Berlin – ‘Women and Poverty’ was the subject of a forum held among women Members of Parliament, Ambassadors of developing countries, and civil society activists in Germany on 16 February 2016 at the Paul Lobe Haus, Berlin. The idea for the forum was initially broached by Ambassador Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek with MP Bärbel Kofler.
The forum was attended by MP Kofler, MP Gabriela Heinrich, parliamentary staff, and the Ambassadors and female officers of the embassies of the Philippines, Botswana, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Jamaica, Lesotho, Myanmar, Nicaragua, South Sudan, Thailand, and Zimbabwe.
Presentations about their respective women empowerment initiatives were delivered by Ms. Karin Nordmeyer of UN Women, Professor. Dr. Claudia Warning of Brot für die Welt, Ms. Renate Bähr of Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung, and Ms. Bärbel Dieckmann of Welthungerhilfe.
The presentations and ensuing discussion recognized the gains that have been made in women’s empowerment, including the contribution of German entities, while noting that a lot more needs to be done to meet the objectives outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals, many of which touch on women’s issues. Some of the organizations, such as Brot für die Welt, acknowledged that while women empowerment is a cross-cutting concern, there is a need for programs geared specifically toward women, aside from simply including, or even prioritizing women, among the beneficiaries of various programs.
There was agreement on the importance of education in women’s empowerment, and on the importance of involving the men in women empowerment initiatives. It was also agreed that more women should be placed in leadership and decision-making roles, not only to serve as role models, but more so, to have a greater input in policymaking. Meanwhile, some of the participants also highlighted the part played by cultural practices, noting that stereotypes in the depiction of women in art, for example, should be challenged.
MP Kofler noted that it might help to have a platform for German women Members of Parliament to meet their foreign counterparts, a suggestion that met with a warm response from the body.
The forum ended with a networking session over a reception featuring food from the Philippines, Thailand, South Sudan and Botswana. END