Inspiring Women Magazine September 2021

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<strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong>, Volume 5 Issue 3

profiles<br />

7<br />


Helping Refugees Settle in the US<br />

Kristen Bloom set up a non-profit to<br />

help refugees settle in better.<br />

13<br />

“Changing the World, One<br />

PowerPoint Slide at a Time!” Sue<br />

England on running Human Rights Law<br />

training for women.<br />

20<br />

27<br />

Organizing the<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s<br />

March in<br />

Norway Karin<br />

Blake helped<br />

organize the<br />

Norwegian<br />

protests.<br />

From Pastry to Protests Lindsay<br />

Nygren started in the kitchen but now helps<br />

develop safer cities for women.<br />

39<br />

46<br />

“Justice is Truth in Action” Kelsey<br />

McKay stands up for victims with her<br />

work for RESPOND Against Violence.<br />

The Righting<br />

of Wrongs<br />

Wherever<br />

Possible Rena<br />

Levin on how<br />

she got into<br />

activism.<br />

32<br />

Working to<br />

Support<br />

Refugees Ann<br />

Birot-Salsbury tells<br />

us how she got<br />

involved in the<br />

FAWCO Refugee<br />

Network.<br />

52<br />

56<br />

I Decided to Become a Lawyer<br />

When I Was Only Nine! Lauren<br />

Mescon on her journey into law and<br />

the courts.<br />

The Gentle Touch of Hands-on<br />

Help Ulrike Näumann does what she<br />

can for the refugees she meets.<br />


features<br />

11<br />

The UN<br />

Sustainable<br />

Development<br />

Goals and Justice<br />

Katja<br />

Malinowski<br />

explains how<br />

important justice<br />

is for the SDGs.<br />

19 Introducing the FAWCO Human<br />

Rights Team Karen Castellon on what<br />

the team does.<br />

36<br />

43<br />

What is Justice?<br />

The FAWCO Human<br />

Rights Team<br />

answers this tricky<br />

question.<br />

Justice is About Transformation<br />

Learn more about Ascend: Leadership<br />

through Athletics, which was given a<br />

FAWCO Foundation Development Grant<br />

in <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

24<br />

Stand Up with<br />

Hope—Five Years<br />

Later Mary<br />

Adams coauthored<br />

a book<br />

about human<br />

trafficking victims.<br />

She looks back on<br />

the experience.<br />

49<br />

55<br />

A Club Inspires<br />

AWA Vienna,<br />

Austria.<br />

Why Did I Join The HR Team?<br />

FAWCO HR Team members share their<br />

motivations for involvement in the<br />

team.<br />

30 Legitimation Station Lauren Mescon<br />

explains what the Legitimation Station is all<br />

about.<br />

in every issue<br />

4<br />

Our Advertisers<br />

59<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> You<br />

5<br />

A Note from the Editor<br />

Liz MacNiven<br />

60<br />

More About This Issue<br />

6<br />

Working Toward An Equitable<br />

World For All More about what you<br />

can find in this issue from Elsie Bose.<br />

61<br />

62<br />

Coming November 18<br />

That’s Inspired!<br />


advertisers index<br />

We appreciate the support of our advertisers!<br />

The Short List p.38 The Short List assists students with the college<br />

admissions and application process. If your child is about to start<br />

or is in the midst of the admissions process, register for their next<br />

FAWCO Clubs Workshop webinar scheduled for October 6 th . Your<br />

questions will be welcome!<br />

London Realty Intl. p.35 London Realty Intl. is owned by AWC<br />

London member Lonnée Hamilton, a worldwide property<br />

consultant. Her firm works with the best agents across the globe to fulfill your property needs.<br />

London & Capital p.18 London & Capital is a sponsor for the FAWCO Human Rights in Focus November<br />

4-7 th , see p.17 for more details. Jenny Judd, a London & Capital Director, will present a FAWCO Clubs<br />

Workshops webinar “A Woman’s Roadmap to becoming a High-Net-Worth Investor” on November 17 th .<br />

Lauren Mescon, Rodan + Fields p.56 Lauren, member of AWC Amsterdam, works with the no. 1<br />

premium skincare brand in North America, Rodan + Fields, offering you the best skin of your life.<br />

Ponte Travels p.31 Ponte Travel Operating Director and FAWCO member<br />

Mary Stange offer customized service and exclusive access to the world’s<br />

most fascinating places while working responsibly to give back to local<br />

economies.<br />

Janet Darrow Real Estate p.10 Around the corner or a world away,<br />

contact Janet Darrow, FAUSA member, to find the best properties. FAWCO<br />

member referrals to Janet help the Target Program. Her hard work has<br />

paid off in a big way to the Target Project fundraising campaign, a win-win<br />

for all.<br />

The Pajama Company p.54 The Pajama Company, founded by Ellie<br />

Badanes, member of FAUSA and AW Surrey, sells pajamas that are cozy,<br />

cheerful and online!<br />

Yummylicious Serums, Paris p. 15 Yummylicious Serums are an ecofriendly,<br />

pure, all organic and all natural line of healthy serums for our skin<br />

and hair designed by AWG Paris member, Kristina Soleymanlou.<br />

Throughout the years FAWCO has relied on advertisers and sponsors to augment its<br />

income. This revenue has allowed FAWCO to improve services and the flexibility to try the latest<br />

innovations to enhance the FAWCO experience. FAWCO’s advertising partners believe in our<br />

mission and support our goals. Some directly support our activities and<br />

projects.<br />

We encourage club leadership throughout the FAWCO network to share our<br />

publications with their membership. Please support them! Our advertising<br />

partners have valuable products and services and we want your members to<br />

take advantage of what they offer. For more information on these<br />

advertisers or if you have any questions about FAWCO’s advertising program, please contact<br />

Elsie Bose: advertising@fawco.org.<br />


“W<br />

e must be the<br />

change we wish<br />

to see in the<br />

world.” Gandhi<br />

A Note from<br />

the Editor<br />

When the <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> team is considering<br />

what themes we should have for our next issues,<br />

we never quite know who is out there in the<br />

FAWCO world. In other words, will there be<br />

enough women to feature? But time after time we<br />

are happily surprised to find that there are FAWCO<br />

women who are involved whichever different field<br />

we have chosen, and of course they are inspiring.<br />

The women in this issue are without doubt an<br />

awesome group. They go the extra mile to “be the<br />

change we wish to see in the world”. Where they<br />

see wrongs, they do their best to fight for justice.<br />

Where they see people, and especially women,<br />

mistreated, they work to improve their lot. They<br />

aren’t fazed by the idea that as an individual<br />

woman they might not be able to make a<br />

difference. They just get on and do it.<br />

I am sure that you, like me, will be in awe and<br />

humbled by their stories. It can be hard not to feel<br />

slightly inadequate yourself when you read about<br />

them! So I would like to encourage you to put<br />

those thoughts to one side. They are not going to<br />

help you, let alone the world!<br />

Instead let’s think about Gandhi’s words and what<br />

WE can do to change things in our own<br />

communities. It doesn’t have to be setting up a<br />

non-profit organisation like Kristen, or training<br />

people in matters of law like Sue, or organising<br />

women’s marches like Karin and Rena, or<br />

designing safer cities like Lindsay, or working with<br />

refugees like Ann and Ulrike, or standing up for<br />

victims of violence like Kelsey or becoming a<br />

lawyer and judge like Lauren.<br />

Maybe there is<br />

something you can do<br />

in your neighbourhood,<br />

or in your home or<br />

family that would<br />

change the world for<br />

the better. Perhaps<br />

that is something you<br />

have already done in<br />

the fight for justice and<br />

change, or perhaps it is<br />

something you could<br />

consider doing at some<br />

point in the future.<br />

Whatever it is, remember that however small an<br />

action, it really is or will be part of “the change we<br />

wish to see in the world”, and so it is well worth<br />

doing and makes YOU awesome, too! It is my firm<br />

belief that ALL FAWCO women are inspiring in<br />

some way or other!<br />

I hope you enjoy reading the profiles and features.<br />

Please do let us know what you think by<br />

completing our survey (p.58) or sending me your<br />

thoughts at inspiringwomen.editor@fawco.org<br />

Liz x<br />

Liz MacNiven,<br />

inspiringwomen.editor@fawco.org<br />


Working Toward<br />

An Equitable World<br />

For All<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong> Founder, Elsie Bose<br />

introduces our justice theme.<br />

I am not a lawyer so the definitive answer to “What<br />

is Justice?” will not be found on this page. To me it<br />

means an equal and balanced distribution of the<br />

rule of law. Fairness - a concept so easy to<br />

understand and yet seemingly so incredibly hard<br />

to achieve.<br />

Justice was selected as one of the themes for the<br />

<strong>2021</strong> issues of <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> in the latter part<br />

