On Tuesday, September 25th in the halls of the United Nations main building in New York City, AVSI was the co-host of a lively discussion on the topic of “From Vulnerable to Protagonist: empowerment of women”. Other co-hosts included the Italian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and No Peace without Justice, a non-profit advocacy organization.
The title evoked AVSI’s direct, close-up experience with so many women, each with a particular story of transformation and self-realization—the experience of becoming THE protagonist of one’s life story—even in the midst of suffering and obstacles.
Giampaolo Silvestri, AVSI’s Secretary General, stressed the need for a relationship of equality and real collaboration among development actors, advocates and those whom they serve.
“Change cannot be imposed from the top. No communication campaign nor law or regulations will succeed in changing a mindset if the person doesn’t discover, through the direct personal experience …that involve her to the last fiber and makes her discover that she can do it,” affirmed Silvestri through examples taken from his many years visiting AVSI’s development programs around the world.
Teddy Bongomin, a social worker with the Ugandan NGO Meeting Point International in Kampala, sent a moving testimony by video in which she witnessed to the beautiful transformation which occurs when a woman discovers her true value, fully as a woman. This is the key for any development program or even advocacy efforts to have impact, that a woman’s heart is open, reawakened.
“I say if you exalt a woman, make her discover herself, give her tools, she will use them to save her life and even the lives of the others!” proclaimed Teddy.