part of the Cape flats, underprivileged areas of the city that are a byproduct of the former apartheid regime.

The mountains of Cape Town

Mountainside in Cape Town

I’d link to the shelter’s website, but sometimes the site works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Internet is still somewhat of a luxury here.  And, in true lekker Cape Town style, that is ok because everyone is just laid back living life.  If you want to know more information, you just have to drop in.  Address?  Who needs it?  No one seems to use them  when giving directions around here.  So, just take the train to Retreat station, then the minibus to Seawinds/Rooibekkie Street.  Get off when you see a church, just past the field of tires, tin roof shacks, a few actual houses, and children playing.  Then, walk around the corner.  It’s the orange house.  But, I digress.

The shelter not only provides a woman and her children a place to stay, but it also provides her a way to build a new life.  The women learn beading and knitting, which are trades here that permeate South African fashion.  They also learn basic computer skills in weekly classes.  Similarly, in the Cape Town suburbs, another shelter does the same.  It not only provides refuge for the beaten and abused, but also teaches skills for life.  Here, the women learn resume writing, business planning, and sewing in designated classes.  Several minutes away in Observatory, Cape Town, a church hosts a women’s beading group that has been featured in national magazines.  The beading orders they receive provide income for the women who have learned the trade.  The World Cup created an influx of orders that is sure to add sustainability to their program.

It does not take much to teach someone a skill that we may already know.  We may even consider learning a new skill ourselves.  Many things we know as second nature may benefit the person next to us who has not had the opportunities that we’ve had.  I have experienced this sharing of gifts in South Africa first hand.  Each one, teach one.  Teach a woman a skill today.

Posted in Career Advancement, Diversity, Families, Global | Leave a Comment »

One Year Later

Posted by joyinhome on June 25, 2010


One year later and the world is missing Michael Jackson…I know I am. I wonder if there will be any justice for this star whose light too many tried to extinguish. Conrad Murray will soon have to answer to the medical board….I guess we’ll see.

Posted in Diversity, Global | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Green the Block with Drake

Posted by joyinhome on June 11, 2010

Take action in your community with Green the Block and Drake, who hopes to ‘green’ a new generation of hip-hop fans…

Green The Block is Green For All’s campaign in partnership with the Hip Hop Caucus.

Posted in Diversity, Education, Environment, Families, Global, green, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »