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Good evening and welcome to tonight's meeting of the Commonwealth Club of California. I am Rebecca Corral, News Anchor for KCBS Radio in San Francisco. You will find the Commonwealth Club on the internet at www.commonwealthclub.org. This evening's program "Women who light the dark" is presented in association with the Global Fund for Women. Tonight, we welcome two extraordinary women who are lighting the dark for remarkable women all over the world. Kavita Ramdas has served as President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women since 1996. She currently provides leadership and direction for the largest grant making foundation in the world focused exclusively on supporting human rights for women all over the world. During Ramdas's tenure Global Fund assets have increased from $6 million to $21 million; grant making has risen to more than $7 million per year and the number of countries in which the Global Fund has bestowed grants has nearly tripled. Ms. Ramdas has also overseen the Global Fund's first ever endowment campaign and the creation of the groundbreaking "Now or Never Fund" to ensure women's participation on critical international issues. Ms. Ramdas received her Masters of Public Affairs, International Development Studies, from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1988 and her Bachelors from Mount Holyoke College in 1985. Over the past 12 years, Paola Gianturco has documented women's lives in 40 countries. "Women who light the dark" will be her fourth photographic book about the Indomitable People allover the world. Before becoming a photojournalist, she spend 34 years in business. She co-developed and taught Summer Executive Institutes on Women and Leadership for Stanford University's Institute for Research on Women and Gender and at Mills College. Gianturco's books have been praised by among others, The New York Times and The Washington Post. Her exhibits have shown on both coasts, set in venues such as the United Nations, the U.S. Senate Rotunda and the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. We will hear from each of them followed by questions from our Commonwealth Club audience. Please join me in welcoming Kavita Ramdas. Good evening, namaste. I am honored to be with you all this evening and I thank Rebecca for that wonderful introduction. I am particularly pleased to be here to be together with someone whose work I admire so deeply and whose images have helped bring alive the efforts of women that the Global Fund for Women has been privileged to know and work with and support for many, many years. But whose stories are often far too rarely shared on the front pages of newspapers. So I have a particular sense of an indebtedness to Paola because it is fact true that the pictures speaks for a thousand words and no matter how many words we are able to share with all of you many of whom have supported the Global Fund for many years and many of whom might be new to the Global Fund but are strong members of this community in San Francisco and who care about what happens in the rest of the world. There is something still extraordinarily moving about actually seeing the faces of the women whose work and whose life we are so privileged to be a part of. I want to take a moment by thanking our friends here at the Commonwealth Club for their warm welcome. The President Gloria Duffy has been a long supporter of our work in many different ways and Chantal, whose tireless efforts have actually made sure that all of this happened this evening. So thank you Chantal. I also want to take a minute to recognize the incredible team of support although mine is the face that stands at podiums and may grace some newspaper articles; the stars of the Global Fund are often people who you don't know as well and tonight we have two of them here in the audience with us. Nancy Deyo, our Senior Advisor for Communications and Jennifer Wanous, our Events Coordinator whom I would really both like to appreciate and say how much this incredible campaign would not have been possible without them or indeed without Leanne Grossman, our Director of Communications. So a warm word of appreciation. I want to use my few minutes here to acknowledge and to share with you a little bit about the Global Fund for Women, this year celebrating our 20th year of existence and next year celebrating 20 years of grant making in support of Women's Human Rights around the World. We are a network of women and men who care deeply and passionately about making this world a different place, who do not believe that there is any such thing as women's issues or men's issues, but rather that all of us, women and men, have the right and indeed the responsibility to be engaged, committed and active citizens for change on this planet, to make it sustainable, livable and a better planet for all of us. So hence our work as an organization that makes investments in women led initiatives around the world is fueled by a sense that when 51 percent of the world's population has been consistently left out of critical decision making, on issues from everything of what happens at home and in the family and how many children are born and what their roles are within the household, to the most significant decisions that are at work, about war and peace, about our environment, about health and disease. When we leave out 51 percent of the world's population on those decisions, we run the risk as indeed we saw at