of 2020. George Floyd was murdered in May of<br />

that year. This horrific incident brought the Black<br />

Lives Matter movement to a crescendo and the<br />

tympanic roar for justice resounded around the<br />

world. How the rule of law would be disseminated<br />

would be a crucial measure of how we value this<br />

basic human right now and in the future. Would<br />

the outcome help bring the systemic change<br />

needed to move all of us to a more perfect union,<br />

universe? The trial is over yet I am still not<br />

sure. There is a great deal of hard work ahead<br />

before those who are marginalized feel<br />

comfortable using the full throttle of their voices<br />

in the conversation about equality and justice.<br />

However, I am personally inspired that the future<br />

has a chance to make these changes after reading<br />

the profiles and features in this issue. The women<br />

profiled are “on the ground” dealing with the most<br />

difficult issues and situations: refugees and<br />

immigration policy, women’s rights, discrimination<br />

in education as a barrier to equality, and sexual<br />

violence against women, to highlight a few. And<br />

because justice is at its best when there is a<br />

balance in the distribution of the rule of law, a<br />

program for fathers’ rights.<br />

A bandage will not fix the imbalance. Success will<br />

be achieved by taking the “long view.” Advocating<br />

for good laws and implementing thoughtful<br />

policies will change the system. Educating the<br />

public will reduce fears and dispel myths. Hard<br />

work will bring acceptance.<br />

There is no specific career path that allows one to<br />

arrive at a solution to these challenges. These<br />

women come from various educational and<br />

cultural backgrounds; they are lawyers, educators,<br />

activists, and innovators. But no matter how they<br />

started their journey and where it has taken them,<br />

they all want to achieve the same thing - a better,<br />

more equitable world for everyone.<br />

Elsie<br />

advertising@fawco.org<br />



Helping Refugees<br />

Settle in the US<br />

Kristen Bloom, a member of<br />

FAUSA, could see that refugees<br />

arriving in the US were struggling,<br />

so she set up a non-profit to help<br />

them.<br />

I grew up in North Adams, Massachusetts. I lived<br />

in the same house from the day I was born until<br />

the day I left for college. I loved living in my small<br />

town. We didn’t have much family in the area, so<br />

our friends became our family. I loved going to<br />

school with the same kids my whole life and<br />

always seeing someone I knew at the grocery<br />

store. I didn’t realize how special that was until I<br />

left. My dad owned a stained-glass restoration<br />

studio which often hosted visiting artists from<br />

around the world. Because the studio was in our<br />

backyard, the artists frequently stayed at our<br />

house for periods.<br />

When I look back on my childhood, I think a lot<br />

about the times spent with these visiting artists. I<br />

remember my friends coming over and thinking it<br />

was strange that we always had people from<br />

around the world living with us, but I thought it<br />

was so cool! Meeting all of those artists really<br />

sparked in me a love of connecting with others<br />

and getting to know someone who is “different”<br />

than me. That desire for connection has stayed<br />

with me and is the main reason I started my own<br />

non-profit.<br />

Leaving home<br />

Kristen Bloom<br />

I left home when I was 18 to go to college at<br />

American University in Washington, D.C. My<br />

parents moved to CA during my sophomore year<br />

of college. I was heartbroken to say goodbye to<br />

my childhood home. I still consider North Adams<br />

my home and always will.<br />

I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile during my<br />

junior year of college and was lucky enough to<br />

have the opportunity to visit both Brazil and<br />

Argentina during that time. After graduation, I<br />

served as a Youth Development Peace Corps<br />

Volunteer in Peru where I lived in a rural<br />

community at 8,000 feet of elevation and worked<br />

in the schools and health center.<br />

From Peru, I came back to the United States<br />

briefly to get married, and four days later, my<br />

husband and I flew to Okinawa, Japan where we<br />

lived for four years. I taught ESL in Japan. We<br />

absolutely loved it there! My husband is an Officer<br />

in the Air Force. We have moved nine times in the<br />

past 16 years – quite a contrast from my<br />

childhood! We have also lived in Oklahoma, Texas,<br />

Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Although<br />

challenging in many ways, I never could have<br />

imagined how much moving around so much<br />

would enrich my life.<br />

My life today<br />

Kristen with her family<br />

I currently live in Tampa, Florida with my<br />

husband, eight-year-old son, five-year-old<br />


that drives my work. Leveling the playing field<br />

toward the balance of justice is something that<br />

deeply motivates me.<br />

Where did it start?<br />

I have always been concerned with fairness. As a<br />

kid I remember my mom always saying “even<br />

Steven” so maybe that’s where I got it! I see this<br />

concern for fairness in my kids, too. Although at<br />

times it drives me crazy (e.g. arguing over who got<br />

more treats), I see their sense of justice coming<br />

out in positive ways, too.<br />

Our family on vacation<br />

daughter and our two cats (who we got in Japan!).<br />

This is our second time living in Florida with the Air<br />

Force. The first time was in Miami and while living<br />

there, I started a non-profit organization called<br />

Refugee Assistance Alliance (RAA). RAA helps<br />

refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa<br />

learn English and navigate their new lives in the<br />

US. Starting over can be overwhelming, isolating<br />

and lonely, especially in a new language and<br />

culture, so we pair refugees with local volunteers<br />

and have seen many incredible relationships form<br />

from these pairings.<br />

Although we do not live in Miami anymore, I still<br />

run the organization. My husband and I are both<br />

from the North, so we think it’s funny that our<br />

whole Air Force career has been in warm climates.<br />

New England is my happy place, but I don’t think I<br />

could survive there anymore! We have been in<br />

Tampa for two years, and we really love it here.<br />

We love living in a place where we can be outside<br />

365 days a year.<br />

My eight-year-old won a pair of tickets to the zoo<br />

and asked me if he could give them back to school<br />

because “we already have a membership, and<br />

some kids have never been to the zoo.” Parenting<br />

books advise that our kids will not remember what<br />

we say, but they will always remember what we<br />

do. In that moment I felt this so strongly. I can talk<br />

about fairness and justice all day, but it is the work<br />

they see me doing every day that is really teaching<br />

the lesson.<br />

Getting involved<br />

I think I have always looked for ways to help the<br />

underdog – either a person or group I felt was not<br />

getting what they deserved. As a Peace Corps<br />

Volunteer, I focused most of my efforts on helping<br />

young girls in my community because I saw so<br />

many of them not going to school or getting the<br />

same opportunities as their brothers.<br />

When I met some Syrian refugees in Miami, I was<br />

shocked to hear they were not getting the services<br />

they were entitled to just because they don’t speak<br />

English or Spanish and didn’t know how to access<br />

those services. I was compelled to help because it<br />

didn’t feel fair. I didn’t want them to feel isolated<br />

My definition of justice<br />

I think of justice in terms of fairness and respect.<br />

For me, justice goes hand in hand with equity and<br />

recognizing that we are not all starting out from<br />

the same place. Just because someone is given<br />

additional assistance does not imply that it is<br />

unfair or unjust: not everyone is afforded the<br />

same resources from the outset.<br />

I am constantly thinking about how life<br />

circumstances play such a key role in access to<br />

opportunity. It is something that really struck me<br />

while living in the rural mountains of Peru where<br />

so many of the families I worked with lived in<br />

poverty. Thinking about access to opportunity and<br />

how it is affected by life circumstances is a concept<br />

With some of the RAA refugees<br />


or without assistance, so I established a non-profit<br />

organization to help them learn English and to<br />

navigate their new life in the US.<br />

Concerns for today<br />

My biggest concern today revolves around my<br />

work with refugees. Refugee resettlement in the<br />

United States has always had bipartisan support<br />

and, in fact, more refugees have been admitted<br />

under Republican Presidents than Democratic<br />

ones. However, in the past four years, refugee<br />

resettlement has become very politicized.<br />

The refugee admissions cap, traditionally around<br />

100,000 per year, was slashed from 85,000 to<br />

15,000 between FY2016 (Fiscal Year) and 2020,<br />

which gutted and dismantled the resettlement<br />

system. The US has always been a leader in<br />

welcoming refugees and offering a safe haven<br />

from the atrocities they have suffered. We have<br />

been a beacon of hope for so many.<br />

However, when refugee admission becomes a<br />

political matter, it has a profoundly negative<br />

impact on so many individual lives. I think that the<br />

government should pass legislation to create a<br />

fixed refugee admission cap, so that these<br />

innocent people are not caught in the middle of a<br />

political battle.<br />

Injustice issues today<br />

Many readers are probably familiar with the fact<br />

that we are in the middle of the worst refugee<br />

crisis in history right now, but one thing they<br />

Taste of Syria event<br />

might not know is that of the 26 million refugees<br />

worldwide, less than 1% are actually offered<br />

resettlement worldwide.<br />

The US typically takes the most vulnerable cases,<br />

yet the majority of refugees coming to our country<br />

only receive assistance for three to six months;<br />

they are then left on their own even though many<br />

still cannot speak our language or navigate their<br />

lives! Can you imagine?!<br />

On top of that, refugees entering the US start their<br />

life in debt because their plane ticket to the US is a<br />

loan. Refugees have been through more in a few<br />

years than most of us experience in a lifetime.<br />

They do not expect to come to the US to find life<br />

even more difficult and isolating.<br />

A life goal I have!<br />

I tell everyone my goal in life is to meet Michelle<br />

Obama. Although I do have other goals, I would<br />

love to meet her. If any readers out there know<br />

her, please introduce me! I love her authenticity.<br />

At my non-profit organization, we often say, “it’s<br />

harder to hate up close.” I believe this to my core,<br />

and it is the main reason I have dedicated so<br />

much of my career to cross-cultural<br />

understanding and really getting to know people<br />

for who they are. I think so many of our<br />

differences could be resolved if we only took the<br />

time to listen and get to know someone from the<br />

“other” side.<br />

I would ask Mrs. Obama how we could connect<br />

people to help them really understand someone<br />

who is “different” from them. I’m ready to help<br />

make those connections, to help people discover<br />

our shared humanity.<br />

Waving a magic wand<br />

At an Refugee Assistance Alliance event<br />

I wish I could magically be in more than one place<br />

at once – or at least travel anywhere I want at any<br />

time. Through my many moves and travels<br />

around the world, I have met some really<br />

incredible people who have had a profound<br />

impact on my life. Although I love exploring new<br />


places, it can be really hard to start all over<br />

somewhere. This is the main reason I felt<br />

compelled to help the refugees I met. Although I<br />

have never experienced the trauma they have<br />

been through, I do know a lot about having to<br />

start over. It is hard and can be so lonely and<br />

isolating. I have many people all around the world<br />

who I love dearly, and I wish I could magically see<br />

them any time I want.<br />

Pulling silly faces<br />

We’re Inspired.<br />

Former AWA Vienna and current FAUSA member, Janet Darrow, is one of<br />

the hottest real estate agents in Southern California! And FAWCO is so<br />

fortunate to have her support. Janet pledged 5% from her<br />

commissions on any transaction that closes because of a FAWCO<br />

referral to the FAWCO Target Project, “Project S.A.F.E.”.<br />

With her recent donation of $5,000, Janet has personally donated<br />

close to $10,000!<br />



The UN Sustainable Development<br />

Goals and Justice<br />

Katja Malinowski, AWC Berlin member, explains how important justice<br />

is in the context of the SDGs.<br />

Justice for all<br />

The adoption of this global commitment to<br />

promote access to justice for all and a stand-alone<br />

commitment to gender equality and the<br />

empowerment of women and girls (SDG 5) were<br />

revolutionary. These goals recognize that there<br />

can be no justice for all without justice for<br />

women. Equal and effective justice for women<br />

and girls provides a foundation for more<br />

sustainable and inclusive patterns of<br />

development and is essential to reaching the<br />

furthest behind. Among the 12 targets for SDG 16,<br />

there are six gender-specific indicators.<br />

Every year I ask my students which SDG they<br />

believe to be the most important one; many of<br />

them immediately say SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and<br />

Strong Institutions. One of my inspiring students<br />

explains that SDG 16 is like a moral compass for<br />

all other goals. Any and all development is only<br />

moral and sustainable if it builds on just and<br />

equitable systems. It’s at the heart of the “leave<br />

no one behind” mission because strengthened<br />

institutions are only valuable when everyone has<br />

equal access to them. Essentially, all plans for<br />

progress in achieving the goals by 2030 rely on<br />

the right institutions for implementation and<br />

systems for maintenance. When those institutions<br />

and systems aren't equitable and are weak,<br />

advancements and plans will achieve little.<br />

Adopting SDG 16<br />

When all 193 UN member states adopted the<br />

2030 Agenda in 2015, they included SDG 16, a<br />

goal that seeks to create peaceful, just and<br />

inclusive societies. Such an overarching ambition<br />

was unprecedented as it was not included in the<br />

Millennium Development Goals, predecessor to<br />

the SDGs. However, there was no clear path to<br />

how this aspirational goal should be implemented<br />

and no agreement on how to turn it into an<br />

agenda for action.<br />


ole in preventing conflict and forging and<br />

maintaining peace and justice; this is why it is<br />

crucial to bring women to the peace table to back<br />

their engagement as mediators, negotiators and<br />

signatories. Yet, women are still excluded from the<br />

formal peace processes. And if women do raise<br />

their voices against injustice and human rights<br />

violations, they often pay with their lives.<br />

The global challenges we face today all come with<br />

an ethical and moral dimension from climate<br />

justice to vaccine justice. How can we achieve a<br />

sustainable world and overcome the challenges of<br />

COVID-19 if we don’t ensure equality and equal<br />

access to vaccines, especially for those in<br />

developing countries?<br />

The importance of SDG 16 for FAWCO<br />

Although feminist movements around the world<br />

have achieved a significant transformation in<br />

women's legal rights over the last century, we are<br />

regularly confronted with the harsh reality that the<br />

laws that exist on paper do not translate to<br />

equality and justice. Without fair and effective<br />

institutions to access justice and essential services,<br />

instability and injustice spread and discrimination<br />

is exacerbated. In both developing and developed<br />

countries, institutions continue to fail women and<br />

girls, especially through impunity for genderbased<br />

violence. This is precisely why SDG 16 plays<br />

such a central role for FAWCO. These issues are<br />

close to FAWCO’s heart as we can see in many<br />

global initiatives and the Target projects.<br />

What can you do?<br />

One of my favorite quotes that is associated<br />

with Robert F. Kennedy says: “Some men see<br />

things as they are, and ask why. I dream of<br />

things that never were, and ask why not.” On<br />

behalf of FAWCO’s SDG Awareness Team, I ask<br />

us all to take action now! Will we really live in a<br />

peaceful and just world if we achieve all 17<br />

goals? We can only hope so. By fully protecting<br />

women's rights, peaceful and inclusive societies<br />

will be within reach. “There can be no<br />

sustainable development without peace [and<br />

justice] and no peace without sustainable<br />

development.“ (https://<br />

sdgs.un.org/2030agenda)<br />

COVID-19 Impacts<br />

The impacts of COVID-19 have proven how fragile<br />

women’s rights and safety really are, with much of<br />

the previous progress reversed. This is especially<br />

apparent when we look at the intensification of<br />

domestic violence during lockdown and how it has<br />

become a shadow pandemic within the pandemic.<br />

Too often women endure injustice but women are<br />

far more than merely victims; they are essential<br />

agents of change.<br />

Justice is central to the effort to help women<br />

become equal partners in decision-making and<br />

development. Without justice, women are<br />

disenfranchised and disempowered. But with<br />

strong legal and justice systems, women can<br />

flourish and contribute to the advancement of<br />

society as a whole, including by helping to improve<br />

those very same systems for future generations.<br />

The role of women in the recovery<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s full and equal participation will be crucial<br />

