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SESSION IV Powered By Docstoc
					     Global Literacy Project: Weaving our U*U Global Village Network

SESSION IV: What strategies and model programs are working
to end poverty and improve women’s lives?
   Introduce the United Nations Millennium Development Goals
   Understand the sorts of conditions people living in extreme poverty have
    to face
   Learn about a model program, supported by Unitarian Universalist
    funding, that is working to improve women‟s lives and end poverty
   Identify Four Pillars of women‟s development

   Decide how you want to do #4 Poverty Quiz. You may make copies for
    each participant, write the questions and multiple choice answers on
    newsprint, or read the questions and answers out loud.
   Write each of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on a separate
    piece of construction paper or poster board. Check out Resource Link—
    Millennium Development Goals for background information.
   Have scissors, glue, and magazines ready for making collages about the
   Make copies of #6 Extreme Poverty and #7 A Model Program to End
    Poverty for each participant.
   Make one copy of the Four Pillars in #8 and cut apart to give to small


   1. Gathering Together                                           5 minutes

Invite participants to share anything they have noticed in the news about women
and poverty. There will be time to share reports of their explorations after the
chalice lighting.

   2. Global Chalice Lighting (in English and Cebuano)             5 minutes

Like the burning flame that shines,
like the passionate feeling of love that glows
we're together again;
to sing and to pray,
to give and to receive,
the burning passion that we've celebrated and shared
in our coming together as one

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Sama sa kainit sa kalayo nga misidlak,
sama sa kainit sa gugma nga migilak
nia na usab kita;
aron sa pag-awit ug pag-ampo,
aron sa paghatag ug pagdawat,
sa kainit sa gugma nga atong gisaluhan ug gipakig-ambit
sa atong panaghiusa.

              —Susan R. Quisel, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines

   3. Reports on United Nations Programs and NGOs                   15-20 minutes

Invite participants to share their reports on UN and NGO work on women’s rights.
Depending on how many reports are presented, you may need to adjust the
other activities for this session.

   4. Poverty—a Quiz                                                  10 minutes

Emphasize that this is not a test of their intelligence but rather a consciousness-
raising activity.

Note that some of the questions refer to extreme poverty and others to poverty in
general. Worldwide the threshold for poverty is considered to be those living on
less than $, about half of the world’s people.

   (1) Who is considered to be living in extreme poverty?
                (a) Homeless people
                (b) People who only eat one meal a day
                (c) People who live on less than $1 a day
                (d) In the United States, a family of four living on less than
                    $10,000 a year income

   (2) What percentage of the world‟s population lives in extreme poverty?
                (a) 10%
                (b) 20%
                (c) 30%

   (3) Approximately how many people die each day worldwide from poverty-
       related causes?
                 (a) 5,000
                 (b) 20,000
                 (c) 35,000
                 (d) 50,000

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   (4) How many children in the United States live in extreme poverty?
               (a) One in 13
               (b) One in 19
               (c) One in 26

   (5) What was the change in the percent of people living in poverty in the US
       between 2000 and 2005?
                (a) Increased by 12%
                (b) Increased by 26%
                (c) Decreased by 12%
                (d) Decreased by 26%

   (6) Where does the United States rank in terms of percentage of children
       living in poverty as compared with other major industrialized nations?
                   (a) 20th
                   (b) 10th
                   (c) 3rd
                   (d) 1st

(1) All may be true. (c) is the official definition. (d) is the threshold determined by
the US government.
(2) (b) According to the World Bank, the overall rate of extreme poverty was
decreasing as of 2004, partly due to efforts related to the Millennium
Development Goals; at the same time, however, the rate has grown in some
areas, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly half the population lives in
(3) (c) is the estimate given by UNICEF. (d) is from the Reality of Aid 2004 report.
(4) (a) According to the Children‟s Defense Fund,
(5) (b) According to 2005 census data, reported by Andrew Gumbel, “Poverty
Gap Has Widened under Bush,” Independent, Feb. 27, 2007.
(6) (d) Reported various places. One source is Society at a Glance, Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2002.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion
   What do you imagine life is like for those who live in extreme poverty?
   Do you think it‟s harder to live in extreme poverty in the US or in other
   Would you rather be poor in a rich nation or be rich in a poor nation?