first hand in Afghanistan a failing to address some of the most important issues of our time, and certainly failing to involve the critical human resources that are needed to bring to bear if we are to change some of those problems. Our organization was established in 1987 by three extraordinary women who wanted to do two things, who wanted to change the notion that philanthropy is only something that you can do once you become Bill Gates or Nelson Rockefeller, and to suggest that each one of us has the responsibility and indeed the privilege of being able to do with our resources, by pooling those resources together, making that a part of transforming the world in terms of resource mobilization. It also was an organization that saw what extraordinary things women were doing in every part of the world, initiatives that you will now see as Paola shares with you her stories, 18 global fund grantees are profiled in this extraordinary book "Women Who Light the Dark" and our efforts as an organization for the last 20 years have truly been to get resources that we mobilize here, primarily in the wealthiest part of the world here in the United States, but we also have donors in other parts of the world and try to get those resources into their hands of women who bring remarkable resources of creativity and passion and commitment and imagination to their work but very rarely have access to the financial resources they need to actually translate that vision into a reality. The role that we have played in transforming their access to seed money is now perhaps a little bit legendary, we accept applications in any language in our 20 years of history, we have made over $58 million worth of grants to 3500 women's organizations in a 166 plus countries. These statistics while they sound extraordinary are just a drop in the ocean when you think about all the need that there is out there, each year the global fund receives more than 3500 proposals and is really only able to fund 650 or so as we did last year. We made $8 million worth of grants last year. And they were made possible by people like yourselves and people like Paola, who began her relationship with the Global Fund for Women as many people do, by being an individual donor and then deepened her relationship by wanting to find out what was it that these amazing groups at the Global Fund for Women actually did, how did they use these resources? And as she herself will share with you there is may be nothing that really compares to being able to actually visit and see for yourself what these small amounts of money can truly do to transform not just the particular communities that we have been able to work with around the world, but to create the ripples of change that have a potential to transform our world. With that I am so honored to share with all of you this evening what we have been privileged to know from many years, this remarkable woman who lights up the dark with her work and with her images and with her stories, Paola, thank you. Thank you Kavita Ramdas, for your comments tonight, you are listening to the Commonwealth Club of California, radio program we are here tonight with photojournalist Paola Gianturco and Global Fund for Women's President and CEO Kavita Ramdas. Our focus is Ms. Gianturco's new book of moving images and stories titled "Women Who Light the Dark". And now, we will dim the lights and meet photojournalist Paola Gianturco. All over the world local women are helping each other. They are helping to tackle the most intractable problems that once that make women's lives dark. They may have nothing nothing by way of material resources but they have imagination and their imaginations lights the dark. They are using creative arts and creative strategies and they are succeeding. I first began meeting these women when I was documenting women's lives in 12, in 40 countries, everywhere there were women that work, doing wonderful things. The idea of a book began percolating. I thought in a world so full of bad news may be good news would be heartening. And I thought at a time when the International Women's Movement is facing huge challenges it would be a good reminder to realize how much good work is happening everywhere and because women's groups never have enough funding I thought may be it would help inspire people to participate with them. A woman in Rwanda urged me on, she said "Show people what we are doing, show people that we are capable of helping ourselves, show them that we are worthy of respect and show them how to march with us." She convinced me. I began shooting again 2001. My journey took me to 15 countries on five continents. I interviewed and photographed 129 women and I am going to introduce to you to some of them right now. Let us start by telling you two stories about women who are working with AIDS in Africa. Zimbabwe has collapsed economically, as you probably know, unemployment is 80 percent, life expectancy is 36, it's the lowest in the world, inflation is now 7000 percent. Traditional healers tell men who are HIV positive that they would be cured if they have sex with virgins like these. A high school English teacher Betty Makoni, this is she on her mountain, listened to the girls experiences during the meetings after school and she and six high school English students started the Girl Child Network in 1999. The organization has made child rape a national issue in Zimbabwe. The movement is led by little girls, there are 20,000 of them in the Girl Child