This article is part of a series on the Skoll World Forum Highlights.
Nick Danziger is a photographer, author, and filmmaker. He guided the attendees on the morning of the second day through a series of photographs he took while traveling along the Silk Road on a Winston Churchill Memorial Travelling Fellowship upon leaving Chelsea College of Art in 1984.
His photographs capture the environments and people from Afghanistan to China and he spoke about his return to Afghanistan years later amidst conflict in the country. One photograph depicted a row of prosthetic limbs.
“The only growth industry in Afghanistan over the last 30 years is the building of prosthetic limbs,” said Danziger.
He emphasized the injustice of women and children in Afghanistan.
“Women who gave birth out of wedlock in Afghanistan were placed in a mental asylum. Women who were destitute – without homes – would be placed in a mental asylum. And in that mental asylum I also discovered a group of children – 16 perfectly normal children.”
Danziger explains that even today, men in Afghanistan do not allow their wives, daughters, or sisters go to seek medical attention, even if they are dying or are in child birth and having problems. They do not want them to be examined by a male practitioner. Other issues Danziger highlights through his photographs are poverty among women that lead to work in the sex trade, HIV, and the inability to access education.
Victors, Not Victims: Women Driving Social Change and Striving for Peace in Conflict Zones
Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are some of the most dangerous places in the world for women. Yet against adversity are groups of fearless women who have found ways to drive social change and peace. This session explores how social entrepreneurs, governments, foreign aid agencies, and other funders can adapt their own work and contributions to amplify the efforts of these women.
Since the rape and murder of her best friend in 1998, Christine Schuler Deschryver chose to devote her life to alerting the world on the rape and violence against women. She is now the Director of V-Day Congo and City of Joy. The City of Joy is a community for women survivors of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo founded by Eve Ensler. Deschryver described her encounter with Ensler in 2007 through the recommendation of common friend in which she turned down initially.
“Because she was a celebrity, I refused,” said Deschryver.
She explained her displeasure at celebrities who came to visit with press just to see what was happening. Yet feeling overwhelmed at one point and with no support in her social network as no one around her could understand her sacrifices, she gave Ensler a phone call. Ensler came to see her. Together they worked on City of Joy and started creating safe places for women to heal so they can return to their communities as leaders for change.
“The only thing I hope for this country is peace, and that Congolese will take back their country and decide for themselves what they want for their country.”
Fartuun Abdisalaan Adan is the Executive Director of NGO Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Somalia. This past summer, she founded the first rape crisis centre called Sister Somalia. Conflict in Somalia combined with drought and hunger force women and children to seek refuge in IDP camps, where women face an incredibly high risk of sexual harassment and assaults.
Adan explains that rape is widespread and escalating yet not many women report it. The women do not feel there is justice nor do they feel protection for speaking out. The government is denying any claims that rape is happening in the country.
Despite operating in risky environments, Sister Somalia creates a safe-haven for women. It provides counseling, medical care, and other support services to build hope for them.
Ensler, who spoke energetically in the Morning Plenary, is also the founder of V-Day. Referring to the work that people do in conflict zones, uncertain climate, and among massacres, she feels that those are where the greatest change is possible and where people should place hope.
“First of all, I know that that kind of tenacity and devotion is what changes the world,” said Ensler.
“If I were an investor and I had money, I would put my money in conflict zones. And I would put my money in women on the ground in conflict zones.”
“Women in the Congo are absolutely powerful. They’re just fierce. And I know that’s true in Sudan, and I know that’s true in Somalia, because they’ve survived all this.”
Sustainable Capitalism: Integrating Sustainability from the Copy Room to the Board Room
In this panel discussion, leaders of global firms present the business case for sustainability strategies that is becoming clear among climate change, food shortages, water scarcity, deforestation, and poverty.
Discussions evolved around the importance and economic need of building a framework of sustainability within traditional businesses, a need for collaboration and exchange as no government, business, or civil group by itself can address the issues, and methods to build sustainable business.
“We have let the situation go to a point where no one sector, no government, no business sector, and no civil society by itself will be able to fill the gaps. We actually have to enter an age of collaboration and exchange,” said Roberto Artavia, CEO of Social Progress Initiative.
Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer, gave three reasons why we might be seeing a pressure on capitalism. The first is cost pressure where competition from developing markets coupled with climate change is starting to squeeze the availability of raw materials and send costs to an unfavorable direction. The second is consumer pressure. Consumers are interested in green issues yet businesses are not finding the right way to connect with them. At the same time social media is allowing consumers to increasingly ask questions and no longer allowing companies to hide behind the scenes. The third is competition pressure. Chief executives get anxious when they see their competitors starting to break away and do something different in sustainability.
“For the first time, people begin to fear that sustainability can be disruptive and fundamentally threaten the existence of their business. Even two years ago they didn’t think that, it was just CSR, it was a reputational risk, you might have a bad day in the press but then it will go,” said Barry.
2012 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship
This year, the Skoll Foundation awarded social entrepreneurs from four organizations who are solving the world’s most pressing problems. The Skoll Award includes a core support grant to the organization, to be paid over three years, and a noncash award. The winners are:
Gawad Kalinga. Gawad Kalinga means to “give care” in Filipino. Founded by Tony Meloto and led by Executive Director Luis Oquiñena, their mission is to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity by building peaceful and productive communities. Their goal is to end poverty for 5 million families by 2024. They work with communities across the Philippines and in developing countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea. By engaging in all sectors of society including private and public collaboration, Gawad Kalinga adopts a holistic community development approach against poverty. Their programs range from community building to food sufficiency and health.
Landesa. Led by president and CEO Tim Hanstad, Landesa’s mission is to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people by tackling what they recognize as a root cause of global poverty: land rights. Landesa’s land law and policy experts help poor countries develop and implement land laws, policies, and programs that provide ladders out of poverty for their citizens and promote long-term economic growth. They work with governments and other local organizations to create tailored approaches to expand land rights to the rural poor. Currently, Landesa has worked over 4 decades in more than 40 countries from Albania to Vietnam and is now focusing on China, India, and Africa.
Nidan. Led by Executive Director Arbind Singh, Nidan’s endeavor is to facilitate empowerment of the poor and marginalized sections through appropriate community based and pro-poor participative interventions. They work on various developmental issues in India with the unorganized workers belonging to the poorest of society. Their activities are in areas such as microfinance, social security, child care and protection, and education.
Proximity Designs. Proximity Designs was co-founded by Jim Taylor and Debbie Aung Din under the International Development Enterprises in 2004 and now operates as a wholly independent organization in Myanmar. They help rural families out of poverty by designing and marketing a range of affordable products and services that poor farmers can purchase and use to increase their income. These include water storage tanks and drip irrigation systems.
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