as the world turns it around and builds back<br />

better from the pandemic. This is attributed in<br />

part to a faster response by women leaders and<br />

greater emphasis on social and environmental<br />

well-being over time. Likewise, women play a vital<br />

Katja Malinowski is a<br />

teacher at an international<br />

school in Berlin where she<br />

puts the SDGs at the core<br />

of her teaching as<br />

TeachSDGs Ambassador<br />

and newly appointed<br />

Advocate for SDGs and<br />

Education for Sustainable<br />

Development by the Global<br />

Schools Program, an<br />

initiative of the UN<br />

Sustainable Development<br />

Solutions Network in support of UNESCO’s Global<br />

Action Program on Education for Sustainable<br />

Development (ESD). She is a member of AWC Berlin<br />

and is a co-leader of FAWCO’s SDG Awareness Team,<br />

alongside Alexandra Vo/De Jager (FAUSA) and<br />

Meredith Mani (AWC Amsterdam) who are equally<br />

passionate about raising awareness for the SDGs and<br />

the Decade of Action and creating ripples of<br />

transformative change in the FAWCO community.<br />



“Changing the<br />

World, One<br />

PowerPoint Slide<br />

at a Time!”<br />

Sue England, member of Munich<br />

International <strong>Women</strong>'s Club, tells<br />

us about her life and work<br />

running sessions on human rights<br />

law for women.<br />

Sue England<br />

I am Welsh by birth, but my family lived in<br />

England where I went to school. Looking back, I<br />

was very lucky to go to a very academic all-girls<br />

school, I do not envy the young women now,<br />

having to go to mixed schools and put up with so<br />

much abuse (in June, there was big report on how<br />

bad it is in all mixed schools in the UK). I loved<br />

finding out about the world, history and<br />

geography and got seduced by the idea of law.<br />

A lot of the family had spread round the world, so<br />

I felt part of the world, as well as seeing the<br />

difference between Welsh and English cultures. A<br />

really important thing was taking the opportunity<br />

to learn Russian, with a woman who had been a<br />

refugee from St. Petersburg in the Second World<br />

War. This gave me a real way to touch another<br />

culture, and her experiences of the war were<br />

terrifying. Touching real history, I will never forget<br />

all that. Of course later it gave me the opportunity<br />

to study the law and economics of the post-Soviet<br />

system and work for the EU in Ukraine.<br />

Leaving home<br />

I went to university at 17, no gap year for me (!),<br />

studied law and became an attorney in short<br />

order. I thought it was great and I enjoyed total<br />

independence. After a few years in the UK<br />

learning the trade, (see the baby lawyer setting off<br />

to some meeting), I wanted to see more of the<br />

world and went to study international law and<br />

economics in Belgium, with students from all<br />

over. New country, new culture, it was wonderful.<br />

Working in international law<br />

Then I was able to work for a legal firm<br />

specialising in European Union law in Brussels,<br />

and began to feel like a real European, in that<br />

multi-national, highly political city. EU law is a type<br />

of international law: this meant I could go on to<br />

work in other countries, which I did, the US and<br />

then Ukraine, because the wall had come down<br />

and it was fascinating to see the changes really<br />

happening, in Kiev and Moscow. Another swing<br />

took me through Scotland (where I met my<br />

German husband at the university at which we<br />

both worked), Switzerland and now Germany,<br />

teaching law. Now, I’m living with him in Bavaria, I<br />

am semi-retired and have plenty of time to work<br />

with FAWCO and other women’s organisations.<br />

Early days as a young lawyer<br />


Working on Human Rights with FAWCO<br />

I work on the Justice and the Human Rights Team<br />

running sessions on Human Rights Law for<br />

<strong>Women</strong>, for non-lawyers. This began in February<br />

2019 from MIWC and then moved online, because<br />

of COVID-19. Now it’s all gone truly international,<br />

we are on Series Seven and women come from<br />

inside and outside FAWCO, they hear about it<br />

through the grapevine. <strong>Women</strong> have come from<br />

everywhere in the world, Canada to Australia,<br />

Columbia to India and all places in between.<br />

beginning to change then, and as a young liberal<br />

woman I got many abused women as well as gays<br />

and people who were trans coming to me, they<br />

feared prejudice from the older, mainly male<br />

lawyers. This was the time when women began to<br />

go into the legal profession in bigger numbers, but<br />

many of the older judges and lawyers were very<br />

sexist. Some even made a fuss about women<br />

wearing trousers in court (!) and all sorts of silly<br />

stuff. I got to take cases for women using the new<br />

domestic violence laws and also to help set up a<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Refuge, which were new in the 1980s. It<br />

