Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (one of the award winners Benedicta Attoh)

Benedicta Attoh
Women in Leadership Network

Throughout the world, regardless of geography, the lack of women in political leadership positions is a common theme. In Ireland, the percentage of women elected into Dáil Eireann in 2007 was just 13% and the percentage of women elected into local councils in 2009 stands at around 17%. Ireland ranks only 23rd out of the 27 EU countries for the percentage of women in parliament.
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"There is no true democracy unless women are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives.”

What Gender Means In Practice


By Joyce van Genderen-Naar

On 23, 24 and 25 September 2009 a Thematic Workshop on Gender, Peace, Security and Development ‘, What Can the EU do?, was organised by EuropeAid cooperation office (AIDCO) in cooperation with DG Development and DG External relations in Brussels.

The training was attended by participants from the EU, Kenya, Angola, Botswana, DR of Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Colombia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Kosovo and Ukraine.

The main issues discussed were: understanding the impact of conflict on gender roles and relations, understanding the different ways men and women experience and influence conflict dynamics and peace building, the EU Legal framework and Comprehensive Approach, the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace and Security , EU policies and instruments on women, peace, security and development, EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them, gender dimensions of conflict, Gender and DDR (Demilitarisation, Demobilisation and Reintegration with Liberia as good example), Security Sector Reform (SSR), Justice Sector, Crisis Management and Gender Based Violence.

Violence against women, gender-based violence, is a global problem. At least 1 out of every 3 women in the world has been beaten, raped, abused etc.

The participants shared and acquired relevant knowledge and skills on gender policies and practices with the aim to incorporate in their work what they learned, linking theory to practice. They discussed the obstacles they encounter working with gender issues. The name and notion of ‘gender’ is an obstacle itself, not understood or wrongly interpreted by many men and women. Gender has to do with equality and equal representation of men and women at all kinds of level in politics, economics, in work and life. Because women are underrepresented at all levels, most attention in gender is given to women, especially to defend women’s rights when they are at stake, in war and conflict situations. The UN Security Resolutions are so important because for the first time in history it is legally recognized that violence against women in war (rape, torture and killing) is a war crime, to be prosecuted in court. That was not possible before.

One of the important recommendations of the Workshop in Brussels was to involve more men in Gender issues to bring about changes, because “Men listen more to men”.

Gender is a cross cutting issues, that means that in every project and programme of the EC the equal representation has to be addressed. In practice, sanctions stay out, when not addressed.

What Gender means in practice was explained during the Workshop by the following true story: Gender perspective on building a bridge.
“A group of men were to be sent to Sri Lanka in order to build a bridge. During one of the Swedish Rescue Service Agency’s pre-operations briefings, gender equality was on the agenda. However, the operation officer did not think that was necessary: “Our task is to build a bridge, we do not need to worry about gender issues”, he said.
The instructor then started to ask questions: “Who is going to use this bridge? “Well, the locals,” the officer answered. “You mean men, women and children?”, the instructor asked. “Well, yes.”
“OK, how do they travel?” “By car mostly”, the officer answered.
“The women too?,” the instructor asked
“No they’ll probably walk,” the officer answered.
“Then maybe you want to consider building a pedestrian zone on the bridge?” the instructor asked. The operation officer could only agree.
“Now, gentlemen, we have just used a gender perspective on building a bridge,” the instructor added.

Liberia: Pray the Devil Back to HellMost impressing was the presentation of Dr. Ruth Caesar from Liberia, who spoke about the role of the Liberian women during and after the war in Liberia, showed by the Film ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ 2008. From 1989 to 1996 one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars took place in Liberia, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and displacing a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries. Christian and Muslim women in Liberia united to end the war and to bring peace in their country, fed up with 15 years of war and bloodshed. They engaged themselves in the peace negotiations, which resulted in democratic elections and the democratic election of the first female President of Liberia and of Africa: Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. They also engaged in rebuilding of the country through the Demilitarisation, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme in Liberia and the applying of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 in a comprehensive way.

