Tag Archives: women’s empowerment

Causes to Celebrate – 100 Unseen Powerful Women Awards and Farewell to One World Action

31 Oct

– Laura Ouseley, Campaigns Coordinator, One World Action

The One Hundred Unseen Powerful Women campaign by One World Action culminated on 27th October with an awards ceremony at the King’s Fund, London. We were joined by over 200 supporters, campaigners, colleagues, and many of the women from the One Hundred Unseen Powerful Women list. The evening paid tribute to the many remarkable examples of women’s leadership.

The comedian Neil Mullarkey, one of One World Action’s patrons, hosted the presentation, and was joined by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, former MP Barbara Follett and theatre producer Philip Headley in celebrating the achievements of the 100 women and One World Action.

International NGOs and social networks nominated a long list of women from 40 different countries, including Iran, Somalia, Nepal and Peru. In September a panel of judges including Laura Fox, Barbara Follett, Renana Jhabvala and Rebecca Tinsley narrowed the list of 100 women down to eight winners, who were honoured last Thursday.

The winners and runner-ups in each of the four categories represent a wide range of activities and come from all corners of the globe. Together with One World Action’s Director Hannah Davies, panel member Barbara Follett presented the awards.

In the category of Public Service, the winner was Dr Hawa Abdi – a gynaecologist in Somalia who provides shelter, relief and medical care for women and children escaping the conflict. The runner-up in this category was Marceline Kongolo-Bicé – an anti-rape campaigner in Eastern Congo who has provided training, economic opportunities and care to victims of sexual violence.

In the category of Business and Entrepreneur, the winner was Meenu Vadera – an entrepreneur in Delhi who founded and runs the city’s first women-only taxi service. The runner-up was Adelaide Foute Tega – a market trader in Douala, Cameroon who has improved the economic conditions of other women traders by challenging harassment and discrimination in the market. In Adelaide’s own words, ‘After 2 years of training and coaching, women traders are a force to reckon with in the Sandaga market, the largest food market inCentral Africa. Women traders have asserted themselves and are gradually improving the business environment in the market for themselves and generations to come’.

In the category of Human Rights, the winner was Maryam Bibi – a women’s rights campaigner in the tribal areas of Pakistan who provides training and medical care to hundreds of women in the face of prejudice and threats of violence. The runner-up was Fanny Chirisa – a political activist in Zimbabwe who campaigns to change the political culture and end political violence and intolerance by promoting equity and accountability among public officials.

In the final category, Arts and Media, the winner was Mary Luz Avendaño – a campaigning journalist in Medellin, Colombia who has uncovered links between police officers and criminal gangs. We were privileged to have Mary Luz at the event to collect her award in person. The runner-up was Durgabai Vyam – an innovative Dalit artist who uses her unique visual style to challenge caste discrimination in India. You can see some of Durgabai’s work here.

Some of the 100 Unseen Powerful Women who attended the event. Photo: Laura Wetherall

We were also pleased to showcase a great comedian Lara A King. Always keen to promote women who work in fields dominated by men – in this case comedy – this year’s winner of the Funny Women Awards did an excellent job keeping the mood of the event one of celebration!

Jon Snow rushed in just in time to tell us about what has made One World Action different over the last 22 years and why he has been such a committed supporter of the organisation. Sadly, One World Action is closing this month but it was great that Sue Turrell, Director of Womankind Worldwide – the organisation taking forward much of One World Action’s legacy and active projects, especially in Africa – was there to tell us more about the organisation.

As Jon Snow said, it is great that One World Action can go out with a bang, and its approach and legacy will go so much further.

Thank you to everyone who attended the event and who has supported the One Hundred Unseen Powerful Women campaign. All of us at One World Action hope that the campaign can continue in 2012. As I am sure you will agree there are thousands more Unseen Powerful Women around the world who are doing outstanding and courageous things to improve the lives of others, and these women deserve to be recognised for their work.


You can see more photos from the event here.

Powerful Women Taking Control

31 Oct

– Hannah Davies, Director, One World Action

The 100 (unseen) powerful women in the list are fantastically inspiring each in their own way. They represent a huge range of activity and commitment – from a health campaigner in East London to a solar power project in Kenya. But do they have anything in common? Is there any unifying wider point? About the role of women? About social change?

The idea for the list came from reading an article about the upcoming list of powerful women that gets published every year by the Forbes magazine. While it’s great that they recognise women’s leadership it’s always a certain kind of woman and a certain kind of leadership: privileging the already privileged and recognising only certain kinds of power and influence.

More recently I have been reading another book that has an interesting take on how ordinary (or unseen) individuals can be powerful and affect change. In his book The Leaderless Revolution, Carne Ross stresses the simple idea of agency. In the face of an almost overwhelming barrage of global problems (terrorism, climate change, financial meltdown and so on), he emphasises how individuals taking control of their lives through individual or collective action is one way – possibly the only way – to overcome the challenges we face.

I think it’s particularly important for women to recognise their own agency – to not always look to be led by a charismatic leader (usually a man). That understanding of our own individual power is a fundamental part of empowerment: recognising this in each other is hopefully one of the benefits of the list.

The feminist side of finance

26 Jul

Laura Ouseley speaks to One World Action’s Finance Manager Gareth Richards about why finance plays such an important role in One World Action’s work to empower women and girls.

So what does One World Action do in the area of finance?

We help grassroots organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, to set up financial systems and procedures so that they can more easily manage international grants and other income. This is particularly important for the newer organisations we work with, who are often just establishing themselves. Part of this means ensuring they have a suitable ledger, or working with them to set one up if necessary. We often mentor them for the first few months of a project, including working with them on financial reporting to funders, advising on recruitment of financial staff, and working with operational staff to ensure they are able to use financial information effectively to assist them in planning and implementing projects (in other words empowering women and doing the work that we want to support!).

Could you give an example of building financial capacity?

One World Action helps partners to build their financial management capacity in a number of ways, we either visit them, get another partner to mentor them, or get a consultant to mentor them. Our work with FEMUCADI (who promote and protect the rights of disabled women in Nicaragua) was very successful in this area. In 2008 FEMUCADI were reliant on another organization to manage their finances and this was holding them back so in 2008 we organised a consultant to help them develop an accounting manual, systems and budgets so that their staff could independently manage and plan their projects. This contributed to their becoming a much stronger and more influential organization.

What does this work have to do with women’s empowerment?

At the end of the day helping organisations to better manage their finances means that they can spend more time doing the work that really makes a difference to women’s lives – whether that’s lobbying their government, helping women to deal with violence and abuse, or giving women the skills and confidence to seek their own income with which to support their families. Training women in financial management also helps challenge gender stereotypes as in many places accounting is still very male dominated. What’s more, robust financial procedures can play an important role in the countries One World Action works in – challenging corruption and supporting organisations to become more accountable and transparent.

Is it difficult to get funding for this type of work?

Yes. Although we don’t apply specifically for funding for this work it very much forms part of the means to the end – which is women’s empowerment. Finance training is often included in our projects but we would love to do more work on this.

Are all international charities doing this type of work?

Not all of them. We focus a lot on capacity building at One World Action; building the skills of women so that they are empowered and can continue fighting for women’s rights. Women’s financial independence is one of our aims and financial skills are part of this. I think that whilst providing women with services is great, small grassroots organisations need to learn how to become sustainable – so that when assistance comes to an end they can continue to do the work and to grow on their own.


To make a donation today in support of One World Action’s work promoting women’s leadership in developing countries- text LEAD02 followed by £2, £5 or £10 to 70070