My Vote My Voice

Gender equality is very much at the forefront of the minds of those attending the 20th anniversary of the Beijing +20 Conference and it was a highlight to hear from some people who were actually present.

An example we thought of is about how one young woman changed the lives of some Nepalese women by hard work and refusing to give up.

How an inspirational idea can grow. The power of one!

The Seven Women Foundation is a non-for-profit organization, socially and economically empowering marginalized and disabled woman in Nepal, through skills training and employment. It was founded in Katmandu by Stephanie Woollard, and old grammarian of Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School.

Seven Women Foundation began in 2007 as a development project to establish change for seven women, Stephanie found working out of a tin shed, who were experiencing severe discrimination as a result of being disabled. When Stephanie first met these women, she invested her time and resources in training them, with the hope of helping them acquire skills, which would assist them in earning an income. These projects are funded through the sale of the women’s hand-made goods, which were originally designed by Stephanie.

100% of the profits made in the past years have been spent on empowering these disadvantaged women. This has provided the funding for training in felt products and knitting and embroidery, materials, training equipment; workers’ wages and construction costs of building women’s skills training centres. Through our links with Stephanie, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School has often held stalls selling hats, scarfs and other personal goods to spread awareness of the work of the foundation. Girls also volunteer to help pack and sort goods for sale in Australia. As part of the schools co-curricular programme Ivanhoe Girls’ also provides our girls enrolled in VCE studies with the opportunity to visit and work with the foundation on a biannual trip to Nepal after their exams.

In addition to this Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School Year 8 students have raised money for Internet connections in a valley region in Nepal and has recently donated computers to benefit children in Nepalese villages. These connections were all destroyed in the recent earthquakes and work is underway to try and help with rebuilding and the educational needs of the villages we have supported. Because of the obvious urgent need money was raised, by the whole school community, to send to the UNICEF earthquake appeal.

We fully understand that when even one person has the will to change things it can happen and there are now several hundred Nepalese women benefitting from the determination of one young woman who was prepared to stand up for gender equality in Katmandu.

Marshall, Hauser, Shaw

Year 10 Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School

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