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   5. Millennium Development Goals                                   20 minutes

Summarize the information in the first two paragraphs. Then ask different
members of the group to read aloud each of the eight MDGs and their
benchmarks. Invite participants to find magazine pictures to illustrate the goals
and create group collages. After the collages are finished, discuss the questions.

In September 2000, the United Nations Millennium Summit brought together the
largest gathering of world leaders in history. In the Summit's final declaration,
signed by 189 countries, the international community committed itself to a
specific agenda for reducing global poverty.

This agenda listed eight Millennium Development Goals which not only identified
the gains needed but quantified them and established benchmarks for measuring
improvements in people's lives. Those who established these goals knew it
would be a challenge to achieve them, but they believed the goals were
attainable and worthy of mobilizing their countries‟ efforts to accomplish.

      Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
         Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar
            a day.
         Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

      Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
         Ensure that boys and girls complete a full course of primary

      Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
         Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education
            preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.

      Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
         Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five.

      Goal 5: Improve maternal health
         Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.

      Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
         Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
         Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major

      Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
         Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country
            policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources

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             Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access
              to safe drinking water.
             Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum
              dwellers, by 2020.

       Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
          Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-
             based, predictable and non-discriminatory, includes a commitment
             to good governance, development and poverty reduction—
             nationally and internationally.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

      What is the importance of having goals? Share an example of a goal you
       have set and achieved.
      Have you been part of a group that set goals? How did that work out?
      What is the significance of so many countries agreeing on a common set
       of goals? What do you think the results will be?
      In what ways are issues of gender equality involved in each of the eight
       Millennium Development Goals?

   6. Extreme Poverty                                           15 minutes

The story in this and the following activity is adapted from a book by John
Sommers, Empowering the Oppressed: Grassroots Advocacy Movements in
India. Ask participants to each read a paragraph of the story, imagining what it
would feel like to be Jamu.

The sun reflects off the white desert sand like a mirror, bringing with it the
sweltering heat of summer in the Rann of Kutch. Few trees are visible on the flat
horizon. The only motion is the illusory specter of the melting air rising from the
ground, rippling as it goes. It too is trying to escape the scorching heat of the
sands. Nothing offers any shade. .
        Jamu is resting from her journey through the desert that started just after
the sun began its downward journey in the sky. Her infant son is resting on her
hip, sleeping from either exhaustion from the heat or lack of food, or both. His hair
is bleached and dry from malnutrition and overexposure to the sun. Jamu‟s bare
feet are crusted in salt, the mark of her trade—salt farmer. She lives and
works in the desert eight months of the year, extracting the white grains in the
white heat of the white desert.
        Now she is traveling the six kilometers that lie between her mud hut in the
desert and the nearest village, Patanka. In the village, she hopes to find the rice
and millet she needs to feed her family. There is a government fair price shop
(FPS) in the village, but there is no guarantee that they will have even the basic
items she requires. In fact, they rarely do.

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         If not, then she will have to pay the 4 rupees bus fare to go to the next
provisions shop. She makes 15 rupees a day, working in the salt pans. Today's
trip will cost 8 rupees. The food will cost 15 rupees. The loss in labor for the hours
she is gone will be 5 rupees. She will have to borrow from the shopkeeper again.
That means she will have to pay five times as much with interest, but her family
has to eat.
         She has to make this journey every day. The sand doesn‟t get any cooler.
The distance doesn‟t get any shorter. The debt just keeps getting bigger. 1

Questions for Reflection and Discussion
   Imagining yourself as Jamu, how do you feel about your life? What are
      your thoughts about the future?
   As an outsider to this situation, what would you see? What would your
      feelings be about Jamu and her life?
   What actions would you take to help Jamu improve her life situation?

