Who Run the World? MATCH International and the Nobel Women’s Initiative

            About a month ago, uOttawa hosted an amazing speaking panel on women’s rights in Canada and abroad. The women who participated in the panel discussion were all female activists from Canada, Guatemala, Myanmar and Liberia. Not only were their stories incredible, but they were inspirational – these girls truly run the world!

            In 2012, MATCH International and the Nobel Women’s Initiative teamed up to launch the Young Women’s Rights Activists: Conversations in Canada speaking tour.  Now in its second year, the tour came to uOttawa and provided a platform for young women activists to share their stories with fellow women and students. The panelists are part of the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship program (which is part of the Nobel Women’s Initiative) where they learn how to effectively communicate their ideas, then apply those skills and share their stories with the Canadian public. At each stop in the tour, the international participants are paired up with Canadian activists from the area. While in Ottawa, the international participants were paired up with Yamikani Msosa and Nelly Bassily, both young women activists from Ottawa.

            Yamikani Msosa is a master’s feminist student at Carleton, and works at the sexual assault center. Nelly is a feminist advocate with Egyptian roots, who advocates for female equality in her home country. The international panelists included Gabriela Rivera, from Guatemala, Josephine Gekpelee, from Liberia, and Su Thet San, from Myanmar. Gabriela is a human rights lawyer in Guatemala, Josephine leads two talk shows in Liberia to empower marginalized and disabled women, and Su Thet is a field coordinator for post literacy programs in Myanmar schools.

            All these women shared some pretty amazing stories and experiences from their various countries. In Guatemala for instance, over 70,000 sexual harassment cases are filed each year. However, last year, only 700 made it to court. And of course, the police don’t care. Since not many women participate in politics or the legislature, no change is happening. In Liberia, 50% of the population lives under the world poverty line ($1.25 per day) and 50 % of the population is illiterate. While UN world treaties bind Liberia with offering compulsory and free primary education to all children, the laws are not used equally for everyone. In Myanmar, the country is bound by military law. There exists much torture and oppression. So again, it is very difficult to implement any laws that try to combat the horrible situation that women face. Even in Egypt, as Nelly explained, UN laws don’t really affect women, nor do they represent reality.

            It is because of these stories that MATCH International and the Nobel Women’s Initiative put together this event. Considering the amazing work they have done, MATCH International deserves to be highlighted.  MATCH International was founded in 1976 by two Canadian women who were inspired into action after attending the United Nation’s First World Conference on Women, held in Mexico City. The organization was founded to MATCH the needs of Canadian women with the needs of women in the global south. They have now achieved this through the foundation of Canada’s first international fund for women, which funds women’s rights organization around the world to make lasting changes in the lives of women and girls. 

            MATCH International is always grateful for the support they receive from students across Canada. If you are interested in learning more about the organization, you can check out their facebook page, or their website. From time to time, they host student volunteers in their Ottawa office. However, the best way to get involved is to like them on facebook and twitter, and subscribe to their e-newsletter and blog.

            Spread the word and create a discussion. After all, according to Nelly, we must have solidarity towards each other. We all understand each other.

 

Photo Credits:

http://matchinternational.org

http://nobelwomensinitiative.org

http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/2013/09/conversations-in-canada-josephine-gabriela-su-thet-san-to-take-part-in-speaking-tour/