-Women of Africa Forum Update - December 8, 2009

On November 5, more that 100 people gathered in San Diego to reflect on their experience and the stories we’ve heard, engage in conversations that matter and organize around actions toward a better future for all. In response to an open invitation, Forum participants (link) included Wahu Kaara, Women of Africa Honorees, and guests from across the country – representing a broad spectrum of African women, from the US and from Africa, local and international nonprofits and individuals working for change.

As you can see from the photos and video, it was an extraordinary gathering that energized and challenged us all. The café-style conversations (link) led to shared insights, deep listening and a growing understanding that change is something we do with, not for or to others. “Ubuntu”, a gift of song from Diana Osei in Ghana, inspired a spontaneous celebration of empathy, new connections and commitments to individual and collaborative action.

We appreciated the feedback from participants and hope that you will enjoy participating in the Forum “virtually”. We also hope that you will continue to “join the discussion” and, most importantly, participate in “organizing for action” (link to new Organize for Action section) around initiatives that were identified by participants.

The Gem Foundation is pleased to provide space(s) on the website for you to continue the global conversation and move into collective actions. We look forward to exploring ways to support you going forward and are excited about the prospects! Thanks for being part of a Forum that we hope will continue to engage you and others in moving toward a better future.

Thanks to our co-sponsors for their continuing support and to all of you who have chosen to engage. Feel free to contact us if you have questions and/or suggestions for building on the conversation. All the best to all!

-Women of Africa Forum Update – August 27, 2009

The Women of Africa Forum community continues to expand as we prepare to welcome Wahu Kaara to San Diego on November 5th. Our summer has been enriched by stories of African women here and in Africa and a deepening understanding of the “essentials of social transformation” that are emerging. It’s our pleasure to share them with you on this website and to invite you to engage.

We hope that you will continue to use the website as a vehicle to engage others – friends, family and colleagues who share our hopes for a world where all women and girls can realize their potential. You are all encouraged to add your voice, share your stories and bring your perspective to the discussion. What we learn will allow us to focus the Forum in November on the questions that matter most to Africa’s women and girls. Our commitment is to listen closely.

Ours is part of a global conversation about what Nicholas Kristof, in the Sunday New York Times magazine devoted to the topic, deems “the cause of our time”.
We are confident that what we learn will inform that discussion and enable us to move from conversations that matter to catalytic action toward a better world.

This website will continue to be home to our journey from stories of women as agents of social transformation, through the conditions that make them possible, to the actions we can all take to ensure that Africa’s women and girls can determine their own futures.

Thanks to all of you for your contributions to a summer of inspiration and continued learning. Please stay with us for a fall that moves towards action.

-Women of Africa Forum update – June 1, 2009

Thanks to all of you who have chosen to engage in our community conversation about the women of Africa as agents of social transformation. You are among more than fifty people who have joined us for roundtable discussions in San Diego to share stories of your best experiences and explore the conditions that make them possible. And you are joined by women in Africa who are adding their stories and insights to make our conversation and learning truly global.

It's time now to pause for a moment to reflect and do two things:

  • Consolidate our discussions around themes that seem to be core. We will craft questions around those themes to deepen our exploration and focus our discussions at the Women of Africa Forum on November 5th on questions that matter and conditions that will create a better future for Africa's women and girls.

  • Design a website to carry our global conversation forward. We envision a place for those of us who choose to share stories, explore themes and deepen our understanding of the possibilities. We hope, too, that this virtual meeting place will augment the powerful personal connections that energize our conversation.

We will update you on our progress later this month and value your willingness to be part of this learning community. You are encouraged to widen the circle and engage others in one-on-one conversations, using the conversation guide attached. With the storytellers' permission, we will be happy to add their stories to the website or, if they prefer, to use them to ground our roundtable discussions. And even if they or you prefer not to share, we know that your conversations will enlighten and inspire.

Please plan to join us for the Women of Africa Forum on November 5th , open to all who choose to be part of our conversation. We look forward to welcoming Wahu Kaara and others to what is becoming a global movement for change and thank you for being part of our journey.

We wish you all a summer of continued learning and inspiration and look forward to seeing you in the fall.

All the best,

Karen Mercaldo
Gem Foundation

Women of Africa Forum - an Invitation to Engage

This is an invitation for you to engage in a community conversation about the women of Africa as agents of social transformation. We want to give you the opportunity to reflect on your experience, connect with others who share your passion and commitment and find opportunities for bold, collaborative action.

We are inspired by Wahu Kaara, this year's Project Concern International Humanitarian Award recipient, and eager to meet her challenge as we prepare for a Women of Africa Forum, sponsored by the Gem Foundation, to create a better future for the women and girls of Africa. The Forum will convene individuals, nonprofits and corporations in San Diego on November 5th, 2009 to:

* Connect people in the San Diego region who are working with and through the women of Africa, in Africa and the U.S.,
* Explore times when their experience has been most vital and impactful,
* Focus on the conditions that make it possible for Africa's women to act as agents of social transformation,
* Develop an understanding of the possibilities, and
* Catalyze bold individual and collective action toward a better future

Now more than ever, we are excited about the potential of a network of people committed to empowering and engaging women to effect lasting social change.

Thank you for taking the time to be part of our exploration. Our first conversation will focus on a time that was a high point in your experience- a time when you sensed both the power and the possibilities of Africa's women.

We thank you for sharing and hope that you will choose to join us at the Forum to engage in new conversations about questions that matter to the women of Africa as agents of social transformation.