HOPE FOR THE FUTURE —
In 2012, the United Nations displayed quilts celebrating the 102nd anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 12th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
One of the areas of critical concern in the United Nations Post-2015 platform is Violence Against Women. Whether at home, on the streets or during war, violence against women is a global pandemic that takes place in public and private spaces. One in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence—mostly by an intimate partner. In 2012, one of two women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family. Only one out of twenty of all men killed were killed in such circumstances. Sexual violence, female genital mutilation, child marriage, human trafficking and sexual exploitation endanger the lives of women and girls and stunt the society that does not end these practices (Source: United Nations).
“What if she were your daughter,” a quilt by Holly McCoy, speaks to the devastation of human trafficking.
800,000 victims are brought across international borders each year with 80% being women or girls. 70% of female victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
As an international women’s movement committed to spiritual search, social transformation, ecological sustainability and the release of women’s creative energy throughout the world, the Grail is concerned with the damage done to women and to the world by violence aimed at women and girls. As we look at this pandemic, we find hope in the concerns and capacities of the women who will spend 19 days in Cornwall this summer to learn and support each other in the work and spirit needed to uproot all forms of violence against women and girls.
Everywhere in the world, women weave and mend the social fabric of our communities. Lea McComas’ quilt, “The Mending,” illustrates the work of women to heal their lives and communities, restoring beauty and function in the aftermath of war, greed, and lust.
Through building healthy communities, teaching good practices and attitudes to the young, and inculcating a global perspective to understand issues, these young women give us hope that progress toward safety and security for women and girls can be reached—and their creative energies can be released to create a more vibrant, peaceful world. Read about these women and see if you agree that we can be encouraged and hopeful about what they are doing and the differences they are making and will be making in the future.
The youngest participant, Anna Carolina, a high school student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is concerned about all forms of violence against women and girls. She has helped with local campaigns for bone marrow donors and food pantries for those in need. Salome of Wewak, Papua New Guinea has done research on discriminatory music lyrics and led programs on gender issues in PNG. She majored in International Relations and Community Development. Catarina of Madeira, Portugal, has participated in an international program to address violence among young people and is part of a Grail group called The Girl Effect that addresses the rights of women and girls. Nonhlanhla of Johannesburg, South Africa, has expressed a keen interest in women’s empowerment. She is a student in politics and has worked in social development and in infrastructure development with parliamentary liaisons.
Sofia of Quito, Ecuador, is the program coordinator for Development, Politics and Languages in Ecuador. She grew up in an intercultural family and attended a multicultural alternative school, then earning a Master’s degree in International Cooperation in Geneva, Switzerland. Vanessa works for the Institute of Human Rights in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and manages social projects sponsored by governments. She uses music and dance to dialogue with communities about culture, environment and resistance and is involved with indigenous and Quilombolas (descendants of runaway slaves) communities. Fidencia is the go-to person in her community to get things done. She coordinates an outreach group of young women in Beira, Sofala Province in Mozambique. She wants to inspire other young women on women’s rights and contribute to the transformation of the world. Coline of the Western Cape, South Africa, is the Project coordinator for the Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative, working within marginalized communities and with young people on human rights and their lived realities.
Jo, from Queensland, Australia, is a university student studying law and science, who wants to learn the steps for empowering women and girls, fulfilling the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and participating in global community. Allison from New York, USA, is living and working at the Cornwall Grail Center. She has a passion for using theater, dance and song as a medium for social change, healing and awareness. Verónica is an indigenous Kichwa woman from Cotacachi, Ecuador, who seeks to strengthen organizational processes between indigenous, Afro-descendant and mestizo men and women. She uses indigenous women’s strategies to address exclusion and ethnic-racial, gender and class discrimination. Flavia lives at a Grail Center in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and with her background in psychology, she offers support to social projects of Grail with Women and Youth in the State of Minas Gerais. Flavia Olimpia, from Maputo, Mozambique, is active in youth development activities, volunteers at an orphanage, and helps to grow youth membership in Grail through advocacy for girls’ rights.
Palesa is part of the team coming from South Africa. She is an active member of the youth and social committee of Soweto parish, Johannesburg. She volunteers in her community teaching about HIV/AIDS and helping those in need. Maya is from Morales, Mexico. She has worked on community projects through her college and is Interested in working with others on peace and non-violence. Nina, of Capetown, South Africa, works in education assisting Early Childhood Development in the Montessori method, and is the mother of two young boys. She is part of the Grail Young Women’s program. Lisa (New York, USA) designs humanistic curriculum and trains teachers in several countries. She assists students to digitally connect with students in other countries to expand global cooperation.
Mónica from Oaxaca, Mexico, is preparing to educate indigenous high school students and teachers. Of Mixtecan (indigenous) heritage herself, she is especially interested in intercultural models. Ailsa, of Brisbane, Australia, is studying to become a primary school teacher and works with children in an afterschool program. Naomi, who lives in Wewak, Papua New Guinea, is an elementary school teacher, and a certified trainer and counselor in HIV/AIDS-related issues. She leads, trains and inspires others to be advocates on important social issues. Carolina, from Lisbon, Portugal is active in the Girl Effect group that teaches girls about the issues and the creative power they have. She is the only participant in the summer program who has previously attended the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.
The program will equip participants to be active advocates in next year’s global gathering at the Commission on the Status of Women as well as how to be effective advocates for justice and peace in their own communities.
This seems like a huge work, and it may seem like the Grail is a big organization. It is a huge work, but we are a small organization with many dedicated workers, many giving their time with no compensation except the satisfaction of taking steps to change the world for the better. The International Grail supports this work financially and spiritually, but it takes more. It takes all of the support we can muster to move forward in ending violence against women and girls, educating new generations, empowering communities to truly release all the potential energy in their midst.
We need you, too, to give us hope for the future. Please consider a donation to support the work of the Grail at Cornwall.