Inspiring Change

Celebrating Women’s Voices for International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day 2014 we celebrate the Voices of Women who are courageously speaking up and speaking out for the empowerment of women and INSPIRING CHANGE.  At a time when speaking up for justice, or just being yourself, gets women attacked, beaten, threatened, violated, insulted and shunned, let us seek inspiration for CHANGE and JUSTICE and EQUALITY and EQUITY and the fulfillment of WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS in the words of everyday heroes. Here are inspiring messages from women leaders at our event yesterday on the “Voices of Women.”


On Indigenous women:  

“Indigenous women’s voices are essential … because we cannot be distracted, intimidated, bribed, raped, or beaten into giving up our roles of protecting our great grandmother Earth.  The world needs to hear our direction on how to develop and grow economically while participating in our ecosystems in a manner that holds our winds, waters, and lands in trust for future generations.”

-– Lori Johnston -Yamasi Peoples.   Lori comes from a long line of indigenous women leading civil government in the original nations of Southeast North America.  With support from the Yamasi People, Lori established the Southeast Indigenous Peoples’ Center to research, monitor, report, and advocate on the survival issues affecting Indigenous Peoples in her region, where hundreds of thousands of indigenous citizens live with 100 million newcomers.

On grassroots and rural women:

“Rural African women are the central indicator or statistic used to measure development outcomes whether its poverty, illiteracy, health, etc. Therefore if CHANGE is to happen, they are the rights holders with experience and who also know what works and what solutions are transformative. They are least resourced in terms of technology, time, funding etc, therefore they remain on the margins.”

Nebila Abdulmelik  is a pan-Africanist and feminist currently based in Nairobi as the Head of Communications at FEMNET, (African Women’s Development and Communications Network) a pan-African organization working to advance women’s rights since 1988. FEMNET has been actively engaged in the UN Post 2015 development agenda, particularly in mobilizing African women to participate.

On women and disabilities: 

“Disabilities has gone from being more of a physical phenomenon to a deeply social phenomenon. There needs to be more analytics to understand how broader inequalities run across all constructs of race, ethnicity, and gendered realties.”

Vandana Chaudhry is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work at the City University of New York. She earned her Ph.D. in Social Work and Disability Studies and her areas of research pertain to disability in the global south, governance, development, and culturally competent practices.

On ageing women: 

“It’s different when someone refers to me as an ‘old woman’ then when they say ‘elderly woman.’ Women, youth, children, migrants, refugees, older adults, first nations, LGBTQ, people with special challenges, rural and coastal peoples, who have been and are traditionally excluded must be intentionally listened to, and brought into the circle of all.”

Marta Benavides is the founder of Siglo XXIII, the 23rd Century, a movement building a culture of peace, based in El Salvador but with a global reach. Marta has highlighted the issue of ageing using an intergenerational approach within the practice of culture of peace.

On sexual orientation and gender identity/LGBTQI:

“Every day people are discriminated because of the ‘perceived identity’ of being lesbian, gay, queer, and transgendered, even if they are not,… The intersectionality of LGBTQI/SOGI issues and development means that decisions made at the global level affect the daily lives of many, in terms of education, healthcare, basic rights…”

Cynthia Rothschild is an independent human rights and sexual rights activist and currently an advisor on international advocacy for COC Netherlands, a Dutch LGBT organization.

On women, peace and security:

“Peace and security is about putting your money where your mouth is. Currently, there’s investing in inequality and war, rather than women, equality and peace. Just a fraction of the US $1.7 trillion arms trade would finance the MDGs, for example, global sexual and reproductive health and family planning at $ US 33 billion, global primary school education: US $4 billion, global basic access to safe water and sanitation: US $18.7 billion.”

Abigail Ruane is the PeaceWomen Program Manager for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the longest-standing women’s peace group in the world.  She is a recognized women’s human rights expert and leads PeaceWomen’s advocacy in addressing silos between security and development processes at the UN.  As part of her work, she has taken a leading role in advocating to strengthen gender equitable conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding in the Post2015 agenda and has led the development of a Women Peace and Security mobile app.

*The Women’s Voices in the Post 2015 Agenda event was co-organized by the Policy and Strategy Group of The World We Want 2015 and the Feminist Task Force as part of the  “Peoples’ Voices” Series featuring the perspectives of women from the ageing, indigenous, LGBTQI, grassroots and disabilities communities.  See


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s