WLP Partners Organize Women’s Day Activities and Leadership Workshops in India and Malaysia

March 2, 2006

International women's dayOn March 8, women across the world celebrated International Women’s Day through a variety of celebratory festivals, peaceful ceremonies, and political rallies to honor the long struggle for equality and freedom. WLP partners in India and Malaysia held special events to raise awareness of the rights of women and indigenous peoples in their communities.

In observance of Women’s Day and International Day of Action Against Dams (March 14), WLP’s partner organization in India, Centre for Organization Research and Education (CORE), organized a series of workshops and events with activists and community organizers to raise awareness about women’s rights and the role of women in safeguarding natural resources and promoting sustainable development in indigenous communities. The workshops were held in the village of Holokbari, near the site of a proposed dam on the Subansiri River in the state of Assam.

Participants observed International Women’s Day by holding a peaceful march and rally, chanting such slogans as "Save the Natural Resources," "Save our Future Generations," "Stop Violence Against Women," "Protect Women’s Rights," "Women’s Rights are Human Rights," and "Stop the Dam and Save the Subansiri River." This was the first time that International Women’s Day was observed in Holokbari.

Subansiri River During the workshops women discussed the importance of developing a shared group vision, effective leadership and communication styles, and successful advocacy tools. The workshops concluded with a river blessing ceremony, attended by more than 350 people. Following the ceremony, participants gathered together to develop a collective action plan to save the Subansiri River and the Subansiri valley. The group drafted a memorandum addressed to the Chairman of the Life Insurance Corporation of India, the company financing the dam project, demanding transparency and accountability in its policies.

WHO WE ARE

Lost and lonely we were, heading in the footpaths of our own
Not knowing where to go, where to turn
But when the chance came, we all knew
That this would bring about something new
New skills, that will help pay the bills
New friends, that’s how the best part of life begins
One voice, one understanding
No discrimination, a new beginning
Thank you for showing us all we can be
Thank you, WDC!

 

Malaysian workshop participants WLP’s Malaysian partner, Women's Development Collective (WDC), conducted its first co-ed leadership training workshop with college students in Kuala Lumpur. The workshop included interactive projects and applied activities using the WLP Leading to Choices leadership training curriculum that proved to be a useful and meaningful component in linking community issues with the concept of responsible, communicative leadership. As part of the workshop, participants visited an Orang Asli community, an aboriginal community, in Pulau Carey. The students held discussions with members of the village in order to develop creative plans of action that reflect the community’s immediate needs and concerns.

On International Women’s Day, workshop participants held a press conference on "What does good leadership mean?" that also gave them an opportunity to put into practice what they learned about effective communication. The press conference was aired by a local television station and reported in three local newspapers. In the final evaluation of their workshop experience, participants crafted a poem:

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