was hard stuff to see, but so necessary. In one<br />

case I was commended for bravery by a judge, for<br />

trying to help a heavily pregnant women and<br />

putting myself at risk of assault from her husband.<br />

I think a lot of the male lawyers did not want to go<br />

there, but they learned a bit, slowly. The system<br />

for protection is still inadequate in most countries.<br />

Getting involved in women’s justice issues<br />

On a Zoom call<br />

There are so many highly qualified and<br />

experienced women and when we are all together<br />

we can exchange information and create many<br />

new ideas together. It’s a really good networking<br />

thing. <strong>Women</strong> find it really useful for campaigning,<br />

they grab useful legal rights and new ideas and go<br />

back home with them. I call it my attempt to<br />

‘Change the world, one PowerPoint slide at a time!’<br />

The Autumn Series has recently started and lasts<br />

until Christmas. The 60 minute live sessions are<br />

available mornings or afternoons to cover as<br />

many time zones as possible and it’s free of<br />

course! Everybody is welcome you just have to<br />

sign up! Email me at wettergruen@gmail.com for<br />

more details and the registration details.<br />

What is justice?<br />

We will have justice when women are treated with<br />

the same consideration and fairness as<br />

men. When women have the same financial and<br />

economic power as men. We are a long way off.<br />

Getting interested in the field of justice<br />

I was interested enough in the idea of justice to<br />

train as a lawyer, but as well as doing commercial<br />

work, I saw the push in the 1980s to begin to<br />

tackle domestic violence. The laws in the UK were<br />

Once I went to live and work in Brussels, I worked<br />

for big business clients on commercial and trade<br />

issues. My feminist interests switched to systemic<br />

cases of disadvantage for women, as the<br />

European Union was in the forefront of pushing<br />

through better policies and laws for women<br />

workers, equal pay, better pensions, and better<br />

maternity policies. These policies were far in<br />

advance of what the UK would have done on its<br />

own and several of the other European countries<br />

were pushed into having more women friendly<br />

laws than they would have done on their<br />

own. Getting it all actually working fully of course<br />

is still an ongoing process.<br />

What does the future hold?<br />

The most really frightening new thing is the<br />

focused effort to shut down women’s voices on<br />

the Internet and political life. <strong>Women</strong> are fighting<br />

this in the courts now, as so many political parties,<br />

politicians (usually male) are uninterested or<br />

actively colluding with this. It’s crucial of course,<br />

women must have freedom of speech and access<br />

to the media and social media. As I write in June,<br />

there has been a very important success in a case<br />

in the UK to protect women’s rights to free speech,<br />

which should stop the regression. The decision<br />

should have an effect internationally in the next<br />

couple of years, and the first thing is women need<br />

to get out there and use their voices again and not<br />

let them be shut down another time!<br />

But of course the biggest problem is the same old,<br />

same old, violence of so many kinds against<br />

women. The UN Secretary-General Guterres said<br />

in early 2020 , “Violence against women and girls is<br />

the most widespread human rights violation”.<br />

A role for women<br />

If we really want change, women have to get ‘not<br />

nice’. <strong>Women</strong> have to stop putting others first. I<br />

see so often women still do. Rule one, when I have<br />


got what I need, then you can ask me to help<br />

you. <strong>Women</strong> are not to be pushed to the end of<br />

the policy queue as usual.<br />

There is currently a huge upwelling of women’s<br />

activities and new organisations are being<br />

created, because of the backlash against<br />

women’s rights that is going on, all over the<br />

world. It’s a shame so many powerful<br />

movements want to obliterate women’s rights,<br />

but it’s woken many women up.<br />

The COVID-19 effect<br />

The damage to women’s jobs and financial<br />

independence from the COVID-19 crisis pushed<br />

women back to their homes and made it harder<br />

to combine work and caring, whether they<br />

simply lost their jobs or were disadvantaged<br />

when they had to work at home compared to<br />

men. It’d bad in Germany, but also, nearly as bad<br />

in other countries too.<br />

A couple of extra things about me:<br />

1. I would love to be one of those people who<br />

can magically pick up languages, knew one or<br />

two people like that, it was quite astounding to<br />

see. But it never rubbed off on me. Learning<br />

languages is hard work for me.<br />

2. One of my most treasured possessions is a<br />

wonderful bright sculpture made from fabric and<br />

embroidery that I bought from a craftswomen in<br />

Ukraine. It cheers me up completely.<br />






Introducing the FAWCO<br />

Human Rights Team<br />

Karen Castellon, member of AWC Berlin, explains how the FAWCO<br />

Human Rights Team works.<br />

Human Rights this was (originally signed on<br />

December 10, 1948).<br />

Over time the Human Rights Team has evolved to<br />

include the committees on:<br />

• Ending Violence Against <strong>Women</strong><br />

• FAWCO Refugee Network<br />

• Political Empowerment for <strong>Women</strong><br />

• Economic Empowerment for <strong>Women</strong><br />

• Ending Human Trafficking.<br />

The FAWCO Human Rights team comprises 30+<br />

members from five regions and is chaired by<br />

Karen Castellon, AWC Berlin. Ann Birot-Salsbury<br />

(AAWE Paris) and Ulrike Naeumann (Heidelberg<br />

IWC) lead the FAWCO Refugee Network.<br />

The FAWCO Human Rights Team is a network of<br />

advocates from FAWCO clubs, working to ensure<br />

human rights for all women. The Team keeps<br />

members aware of developments impacting<br />

women’s rights through human rights articles,<br />

postings, and other advocacy work. We also<br />

engage FAWCO Members in awareness and action<br />

campaigns, particularly the 16 Days of Activism<br />

against Gender-based Violence. Our goal is to<br />

leverage FAWCO’s unique strength as a global<br />

women’s organization to help end violence and<br />

discrimination against women and girls.<br />

The Human Rights Team meets on a monthly<br />

basis (except in July and August) to build<br />

community with a focus on human rights issues of<br />

the day. By knowing each other better, we hope<br />

to foster a diverse range of voices to articulate<br />

and discuss, learn and debate, and grow as<br />

human beings who endeavor to improve the lives<br />

of others who may not enjoy freedom of their<br />

human rights.<br />

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, Gender<br />

Equality, is the chosen SDG for the Human Rights<br />

Team, while we fully acknowledge that all the<br />

SDGs pertain to human rights.<br />

The Human Rights Team is open to all FAWCO<br />

Members wherever they live.<br />

Click here to find out more.<br />

Karen Castellon is a<br />

native New Yorker (Staten<br />

Island). After college she<br />

moved to Venezuela to<br />

become fluent in<br />

Spanish. Following a brief<br />

career marketing blood<br />

pressure machines, she<br />

earned an MBA at the<br />

Darden School (University<br />

of Virginia). She became<br />

an executive coach after<br />

10 years working in<br />

corporate America.<br />

Karen moved to Berlin,<br />

Germany in 2016 with her family; highlights<br />

include biking the path of the former Berlin Wall and<br />

chairing USA Girl Scouts Overseas. As AWC Berlin's<br />

FAWCO Rep., she coached many FAWCO Foundation<br />

grant applicants and enjoys chairing the fierce<br />

activism of the Human Rights Team. She recently<br />

repatriated to Virginia, USA.<br />

As a tradition, the Team promotes an annual<br />

reading of the United Nations Declaration of<br />



Organizing the<br />

<strong>Women</strong>'s March<br />

in Norway<br />

Karin Blake, member of AWC<br />

Oslo, has been involved in politics<br />

from a young age. Here she tells<br />

us more about her life journey.<br />

I grew up in Atlanta, GA though my family was not<br />

originally from the South. My parents moved<br />

there before I was born when my father got a job<br />

as a medical epidemiologist at the CDC (Centers<br />

for Disease Control and Prevention). He spent his<br />

career investigating outbreaks of disease all over<br />

the world.<br />

All four of my grandparents were Methodist<br />

missionaries in Africa. My mother’s parents left<br />

Norway for Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), where my<br />

mother was born. My father’s parents left the<br />

American Midwest for Angola where my father<br />

lived many of his childhood years.<br />

Growing up in Georgia<br />

You can’t grow up in Georgia without thinking<br />

about race, and I first started thinking about it<br />

when I was 10 years old. In 5th grade, I was<br />

accepted to a new magnet school for highachieving<br />

kids across DeKalb County, GA.<br />

In our county, most of the white kids lived in the<br />

With my twin brother, Andrew, and friend, Sarah in 1992<br />

north, while most of the black kids lived in the<br />

south. So one of the goals of the school was to<br />

have an integrated student population, and there<br />

were countless discussions on what percentage of<br />

students should be white, black and other<br />

minorities. But even in an integrated school, the<br />

teachers found that we still segregated ourselves<br />

into groups according to race.<br />

At one point the teachers noticed that we tended<br />

to sit only with students of the same race in the<br />

cafeteria. So they required us to sit in integrated<br />

groups at lunch. I have thought a lot about my<br />

experiences at that school (which I attended<br />

through 8th grade) in light of all of the current<br />

discussions about race, police brutality, equal<br />

representation, and voter suppression.<br />

Leaving home<br />

Karin Blake Granå<br />

I attended a small, liberal arts school outside<br />

Philadelphia, Haverford College, where I majored<br />

in History. In 1997, I attended the International<br />

Summer School at the University of Oslo and I felt<br />

the pull to return to Norway after graduating from<br />

college in 1999. The plan was to spend a year in<br />

Bergen, then go to law school in the US. But I<br />

stayed for two and a half years and attended<br />

courses at the University of Bergen – first in the<br />

Scandinavian Area Studies program, and then at<br />

the Law Faculty. I lived in a dorm with<br />

international students, and I loved it. I also<br />

happened to meet my future husband there.<br />

When my student visa ran out, I went back to<br />

Atlanta for 14 months where I worked in a law<br />

office and planned our wedding. We married in<br />

2003 and have been living in Norway permanently<br />

ever since.<br />


Early years of marriage<br />

We moved a lot in the first years of our marriage<br />

while my husband was completing his medical<br />

training. I had my hands full with two little boys.<br />

We added a third boy to the mix in 2012. Our sons<br />

are now 9, 15 and 17.<br />

Having taken a break from working outside the<br />

home when my oldest was born in 2004, I started<br />

my own business, Stavanger Kids Sale, in<br />

Stavanger, Norway in 2008, which I continue to<br />

run to this day. This is a consignment sale through<br />

which parents can sell and buy gently used<br />

clothes, gears, toys and more for their kids. I<br />

arrange two weekend sales a year – in the spring<br />

and fall. During COVID-19, we modified the sale by<br />

selling items in an online pop-up shop. The<br />

customers purchased the items online then picked<br />

up their orders outside our sale location.<br />

I love my job as it gives me the flexibility to work<br />

from home and be there for my kids. It also<br />

means I have time to devote to volunteer work. It<br />

is a fulfilling job as I help families earn money on<br />

the items their kids have outgrown, and also save<br />

money by purchasing gently used items at bargain<br />

prices. We are teaching our kids to think of the<br />

environment and that it is okay – and cool – to buy<br />

second hand.<br />

I worked in Human Resources at NATO’s Joint<br />

Warfare Center in Stavanger in 2010-2011. But<br />

since we moved to Oslo in 2011, my focus (aside<br />

from my family) has been on my sale and my<br />

volunteer work.<br />

Our family, 2019<br />

Joining AWC Oslo<br />

I joined American <strong>Women</strong>’s Club of Oslo in 2011<br />

and quickly became active in the club. Rena Levin<br />

and I became good friends when we served<br />

together on the board from 2013-2015 – Rena was<br />

President, and I was first VP. Rena and I have since<br />

volunteered together with Democrats Abroad<br />

Norway, PAAL, and <strong>Women</strong>’s March Norway. We<br />

have the AWC of Oslo to thank for bringing us<br />

together. In fact, three of the five people who<br />

organized the first women’s march in Oslo met<br />

each other through the AWC!<br />

What is justice?<br />

Justice means that all people should be able to<br />

have a life of dignity and to reach their full<br />

potential regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual<br />

orientation, religion, age, or the community in<br />

which they live. I also believe that justice means<br />

that everyone should have access to quality health<br />

care, education, and a healthy environment.<br />

Early connections to the Justice world<br />

I come from a politically engaged family and have<br />

been passionate about politics since elementary<br />

school. From an early age, I believed that to<br />

achieve justice we needed competent and caring<br />

people running the government. We discussed<br />

politics at the dinner table. I proudly wore a<br />

Mondale/Ferraro sticker to school in the second<br />

grade. I went with my family to put leaflets in<br />

mailboxes for a candidate for Congress.<br />

Working at Stavanger Kids Sale<br />

The church I attended from birth – North Decatur<br />

Presbyterian Church – also shaped my views on<br />

justice. The progressive congregation at NDPC is<br />

deeply committed to justice and service. I<br />

participated in the Hunger Walk and served food<br />

at homeless shelters. The announcements during<br />

the weekly services always included ways to<br />

become politically active (marches, protests, letterwriting<br />

campaigns) and volunteer opportunities to<br />


help families in need. They didn’t just talk the talk,<br />

they walked the walk.<br />

Making a Difference<br />

My interest and participation in justice issues took<br />

off in high school. I was bitten by the campaign<br />

bug at age 15 after completing an internship for a<br />

US Congressional candidate. When he lost the<br />

Primary election, I spent my weekends in the city<br />

volunteering for the Clinton/Gore campaign,<br />

handing out stickers and leaflets at local events,<br />

and phone-banking. I recognized the power of<br />

each vote. I couldn’t yet vote but I could convince<br />

others to vote for my candidates. And that’s how I<br />

could make a difference.<br />

One of the most formative experiences of my life<br />

was working on Comer Yates’ US Congressional<br />

campaign in 1994. I was only 17, but Comer<br />

entrusted me with a lot of responsibility both in<br />

the office and at campaign events. It was this<br />

experience that taught me how to network,<br />

organize, and plan events – skills that I use in my<br />

current job running a children’s consignment sale,<br />

as well as in all the volunteer work I do. Comer<br />

and his wife, Sally, believed in me, gave me<br />

confidence in myself and my abilities, and were<br />

supportive of all my endeavors. They both have a<br />

strong commitment to social justice and to serving<br />

the community, and to this day, they continue to<br />

inspire me to keep on fighting for what I believe in.<br />

With my mentor, Comer Yates in 2019<br />

A passion for politics<br />

My passion for politics and justice has not waned.<br />

I returned to the US to participate in one large<br />

protest there – the <strong>Women</strong>’s March on<br />

Washington in January 2017. But since living in<br />

Norway, I have found new ways to contribute and<br />

make a difference through volunteer work in Oslo.<br />

For example, I am involved in the Progressive<br />

Americans Action League (PAAL) in Oslo. We are<br />

engaged in local Norwegian community issues as<br />

well as US and international politics.<br />

Campaigning in Norway<br />

The <strong>Women</strong>’s March, Norway<br />

I sit on the board of <strong>Women</strong>’s March Norway.<br />

(WMN). Together with five other women, we have<br />

organized three large marches in Oslo since 2017<br />

as well as a workshop to help other groups use<br />

social media to promote their causes. Our focus is<br />

on promoting equality, justice, and human rights<br />

worldwide while also drawing attention to the<br />

ways in which Norway could improve its standing<br />

in these areas. We use our platform to promote<br />

other groups whose ideals align with ours, and we<br />

participate in the Oslo Pride parade, the<br />

International <strong>Women</strong>’s Day march, in addition to<br />

other protests and marches in Oslo.<br />

I remain very interested in US politics, and were I<br />

living in the US, I would be working on campaigns.<br />

Through Democrats Abroad Norway (DAN), I have<br />

done phone-banking to help mobilize Democrats<br />

living abroad to vote in the elections, and I have<br />

volunteered at DAN events. I recently chaired the<br />

Nominations and Elections Committee which ran<br />

the board elections for Norway.<br />

Working on the WMN team<br />

One reason that our <strong>Women</strong>’s March Norway<br />

team works so well together is that we divide up<br />

the work according to our strengths. As a team,<br />

we generate ideas and plan events. But I am<br />

specifically in charge of making videos and<br />

graphics for social media and posters as well as<br />

developing our overall social media plan (including<br />

advertising and promoting our events). I gave a<br />

talk about graphic design at our social media<br />

workshop. I am extremely detail-oriented, so the<br />

team is happy for me to take on these tasks!<br />


them where they are. Many migrants and refugees<br />

are leaving their countries due to war,<br />

persecution, severe poverty, and climate disasters.<br />

Seeking asylum is a human right, and, in my<br />

opinion, sending money isn’t a solution to this<br />

humanitarian problem.<br />

What would I change from the past?<br />

Marching at the Pride Parade<br />

Event planning<br />

I am an event planner by profession so these skills<br />

come in handy when I plan the AWC of Oslo’s<br />

American Christmas Market. Leading up the event,<br />

I spend my days communicating with vendors,<br />

scheduling volunteers, promoting the event on<br />

social media, and making sure everything will run<br />

smoothly. This past year we were unable to have<br />

an indoor market due to COVID-19 so I put the<br />

market online, customers picked up their items<br />

outside the location where we hold our indoor<br />

Christmas Market. We set up a raffle and bake<br />

sale outside to raise money for the scholarship we<br />

give every other year and for the Oslo Crisis<br />

Center. Despite COVID-19, we made it work!<br />

Can I erase COVID-19? While we have been stuck<br />

at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have<br />

thought a lot about all of the things I have done in<br />

my life. And fortunately, I have few regrets. I am<br />

very thankful for my education, my friends and<br />

family, the traveling I have done, and the<br />

experiences I have had. I am happy with my life in<br />

Norway, and so glad that (outside of COVID-19) I<br />

have the chance to travel back to the US one or<br />

two times a year to see family and friends and<br />

show our kids my home country. I do my best to<br />

let people know how much they mean to me and<br />

how much I appreciate them. I am looking forward<br />

to seeing my family in the US again, hanging out<br />

with friends, participating in all of my usual<br />

activities (including many with my AWC friends),<br />

going to concerts, and traveling.<br />

What would I change about me?<br />

If I could, I would clone myself. There are so many<br />

things I want to do and many more ways in which I<br />

would like to offer my time and skills. But there<br />

are only so many hours in a day, and I do not get<br />

enough sleep as it is.<br />

My biggest concerns today<br />

I am very concerned about the rise of extremism<br />

and the spread of disinformation not only in the<br />

US but around the world. It is frustrating that so<br />

many people distrust the government, do not<br />

believe in science, and argue that climate change<br />

is not real. Grassroots organizing is the key to<br />

educating people and mobilizing them to vote so<br />

that we have the best representation in<br />

government – from local races like the school<br />

board all the way up to President.<br />

I am also worried about the measures many state<br />

governments are trying to put in place to restrict<br />

voting access. It means that we will need to fight<br />

that much harder to get these voters to the polls.<br />

Injustices in Norway<br />

While Norway tends to give generously to the<br />

international community, I have been<br />

disappointed in their response to the refugee<br />

crisis in Europe. Here, too, there is a rise in<br />

extremism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant<br />

sentiments. There is a segment of the population<br />

that thinks that instead of allowing refugees to<br />

come to Norway, we should give money to help<br />

At the <strong>Women</strong>’s March in Washington<br />



Stand Up with Hope<br />

— Five Years Later<br />

Mary Adams, member of AWC The Hague, co-wrote a book, Hope is the<br />

Thing with Feathers, as part of a FAWCO-led symposium in Human<br />

Trafficking. Five years on she looks back on the experience.<br />

In 2016, FAWCO and the FAWCO Foundation<br />

jointly sponsored the Stand Up Against Human<br />

Trafficking Symposium in The Hague in support of<br />

the 2013-2016 Target project. Johanna Dishongh,<br />

Target Chair, and I designed and managed the<br />

event with Coordinator Julie Mowat and the<br />

support of FAWCO club members.<br />

My-Linh Kunst was the emcee for presenters on<br />

sex trafficking. She had an idea to create a<br />

companion book called Portraits of Hope. We<br />

discussed the idea with author Robin Goldsby and<br />

the book was born. I was the project manager to<br />

develop/conduct interviews. Teresa Mahoney<br />

(AWC The Hague) led the creative team for design.<br />

The book was self-published with the help of<br />

sponsors Johanna Dishongh and Dr. Donna<br />

Adams. Hope is the Thing with Feathers was an<br />

instant success during the Symposium.<br />

After the Symposium, the book gradually faded<br />

into the bookshelf. However, the impact it had on<br />

me became even stronger. I eventually founded<br />

Sustainable Rescue Foundation. I am still in<br />

contact with most of the Symposium speakers. I<br />


ealized that their stories hadn’t ended. Why<br />

should the book? Would it be possible to republish<br />

and re-launch the book?<br />

Recently I (MKA) interviewed My-Linh (MLK) and<br />

Robin (RGM) to talk about our experiences in<br />

creating the book and share the impact of the<br />

FAWCO Symposium in human trafficking five<br />

years later.<br />

The Concept<br />

RMG: The original title of the book was Portraits of<br />

Hope. It was an accurate title, but it seemed cliché.<br />

I stumbled across the Emily Dickinson poem and<br />

thought this is exactly what we are talking about!<br />

How fleeting and elusive hope can sometimes be,<br />

like birds and feathers that drift away and come<br />

back to you.<br />

MKA: That gave me the idea to use the image of<br />

survivors holding feathers.<br />

RMG: Little did we know that My-Linh had a<br />

problem with handling feathers!<br />

The Impact on Us<br />

MLK: I had never met an actual survivor. They<br />

didn’t look like what I had imagined. What I saw<br />

was women of all ages. After the Symposium, I got<br />

more involved in preventing sex trafficking. I am<br />

now the regional advisor for Germany for an<br />

organization that works with Vietnamese<br />

trafficking victims in Europe. Reading the book<br />

and donating is a great way to engage and make a<br />

difference.<br />

RMG: The story about the hotel workers really<br />

opened my eyes. How could a hotel room could<br />

be rented out for a single day with one woman<br />

servicing thirty-five clients? I work in the<br />

hospitality industry. I play piano in a luxury hotel<br />

where the staff takes care not to confront guests.<br />

Now I wonder how many hotels have trafficking<br />

awareness training programs. Awareness and<br />

engagement are the two takeaway words from<br />

reading the book.<br />

The Pictures<br />

RMG: We need to be aware that trafficking<br />

happens and that it continues to grow as a global<br />

problem. My-Linh’s pictures give a face to human<br />

trafficking.<br />

MLK: The book represents an entire spectrum of<br />

faces. Policymakers and academia were<br />

comfortable to strike a pose, however not so for<br />

the social workers. I remember the two mentors<br />

from the Amsterdam care facility were shy at first,<br />

but eventually relaxed in front of the camera.<br />

Most of the survivors were not at all comfortable<br />

being photographed.<br />

The most memorable shoot for me was with three<br />

survivors at the Rotterdam safehouse who were<br />

willing to show their faces. There was one survivor<br />

from Albania who just bloomed as she became<br />

comfortable in front of the camera. I enjoyed<br />

seeing that gradual empowerment.<br />

MKA: The caseworker at the Bijlmer -<br />

Bridge2Hope project arranged for seven Nigerian<br />

survivors to be interviewed and photographed.<br />

When we arrived, a few women were clustered<br />

around the caseworker. Initially, they wanted<br />

nothing to do with us. It took time, but eventually<br />

some of the women agreed to be part of the<br />

project if we did not show their faces.<br />

MLK: I remember that shoot. I felt bad holding my<br />

camera because it seemed like exploitation. I<br />

didn’t expect to get any pictures that day. But<br />


when it finally happened, it was magical.<br />

MKA: One of the Nigerian survivors is now on the<br />

staff of Bridge2Hope Academy, and has posted<br />

My-Linh’s photographs on their website as a<br />

symbol of hope. In 2020, the Academy was<br />

awarded a development grant. In fact, another<br />

featured social worker and social entrepreneur in<br />

the book, Not for Sale, was awarded a<br />

development grant in 2019. Both nominating<br />

clubs, AWC Amsterdam and AWC The Hague,<br />

continue the philanthropic relationships.<br />

Hope is the Thing with Feathers will be launched<br />

with the upcoming Human Rights in Focus<br />

online event November 4-7, as an e-book. It<br />

will be available from the FAWCO website with<br />

a suggested minimum donation of $20 per<br />

copy. The money raised will be used to fund a<br />

FAWCO human rights development grant.<br />

Click here to get the book.<br />

Robin Goldsby is an<br />

author and Grammynominated<br />

lyricist, and<br />

member of AWC Cologne.<br />

As a Steinway Artist, she<br />

is a cultural ambassador<br />

with artistic ties to both<br />

Europe and the USA. Robin<br />

has presented her<br />

reading/concert program<br />

for numerous FAWCO<br />

clubs worldwide.<br />

www.goldsby.de<br />

26<br />

Mary Adams worked<br />

for 25 years in<br />

management<br />

consulting. In 2015, she<br />

left consulting to<br />

become more involved<br />

in human rights for<br />

women. She was<br />

FAWCO Foundation VP<br />

of Fundraising from<br />

2015 – 2017. Currently<br />

she is Director and<br />

Founder of Sustainable<br />

Rescue Foundation and<br />

a member of AWC The<br />

Hague.<br />

My-Linh Kunst is a<br />

former two-term<br />

FAWCO President and<br />

member of AWC Berlin.<br />

A published and<br />

exhibited<br />

photographer, she also<br />

works as an adjunct<br />

professor in business<br />

administration. She cofounded<br />

FAWCO's<br />

Ending Violence against<br />

<strong>Women</strong> Task Force<br />

(2008), and co-chairs<br />

the Human Rights in<br />

Focus FAWCO Event to be held in November <strong>2021</strong>.