Dr. Ruth Caesar is the Deputy Executive Director of this programme in Liberia. She was one of the courageous Liberian women who united to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. Thousands of women, ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, Christians and Muslims, came together every day during many years to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and courage, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Determined to bring dignity and peace back to their country they stood up to Charles Taylor and the warlords. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about a agreement during the stalled peace talks.

Their story is a true story of sacrifice, unity and transcendence, so impressing, touching and inspiring, that it has been filmed with the help of these courageous women. The film/documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, has won an award and it is an honour for the strength and perseverance of the women of Liberia. Inspiring, uplifting, and most of all motivating, it is a compelling testimony of how grassroots activism can alter the history of nations (Fork Films email:; website )

In order to maintain stability through the post-conflict period, Liberia's security sector reform efforts have led to the disarmament of more than 100,000 ex-combatants, reconstruction of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and a UN-led effort to overhaul the Liberian National Police. The mandate of UNMIL was extended to September 2009, and a gradual drawdown for several years starting 2008. During this period the Government of Liberia and its development partners will focus on creating jobs, attracting investment, and providing education and other essential services to Liberia's communities. The Government of Liberia won substantial donor support for its new Poverty Reduction Strategy at the June 2008 Liberia Poverty Reduction Forum in Berlin, Germany. At the Workshop in Brussels Dr. Ruth Caesar made clear that genderbased violence has increased in Liberia the last 10 years. So the work goes on to educate men and women.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established on January 16, 2002, under an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone. It was established to try “those who bear the greatest responsibility” for war crimes, crimes against humanity, other serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996. The Special Court for Sierra Leone is trying Charles Taylor. The trial is taking place on the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Charles Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996, to January 18, 2002. The Prosecutor alleges that Mr. Taylor is responsible for crimes which include murdering and mutilating civilians, including cutting off their limbs; using women and girls as sex slaves; and abducting children adults and forcing them to perform forced labor or become fighters during the conflict in Sierra Leone.

Brussels, October 2009
Joyce van Genderen-Naar

2010 Conference About Women and Control (Curaçao)

What does control mean for women?
Who controls you?
What controls you?
When does control happen?
Can you handle any form of control?
Where does control fit in the lives of female professionals?
What keeps you from controlling your own life?
Why control or be controlled?

A conference on control in the lives of women and how women are programmed to deal with control. This conference aims to help women to focus on different aspects of control in their lives. A team of speakers will provide viewpoints on Women and Control. Each participant will have the opportunity to draw upon the expertise of the speakers through their presentations, question and answer sessions and personal contact.

Keynote speaker on Friday March 5, 2010 - 19.30 - 22.30
Continuing on Saturday March 6, 2010 - 09.00 - 17.00
After Conference Event Sunday March 7, 2010 - 16.00 - 18.00 in Bright World Park, Curaçao

There will as always be informal opportunities to connect with the diversity of experiences of the presenters and participants.

Conference advisor: Norma Angel MM
More info:

Natural haircare with Ayurveda herbs and oil

Sisay International introduces ayurveda herbs and oils for haircare

Janine van Throo

For 5 years Sisay Internationals have been active in the natural haircare business. Hair treatments with herbs, oils and clays for healthy strong growing hair. In March of this year Sisay Internationals introduces the concept of "Hairwellness" a concept in which everything that could be damaging for the hair is seen as a taboe.

`I have experienced how treating your hair with natural products and products on natural basis can benefit the health of your hair" says Janine van Throo, founder and owner of Sisay International natural. In the Sisay Wellness Boutique opened earlier this year, woman of color have finally found a place where they can get unique hair treatments with pure, natural herbs, clays and oils.