Network half of them half are estimated to have been raped. They are all six to 16 and these are the members of their Executive Council. Their weapon is poetry. Remember I said imagination lights the dark, poetry. These girls write poems about their experiences and they recite them in town meetings; that's the Shona tradition, entire communities outraged, mobilized into action. One high school girl wrote this poem about her teacher. "I don't know whether to call him my teacher Or Monica's husband Or Prisca's sugar daddy In 3A1 he kissed Teclar In 4A1 he impregnated Daisy In 2A2 he fondled Lucia's breasts In his storeroom I can't say Only the books are witnesses" The teacher was fired. No rapist is too powerful to be separate and isolated from these girls attention, even the founders of a religious movement. The work is risky. But the girls have somehow won support from people in government, from politicians, from academicians, from business people, as well as men and boys and women and girls. They celebrate their successes. When I left Zimbabwe I was sure, I am still sure that they are actually going to bring an end to child rape. Dr. Grace Fombad lives in Cameroon. She founded the Cameroon Medical Women's Association. There families live on $5 a month, but antiretroviral drugs that are necessary to treat AIDS costs $6 a month. As recently as the year 2000, HIV AIDS was un-discussed in Cameroon and yet the North West Province had the highest prevalence in the country. Grace's younger brother died before he was 30 and she vowed because her of all her medical training couldn't cure him, that she would worked very hard, she hoped at least to prevent people from being infected. As a result of her work, women nurses and nutritionists and community health workers, trained teenagers to be peer counselors, they trained community educators who speak 30 local languages. They trained traditional healers like this one who now know not to try to treat AIDS like this. They sent them to hospitals and they trained traditional rulers like this man, who was a spokesman for an organization called Funds Against AIDS. Altogether the Cameroon Medical Women's have trained more trained more than a million people. The infection rate has dropped enough that they can turn their attention to helping teach survivors how to live with AIDS and sending orphans to school. In Vietnam women are working on domestic violence. Nguyen Van Anh was a reporter for The Voice of Vietnam. The subject of domestic violence was as taboo in this culture as AIDS was in Cameroon. What happened at home was private. Women were expected to obey their husbands. But so many women told Van Anh that they had been beaten, that she decided to provide the first hotline in Hanoi to offer emotional and psychological support to victims of domestic violence. Now exactly the same amount of domestic violence occurs in Vietnam as everywhere else. It's estimated worldwide that one in every three women is beaten. But that wasn't discussed. No one knew that until the line was launched and it was swarmed. In 2001 Van Anh started an NGO, a nongovernmental organization, to train counselors like this woman to help victims. Over the next four years they counseled 300,000 people. Today there are hotlines in 22 countries field 5,000 calls a day and they provide online help to Vietnamese people in the United States, the UK, France and Canada. Last year in Hanoi when I was there, they were testing pilot testing a new project, a new support program. Women who were first so traumatized that they wouldn't allow themselves to be touched turned on the music and joined line dances. They used stuffed animals to tell stories, they offer to kind of fig leaf that allowed them to seem not to be telling their own story. Here they are laughing because the counselor animal reprimanded the husband animal. They play word games and they support each other. As woman began to regain confidence they began to have something that they haven't had for a long time; fun. Today there are six sharing together clubs and more are planned. Things are changing in Morocco. Since 1957 the Moudawana, the family code, defined women's rules. For 20 years feminists like this woman had worked to change this code. But Islamists, like this Member of Parliament, argued that the code was based in Quranic Law and couldn't be changed. And then in 2004 a new young king, Mohammed the Sixth, who is here with his wife and his baby, announced that there would be 11 sweeping changes to the Moudawana. Let me give you an example of some of those changes. Now men in Morocco can marry one wife, not four. Women must agree to be married and divorced. Daughters must inherit the same amount as sons, not half. And now courts decide which parent gets custody of the children in case of divorce. The problem is illiterate women had no idea that the law had changed. Naima Zitan founded an organization called the "Theatre Aquarium" aquarium, because she wanted her theatre to be like a fish bowl, where you watched life happening. She wrote an engaging slapstick play, a comedy, to teach illiterate women about the new law. She hired televisions stars and she arranged to make performances available in places where there were more than 85 percent of the population illiterate. That meant factories and slums and prisons. Now obviously illiterate women can't read ads that say, "Come to a play." So Naima Omaki, who is here in the brown coat, goes into the slums and knocks on doors and