From Pastry to<br />

Protests<br />

Lindsay Nygren, member of AWC<br />

Central Scotland, started in<br />

restaurant management but<br />

today works with the YWCA in<br />

Scotland developing safer cities<br />

for women.<br />

Lindsay Nygren<br />

I grew up in Tucson, AZ as an active child. I was<br />

involved in numerous sports and activities from<br />

ballet, tennis, and swimming to helping at the<br />

church with my mom. For most of my life it’s been<br />

my mom and me. She always ensured I went after<br />

what I wanted and encouraged me to follow my<br />

passions, even if I suspect they probably scared<br />

her at times.<br />

I remember my first taste of international travel<br />

and volunteering. I was 15 in high school and<br />

there was a presentation for Amigos de las<br />

Americas. It piqued my interest to travel to<br />

Central America and live with a community to<br />

As a young girl at our ranch in Mexico<br />

support their chosen project. The summer of<br />

2009 I traveled to Honduras to live with a host<br />

family and teach about environmental<br />

sustainability in the elementary school. For five<br />

weeks I had no contact with my mom or the<br />

outside world, so it came as a surprise when the<br />

coordinator told us we were being evacuated due<br />

to a military coup! I made it home safely and this<br />

experience contributed to opening my world view<br />

and was a jumpstart to my desire to be more<br />

culturally aware.<br />

Leaving home<br />

I attended university at New Mexico State<br />

University where I studied hospitality<br />

management with a focus on culinary arts and<br />

restaurants. During this time, I had the<br />

opportunity to study abroad for two semesters in<br />

South Korea and a summer in Florence, Italy in an<br />

intensive pastry program. I worked at a local<br />

restaurant and cafés back home both in the<br />

kitchen and in marketing before deciding to<br />

pursue a master’s degree. Since then, I have lived<br />

in Ireland and France, constantly working with the<br />

universities to support international and minority<br />

students as an ambassador and mentor.<br />

As an international student myself, I know the<br />

struggles of culture shock and coming into a<br />

community or culture without knowing a friendly<br />

face. While in Ireland, I worked as a teacher’s<br />

assistant in the business school, as a resident<br />

assistant in the international dorms, and for<br />

Education in Ireland to promote Ireland as a study<br />

destination for foreign students. Interacting with<br />

students daily was a highlight of my day, and I<br />

loved getting to know about their cultures and<br />

experiences of being abroad.<br />


Starting early!<br />

Me during my Korean Culinary Scholarship<br />

Time for a change<br />

After being in restaurant management I realized<br />

that I needed to be more involved in change. I<br />

have always loved volunteering and being involved<br />

in my community because of the diverse missions<br />

I could help with and the people I would meet. I<br />

found I devoted more of my energy to promoting<br />

equal access opportunities as a volunteer than I<br />

ever did in my restaurant work.<br />

I changed paths and enrolled in the Education,<br />

Public Policy, and Equity master’s program at the<br />

University of Glasgow in 2019 where I focused on<br />

discrimination within education. I have continued<br />

this research as a PhD and am focusing on racial<br />

and cultural discrimination in higher education.<br />

My mom tells me that even as a kid I had a strong<br />

sense of what was fair. This ingrained feeling has<br />

propelled me to be involved in different roles with<br />

the strongest taking shape through international<br />

education. I was always surrounded by a culturally<br />

diverse community. My family is from Mexico, with<br />

my mom being first generation American, so I<br />

grew up appreciating the different cultures that<br />

make up the US. I had a fascination with anything<br />

international, so I jumped at the chance to go<br />

abroad with a purpose in high school. My need to<br />

be involved came as a response to witnessing the<br />

unfair treatment of those who are foreign. I never<br />

saw a just reason for why some of my classmates<br />

were treated differently or ignored for not being<br />

from the US or not being able to communicate as<br />

easily in English. This was the catalyst that started<br />

my passion for international education and<br />

inclusion work.<br />

Getting involved<br />

My first step towards being involved in justice was<br />

by chance. A presentation at my high school led to<br />

my becoming part of a larger organization focused<br />

on sustainable projects within Central and South<br />

American communities. Since that first<br />

independent trip to Honduras, I have been<br />

focused on community inclusiveness and<br />

belonging. Experiencing culture shock and<br />

overcoming it through the warmth of my host<br />

community helped me to thrive and since then I<br />

have made it a personal mission to stay involved<br />

in the international community, whether that has<br />

been refugees, asylum seekers, or international<br />

students. All have received acts of injustice and<br />

discrimination, and I am passionate about<br />

overcoming these through involvement in a<br />

positive education process.<br />

For the past 10 years I have served as an<br />

ambassador and mentor to international and<br />

minority students. Currently I am working with<br />

YWCA – Scotland to make Glasgow a safer city for<br />

women through feminist town planning. In<br />

between this project, academic research, and<br />

FAWCO, I still take every chance to explore more<br />

of Scotland (when traveling is allowed!).<br />

What is justice?<br />

I’ve always considered myself to have a strong<br />

sense of what’s fair. In my definition of justice, I<br />

must associate it with equity and fairness. Justice<br />

to me is the action of treating everyone with<br />

fairness, dignity, and respect, regardless of their<br />

race, gender, sexuality, or socioeconomic status. I<br />

believe that justice can really only be achieved<br />

when both sides come together without<br />

underlying conditions or personal reasoning to<br />

treat one another differently to gain an upper<br />

hand or advantage.<br />

As student ambassador in Ireland<br />


abroad has given me an appreciation for other<br />

cultures and experiences. I believe that how we<br />

perceive and teach culture is essential to promote<br />

understanding and widen individual perspective<br />

beyond our own.<br />

Daily life<br />

I’ve learned through my involvement in justice that<br />

no task is too small or insignificant. I like being<br />

involved, whether as a greeter in COVID-19<br />

vaccine clinics, or helping international students<br />

adjust to their new settings, or volunteering my<br />

time and energy to causes with organizations such<br />

as FAWCO and the YWCA. I have learned the<br />

importance of connections and being involved in<br />

my communities because it gives me an insight<br />

into the most essential needs. Activism for justice<br />

isn’t just a one-off commitment. It takes daily<br />

dedication and an openness to learning and<br />

evolving those actions that will achieve sustainable<br />

justice. With my research on discrimination and<br />

involvement in minority communities in Glasgow,<br />

I’ve taken a more critical perspective of my daily<br />

life. I try to be aware of my surroundings and not<br />

just accept things because it’s the way they’ve<br />

been done for years.<br />

What would I change about me?<br />

Dressed for Diwali<br />

What next?<br />

The future looks full of possibilities, but not<br />

without its hurdles. This past year alone has seen<br />

massive amounts of protests and action taken by<br />

minority groups to address injustices of the past<br />

that are still embedded in our societies. I’ve also<br />

seen a rise in nationalism, which is worrying to me<br />

because of the strain is has caused among local<br />

and refugee communities in the UK. Working with<br />

the YWCA and COP26, I am excited for what this<br />

year will bring and that we can work to overcome<br />

these issues. I feel hopeful that with the YWCA we<br />

will be able to bring attention to women’s issues<br />

that have been largely sidelined for not being<br />

viewed as important enough. Our focus this year<br />

is on addressing town planning to create a safer<br />

and more women-friendly environment in the city<br />

of Glasgow and partnering with the COP26<br />

conference to address climate change.<br />

I would have a louder voice! I feel that for what I’m<br />

involved in and how much I want to change, I<br />

should have had a louder, more commanding<br />

voice. I’m naturally soft spoken, so even when<br />

making presentations, it can be hard for me to<br />

raise my voice. If I could magically make it so I<br />

didn’t have to struggle to be heard that would be<br />

amazing. I see my voice as essential to the<br />

activism I am engaged in so having it be louder<br />

and stronger would further positive changes.<br />

The role of culture<br />

I think culture can be two-sided in defining justice<br />

depending on the individual’s interpretation and<br />

experiences. Culture strengthens perceptions and<br />

I’ve found that you can be proud of your own<br />

culture, and either accepting or unaccepting of<br />

others. The concept of nationalism is growing<br />

globally alongside a rapidly globalizing world<br />

which is causing friction. I have found that living<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Day in Edinburgh<br />



