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Rural Development Delegation - Beijing '95
An estimated 36,000 NGO delegates from across the globe gathered in the People's Republic of China to exchange ideas and discuss issues that concern women at the NGO Forum on Women, an historical gathering of non-governmental organizations whose procedings were designed to influence the official United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held concurrently in Beijing and to provide an opportunity for exchange among women from all corners of the earth.
Most of the world's women live in rural areas. Rural women produce most of the world's food, raise most of the world's children and lead most of the movements at the community level.
The Honorable Dr. Unita Blackwell, National Rural Fellows graduate and former head of U.S./China People's Friendship (above) and RDLN graduate Shirley Sherrod (L) during our visit to the Great Wall of China (Francisca Cavazons is center foreground).
RDLN organized a group of forty-plus community-based rural women to attend the NGO Forum from August 30 - September 8, 1995. Our multicultural Rural Development Delegation included small farmers, farmworkers, and others creatively engaged in community building through economic development, land and environmental stewardship, education, housing, child development, youth programs, culture, women's leadership and local government. Coming from Indian reservations, small farm communities in the Southeast and Midwest, and other communities in Appalachia and the Southwest, delegates represented twenty-one states, held passports of five nationalities, and included one person living in Canada and one in Belize, Central America.
Members of the RDLN Delegation took part in a series of eight workshops and cultural events organized by RDLN, which are described below.
RURAL OPEN FORUM /SHARING OF PRIORITIES & STRATEGIES
Description: We want to provide a forum at the beginning of the NGO forum for rural women from different countries to connect with each other, so that they can cooperate and plan during the rest of the conference.
Many workshops were held in temporary tents set up for the occasion
ORGANIZING: THE BASIS FOR DEVELOPMENT
Description: Rural women, like others without much power, can increase our strength by organizing. This essential tool is sometimes taken for granted. Experienced organizers and others will discuss effective strategies and exchange techniques.
Our sessions were spirited and informative
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN A CULTURAL CONTEXT
Description: Traditional technologies are effective in sustaining livelihoods. What are the true costs of development for which the well-being of people, quality of life and cultural integrity do not compute into the bottom line? Sharing models of development which respect people, culture and environment.
Members of RDLN delegation celebrating in dance as part of our Cultural Diversity session
Description: Panel and group discussion on multiculturalism as a source of richness and conflict globally, nationally and locally. Emphasis on cultural/artistic exchange. Sharing of experiences and strategies.
CAPACITY-BUILDING: BUILDING OURSELVES, BUILDING OUR COMMUNITIES, HOW WE DO IT - SHARING
Description: Education and training for development are often conducted by the "developed" sector and remove those being educated and trained from the communities, peoples, cultures, values and challenges they represent. How do we learn and lead, and how do we pass along opportunities for learning and leading? [The RDLN model]
FARMWORKER WOMEN: DEVELOPING OURSELVES, OUR ISSUES, OUR COMMUNITIES
Description: Gaining self-esteem, taking action, building strength in numbers. Around the world women do the hard and essential work of gathering food. We need to appreciate the value of this work and recognize our potential power.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND LAND OWNERSHIP
Description: Land ownership provides a basis for sustaining culture, economic development and political independence. How is this issue addressed by women around the world?
WOMEN AND FARMING/SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE/ENVIRONMENT
Description: Most of the world's women are rural: What roles do women play in the production of food in different countries? How do families interact around the production of food? What systems are best for earth and people?
FANNIE LOU HAMER ... THIS LITTLE LIGHT
Description: One woman show in the life of the late civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer (South-U.S.). This show has been performed in 40 states and 6 countries. Inspirational !! [Lang Shon Auditorium 9/3 5:30pm]
DRAMA AND ABUSE: WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Description: Abuse is a difficult subject to talk about, especially for survivors. The workshop demonstrates a tool, using drama, which helps women face this possible part of their families' lives, recognize and deal with it.
World Conference on Women
U.S. delegation meeting
RDLN in China
China Dream poem
Rural Women's Network