Taking a Stand for Women at “Join Me on the Bridge”

This past Saturday, I joined a few DC-based women, led by volunteer Mary Ellen Kustin and PeaceXPeace on the Duke Ellington Bridge in Washington, DC to observe the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (official date, March 8, 2011).  The event was part of the “Join Me on the Bridge”  global campaign led by Women for Women International. 

The “Join Me on the Bridge” campaign includes women, children and men, whether it’s 2, 200, 2000, or more,  joining together on bridges across the world, holding up banners, making a public statement that ‘Stronger Women Build Bridges of Peace’ and supporting women in war-torn areas. The event calls  for women to have a greater say at the peace negotiating tables and for countries to honor the UN goals they have signed up to, to bring an end to violence against women in areas of conflict

The idea for Join Me on the Bridge came from the Country Directors of Women for Women’s programmes in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – two countries which have seen some of the most devastating impacts of war in recent years and where atrocities such as rape, torture and violence against women are commonplace. Women from different communities decided to come together on a bridge which borders their two countries, in the heart of the conflict; to stand up for peace and an end to violence against women.

I am not a stranger to peaceful demonstrations and this one, although small, was powerful and diverse.  Young women from local colleges and seasoned feminists were together and shared our thoughts about our hopes and dreams for women globally.  I met some cool folks and look forward to the opportunity to participate in similar celebrations to promote the well-being of women around the world.  As an advisory board member of Empowered Women International and a supporter of CARE, it was important that I participated in this small but powerful presentation for women.  Though it was overcast, a bit cool and we were fairly small in number, our enthusiasim for this cause was not affected in any way!

A participant signs one of the banners in support of victims of war.


Sherry Ways, a board member of PeaceXPeace


L to R: Sherry Ways, Mary Ellen and Yours Truly


DC women taking a stand for the socio-economic well-being of women everywhere.

Highlights of Women of Courage presented by Empowered Women International

Since September of this year, I have been a member of the Advisory Board for Empowered Women International, based in Alexandria, Virginia. I have always been a fan of their work and especially of their founder, Marga Fripp. Those of you who know me, know that I believe in supporting the empowerment of women and children, especially those who do not always have a voice in our society. Empowered Women International’s main mission, to empower women into develop thriving businesses through their art and other related efforts.

Each year, EWI brings in a group of women, many of whom are recent immigrants and refugees to the United States, and provide professional development through workshops to transform them from mere artisans to business women. In November, I was invited to talk to them about my journey into creative entrepreneurship, which I enjoyed immensely. This year, 12 lucky women from various backgrounds completed the program and “graduated” earlier this month, ready to enter the world of entrepreneurism.

On Saturday, December 11, 2010, I attended EWI’s Women of Courage Gala, which celebrated these talented women’s achievements as well as showcased their creations for sale. Wonderful guest speakers included Jimena Ryan, Director of Marketing & Community Affairs at RAFFA, P.C., and Jameela Alter, Author of “On Clipped Wings”. Check out the photos below from this special event.

About Empowered Women International

Empowered Women International (EWI) is an award-winning non-profit organization that creates jobs, leadership skills and economic opportunities for low-income immigrant, refugee and other women struggling to integrate or transition from very difficult life circumstances into the community and marketplace.

EWI helps women rebuild their lives and livelihoods by starting up new careers, social ventures and small businesses. Member beneficiaries are women artists, artisans, and micro-entrepreneur working in various craft, food, beauty and other creative industries. Programs include entrepreneurial training, workforce and career mentoring, marketing and business coaching, and supplemental income through art and retail sales. To learn more or make a donation, visit www.ewint.org

EWI HOLIDAY GIFT SHOPPING HOURS Dec 6 through Dec 22, 2010
Monday – Thursday, 12-7pm

EWI Gift Shop at Convergence
1801 N. Quaker Lane
Alexandria, VA 22302
P: 571-933-3989

For every $10 you spend by Dec 22 at our gift shop, your name will be entered into a drawing. The prize is a bag-full of goodies from EWI artists!Winner will be chosen on December 23rd. Our business is not about selling art or goods, but transforming lives. We’re not asking for charity, but opportunity.

 Keepsake boxes by recent EWI graduate, Kim M.

 Artwork by recent EWI, Elena Nolan

Kate Campbell Stevenson, Chair of the EWI Board of Directors

Sydnei Smith-Jordan, another EWI graduate, poses next to her artwork.

The recent EWI business graduates introduce themselves to the world.

Yours Truly posing with EWI Founder and Executive Director, Marga Fripp showing off my Certificate of Appreciation.