Legitimation Station<br />

Lauren Mescon, member of AWC Amsterdam, explains how the<br />

Legitimation Station came about.<br />

I believe that we, as women, seeking to be better<br />

and do better than our male counterparts, must<br />

treat men as we wish they had treated us from<br />

the beginning.<br />

In Georgia, if a child is born out of wedlock, there<br />

is no legal relationship between father and child.<br />

That means neither the father nor child can<br />

inherit from the other and the father has no right<br />

to custody or parenting time. Nor does his family.<br />

An order of legitimation is the only way that the<br />

father of a child born out of wedlock can be<br />

recognized as the legal father of that child. While<br />

both parents can sign a voluntary<br />

acknowledgement of legitimation at the hospital,<br />

that does not establish custody or parenting time.<br />

In my decades of family law work, there were<br />

many times when a father, as the primary<br />

caretaker of the child(ren) was left legally<br />

powerless when the mother got angry, had drug<br />

or mental issues, or decided to move on, and took<br />

the children.<br />

A Dad in Georgia<br />

After working as a divorce and custody lawyer and<br />

serving as a Family Court judge, I relocated to<br />

Columbus GA, a city of about 200,000 and home<br />

to Ft. Benning, the US Army Maneuver Center of<br />

Excellence (including Infantry and Armor). I began<br />

volunteering at Head Start Centers, a few days a<br />

week. One of the most stellar parents was a father<br />

who always brought his son to school, and<br />

showed up for every volunteer opportunity. The<br />

child was always well-mannered and well-dressed.<br />

In a word, adorable.<br />

One day, I received a frantic phone call from the<br />

director of the center informing me that the child<br />

had not been in school for several days and the<br />

father did not know how to find him. Instinct told<br />

me this father had never legitimated his child, and<br />

upon questioning the director, that suspicion was<br />

confirmed. Whenever the mother needed more<br />

money or got angry, she pulled the child from the<br />

center and threatened to withhold him unless the<br />

father complied. This child was four years old and<br />

had lived like this since birth.<br />

The Legitimation Project<br />

I approached the Chief Judge of the<br />

Chattahoochee Circuit with an idea – let’s create a<br />

Legitimation Project, one in which fathers could<br />

file the necessary papers to legitimate their<br />

children. Many of these cases impact those<br />

without the financial means to hire lawyers to<br />

legitimate their children yet it is shocking how<br />

many men did not know they had no rights. I went<br />

on an awareness raising speaking tour to Rotary<br />

Clubs and churches and found that was the case<br />

across the board.<br />

I should have known something was up when the<br />

judge said “that’s a great idea…go for it!”<br />

Ultimately the Legitimation Station was born.<br />

Making it happen<br />

For the next year, we met with stakeholders –<br />

probate court judges, superior court judges, legal<br />

aid lawyers, child support officers and social<br />

workers.<br />

We drafted and redrafted forms, finally settling on<br />

a set of forms and step by step instructions on<br />

how to use them.<br />


Funds were set aside by the Superior Court for the<br />

six courthouses in our circuit to have computers<br />

so fathers could access the forms and file the<br />

cases themselves. In Columbus, the largest<br />

county, we set up an office which was staffed<br />

three Fridays per month so that the fathers could<br />

get assistance with the forms.<br />

The first case<br />

My first case was the father from Early Head Start<br />

I had met years before. Fast forward six-years<br />

later when I was involved in a Circles USA<br />

program (https://www.circlesusa.org/) which<br />

fights poverty by allying someone coming out of<br />

poverty with involved members of the<br />

community. One evening, we had a session with a<br />

local church and who walked in? The father and<br />

his son. After legitimation, the father had gained<br />

custody and had clearly done a fabulous job<br />

raising his son. It was so nice for me to come full<br />

circle and see the results of what he had started.<br />

And for him to know what he had inspired.<br />

Today, the Legitimation Station is still operational<br />

throughout the Judicial Circuit and the<br />

Chattahoochee Family Law Center is still open<br />

three Fridays per month, staffed by volunteers.<br />

Lauren with colleague graduating from the Circles<br />

Program<br />

Lauren Mescon graduated from Emory University<br />

School of Law in 1979, passing three bar exams –<br />

Colorado, Maryland and Georgia, and spending the<br />

majority of her career as a Family Law Attorney. She<br />

also had the privilege of serving as a Family Court<br />

Judge. She was a certified mediator and a guardian ad<br />

litem—advocating for children. She trained<br />

practitioners in Collaborative Divorce nationally and<br />

mediation locally. In 2014, she helped take the<br />

concept of Collaborative Divorce to Cuba.<br />



Working to<br />

Support Refugees<br />

Ann Birot-Salsbury, member of<br />

AAWE Paris and Co-Chair of the<br />

FAWCO Refugee Network (FRN),<br />

tells us how she got involved.<br />

Ann Birot-Salsbury<br />

I grew up in a wealthy suburb of Pittsburgh,<br />

Pennsylvania where the population was virtually<br />

all WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant). At that<br />

time, the city and surrounding suburbs were<br />

clearly divided by class, religion and race. My<br />

mother was a repressed activist who I would call a<br />

key mentor for me.<br />

Perhaps from her subliminal messages, I realized<br />

that there was more to life than hanging out at<br />

the country club with people who looked like me.<br />

When my parents divorced in the early 70s, I saw<br />

first hand how overnight my mother lost all her<br />

status. Even though she had had plenty of credit<br />

cards when she was married, she could not get<br />

one once she was divorced. Together we lived the<br />

feminization of poverty, moving from the family<br />

house in an upper-middle-class suburb to a<br />

flimsily built town house in a middle-class suburb<br />

right next to a working-class neighborhood. At<br />

the same time my father moved to a city<br />

neighborhood that was undergoing gentrification<br />

and was mixed race and mixed class.<br />

I saw my mother, who had virtually no work<br />

experience (except as a volunteer President of an<br />

inner city Child Care Center that served a diverse<br />

population) because my father did not want her<br />

to work, pick herself up and get a Master’s degree<br />

that led to her becoming a counselor for both<br />

displaced homemakers (the term used in that<br />

period for post war brides who were<br />

homemakers, did not have outside paid jobs and<br />

were later divorced) like herself and for dislocated<br />

steel workers. She made her mark in what was<br />

truly a man’s city. I am very proud of her as well<br />

as inspired by her, determination despite<br />

frequent bouts of doubt.<br />

Leaving home<br />

Like my mother and my grandmother before her,<br />

I attended and graduated from Vassar College.<br />

There I majored in economics. This was my first<br />

real step away from home. And to make this<br />

experience a bit different, I spent my junior year<br />

abroad at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. I<br />

call it that because it felt like going abroad;<br />

everything was so different for me.<br />

My sister was in a serious relationship with an<br />

Australian man who she later married after<br />

moving with him to Australia, so I became curious<br />

about Australia. As a first step towards Australia, I<br />

moved to San Francisco after graduating from<br />

Vassar.<br />

With my Mom and Eliza Doolittle, our dog, in 1965<br />


I lived in San Francisco for two-and-a-half years,<br />

working as an internal auditor before making the<br />

leap at age 25 to living in Australia to be closer to<br />

my sister. With virtually no non-profit work<br />

experience, I was hired to run fundraising for<br />

Amnesty International Australia. Through this<br />

experience, I learned a lot about human rights<br />

violations in different parts of the world, including,<br />

my home country, the US. I also learned what it<br />

was like to live abroad and, although grateful to<br />

have more time with my sister, in fact I was lonely<br />

and did not like being so far away from so many<br />

people I loved.<br />

With Patrice in Greece, 2010<br />

drawing inspiration from what Angela Merkel was<br />

doing in Germany. I realized that it must be a<br />

billion times more difficult for someone who is a<br />

refugee, with none of my resources, to live in<br />

France.<br />

So I got in touch with the AAWE office and, from<br />

that simple phone call, the AAWE community-wide<br />

Refugee Task Force began. It evolved into 11 nonprofits<br />

collaborating on projects with refugees. We<br />

became like a family, creating cultural and sports<br />

events, giving language tutoring and resources<br />

(appliances, furniture, clothes, money) new lives<br />

with people who really needed them.<br />

My life today<br />

MAESTRAPEACE, murals on The San Francisco <strong>Women</strong>'s<br />

Building, Juana Alicia, Edythe Boone, Miranda Bergman,<br />

Susan Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene<br />

Perez, © 1994, 2000, 2010.<br />

Back to the US and cupid strikes!<br />

After returning to San Francisco, I became the<br />

Development Director at The <strong>Women</strong>’s Building.<br />

This community center, to this day, models<br />

inclusivity and empowerment for all with their<br />

programming.<br />

In 2005, I was working for Wells Fargo Bank and<br />

went on an international leadership program.<br />

While in this program, I met my husband, Patrice,<br />

who is French and was living in Paris at the<br />

time. Our romantic relationship started in April<br />

2008 during a reunion of our leadership group in<br />

Paris. We can really say that it was a coup de<br />

foudre and that continues to this day!<br />

Finding a new project<br />

Patrice and I decided to make France our home.<br />

But I hit a real low after living in Paris for over five<br />

years and, not being fluent in French, feeling quite<br />

invisible. I started to think about refugees,<br />

In 2017 we moved out of Paris to Tours, and I<br />

stepped away from the Refugee Task Force. Today<br />

I focus on projects that interest me and where I<br />

think I can contribute to positive social change. I<br />

try to draw on my many years of program<br />

management with an international team, my<br />

experience as a trainer in non violent<br />

communication and mindfulness as well as my<br />

work as both an individual and a systemic coach. I<br />

tend to focus on projects that involve youth and/<br />

or refugees, as I believe they hold the answers to a<br />

positive future for all.<br />

I am a proud stepmother of two adult children, a<br />

stepson who is 40 years old, native to France and<br />

lives in Paris, and a stepdaughter who is 29 years<br />

old and lives in Hanover in her native country of<br />

Germany.<br />

During the pandemic, at 58 years old I took the<br />

opportunity to go back to school at the University<br />

of Tours, just down the street from my home. It<br />

was a bold move to improve my French. Needless<br />

to say, I was the oldest person in the class by<br />

almost 20 years, yet I loved it. It was like candy for<br />

me and opened up so many doors to challenging<br />

conversations in both French and English.<br />


My earliest mentor<br />

My mother was a tremendous role model, as well<br />

as a friend. She was always very supportive of<br />

everything I did, and willing to be vulnerable and<br />

confide in me when she had doubts about trying<br />

something new. My parents’ divorce began an<br />

awkward, painful and confusing time. I remember<br />

that my mother gave me Jonathan Livingston<br />

Seagull to read. At that time I was dealing with<br />

strong emotions around being different, imperfect<br />

by having divorced parents, and reading this book<br />

helped me to go easy on myself and to support<br />

others in doing so.<br />

What does the future hold?<br />

I focus strongly on humanizing people who we<br />

consider different from us. For example, I want to<br />

contribute to raising awareness about how we<br />

each carry racism and other-isms inside us<br />

because we live in a society that gives us regular<br />

messages to enforce them. Since George Floyd<br />

was murdered, this has become an international<br />

conversation.<br />

A WhatsApp call with the FRN team<br />

The importance of inclusion<br />

I relate more to the word inclusion than to justice<br />

yet I believe they have the same aim. I am<br />

fascinated by people and I believe that, if we really<br />

listen to each other, we can co-create the world.<br />

By deeply listening to each other, I believe we start<br />

to create a world that is more just for all.<br />

I continue to give time and energy in this domain<br />

because it is fruitful and very creative: for<br />

example, in 2017 when Clara Siverson (AAWE) and<br />

I met Grace Christovasilis (AWG Greece) and Kenia<br />

Guimaraes (AWC Brussels) in Paris over coffee, we<br />

started to dream of a FAWCO Refugee Network.<br />

Shortly thereafter it was born.<br />

These conversations are starting to happen even<br />

in France. It has been difficult to talk about race<br />

and racism in France because many misinterpret<br />

equality, as one of the values of the French<br />

republic, as meaning that we don’t talk about race<br />

and therefore we don’t talk about racism. In fact,<br />

many people think racisim doesn’t exist in France,<br />

but is solely a US issue.<br />

In France, many people put so much weight on the<br />

notion of treating people the same way that it<br />

denies any sense of difference and needs to relate<br />

to those differences. The result is that the<br />

structures are set up to support the dominant<br />

culture, which focuses on white, heterosexual<br />

men, raised in the Catholic tradition.<br />

I hope to help people start to see that difference is<br />

beautiful. If we can embrace differences and are<br />

open to conversation about equity we can help<br />

people who have fewer resources in a certain<br />

domain truly have equal opportunities, especially<br />

Today the FRN leadership includes Asma Darwish<br />

(AAWE) and Azadeh Khakhodazadeh (Heidelberg<br />

IWC), who each came to Europe as part of the<br />

recent refugee movement and are active FAWCO<br />

Members. Collaborating with these two women,<br />

along with Ulrike Näumann (Heidelberg IWC), is a<br />

truly enriching experience. In our small way, we<br />

are living the change that is happening in the<br />

world.<br />

An early AAWE Refugee Meeting with Anas<br />


in education and jobs. I am excited to have these<br />

conversations in hopes of helping both myself and<br />

others to see our blind spots and where we may<br />

be enabling inequities including unconsciously<br />

committing micro-aggressions.<br />

Applying justice to daily life<br />

I like to take time to know new people by sharing<br />

a meal together. For example, my husband and I<br />

gave a computer to Ghiass, a new friend and a<br />

refugee. We took time to prepare a special meal<br />

and to share it with him, and afterwards give him<br />

the computer. By giving this computer we felt like<br />

we were receiving a gift. We have a new friend and<br />

we transformed an idle computer to something<br />

dynamic and of use.<br />

A person I would like to meet<br />

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American<br />

woman to sit in the US Congress (1968) and to<br />

seek the nomination for president of the United<br />

States (1972). Her motto and title of her<br />

autobiography Unbossed and Unbought illustrates<br />

her outspoken advocacy for women and<br />

minorities during her seven terms in the US House<br />

Strings showing the connections our group made to<br />

support two Syrian families in Paris in the summer of 2016<br />

of Representatives. If I could meet her I would ask:<br />

“With all your life learnings how would you advise<br />

young women today to be an effective catalyst for<br />

positive societal change?”<br />

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What is Justice?<br />

Members of the FAWCO Human Rights Team explain what justice<br />

means to them.<br />

Karen Castellon,<br />

FAWCO Human<br />

Rights Team Chair<br />

AWC Berlin,<br />

Germany<br />

Justice is education,<br />

health care and an<br />

environment for<br />

all. But especially<br />

education, because it<br />

enables people to think<br />

on their own, make<br />

optimal choices for<br />

their lives, and create a<br />

better future for their<br />

families and communities. This is a fundamental<br />

human right for every human being. The Universal<br />

Declaration of Human Rights ratified on<br />

December 10, 1948, spelled out these<br />

fundamental freedoms and rights, .<br />

As a member of the FAWCO Human Rights Team, I<br />

have joined with others to read this Declaration<br />

aloud on its anniversary for the past few years.<br />

What an incredible experience.<br />

The Human Rights Team has helped me to focus<br />

on gender-equality questions of our day, which<br />

pervade everything in the world, to act to create a<br />

more just society where I currently live, and to<br />

influence lives in other countries. Contributing to<br />

another’s education by sharing fiscal resources is<br />

one way. Using our collective voices to<br />

communicate about ending violence against<br />

women, an issue in every stratum of society, is<br />