      7. A Model Program to End Poverty                                             20 minutes

Ask participants to continue reading Jamu’s story out loud, pausing to discuss
questions as indicated.

Ten years later, Jamubhen Ahir is the chairwoman of the watershed committee
in her village. When she wants extra income, and the conditions are right, she
collects gum from the trees surrounding her village, where, until recently, there
was only desert. Otherwise, she makes over 700 rupees a month doing
embroidery in her home. Her home has a concrete floor, a tile roof and plaster
walls, and is in her name, the same name as on her savings account. She buys
her food from the Shakti packet shop near her house. It always has what she

Jamu‟s life began to change when she became a member of SEWA, Self-
Employed Women‟s Association. SEWA is the largest member-based
organization of poor working women in India, with seven hundred thousand
members, in 900 rural villages and one major urban area. All of its 300 plus staff
members are women.

         What organizations do you know of that are run entirely by women?
         What organizations do you know of that are made up of poor people?
         When such organizations are funded by donors, what sort of relationship
          does there tend to be between donors and the organization‟s leaders?

One organization that provides funding for SEWA is the Unitarian Universalist
Holdeen India Program. When Holdeen began its work in 1984, director Kathy

    John G. Sommers, Empowering the Oppressed: Grassroots Advocacy Movements in India, 55-56.

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Sreedhar brought experience with development programs in India that failed to
address “the persistence of extreme poverty and inequity derived from deeply
embedded factors related to caste, class, religion, and gender.” She guided
Holdeen to become a “catalyst that would use its resources … to support the
strengthening of leadership and capacity within Indian organizations … to help
define problems and organize to solve them.” Holdeen partners with groups that
want to “strengthen the confidence, independence, and collective bargaining
power of the excluded and exploited so they [can] demand greater access to
resources and justice and, in Gandhi‟s words, „no longer play the part of the

       How does Holdeen differ from other funding organizations?
       What do you think the results of Holdeen‟s approach might be?

Holdeen supports SEWA because it is both an organization and a movement.
The SEWA movement is enhanced by its being a confluence of three
movements: the labor movement, the cooperative movement and the women‟s
movement. But it is also a movement of self-employed workers, who earn a living
through their own labor or small businesses. This is their own, home-grown
movement with women as the leaders. Its goals are to organize women workers
for full employment and self-reliance. Full employment means they have work
security, income security, food security and social security (at least health care,
child care and shelter). Self-reliance means they are autonomous both
economically and in terms of their decision-making ability.3

The way this worked in Jamu‟s case is that the government of the Gujarat area
where she lives invited SEWA to become involved. A foreign-aid project to build
a pipeline had failed to deliver water to the people, making is impossible for them
to earn a living. John Sommers, president of the Holdeen India Program, writes
that the people “were living in an environment steeped in tradition, beneficial and
worthy of preservation insofar as it embraced practical adaptations to a difficult
environment, but destructive in its denial of nutrition, literacy and control of
assets.” The women were so used to this deprivation that they could scarcely see
it. SEWA‟s challenge was to “ignite a flame of interest in the women of the
villages, so that they [would] recognize the need for change and the potential
path to it.”4

       If you were an organizer in such an area, how would you “ignite a flame of
        interest” in people so they would see the need for change and think of
        ways to proceed?

SEWA began their work in Jamu‟s area by informing the women of their rights.
The meetings went on for hours, even days, before the women understood that

  Sommers, 122, 126.
  Quoted in Sommers, 58-59.

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they had rights and could take action. Then they organized a women‟s group to
obtain benefits from existing government programs they had been unaware of
before. With technical support from SEWA workers, they were able to increase
their access to water by improving their rainwater gathering techniques. This led
to an increase in agricultural production.