invites people to come. She is sort of like the Music Man; she is really remarkable to watch. I traveled with her for a couple of days and she was inviting people. When she has done, the house is full; there is not an empty seat in the house. The audience, needless to say, loves the play. Women who are amazed and very excited about their new rights and after every performance Naima Omaki goes into the crowd and asks, "What did you learn? What was new to you?" People learned a lot. In Argentina and Slovakia women are finding freedom despite profound discrimination. Argentina was the first country in Latin America to accept same sex civil unions. But there is enduring fear among lesbians particularly those over 40, who grew up there during the 1970's and 1980's when difference was punished by death. As recently as 10 years ago they were still prosecuted machismo is endemic. Three friends, Fabiana TuÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â±ez, Marta Montesano and Ada Rico founded La Casa del Encuentro, a safe haven for lesbian women open to all women. It offers sanctuary, it offers community and dignity; and it offers classes in philosophy and painting and tango. Members that advocate for women's rights by writing and performing plays in the streets of Buenos Aires; here they are rehearsing. At first they wondered how they would be received, but Ada told me, men come close, women come close, they applaud for us, they tell us we are strong. In Slovakia, it's the Roma women who were discriminated against. They were insulted when people call them "gypsies" some of you know that's the Egyptians word that means vagrant. But insult is not the biggest part of the problem. For hundreds of years the Roma have been sterilized and banished and relocated and killed. And yet this ethnic group is as diverse as any other. It includes Charlie Chaplin and Pablo Picasso. The Slovak-Czech Women's Fund is one of 17 Funds that the Global Fund for Women has helped to start, to encourage grassroots philanthropy. Local women run these autonomous funds and they select the projects to support. For example the Slovak-Czech Women's Fund gives money to an organization called "Hope with Children." It runs a pre-school for children like this and then a program for children of alcoholic parents. "Hope for children" was founded by a wonderful woman named Jolana Naterova. She spend her youth trying to pretend that she was white and then she saw children like this one rummaging in a dumpster and realized that she had to work on behalf of her own people. Here she has put on a blonde wig, not because she is pretending but because she is getting dressed to play the role of Angel in her pre-school's Christmas play. I decided she is an angel all year around. Women teachers in Brazil and India are educating children who would otherwise surely never escape poverty. In Salvador, Bahia Brazil, Rita ConceiÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â§ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£o, runs an after school program called Bahia Street. She grew up in the favelas in the shanty towns. Girls like Rita grow up to be able to do one of two jobs. The best option is to be able to clean houses. The other option is to be a prostitute. Rita wanted more for them. It turns out that Brazilian Public Schools don't offer anybody very much. Teachers are so low paid that they often don't even come to class. The students do, even if there is nothing to do except hang out of the windows. Often I will tell you why the students go, by the way. If they do, their parents get an allowance for books and school uniforms often used for something else. Students who finish the eighth grade may not know how to read or write. Bahia Street gives the little girls the academics that they miss in public schools. They also get classes in ballet and cartoon animation which helps teach discipline. When I was there, the math students were doing a math fashion show. This is the minus sign model. This little girl began posing the minute I picked my camera. She dreams, she said of becoming an internationally famous model who is known and loved by everyone because she is brilliant and beautiful. The big news when I was there was that Juliana had just been accepted to join a course to prepare to take the college entrance exams and Daza had just been accepted to university. An Indian teacher, let me just interrupt myself to find out if Inderjit Khurana is here tonight. She was hoping to come. Is she here? Maybe she will come later, in which case I will introduce you. Inderjit Khurana decided that if children could not go to school, she would take schools to the children. In India as you know, rural people take the trains to the city to look for work. Most don't find jobs, they live in shanties that surround the train platform, little girls like Rama in Orissa may sell used newspapers, may shine shoes; I rode for two days on the trains with her. She was sweeping the trains for tips. Children who do these kinds of jobs are destined for molestation and disease and drugs and prostitution. In 1985, Inderjit first went to the train platforms with her chalk boards and chalk. At first she taught 11 children one morning, a week. But in six months she was teaching 114 children every morning. The railway officials tried to stop her. They said this was a misuse of government property. But she won that battle and now if you visit Bhubaneshwar you will see little knots of children like this