Women’s economic power: a key issue at the AWID Forum

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The 12th International Forum of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) will be launched and will have the theme Transforming Economic Power to Advance Women’s Rights and Justice. The event, which will bring together 2,200 activists and heads of women’s rights organizations around the world, will take place from April 19 to 22 2012, in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Uniterra program, WUSC, CECI and Match International will be a part of it! Here’s more information on the two sessions that will be offered.

Get a feel of the Conference by following our bloggers on the Her Challenge, Your Challenge blog!

Women’s groups invest in social economy and economic justice; examples from Guatemala, Senegal and Botswana

Saturday, April 21, 2012 - 11:30 am-1:00 pm

See AWID's Daily program for April 21st
Presented by: Uniterra

Reinforcing women’s economic power is a growing concern for women’s organizations. The influence that the economy has over our lives and destinies cannot be ignored, especially when it comes to the fights for the recognition of women’s rights, against sexual violence, and women’s political participation. Women are aware that strategically it is important to invest in these areas of action and to ensure they are not only financially independent, but also to increase their power to make economic choices and decisions. Women’s groups have supported various economic initiatives and alternatives, which are found in cooperative or social economy movements. In Senegal or Botswana, women in rural and urban areas organized themselves around economic activities, and women who have been victims of violence found their dignity and set out on the long road towards empowerment. In Guatemala, aboriginal women joined forces and demand greater economic justice.

The session aims to bring together women advocates engaged in actions related to women’s economic empowerment and the overall fight for women’s rights and for more power for women. We will reflect on strategies that can be developed to ensure that the economic alternatives proposed by women can help to change the unequal relationships that exist between men and women in developed and developing countries, and in local and globalized economies. We will also analyze concrete experiences and identify the conditions needed to launch viable, strategic and sustainable initiatives.


  • Mariame Coulibaly (Senegal, host)
  • Brina Carina Caxaj Àlvarez (Guatemala)
  • Héléne Safiétou Diop Diouf (Senegal)
  • Peggie Ramapha (Botswana)

From left to right: Mariame Coulibaly (Senegal, host), Peggie Ramapha (Botswana), Brina Carina Caxaj Àlvarez (Guatemala), Héléne Safiétou Diop Diouf (Senegal)

Women Work: Strategic alliances to transform Sri Lanka’s tea sector

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 1:00-2:00 pm
See AWID’s program for April 19th

Presented by World University Service of Canada

Similar to many of the key issues faced by women workers the world over, Sri Lanka’s tea plantation workers reality includes unequal access to and control over resources, male dominated power structures, violence at home and the workplace, and poor working conditions with little recourse among many others. These realities are experienced in the context of ethnic inequalities and remnants of colonial past. Innovative strategies and alliance building are being used to transform power in the tea plantation sector.

The panel will share the process from three different but complementary perspectives. They will address the challenges, the lessons learned and the successes with the aim of stimulating discussion amongst the participants about potential to replicate aspects of the project in other industries and/or countries. Panelists will also touch on challenges this approach may cause.

Plantation Communities Project (PCP) is a successful development initiative underway in the highlands of Sri Lanka. The project works with women workers, the communities and the estates (both managers and CEOs) to collaboratively identify key issues and come up with innovative solutions. Establishing and strengthening women’s groups and women’s voices, they are transforming the sector: inclusion of women as supervisors, paying women directly for their work, productivity bonuses, establishment of savings cooperatives to give them better access to resources, community health projects including alcohol harm reduction programs, and community mobilization to promote unity as a means to address ethnic tension (between Tamil estate workers and Sinhala villagers).


  • Katharine Im-Jenkins (facilitator)
  • Stephanie Hoey (WUSC Canada)
  • Jeganathan Rathna (WUSC Sri Lanka)
  • Velusamy Krishnaveni, Abbotsleigh Estate, Watawala Plantations