In addition, the SEWA workers observed that many women in the area did
beautiful embroidery and patchwork. The women knew their work had value, but
when they had previously sold their work to traders they had received very little
compensation. SEWA helped them sell their goods in Delhi at a fair price and set
up a micro-loan program so they could purchase raw materials, learn to manage
their finances, and develop effective marketing systems.

In the process, they discovered that some craftswomen were losing their vision
due to poor nutrition and aging, exacerbated by working in inadequate light. Eye
clinics were set up and over 800 women were provided with glasses.

Today the women in Jamu‟s community have decent livelihoods, both through
their crafts businesses and from increased agricultural wages, which had to keep
pace with craft-based businesses to attract workers. They can afford to send
their children to school. They have hope for the future. As a SEWA member
observes: “They have the confidence that knowledge affords, knowledge in their
abilities and their value.”5

       What elements are involved in SEWA‟s success in Jamu‟s community?
       Based on this example, how effective does Holdeen‟s work with partner
        organizations seem to be? Why do you think this is?

    8. Four Pillars of Women’s Development                                     15 minutes

After reading the opening statement, divide into four groups, each taking one of
the four pillars. Ask them read the statistics, brainstorm 5-10 reasons why that
pillar is important, and consider which Millennium Development Goals apply to
that pillar. Report back to the group. After 10 minutes ask them to report back to
the full group what they have discovered.

In developing the rationale for the Study Action Issue on Women‟s Rights
Worldwide, four major areas were identified that need to be taken into
consideration in developing programs to improve women‟s lives. Professor
Christine Nielsen writes: “Since women‟s rights are intertwined with those of their
children, failure to address these issues threatens the social fabric of the family,
which is essential for peace and security worldwide.”6

 Sommers, 62.
 Christine Nielsen, “Four Pillars of Women‟s Development,” International Convocation of U*U
Women working paper, 2007.

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      1) Economic participation
      Women produce more than half of global food crops; yet, 70% of those
      living in hunger are women. Women seldom control land or resources.
      Women's low economic participation worldwide is reflected in wage
      differentials, higher unemployment rates and glass ceilings.

      2) Community leadership and political expression
      Around the world, women have unequal access to political participation
      and community leadership. Of the 200 members of the United Nations,
      only 10% have female leaders and less than 18% of the world‟s
      parliamentary seats are held by women.

      3) Education
      Of the world‟s children who have no education, 60% are girls. Two-thirds
      of the world's 780 million illiterate adults are women.

      4) Health and safety
      200 million of the world‟s women lack access to family planning; over
      500,000 die annually from complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Up
      to 1 billion women now living have been beaten, raped or otherwise
      abused. In war-torn regions 80% of the refugees are women and children.

   9. Achieving the MDG’s                                           5 minutes

Suggest that participants each take one of the goals to study and report back to
the group about the progress being made.

When the Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000, the
timeframe for achieving them was set for 2015. We are now half way through that
time period. What sort of progress is being made? What programs are proving to
be the most successful?

Before the next session, see what you can learn about the progress being made.
Check the Resource Link—Millennium Development Goals for more
information. The official MDG website is

   10. Closing Words                                                5 minutes

Future generations … will know whether we answered the key question. The
evidence will be the world around them. History will be our judge, but what's
written is up to us. Who we are, who we've been, what we want to be
remembered for. We can't say our generation didn't know how to [end poverty].
We can't say our generation couldn't afford to do it. And we can't say our

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generation didn't have reason to do it. It's up to us. We can choose to shift the
responsibility, or … we can choose to shift the paradigm.7

And now, we extinguish our chalice, but take its energy with us in our hearts and
minds, until we gather here again. Go in peace.

Extinguish the chalice.

 Quoted in Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (NY: Penguin
Press, 2005).

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Global Literacy Project: Weaving our U*U Global Village Network