one, studying on the train platforms. The children learned the three hours in three languages while the trains hiss passed on either side of them. The teacher used puppet shows and games to engage the children. They serve porridge every morning. It may be the only meal that children get that day. Once a week, a doctor comes to be sure that the students are healthy. Saturday is hygiene day and the children are learned to bathe in the drinking fountain, on the train platform, lots of little streakers on that train platform, Saturday morning. The result over the past 20 years, 5,000 students have transferred into the public school system at the fourth grade level, academically qualified at the fourth grade level. In Kenya local women have joined the forces to get pure water that won't make their family sick. Collecting water, as you may know, is the work of women and girls in rural Kenya. Fount water which may come from puddles is almost always polluted, but there is no alternative. There is no national water infrastructure. As a child Norma Adhiambo couldn't go to school because she had to walk seven hours a day to find water for her family. Her mother needed it to cook vegetables and rice and bread. Families' trade-off school for starvation. When she was 21, Norma co-founded a nonprofit that today includes 43 local women's groups that have helped their communities get 73 wells drilled, wells like this and 13 wells improved. The first time water is pumped from those wells, there is some great celebration. This is Norma in blue print dress, leading dancing, singing and praying. These women think creatively. They sell water. Five to 15 gallons costs five cents, may be two cents if you can't afford it. Somehow over time they are able to pay back the drillers for drilling the wells on the installment plan. After the well has been paid for, they use the income to buy chickens and goats. They buy seeds so they can start businesses, maybe growing rice, maybe growing corn. Sometimes they get wells drilled on the schoolyard. The schools don't have plumbing, but now the kids can wash their hands. And even better; girls instead of missing the school to collect the water now pump it at school and carry it home after class. Women in Cambodia are thwarting sex traffickers. Many women are recruited by sex traffickers as this woman was. They promise a good job. What they don't say is that a good job may mean being locked in a brothel in Bangkok. A good job is really what you need if your factory is closing, because production is moving to China, or if you are among the quarter of all Cambodia families that are headed by single mothers. Although there are some women that are trafficked out of the country, in fact many of them work in Phnom Penh, where 20 percent of all tourism is sex tourism. A doctor, Pen Ricksy was one of the women who founded an organization called Strey Khmer, it means Cambodian Women. She wanted to help their world sisters become financially self sufficient. Women need to be strong and healthy and they need to be trained and skilled if they are going to be less vulnerable to sex traffickers. Strey Khmer gives micro credit loans so that woman can grow mushrooms, they can raise pigs, they can even buy a water pump so they can flood the fields and grow rice. Strey Khmer trains midwives, since 30 percent of all births take place at home in Cambodia; there is a great demand for their services. But there is also a need for doctors. So three times a week Pen Ricksy goes into the villages and conducts a mobile clinic, where for three hours she examines 150 patients 150. I have never seen anything like it. In Nicaragua signs like this say mujeres trabajando "women working." Trainees at Mujeres Constructuras are learning how to become welders and carpenters and electricians. These are jobs that women ordinarily don't have access to, opportunities they don't usually have access to and salary levels they don't usually don't have access to. Nery Gonzales told me that after Hurricane Mitch, she had built six houses for single mothers and then, because she was a single mother she built one for herself. She said, "I was so poor. I didn't even have a spoon. But I was so happy I didn't even care." In Nepal Sangita Nirola have founded a nonprofit that's named Swati, Swati is the Hindu goddess of the female energy. Swati empowers Nepalese women to be entrepreneurs. Sangita started with a revolutionary idea. She realized that women in Katmandu were afraid to ride in taxis that were driven by men. She said, "Why can we train women to drive taxicabs?" I photographed the newest graduates as they were receiving their new commercial driver's licensees; they wore by the way wearing navy blue uniforms that were sewn by a woman who was becoming a driver too. She had a side business; tailoring. This is Lucky Chhetri. She founded Empowering Women of Nepal. She lives in the Himalayas, so she knew that women could lead treks as well as men. I documented the graduation of her trainees I will tell you something, that graduation took place on Annapurna. I ask myself, what on earth I was doing at age 67, climbing up one of the steepest mountains in the world, but I will always be proud of having done it. This was my view as we started off, you can't help but notice that the 27 trainees are ahead of me. I am looking at their back. They are picking flowers and identifying flora and fauna, and talking to each other about geology and things that trekking guides talk about. And