The clientel of Sisay International is constantly expanding, according to Janine, this is because the wellness boutique offers services that a lot of people have been looking and waiting for. A place where they can be treated with natural products and a place where people have knowledge of natural / black hair that has not been chemically altered. In the Range of the herbs Sisay carries the recently added ayurvedic herbs and oils such as Amla, Shikakai, Hibiscus, rose and Neem. Ayurveda oils and herbs are being used for centuries now for treating and preventing hair issues such as hairloss, alopeicia, gray hair. But these herbs are also absolutely suitable for one who wants to get healthy strong growing hair.

According to Janine people are getting aware of the damage chemicals can do, so they search for natural alternatives. With these treatments Janine knows for sure she offers something unique that people truly need. She also hopes that this is something more hairdressers would want to offer to their clients. Although we are specialists on treating natural black hair, we do treat other types of hair since the herbs are suitable for all hairtypes, says Janine.

Sisay International – Almere
Janine van Throo
Sisay wellness Boutique
Reguliersdwarsstraat 49-2
1017 BK Amsterdam- Netherlands
Tel:+31 6 29384659

Black Austrian, Beatrice Achaleke receives the famous World Diversity Innovation Award 2009

Beatrice Achaleke (39), Chairwoman of the Black European Women’s Council, BEWC, and Initiator of the Vienna International Center for Black Women’s Perspectives, AFRA, was recognized on September 17, 2009 with the „Global Diversity Innovation Award“ at the World Diversity Leadership-Summit in Washington for her engagement for black women in Europe. She succeeds last year’s winner, Vaclav Havel.

Award for diversity and equal opportunity

Beatrice Achaleke, the „black Austrian from Cameroon“, as she calls herself, has since many years stood up fought for the equality for black women in the European society. Last week on September 17, her engagement was honored with the „Global Diversity Innovation Award“. The prize, which is yearly awarded from the „World Diversity Leadership Council“ initiative, in the scope of the similar named congress in Washington, recognizes personalities for their daily positive contact with diversity. „The honour is not only an incrediable appreciation, but also as a contract of the World Diversity Council, to support diversity as a society’s potential and not as a problem. „I take this contract very seriously and I will even stronger pursue for diversity and integration in Austria and Europe“, says Beatrice Achaleke, who is already back to Austria to work on her next projects.

Chance: Diversity

In her function as chairwoman for the Vienna Organisation AFRA, International Center for Black Women’s Perspectives, the socialogy graduate organised in 2007, the European year of the Chance Equality, the first Black Women’s Congress in Vienna. For the coming year, the European Variant of the World Diversity Leadership Summits, which has succcessfully been held in the USA for the last six years, is planned in Austria. Goal of the conference, to which renowned international diversity experts are expected, is to discuss future strategies and perspectives for the positive dealing with cultural diversity. „Diversity provides chance, not hinderances“, Achaleke is convinced. Two years ago, the commited powerwoman, founded to the Black European Women’s Council, BEWC, a network from black women’s establishments from twelve EU-Member States and Switzerland. „I want to pull out black women and visible minorities from their victim positions and encourage them to appear more confident“, says Achaleke.

Multiple Prize holder

As founder of AFRA, BEWC and the association „Black Women’s Community“ and publisher of the book „Voices of Black European Women“ Beatrice Achaleke was already in 2008 awarded with theMiA-Award for women with migration background and in spring 2009 with the States Honor for Intercultural Activities, as well as the „Myriam Makebe African Diva“-honorprize from Radio Afrika. Besides Intercultural Mentoring, Adult education and her work in the society’s politics and migration, the new-Austrian manages with equal engagement her four-head family.