another way. This investment of time and energy<br />

has been uncomfortable in so many ways, yet life<br />

giving and hopeful even in the face of<br />

hopelessness, and I am grateful.<br />

Laurie<br />

Richardson,<br />

FAWCO UN<br />

Liaison, AWA<br />

Vienna, Austria<br />

Justice to me is the<br />

basis of all human<br />

social relations: social<br />

justice, gender<br />

justice, racial justice,<br />

climate justice.<br />

During the pandemic, we're reminded of the<br />

importance of health justice. Justice means<br />

fairness and equality. From each according to<br />

their ability, to each according to their needs. The<br />

first line of the Universal Declaration of Human<br />

Rights says: “the inherent dignity and the equal<br />

and inalienable rights of all members of the<br />

human family is the foundation of freedom,<br />

justice and peace in the world”.<br />

Mary Manning,<br />

Heidelberg IWC,<br />

Bensheim,<br />

Germany<br />

When I think about<br />

what a just world<br />

would look like, it<br />

starts with a legal<br />

system that is more<br />

than punishment of<br />

an individual, that respects the victim while<br />

recognizing that crime is often a societal disease<br />

bred from poverty, racism and misogyny, passed<br />

down through generations in our DNA. A just<br />

society would work to eradicate the disease, not<br />

merely treat the symptoms.<br />

But justice extends far beyond laws and norms. A<br />

just society would help all of its members realize<br />

their fullest potential, recognizing that the<br />

resources necessary to achieve that potential may<br />

differ for each individual.<br />

Therese Hartwell,<br />

FAUSA, Austin, TX,<br />

USA<br />

True justice would<br />

mean that all people<br />

have equal rights that<br />

are enforced and<br />

embraced, regardless<br />

of any way in which<br />

they are "other." While<br />

laws are important,<br />

ultimately justice is an inside job. By nature, all<br />

humans have unconscious biases and tend to be<br />

suspicious of and blame the “other.” Rather than<br />

expecting to have no bias, each of us must try to<br />

identify and move beyond our biases. External<br />

laws are very important, but, if we don’t do the<br />


internal work and attitudes of injustice remain in<br />

our hearts, they will rear their ugly heads again.<br />

Mary Dobrian, AIWC<br />

Cologne, Germany,<br />

FAWCO 3rd Vice<br />

President Global<br />

Issues<br />

By pure chance, I was<br />

given so much more<br />

than so many other<br />

people. I have thought<br />

about this since I was a<br />

small child. I am of white<br />

European descent; I was<br />

born in a developed country, with a loving family,<br />

enough money and access to a great education.<br />

But why should these factors, over which I have<br />

no control, give me more rights or freedoms than<br />

anyone else?<br />

For as long as I can remember, I have hated<br />

injustice, unkindness and cruelty. Every human<br />

being should have the right to live, learn, create,<br />

express themselves and experience joy. That is<br />

why I am a member of the Human Rights Team.<br />

No one of us can fix the whole world, but each of<br />

us can strive to do small things to make it better.<br />

Azadeh<br />

Kadkhodazadeh,<br />

Heidelberg IWC,<br />

Freinsheim,<br />

Germany<br />

Justice alone seems like<br />

a sweet and simple<br />

concept. At first,<br />

converting the word<br />

into action, may not be<br />

so simple for many!<br />

In any case, it is a beautiful that, in spite of all the<br />

unrest in the world today, there are still people<br />

who care about the well-being of others and do<br />

their best, not only in word but also in social<br />

behavior, to spread this to the whole world.<br />

May each of us be daily defenders of human<br />

rights, without borders, without despair, without<br />

expectations.<br />

Tharien van Eck,<br />

AWC Antwerp,<br />

Belgium, Target<br />

Program Chair 2019<br />

– 2022<br />

Female genital<br />

mutilation has become<br />

an issue in my life!<br />

Chairing the Target<br />

Project is an opportunity to create awareness<br />

about a significant human-rights abuse, to<br />

educate FAWCO Members on FGM, to give FGM<br />

survivors a chance to share their stories and to<br />

give voice to the girls of Hope for <strong>Women</strong> and<br />

Girls Tanzania, the Target Project.<br />

As a physician can become knowledgeable about<br />

FGM. But together, we as FAWCO Members can<br />

make a difference. We must become informed in<br />

order to become empowered. Let us it our<br />

business to help in the fight to eradicate FGM. We<br />

can't unknow what we know!<br />




“Justice is Truth<br />

in Action”<br />

Kelsey McKay, member of FAUSA<br />

and founder of the non-profit<br />

organization RESPOND Against<br />

Violence, tells us about her work<br />

in the field.<br />

Kelsey McKay<br />

I was born in Florida, where both of my parents<br />

grew up. We quickly moved to Texas, then<br />

Australia (where we lived in Sydney and Perth),<br />

then England and Boston. In 1990 our family<br />

moved to Jakarta, Indonesia where we lived for<br />

eight years until I graduated from high school. I<br />

attended the Jakarta International School starting<br />

in the 5 th grade and was lucky to have a hold on<br />

moving through the end of high school. We would<br />

generally come home for three months during the<br />

summer, where I would get a taste of American<br />

life—going to the beach and making up dance<br />

routines with my cousins, shopping at a mall, and<br />

going to the same summer camp year after year.<br />

It was at that camp many years later that I met my<br />

husband. I always loved feeling like a typical<br />

American kid for a few months every year, but I<br />

always knew that I was different than everyone<br />

else because of the other nine months.<br />

Leaving home<br />

I left Indonesia after graduating from high school<br />

and moved to Austin, Texas, where I attended the<br />

University of Texas. It was an odd transition<br />

because while I looked like many of the girls<br />

around me, I couldn’t have been more different. I<br />

had never worn makeup, I didn’t know what a<br />

sorority or khaki shorts were, and I wore flip-flops<br />

year-round.<br />

During college, I really became engaged in<br />

learning and consuming information and<br />

processing my perspective and thoughts. I never<br />

took extracurriculars like sports or art—I always<br />

used extra hours to take classes or seminars that<br />

would make me think: epidemiology, presidential<br />

elections, the rhetoric of utopia, political<br />

philosophy, and so on.<br />

Finding my passion<br />

Me aged about four<br />

I struggled early on, not quite knowing what to<br />

study, trying economics, special education,<br />

journalism, government, statistics, and<br />

psychology. There was no major for changing the<br />

world, but I did manage to graduate with honors<br />

with a psychology degree where I focused on<br />

research, statistics, and how they were used to<br />

impact social issues. At the time, I didn’t realize<br />

that I had fallen into what would be my career.<br />


Today<br />

I live in Austin, Texas, with my husband, Jared and<br />

an (almost) 11-year daughter and (almost) nineyear-old<br />

son. After college, I was grateful to stay in<br />

Austin for law school, and then I just never left. In<br />

2005 I started working as a prosecutor and spent<br />

the next 12 years navigating the world of criminal<br />

justice and learning everything I could about<br />

violent crime, trauma and became a subjectmatter<br />

expert in asphyxiation-related crimes.<br />

Somewhere during that time (2010 and 2012), we<br />

had two children and started a real estate and<br />

renovation business! In the seven years before<br />

COVID-19 I was traveling a few times a month<br />

across the country, training and consulting with<br />

different agencies.<br />

What is justice?<br />

This is a question I ask a lot when I’m training<br />

police officers, attorneys or advocates—all who<br />

work to achieve justice. For me, personally, it<br />

means the validation of truth. The tagline for the<br />

non-profit RESPOND Against Violence I recently<br />

started is: “Justice is truth in action.” It’s difficult<br />

because it seems like such a simple concept, and<br />

an achievable goal—but with an uneven playing<br />

field that punishes survivors, it’s hard to do.<br />

Getting involved<br />

At first, I thought becoming a prosecutor was<br />

essentially a way to do volunteer work that I was<br />

passionate about but have benefits, a paycheck,<br />

and be an adult. I was doing “justice” every day, on<br />

every case to the best of my ability. Some days<br />

seemed more significant than others, like trials or<br />

verdicts that sent murderers, rapists, or child<br />

abusers to prison. But I started to see that my<br />

involvement or a verdict was not nearly as<br />

impactful on a victim or the broken system that I<br />

was working in. Over the years, I started to see<br />

routine injustice and failures that were ignored<br />

over and over again at the cost of people and<br />

With my family<br />

Me with RESPOND colleagues<br />

lives. At first, I always believed that victims were<br />

only hurt by criminals who abused them. In time, I<br />

learned that punishment often came from the<br />

trauma of the system that failed to protect them<br />

in a meaningful way.<br />

I spent years working on the local level, trying to<br />

fix the failures one by one, only to discover that<br />

most parts of the criminal legal system are very<br />

resistant to change on the systemic level. When I<br />

left prosecution, I was worried about the survivors<br />

that might not get justice but knew that<br />

meaningful change just could not occur one case<br />

at a time.<br />

Different perspectives<br />

I love learning about a different perspective. I’ve<br />

been lucky to be able to focus a lot of my energy<br />

on the very specific topic of strangulation and<br />

asphyxiation-related crimes, which has also forced<br />

me to understand the issues and challenges that<br />

surround this often-misunderstood type of<br />

violence. It has forced me to learn about aspects<br />

of crime that I would never have navigated. My<br />

expertise in the area has also given me the<br />

opportunity to think about the topic from every<br />

perspective. When you walk into an auditorium<br />

full of doctors, or police officers, or army generals,<br />

or defense attorneys, you have to understand<br />

their perspective to be able to teach them.<br />

Fifteen years ago, I discovered an issue: our<br />

community was not responding to strangulation<br />

crimes in a uniform or informed way. Since then,<br />

I’ve talked to anyone who would listen. First our<br />

cadet academy, then our paramedics and<br />

eventually the ERs, probation and parole boards,<br />

people on the plane next to me, and anyone who<br />

dares to sit next to me at a dinner party. As I<br />


on topics like crime, gender, and race, we have<br />

first to be informed by truth and accept that the<br />

reality for one person is not necessarily the<br />

experience of another. If we listen more,<br />

understand others, we can work together on<br />

issues. There is so much division in the world, and<br />

conversations are the bridge to working together.<br />

I worry that we don’t have enough voices on our<br />

side, and I’m discouraged that gender-based<br />

violence is seen as just a women’s issue—because<br />

women can’t make men stop abusing them. Only<br />

men can do that. But I find good men are often<br />

defensive on the topic. What I have discovered,<br />

through years of training in a male-dominated<br />

culture (policing) is simply that men don’t live in<br />

the same world as I do. Men don’t fear women the<br />

way women fear men. So when the first responder<br />

to a gender-based crime is a male with a gun—<br />

there is an automatic barrier, and it is the role of<br />

an officer (not a traumatized victim) to try to<br />

bridge that gap.<br />

found solutions, I have traveled the country to<br />

help the criminal system better respond to these<br />

crimes. Seeing that the same problem exists<br />

everywhere allows the solutions I’ve developed to<br />

be utilized universally.<br />

Rewarding aspects<br />

One of the most rewarding aspects has been<br />

conversations with survivors, especially those who<br />

exist in a world of sexual exploitation. Those<br />

conversations and relationships provide me an<br />

understanding of a world that originally motivated<br />

me to do this work. Growing up in Southeast Asia,<br />

I often saw children and women in vulnerable<br />

positions but lacked insight into how complex the<br />

situation was for them. It is the predators behind<br />

the shadows that force them to the front. Until we<br />

see in those shadows, we will continue to punish<br />

survivors. Talking to survivors and learning from<br />

them has taught me how to create policies that<br />

support safety rather than punish survival.<br />

Injustices that I see<br />

After seeing thousands of people victimized by<br />

violence and working with both survivors and<br />

those charged with crimes, I learned that the<br />

criminal legal system does not fulfill this definition.<br />

People are often defined by a defendant or a<br />

victim—without any context of their experience.<br />

As a result, victims who struggle to live through<br />

their situation are often criminalized for surviving.<br />

I see predators manipulate law enforcement,<br />

communities and judges and worry that our<br />

current system often empowers them by<br />

punishing victims. We need to humanize<br />

populations who face adversity and struggle, due<br />

to trauma, and penalize actual offenders who are<br />

What’s next?<br />

I hope the future holds a generation that<br />

prioritizes humanity and equality despite<br />

appearance and circumstances. I hope we see<br />

change that provides the vulnerable with a more<br />

consistent and reliable system to live in a safe<br />

world for themselves and their children. I’m<br />

encouraged by my colleagues around me, who I<br />

have found over the years who speak the same<br />

language as me and fight for justice in new ways.<br />

I often encounter defensiveness on issues where<br />

conversations and perspectives are the solutions.<br />

The way we speak to each other in this world<br />

becomes too adversarial (similar to the court<br />

system) and builds walls rather than bridges.<br />

Headlines are rarely informative or an effort to<br />

change the hearts and minds of society and<br />

encourage division and judgment. To shift culture<br />

Giving a presentation<br />


With my daughter<br />

Before COVID-19, I was traveling about 50% of the<br />

time. Since then, my days are a variation of<br />

helping a prosecutor, colleague, or police officer<br />

with a case; supporting a survivor or a family<br />

member understand the reality of the system they<br />

entered; meeting with colleagues from around the<br />

country to develop forward-thinking approaches,<br />

training, or policies; building power points;<br />

presenting virtually to conferences or<br />

communities; working on a variety of publications<br />

to make sure that practitioners have evidencebased<br />

research to support their work; making a<br />

smoothie; making sure the kids are alive; zoom<br />

meetings; taskforce meetings; reading journal<br />

articles; working on curriculums; scheduling<br />

conferences; creating resources without funding;<br />

trying to keep up with emails, requests; getting a<br />

phone call to deal with an emergency; making<br />

sure the kids did school; figuring out what to do<br />

for dinner. And then watching America’s Got<br />

Talent with the kids, and we all crash. Once in a<br />

while, I have time to wash my hair. Other days I<br />

use dry shampoo.<br />

dangerous and pose a risk to our safety. Right<br />

now, we see anyone who commits any type of<br />

crime as a criminal rather than making a<br />

distinction between people and dangerous<br />

criminals. As a result, survivors get caught up in<br />

the penal system as they navigate survival.<br />

The issues are layered and we have a system that<br />

silos every topic rather than dealing with the<br />

complexity. The root cause of addiction,<br />

homelessness and so many other issues is<br />

domestic violence and yet the conversation about<br />

prevention and accountability for that crime still<br />

remains silent.<br />

Policy needs to be evidence-based so that we can<br />

solve real problems with authentic solutions.<br />

Otherwise, we are just making the same mistakes<br />

over and over again and calling it a solution. When<br />

justice is attached to politics, power, or money – I<br />

see this all the time – avoiding transparency and<br />

accountability cover-up truth and progress. At<br />

RESPOND Against Violence, we hope to create<br />

sustainable change through proven practice.<br />

A typical day for me<br />

My days are absolute chaos. My eyes open and my<br />

immediate hope is that my body rested and slept<br />

well enough to take on the day. Regardless of the<br />

reality, the morning starts with coffee and a few<br />

deep breaths. I’ve almost stopped watching the<br />

news but usually wake up around 2:00 a.m. for an<br />

hour and read Heather Cox Richardson’s historical<br />

review of the day. I get a sweet kiss and smile<br />

from my son, an early bird, and I get to work. I<br />

always dream of taking things off my to-do list but<br />

rarely end the day with anything checked off.<br />

There hasn’t been a day in the last five years that<br />

I’ve been able to read every email, text, or<br />

voicemail.<br />



“Justice is About Transformation”<br />

In <strong>2021</strong> Ascend: Leadership through Athletics was given a FAWCO<br />

