Susan Russell, International Relations
The 1,900 participants came to Women’s Worlds 2011 from NGOs, academia and the private sector, young and old, “able” and disabled. First Nations women were an integral part of the opening ceremonies at the Great Hall of the Museum of Civilization on Sunday and were visible throughout the conference.
Listen when you hear the women roar as they make connections and converse! The theme was “Inclusions, Exclusions and Seclusions: Living in a Globalized World”. Dr. Roseanne Runte greeted us on the first morning and Allan Rock at the end – representing both Universities.
Each day started with a plenary discussion in the new Conference Centre and themed:
1. Breaking Cycles
2. Breaking Ceilings
3. Breaking Barriers
4. Breaking Ground
Over 100 workshops daily were each based on the day’s theme. When sessions ended at 6.30 they segued into movies, exhibitions and receptions.
- UWC Vancouver’s workshop dealt with Prostitution (the Nordic Model).
- IFUW’s Louise Croot, and Anne Ronning dealt with widowhood – as an emerging issue.
- Shirley Randall spoke about her work on gender equality in Rwanda.
- Brenda Wallace introduced the CFUW workshop on Barriers to Maternal Health and set the scene leading into my talk about barriers and framework, next came Brenda Robertson’s personal stories about Tanzania and then Teresa Chiesa from the CARE Canada spoke as a health professional just back from the Congo.
The CARE movie, “No Women, No Cry” dealt with challenges to health care in Africa prepared us for our own workshop on the next day.
Abigail Disney’s documentary: Pray the Devil Back to Hell – about the Liberian women who came together at the end of a bloody civil war to make sure that their men made peace shows how determined women can make a difference. It is part of a series on war by this producer.
It is important to include women at every level – women have the power to make lasting change. One woman at a time we can all make a difference.