Phototext: „Global Diversity Innovation“-Prize holder Beatrice Achaleke

Photo credit: AFRA – Imprint fee free
Press inquiry tipp:

comm:unications, Agent for PR, Events & Marketing, Mag. Sabine Siegert

Tel. 01/ 315 14 11-44,,

AFRA - International Center for Black Women’s Perspectives, Beatrice Achaleke

Tel. 01/ 966 04 25, ,

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

More about Chimamanda Adichie: Click Here

Women of the African Diaspora (WAD) Website and Social Network 2nd Anniversary Opportunity

The Afro European Sisters Network and award winning Black Women in Europe™ Blog joined forces in November 2007 to form the Women of the African Diaspora website and social network. The Women of the African Diaspora website is a source of information, inspiration and more for black women around the world. We would like to celebrate our 2nd anniversary by giving gifts to our website visitors and social network members.

Call for sponsors

Adrianne George and Sandra Rafaela, founders of the Women of the African Diaspora website and social network are requesting businesses and individuals who provide products or services of interest to black women to sponsor our 2nd anniversary.

Benefits to sponsors

During the period 3 September 2008 to 3 October 2009 the WAD website had over 6,000 unique visitors from the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Ireland, Nigeria, India, Australia, Switzerland, Austria, the Philippines, Netherlands Antilles, Norway, China, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Portugal, Greece, Ghana, Brazil, Slovenia, Denmark, Japan, Poland, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Finland, Russia, Romania, Jamaica, Ivory Coast, Suriname, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Sudan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Israel, U.S. Virgin Islands, Malaysia, Lebanon, Senegal, Egypt, Bermuda, Barbados, Uganda, Hungary, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Mexico, Benin, Guadeloupe, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Iran, Bahamas, Colombia, Morocco, the Czech Republic, Bahrain, Vietnam, Oman, French Guiana, Rwanda, Kuwait, Chile, Singapore, Cameroon, Saint Lucia, Ukraine, Mozambique, Venezuela, Argentina, Malta, Peru, Qatar, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Togo, Antigua and Barbuda, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Croatia, Tunisia, Ecuador, Martinique, Algeria, Malawi, Guyana, Tanzania, Myanmar [Burma], Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Latvia, Nepal, Georgia, Bangladesh, Mayotte, Angola, Jordan, Serbia, Sri Lanka, São Tomé and Príncipe, Zambia, Aruba, Jersey, Cyprus, Cape Verde, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Réunion, Iceland, Uruguay, Gambia, Dominican Republic, Niger, Slovakia and Liberia.

Your business will be advertised in the press release announcing our anniversary, on the WAD website and social network and listed on our partners’ page with your logo linking to your website. As a WAD partner you are encouraged to periodically share information with us to be included on our website.

Deadline and contact information
Please contact us by 2 November 2009 to secure your sponsorship. Email Sandra with any questions and your offer on Include your logo and website address.

From Newspaper to Elegance (Gala Lewis Martinus)

‘From Newspaper to Elegance’ is the title of a beautiful dolls exposition made by Curaçao artist Gala Lewis Martinus.

Gala Lewis Martinus Gala Lewis Martinus en Reyna Joe

The exposition was opened on Friday October 2, 2009 at the Kas di Kultura (Culture House) in Curaçao by Reyna Joe who spoke about the family influence that shaped Gala Lewis Martinus into the artist that she is. Gala is number 6 in a family of 11 children and her parents stimulated her to continue on her artistic path.

Gala Lewis Martinus 1 Gala Lewis Martinus 2

This exposition of dolls made from newspapers is the result of Gala Lewis Martinus’ effort to show what can be done with trash. ‘From Newspaper to Elegance’ is her third art exposition. Her first exposition was in 2005 and named ‘Family Connection’. This was an exposition where she and her siblings presented the result of their artistic skills.

Gala Lewis Martinus 4 Gala Lewis Martinus 5

In 2008 she and her brother, painter Rudsel held an exposition at the Curaçao Museum with different pieces of themselves and of their students. This third exposition shows a collection of elegant dolls made completely from old newspapers and (to hold them up) seed sticks of the Royal Poinciana.

Gala Lewis Martinus also paints, is specialized in ceramic pieces and prefers to work with recycled materials.
Contact Gala Lewis Martinus at: