Tag Archives: Vital Voices

MP Mu Sochua, to attend Global Ambassador’s Program in Haiti

February 23, 2012

photograph by Cattleya Jaruthavee

On February 28 to March 1, 2012 Cambodian Member of Parliament Mu Sochua will act as a Global Ambassador for the launch of the Vital Voices and Bank of America global mentoring program “The Global Ambassador’s Program” in Pétion-Ville, Haiti. The program seeks to resolve the women’s leadership gap by connecting the expertise of the world’s top women from business, media, government and civil society to outstanding emerging local women leaders. The 2012 program’s Global Ambassadors include: American actress and activist Maria Bello; Minister of Agriculture in the Republic of Liberia, Dr. Florence Chenoweth; a Marketing Executive at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Constance Morella, the former United States Government Ambassador to the OECD.

Haitian women’s voices are barely present in the country’s social and economic decision making processes. Currently, women make up less than 3% of Haiti’s Parliament. As a result, throughout the course of the past few months, Haitian women’s organizations have hosted 308 focus groups for women across the country to identify and develop policy platforms regarding key issues affecting Haitian women. The Global Ambassador’s Program will provide a space for local leaders to meet, consult, and develop their policy platforms under the mentorship of the Global Ambassadors.

During the program, Haitian women leaders will draft a set of policy priorities based on the issues identified by Haitian women across the country. Each Global Ambassador, including MP Mu Sochua, will mentor two extraordinary Haitian women leaders as they lead this consultative process to produce a National Women’s Platform. On March 1, the National Women’s Platform will be presented to President Michel Martelly to ensure the acknowledged policy priorities are accounted for in the next legislative cycle.

For more information regarding The Global Ambassador’s Program and Global Ambassador MP Mu Sochua, visit: sochua.wordpress.com.

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The Hillary Doctrine- Newsweek

Mu Sochua met Clinton in Beijing and credits Clinton’s speech with changing her career path. “That was the day I decided to enter politics,” says Sochua, now a prominent Cambodian opposition leader. “Watching her I had the sense that I could do it, that other women could do it, if we really spoke from the bottom of our hearts and reflected the voices of women.”

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The Hillary Doctrine

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Newsweek.

In a time of momentous change in the world, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sets out on her most heartfelt mission: to put women and girls at the forefront of the new world order.

Hillary Clinton seemed to be in a rare moment of repose while the Middle East erupted. She’d just returned from a surprise trip to Yemen and now sat for 30 minutes against a blue backdrop in the State Department’s Washington broadcast studio as reports streamed in of Libya’s violent crackdown on its own people.

But Clinton was far from a passive observer. She was in energetic discussion on the Egyptian news site Masrawy.com, where her presence excited a stream of questions—more than 6,500 in three days—from young people across Egypt. “We hope,” she said, “that as Egypt looks at its own future, it takes advantage of all of the people’s talents”—Clinton shorthand for including women. She had an immediate answer when a number of questioners suggested that her persistent references to women’s rights constituted American meddling in Egyptian affairs: “If a country doesn’t recognize minority rights and human rights, including women’s rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible.”

The Web chat was only one of dozens of personal exchanges Clinton has committed to during the three months since Tunisia’s unrest set off a political explosion whose end is not yet in sight. At every step, she has worked to connect the Middle East’s hunger for a new way forward with her categorical imperative: the empowerment of women. Her campaign has begun to resonate in unlikely places. In the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, where women cannot travel without male permission or drive a car, a grandson of the Kingdom’s founding monarch (Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud) last month denounced the way women are “economically and socially marginalized” in Arab countries.

“I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century,” Clinton recently told NEWSWEEK during another rare moment relaxing on a couch in the comfortable sitting room of her offices on the State Department’s seventh floor, her legs propped up in front of her. “We see women and girls across the world who are oppressed and violated and demeaned and degraded and denied so much of what they are entitled to as our fellow human beings.”

Clinton is paying particular attention to whether women’s voices are heard within the local groups calling for and leading change in the Middle East. “You don’t see women in pictures coming from the demonstrations and the opposition in Libya,” she told NEWSWEEK late last week, adding that “the role and safety of women will remain one of our highest priorities.” As for Egypt, she said she was heartened by indications that women would be included in the formation of the new government. “We believe that women were in Tahrir Square, and they should be part of the decision-making process. If [the Egyptians] are truly going to have a democracy, they can’t leave out half the population.”

Read the rest of the article here.

SEVEN Staged in Delhi on the Closing Day of Vital Voices of Asia Summit

We were so thrilled this evening to bring an incredible three-day summit to a close with the staging of our documentary play, SEVEN, featuring seven acclaimed Indian actresses. Shabana Azmi, celebrated actress and women’s advocate, championed our Delhi production, taking it upon herself to engage fellow actresses in the staging after being moved by the SEVEN script depicting the real life stories of remarkable heroines in the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network.

