WE’RE WOMEN. WE DON’T NEED CHARITY
The image of a destitute child holding an empty bowl in supplication towards the camera is one we are well used to seeing, but it won’t have come from the International Women’s Development Agency Inc.
“You will never, ever see a photograph of a poor little starving girl from this agency,” says Joanna Hayter, managing director of IWDA.
“It’s extremely demeaning,” she says. “It’s an ‘us and ‘them’ image. One helping the other. That is not what we are about. We want to be in partnerships, as equals.”Filomena Tuivanualevu, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement.
Instead IWDA shows images of proud, independent women and girls who are shaping their own futures.
IWDA is a truly remarkable outfit. It is the only Australian development agency which focuses one hundred per cent on women’s rights and gender equality.
And it is getting results right across the Pacific region in programs that are exhilarating and empowering for women.
IWDA programs include: Leadership training for women on the Thai-Burma border; support for garment workers in Cambodia; bringing Fijian women to the table in talks on constitutional change; empowering women in the Solomon Islands to speak up about logging and tackling the issue of sexual violence in PNG.
After speaking with Joanna I was inspired to take a new look at my so-called “charity” budget and make some radical changes.
IWDA is NOT a charity. It is looking at rights, not needs.
I could see that some of the aid organisations I donate to have a “top down” model. As Joanna puts it, too many development organisations continue to work in an old-fashioned, patriarchal model of aid.
Instead, IWDA focuses on deep and long-term engagement.
“This is the cutting-edge partnership model,” Joanna told me. “It’s the women themselves who tell us the way forward. And when women get stronger and become significant players in society, things change.”
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