then they kind of vaporized in the mist. They waited for me sometimes as long as two hours. After the graduation, Lucky told me that once one of the trainee's fathers had thanked her. And this is what he said. He said, "Her mother gave her birth, but you gave her life." Her comment seemed perfect to me. I was exhausted and stiff, but I don't think I have ever felt so completely alive. My final story is about women in the United States; Mobility international USA hosts 30 delegates from all over the world in Eugene, Oregon for a three week leadership training program. In their own countries, the delegates each lead organizations that help disabled people, mostly women. They themselves are blind and deaf, both, some. Some have polio, some have injuries, some have amputations and other disabilities that require crutches and canes and wheel-chairs. This is Susan Sygall; she was injured in an automobile accident when she was 19. So she herself is in a wheel-chair. She and other recreational activists at Mobility International USA help women do things they never imagined never imagined that they could do. They go camping, they go swimming. None of them had ever been swimming before. They go whitewater rafting and they master a ropes challenge course. They learn self-defense women in wheelchairs are particularly vulnerable to attackers, you know. They go to the beach; none of them had ever been to beach. The get media training and they learn how to get funding for their organizations. Mabatong is President of an organization that works with the visually impaired. At home, her sons help her walk to the village. She is completely blind; she can't get there alone. In Oregon, when I talked to her, she couldn't believe that she had just climbed a tree. She said, "When I get back to Lesotho, I am going to teach other blind people how to climb trees." Thanks to American Women 30 disabled women, newly very confident leaders, left Oregon having discovered that they could do just about anything. That's the last of the slides, if I could have the lights I just want to make a few closing comments. As you heard 18 of the 23 organizations in the book are grantees. They get funding from the Global Fund for Women. As Kavita said I have long been a supporter of this organization a dozen years. When my first book was published in the year 2000 some of those royalties went to the Global Fund for Women. This time with "Women who light the dark", which is book number four, all a 100 percent of my author royalties are going to the Global Fund for Women. I want to tell you why I made that decision. I not only like what they do, I like how they do it. And I will just give you some fast examples. If you ran a group some where in the world and you wanted to apply for a grant, all you would have to do is write a one page letter in your own handwriting in your own language. The Global Fund for Women does all of the vetting of the applications. This seemed to me to be a wonderful idea. Why should those women who have a good idea have to go through all the red tape and of all the bureaucracy that is represented by the usual grant applications? Another thing; I like the fact that this organization which is as Kavita said, "Now the largest organization in the world that gives money to to on the ground grassroots groups are lead by women and are working on human rights." They could, you would think, rest on their laurels and they are not. They are, as you saw within Slovakia, starting local funds encouraging grass roots philanthropy wonderful idea. Of course women can help each other if they just have a way to do it. So there were many reasons that I liked the way this works this group works. And the last one I will talk about is equality. In a truly just world all of us would be treated exactly the same way. And the Global Fund does that with its beneficiaries, with its donors, with its staff, with its executives. A woman in Bangladesh scrimped and saved and finally came up with $1 that she wanted to donate to the Global Fund. And when she gave it to them her name was listed in alphabetical order and exactly the same size type as women from this country who had give them in thousands. Great; I think the World should work that way. People ask me, what are my dreams for this project? And I will tell you. I would be so happy if this book and my work helps people understand each other more completely, so that we can all work together to tackle the problems that face women allover the world and their families. www.womenwholightthedark.com which is the project website has a section on it called "Shine YOUR Light." It includes all kinds of ideas or ways that you might like to explore to learn more about women all over the world through their own products, through their books, through their music, through their movies, though their fashion; it's made by a women's group in Damascus; through their food. And there is another part of that section of the site that talks about all of the ways that you can participate with women and support them, everything from taking to volunteer vacation to giving a donation to the Global Fund for Women and other organizations that help women in this country and throughout California and throughout San Francisco. So take a look at the site. I hope that you will join us. I suspect some of you already have and that more of you will, because surely surely it will take all of us working together to create new hope and possibilities for our world. Thank you.