A packed audience of summit delegates and international guests was in attendance for the first production of SEVEN in Asia. Featured actresses included: Shabana Azmi in the role of Inez McCormack;Urmila Matondkar in the role of Farida Azizi; Tannishtha Chatterjee in the role of Hafsat Abiola; Mahira Kakkar in the role of Mukhtar Mai; Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal in the role of Anabela de Leon; Tanvi Azmi in the role of Marina Pisklakova-Parker; and Jayati Bhatia in the role of Mu Sochua.

After what was one of the most moving productions of SEVEN to date, our summit moderator, Zain Verjee, welcomed the performing actresses to the stage once more for a brief question and answer session. Cambodian parliamentarian and long-time Vital Voices Global Leadership Network member Mu Sochua, one of the seven women portrayed in the documentary play, joined Zain and the actresses on stage alongside Vital Voices Vice President for Human Rights, Cindy Dyer.

Sochua said that the theatrical depiction of women’s stories of tragedy and triumph never fails to move her:

“Each time I see SEVEN, I hold my breath. I still cry.”

Shabana Azmi commented on both her involvement in the production as an women’s activist, and her experience as an actress:

“It’s hugely inspiring. What we did is surrender totally to the lives of these extraordinary women. All we could do is try to communicate their stories. It was a tribute, and a very humbling experience.”

Cindy Dyer recognized the sponsoring partners for the evening, the Avon Foundation for Women, and appealed to delegates to make use of a domestic violence toolkit produced by Vital Voices in collaboration with Avon; the toolkit includes strategic methods for advocacy, such as staging a reading of SEVEN to highlight the tremendous struggle and achievement of these remarkable women.

Original post on VitalVoices.org

Third plenary session: Overcoming the Obstacles to Equality, Development and Peace

The third plenary session of our summit focused largely on assessing women’s  role in politics, titled Overcoming the Obstacles to Equality, Development and Peace: A Global Roundtable to Commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women. Summit moderator Zain Verjee asked panelists to share their personal experience of overcoming barriers — social, structural, cultural and governmental.

In Cambodia, parliamentarian and Vital Voices Global Leadership Network member Mu Sochua has contested bias and paved the way for women’s rights in a recovering post-genocide society that’s often indifferent or ill equipped to address women’s needs:

“The word ‘gender’ cannot be translated in Khmer, because it doesn’t exist. So, we say ‘gender’.”

Sochua urged that women “not shy away from politics,” because every issue that affects women’s daily lives is in some way a political issue. Governor of Uttarakhand state in India and former Vital Voices Global Leadership Award honoree, Margaret Alva, echoed Sochua’s call for women’s engagement in the political realm.

In her 30 years of political activism, Margaret says that she has seen women make considerable strides and now sees a shift materializing in India, owing largely to the adoption of a quota reserving seats for women in the Panchayat, or local bodies of governance.

There are currently one million politically active women engaged at the grassroots level in India, says Margaret, but their one-year term limit ought to be reexamined to ensure that they have the opportunity to have a lasting impact. Women also need to reach out to male counterparts in politics, forming coalitions and networks of support to bolster their campaigns for change and increase chances of success by acting as a collective.

“I believe that women today are creating their own constituency in the grassroots. Women are entering politics with ease now, but survival — you cannot survive purely on women’s constitutes. You have to be part of your party. There are not men’s issues and women’s issues, there are social issues that have to be looked at together, men and women.”

Ambassador Sally Shelton-Colby echoed Margaret’s appeal for collaborative efforts, advocating for the employment of unified bodies for action on global issues affecting women. Sally appealed to delegates convened to join in the Breakthrough Initiative, a project of Vital Voices’ multi-partner La Pietra Coalition to Advance Women and the World. Members of the Breakthrough Initiative include two Nobel Laureates, Muhammad Yunus and Amartya Sen.

Panelist Barbara Cooperman of LexisNexis spoke about the Rule of Law Index project, which pursues an integrated approach to strengthening societies through judicial reform, finding that this has ripple effects in social and economic spheres. Research compiled for the Index examines the practical effects of legislation in the daily lives of women and men.

Patricia Sarenas of the Philippines, deputy director of the Mindanao Commission on Women, shared the success she has found in engaging judges and chief justices in the drafting of laws; Patricia said that it’s critical to involve the judiciary arm of government in the writing of laws, since they are the members who will be implementing the laws.

CEO of The Garden of Hope Foundation in Taiwan, Hui-Jung Chi said that we can shift perceptions and move forward cultural practices that would seek to limit women through innovative campaigns that engage new audiences, especially youth. When launching a campaign for legislation on child sex trafficking in her home country, Chi and members of her foundation organized a flash mob of 50,000 people in central Tai Pei, which garnered critical awareness and increased political pressure just before the bill was up for consideration. The legislation was passed, and Chi says of the experience:

“This campaign might be an example of how a social movement can become a legal reality.”

Original Post at VitalVoices.org