Friday, July 19, 2013

Stephanie Dowrick is delighted to discover WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL

Is it any surprise to you to know that 70% of those in our world who are subsisting on less than $1 a day are women? This has profound significance not only for the women themselves - and their access to adequate nutrition, education, health care, and rights to home and safety - but also for their children, for the world's children. For a child to grow up in poverty in a world of plenty is already an immeasurable injustice. This situation is gravely worsened when we realise how much of that suffering is caused by war. In war-torn and post-war countries, women are "targeted for rape and violence…forced from their homes…lose husbands and children and often become the sole providers for their families."

So, how should we respond?

In 1993 a remarkable young Iraqui-American woman, Zainab Salbi - then in her 20s - founded a quite unique organisation called WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL. Her first-hand experience of the devastation caused by the state-sanctioned violence that is war, and the particular devastation it causes women and their children, inspired her to set up a program which allows women and men in richer, more peaceful countries to support on an individual basis women who've been affected by war.

Zainab's formula is simple, intelligent and effective. Through a monthly modest contribution, sponsors (people like us) make it possible for women in war-affected countries to enrol in a focused, free one-year program of vocational education. Each participant is offered business and skills training, health and emotional support and vital access to micro-financing so that the benefits they gain can continue.  This is literally a life-giving, life-saving program and the women can, for the first time, achieve some degree of the independence and security we can too easily take for granted.
Every child, every person, deserves safety and peace.
Since WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL began, around 500,000 women have been directly helped and what's even more impressive is that it is estimated that this positively and immediately affects at least two and a half million people (many, many of them children). And so much more is possible.

This seems to me to be an exceptionally practical way that we can extend our peace-making efforts - not least because an educated population of women will always have far more power than when women's poverty effectively marginalizes and silences them.

To support this organisation, and to let people like us know that it exists and that we can become sponsors ourselves, a small team have put together a most beautiful cookbook - which is my special book this month.  The book is edited by Alison Oakervee and is called SHARE. Its subtitle says it all: "The cookbook that celebrates our common humanity".

100% of the royalties go direct to WOMEN FOR WOMEN
Many, many people have contributed fabulous recipes, from Meryl Street (who also contributes a heartfelt foreword) to Richard Branson, Archbishop Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Ashley Judd, Stephanie Alexander…but  I am also hugely enjoying the recipes from women in countries as diverse as Kosovo, Afghanistan and Nigeria. I am no "clever cook"! I am daunted by vast lists of ingredients and certainly don't spend hours in the kitchen. So I am relieved to say that these are recipes that are absolutely manageable in busy everyday lives. What's even better, though, is that reading the book and using the recipes is also a way in to understanding the lives of women who have no choice but to depend on us to make a difference.

Buy multiple copies of this wonderful book and give them liberally to friends. You would be giving far more than a gorgeous cookbook filled with nutritious, delicious and manageable recipes. (You can use our bookshop links, upper right.)  I also urge you to consider becoming a sponsor for an individual woman in the WOMEN FOR WOMEN programs. Their mantra is: "Change the world, one woman at a time". 

From wherever you are in the world, it is possible to participate. You do NOT need to be a woman to be a sponsor; you just need to care enough. is their "home" webpage. Some countries also have specific WOMENFORWOMEN web presence, including Australia where it is  You are also welcome to contact Jenny Bassett - WOMEN FOR WOMEN's volunteer organiser in Australia - via email:  You might also want to consider broadening your support through greater engagement with International Women's Development Agency (IWDA).  We can act. We can help. We can care effectively.  Your comments are very welcome.

"You can change the world, one woman at a time."

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