The Vital Voices Democracy Initiative has had global impact The Vital Voices Democracy Initiative has had measurable impact since it's launch almost three years ago. The initiative has created new government programs and policies to support the political and economic advancement of women throughout the world. The initiative has also leveraged private sector support in the form of in-kind political, media and leadership training, exchanges, internships, consulting, grants, and public service announcements. Vital Voices has help women run for elected office, start and grow small business, and get new legislation passed. Vital Voices is creating unprecedented partnerships and has unleashed a growing global network of people who support women building strong democracies. Through the active leadership and support of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and many other leaders, Vital Voices is amplifying the voices, struggles and triumphs of women. The Vital Voices Initiative has received calls from governments, NGOs and corporations throughout the world requesting Vital Voices activities in their region. It is clear that Vital Voices is meeting an unmet need.
Vital Voices has highlighted the critical role women are playing around the world in building democracy. Vital Voices has served as a mechanism to integrate women into the mainstream of foreign policy. It has engaged and activated US government officials in Washington and our embassies throughout the world to work with women democracy builders and create programs, which support their important work.
The Venezuelan government conducted "micro-enterprise training," dedicated to promoting open, unified communities during four one-day workshops held in Caracas, La Guaira, and Los Teques.
The U.S. Ambassador to Honduras hosted a retreat at his residence on February 17, 1999 in which attendees discussed the status of women's rights in Honduras and made decisions on how to implement programs, which would greatly advance the status of women in Honduras.
USAID and the Catholic University of Bolivia are co-sponsoring a series of roundtable discussions focusing on women in Bolivian society. These discussions will greatly increase awareness and concern for the status of Bolivian women.
The Jamaican government will offer business skills workshops March - July 2000, targeting poor and unemployed women from rural and inner-city areas to give the women the tools to start their own businesses. These workshops will allow women to play an increasing role in Jamaica's economic arena.
Women throughout the world have taken ownership of the Vital Voices Initiative; they are using Vital Voices to:
- Bring women in their countries together around common issues
- Raise awareness and recognition about the issues women are facing
- Create new legislation
- Sharing best practices
- Increase funding to democracy building projects
Vital Voices is serving as a catalyst to bring people, ideas, and partners together.
The U.S. Embassy in Bolivia sponsored an exchange program with the University of Cincinnati to bring Bolivian women leaders to the U.S. to learn about domestic violence programs, and to bring U.S. specialists to Bolivia to speak on these issues. Thus, building a bridge between to U.S. and Bolivia to unite against domestic violence around the world.
Uruguay developed private-public partnerships with IBM to provide computer training and assist in creating a web page with a list of legal steps to set up business in Uruguay, and with a local law firm, to provide legal counseling for women looking to start their own business.
Women's Campaign International held "political and media training for women" to discuss major political concerns facing Venezuelan women today and how Venezuelan women will establish an equal political system.
In Nicaragua, "Mujderes Nicaragueneses para la Democracia" was created to advocate the fair representation of women in the municipal elections in 2000 and to empower women to strive for equal political representation in Nicaragua.
El Salvador will develop a nation-wide mentoring program under the auspices of the National Development commission for successful women in a variety of fields to council young, potential leaders. This program will allow young women to gain the confidence and knowledge to successfully develop leadership skills and start their own businesses.
In Bolivia, a Bolivian National Women's Encounter is being formed to bring together representatives from over 300 municipalities to identify the most pressing needs, develop a national action plan, and create a national women's council. The integration of women from all areas of Bolivia is essential for creating and effective and helpful solution to problems facing Bolivian women today.
A political training-working workshop was held in Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 20-22, 1999, entitled "Women in Politics at the Edge of the XXI Century." This workshop focused on providing women a view of what is necessary to run for office, and giving them tools to succeed in that endeavor. Therefore, promoting equal political representation of women in Brazil.
The Vital Voices of the Caribbean conference was held in Port of Spain, September 29 - October 1, 1999 to train Caribbean women to take a more active role in the decision-making processes in their own countries and coordinate their actions on the Caribbean regional level. Approximately 150 women delegates from 14 Caribbean countries participated in the conference.
Bolivia held Vital Voices Political Training Workshops in Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Tarija from September - November 1999 with over 130 women representing 8 political parties. This workshop was integral in uniting women involved in all aspects of the political arena to promote equal political representation for women.
The Foros de Mujeres de Mercosur in Argentina, in partnership with the International Foundation for Election Systems developed a "Women's Leadership" project, October 26-28, 1999 in Toronto. This exciting project was designed to engage women in policy dialogue and negotiations on maximizing the benefit to women of regional economic integration and promoted a hemispheric network of women in the context of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Vital Voices is creating global, national and local support networks for women on the frontline of political and social change.
Expanded the Vital Voices delegation from 10 women to an association of 100 women. Organized a Vital Voices of Haiti conference in May 1999 and were instrumental in organizing the Vital Voices of the Caribbean Initiative which brought together women from 14 countries in October 1999. Six women who are part of the Vital Voices Haiti Association will run for either national or local office in the upcoming election - amidst great odds and threats against their lives. Vital Voices has become a support network for these courageous women.