By Empowering Women in Decision-Making
and Eliminating Poverty



Millenium Development Goals

Beyond the measuring of shortfall in income, poverty includes deprivation in key areas which affect economics and quality of life.   Knowledge is often conveyed in organized fashion through formal education; deprivation of such knowledge affects women disproportionately.  Thus girls and women are more vulnerable to economic poverty than men because they have not had requisite education.

In her talk entitled “Women in Poverty: Tackling the Issue Worldwide,” Caren Grown told the International Convocation of UU Women on February 28, 2009:  “It is important to strengthen opportunities for post primary education for girls while simultaneously meeting commitments to universal primary education. A few years ago, some colleagues and I did an analysis of the literature and found that secondary education or higher is most consistently associated with improved outcomes for women – including access to health care, returns in the labor market, and the developing of greater bargaining power in the home.
…literally, money given to families if their daughters stay in school is money well spent.  Such programs are already in place in a number of countries in Latin America and are increasing in Africa. They help enormously in preventing young girls from being permanently harmed by a crisis– times when parents might be most inclined to pull girls out of school.”… I want to reiterate my earlier plea for investments in secondary education for girls and for the type of education – scientific education, technological education – that will permit girls to access new opportunities in the knowledge and green economies….”
Finally, and most important, said Professor Grown:  “The poor, women and men, need to be involved in making decisions that affect their economic lives.”

This means we Unitarians Universalists interested in the area of Education, must learn to engage in dialogue with the poor at home and in other countries so that they articulate their own vision for their own futures.    As key examples, the International Convocation (ICUUW) showcased several initiatives in self determination and poverty eradication.

Asset Based Community Development Techniques and Congregation-Centered Community Development strategic planning are key methods for appropriate engagement.  (See the UU Partner Church Council’s pages on “community capacity building” for information on congregational partnerships and upcoming community capacity-building training opportunities in UU districts this year.)

Grameen Bank, Grameen Foundation, Dallas’ The Plan Fund and FINCA’s small, borrower-controlled Village Banks and other micro-enterprise initiatives have a long history of effectiveness in self-determination and poverty alleviation.   What these initiatives are carefully doing through microenterprise support is educating poor persons, mostly women, while increasing women’s economic contributions to family income.

The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council is an important potential source of information for individuals desiring a supportive financial connection to young people receiving scholarships in India, Philippines and Transylvania.  See the new Paths to Partnership: Scholarships (

Finally, the Africa Rural Schools Foundation, based in Uganda, is an interesting and very new, informal initiative of three UU congregations in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Highlighted in the ICUUW On Line Community’s Database, the Foundation is community-based, highly visible and expanding very rapidly.

Summary of Global Sisters Plans

  • Create a representative council of existing organizations and representatives from ICUUW whose mission is to serve as a clearing house by:
    • Organizing and linking pre-existing groups:
      • International UU Groups
        • UUPCC
        • UUSC
        • UU-UNO
        • Sponsor a student (Khasi Hills)
        • Sponsoring African schools (Ohio congregation)
        • Teacher mentoring programs
      • USA Groups
        • Gordon Park School in Kansas City
        • Promise the Children
        • Harbaugh-Williams Scholarship Fund
      • Non-UU
        • Amigos de las Americas
        • Peace Corps
        • Mercy Corps
        • Three Cups of Tea
        • Industrial Areas Foundation
        • Models for Teen Parents
        • NAAACP
    • Utilizing
      • Website that includes:
        • Success stories
        • Model programs
      • Publicity
      • Congregational involvement
    • Discerning, gathering, synthesizing what’s needed
    • Looking to include all stakeholders (countries, ages, classes, ethnicities, genders, abilities, languages of culture)
    • Topics of violence, health care, literacy
  • Creating new organizations, partnerships and programs