Foundation Development Grant. Here those involved in the NGO tell<br />

us more about the organization and how it helps Afghan women.<br />

The idea to use sports to transform Afghan girls<br />

into independent, driven leaders who would<br />

improve their country came to Marina Kielpinski<br />

LeGree while she was shooting hoops with a<br />

group of them in Kabul in 2008. The founder of<br />

Ascend: Leadership through Athletics recalls the<br />

young Afghan women being average players, but<br />

quite courageous given that their ultraconservative<br />

society frowns on women engaging<br />

in sports.<br />

Marina ultimately chose mountain climbing as the<br />

Marina Kielpinski LeGree and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, with<br />

Malang Darya, the first Afghan to summit Mount Noshaq in<br />

Kabul.<br />

sport on which she would focus and it made<br />

perfect sense in Afghanistan, which is full of<br />

dramatic peaks. She was also inspired by two<br />

Afghan men making it to the top of their country’s<br />

highest peak, Mount Noshaq in 2009. The<br />

mountain is 24,580 feet (7,492 meters), the<br />

highest peak on any continent outside of Asia. For<br />

comparison, Mount Everest, the world’s tallest<br />

mountain, is 29,032 feet (8,849 meters) high.<br />

Marina once told NPR about why mountain<br />

climbing was a good fit for her NGO: "It's a<br />

profound thing that's been missing for a while in<br />

Afghanistan throughout the war and chaos and<br />

everything else…. It doesn't mean the housewife<br />

who is in her compound in Kandahar is going to<br />

go start climbing mountains, but she will know<br />

another Afghan woman did it and that message is<br />

really important.”<br />

Club Berlin member,<br />

Soraya Sarhaddi<br />

Nelson about her<br />

plans. Soraya, who<br />

hosts the Berlin-based<br />

podcast talk show<br />

Common Ground, has<br />

won top journalism<br />

awards for her<br />

coverage of women around Afghanistan and their<br />

resilience and struggles. But a Gallup survey in<br />

2018 found nearly half of Afghan women want to<br />

leave their country. It is not just the war or<br />

economic hardship to blame; they want to be free<br />

from forced marriages, free to study and work,<br />

free to live the life they choose.<br />

At the time Marina contacted Soraya in late 2006,<br />

Soraya was an NPR foreign correspondent who<br />

had just opened the network’s first Kabul bureau.<br />

She and Marina had first met the month before at<br />

a dinner in Washington, D.C.<br />

Soraya was intrigued by what Marina was<br />

proposing: “How she planned to pull off<br />

something as expensive and exotic as mountain<br />

climbing or find Afghan families willing to let their<br />

daughters become mountaineers who would go<br />

on overnight expeditions in Afghanistan’s volatile<br />

countryside was beyond me, but having known<br />

Marina for nearly a decade at the time, I didn’t<br />

doubt she would,” she explains. Soraya pitched a<br />

series of radio and web stories about the unusual<br />

endeavor Marina was undertaking to her editors<br />

at NPR and they agreed.<br />

Early days<br />

And so in 2014, her NGO was born. The seed<br />

money was her savings from being an aid worker<br />

for IOM, the German development agency, GiZ,<br />

and a media trainer for ISAF, the international<br />

alliance that is leaving Afghanistan this summer.<br />

She contacted journalist and American <strong>Women</strong>’s<br />

Mount Noshaq straddles the Afghan/Pakistan border.<br />

Tajikistan is across the river in this “finger” of Afghanistan<br />

called the Wakhan Corridor that extends to the Chinese<br />

border. (July 2018)<br />


Early obstacles<br />

Building a team, developing Afghan trainers and<br />

organizing the program proved to be a struggle in<br />

Afghanistan, a country rife with corruption, where<br />

rampant poverty means the girls’ parents are<br />

primarily interested in what financial<br />

compensation allowing their daughters to be<br />

mountain climbers will bring. This was captured in<br />

the film, Ascending Afghanistan: <strong>Women</strong> Rising.<br />

But Marina and the young women overcame<br />

those obstacles and in 2018, Ascend team<br />

member, Hanifa Yousoufi, became the first<br />

woman to summit Mount Noshaq.<br />

Soraya, who was at base camp during the historic<br />

expedition, is currently writing a book about the<br />

work of Ascend.<br />

Also Soraya and Marina brought the Ascend film<br />

to AWC Berlin in <strong>September</strong> 2019. At the historic<br />

Astor Film Lounge located on Berlin’s famous<br />

Kurfuerstendamm boulevard, they and the<br />

American <strong>Women</strong>’s Club of Berlin hosted two<br />

events, including a matinee for teachers and<br />

students, which was also attended by a top<br />

German foreign ministry official. The audiences<br />

also spoke with several Ascend girls in a Skype call<br />

projected on the big screen.<br />

Many of the attendees say they came away deeply<br />

impressed and feeling connected to the young<br />

women they encountered.<br />

In <strong>2021</strong>, Ascend was awarded the FAWCO<br />

Foundation Development Grant. The NGO plan<br />

for “A Stitch in Time, Hope for Education Grant” is<br />

a “sports-for-health teaching curriculum for<br />

Afghan girls.” The grant helps to expand the<br />

Ascend physical fitness program and reach into<br />

the community by delivering a condensed<br />

curriculum in an illustrated booklet and poster in<br />

Dari, a key local language, that offers health facts<br />

and demonstrates the benefits of athletic activity<br />

for girls.<br />

(From left to right) AWC Berlin members Janel<br />

Schermerhorn, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Stephanie Biery,<br />

Ascend Founder Marina Kielpinski LeGree, and AWC<br />

member, Sandy Chen Kluth, outside the Ascot Theater in<br />

Berlin following a fundraiser for Ascend.<br />

Ascend team member Hanifa Yousoufi holds up an Afghan<br />

flag after reaching the top of Mount Noshaq. She is the first<br />

(and so far only) Afghan woman to summit the highest<br />

Afghan peak. (August 2018)<br />

What does a program for Afghan women<br />

look like?<br />

According to Ascend, to develop the young<br />

women in mind, body and spirit, participants are<br />

challenged to grow through a comprehensive<br />

program across five key pillars:<br />

•Physical fitness<br />

•Leadership<br />

•Mountaineering<br />

•Service<br />

•Mental health<br />

Each area is considered vital to a young woman’s<br />

growth. While mountaineering is one of the main<br />

activities, it is a commitment to overall physical<br />

fitness through regular workouts, yoga and hiking<br />

that keeps the girls together and moving. By fall<br />

<strong>2021</strong>, Ascend will have installed a rock-climbing<br />

wall in its new facility in Kabul, which is a first for<br />

the region.<br />

Leadership training includes preparing the girls to<br />

lead expeditions and become instructors via a<br />

certification track. Furthermore, the girls evaluate<br />

and make decisions regarding community needs<br />

and how to respond to them via acts of service. A<br />

core group of leaders initiated the Bamiyan winter<br />

festival, which had close to 1000 participants. The<br />

leadership and service components go hand in<br />

hand. For the mountaineering, the young women<br />

have participated in nearly 30 backcountry<br />

expeditions, including the one to Mount Noshaq.<br />

Where is justice in Afghanistan?<br />

Afghanistan is an incredibly challenging country to<br />

grow up in as a girl or woman. The cultural<br />

practices often impose strict gender segregation<br />

and restrict all facets of their lives, including<br />

education, healthcare, nutrition and security.<br />

Approximately 2.2 million school-are girls are<br />

unable to get an education, with only one fifth of<br />

girls under the age of fifteen being<br />

literate. Moreover, insecurity and violence have a<br />

disproportionate effect on young women.<br />

In May <strong>2021</strong>, a girls’ school in Kabul was fatally<br />


attacked at dismissal time. No organization<br />

claimed responsibility for a series of explosions<br />

that killed 85 people – mostly women -- and<br />

wounded more than 150 others. Such terror<br />

incidents are devastating for the community, and<br />

yet are a part of everyday life in Kabul.<br />

Currently one-third of Afghan girls marry before<br />

the age of 18 and never go to school; 17% marry<br />

before reaching the age of 15. As a result of child<br />

marriage, girls are less likely to participate in<br />

educational opportunities and face a higher<br />

likelihood of domestic violence.<br />

Mental health in the Ascend context means 100%<br />

of participants attend school and 80% continue at<br />

the university level. Many of the Ascend<br />

participants formerly attended the school that<br />

was targeted in May <strong>2021</strong> but had switched to a<br />

school that offered morning classes to girls so<br />

that they could free up their afternoons to<br />

participate in the Ascend program.<br />

that question does not even compute because<br />

nobody’s ever expected them to have hopes or<br />

plans for their future; their future is that they will<br />

get married when they’re told to get married and<br />

they’ll take care of a family. And we turn that<br />

upside-down and encourage them to really think<br />

for themselves and set goals and go for their<br />

dreams. When that switch happens, where<br />

partway into the program, the girls, after spending<br />

time with their teammates, realize, “I’m in a place<br />

where I’m valued and I’m somebody and I’m<br />

expected to be somebody even more”—when<br />

they take that onboard and really own it, that’s the<br />

transformation we’re after. It’s not specific to any<br />

particular student. It’s more just realizing the<br />

sense of self.”<br />

Girls’ rights are human rights. <strong>Women</strong>’s<br />

rights are human rights.<br />

Rather than treating them as victims, Ascend<br />

encourages Afghan girls and women to take<br />

charge of their narrative in this complex context<br />

and empower themselves through athletic<br />

endeavors. Ascend aims to develop young<br />

women to become leaders through service to<br />

their communities and learning the sport of<br />

mountain climbing. They also learn, through the<br />

expanded curriculum, about their own bodies and<br />

health so that they can make decisions for<br />

themselves and, in turn, educate their family<br />

members -- both men and women, many of<br />

whom are illiterate.<br />

So what does justice look like for an<br />

Ascend participant?<br />

Justice is about transformation. This from Marina<br />

in an interview with Preston Golson, a director at<br />

Brunswick: “When girls start with Ascend, we<br />

interview them. We always ask about their hopes<br />

and dreams and goals. And for a lot of the girls,<br />

Marina talking to the village elders in Qazideh, near the<br />

Noshaq trailhead. They were determined to keep her from<br />

taking the Ascend team up that mountain because they<br />

didn’t believe climbing was an appropriate activity for<br />

Afghan girls, but she persevered.<br />

What can you do?<br />

1. Support Ascend or an organization that offers<br />

life-transforming experiences to women in less<br />

developed countries.<br />

2. Remain aware and put pressure on your<br />

government representatives by contacting them<br />

(call, write, email) to advocate for programs that<br />

support women and education.<br />

3. Show the movie, Ascending Afghanistan:<br />

<strong>Women</strong> Rising and have a discussion with your<br />

club or your friends.<br />

4. Follow the United Nations Human Rights<br />

Council proceedings or attend the United Nations<br />

Commission on the Status of <strong>Women</strong> to learn<br />

more about the role advocacy plays in a civil<br />

society organization.<br />

Situation update: <strong>September</strong> 17, <strong>2021</strong><br />

The Ascend expedition at Noshaq base camp, located at<br />

15,500 feet. The Afghan girls collected and assembled the<br />

rocks that spell out “Ascend” in the background. (July 2018).<br />

The Ascend management team has been deeply<br />

engaged evacuating staff members and their<br />

families. 56 persons were successfully evacuated<br />

out of Afghanistan to Abu Dhabi, Denmark, the<br />

USA, Chile, Germany and soon, Ireland. Ascend<br />

continues to field offers of help from individuals<br />

in several countries, including France, who are<br />

willing to sponsor Afghans through the visa and<br />

resettlement process. To help in this process,<br />

contact SafeHomes@AscendAthletics.org or visit<br />

www.AscendAthletics.org<br />



The Righting of<br />

Wrongs<br />

Wherever<br />

Possible<br />

Rena Levin, member of AWC Oslo,<br />

tells us about her journey into<br />

activism.<br />

Arlington is just outside of DC and it was a great<br />

place to grow up. I went to good public schools,<br />

had a big park and library a few blocks away,<br />

made many friends, and participated in lots of<br />

activities, but I realize now I did not fully<br />

appreciate it until I lived elsewhere.<br />

Friends in college detested high school. I had<br />

gone to an alternative program that emphasized<br />

student autonomy and loved it. I was also spoiled<br />

by the free museums. How fortunate I was to<br />

have had the Smithsonian in my backyard.<br />

When it comes to what impacted my childhood,<br />

that has to be the loss of my father when I was<br />

eight years old. His death was sudden and<br />

unexpected. I was sad when it happened and<br />

missed him, but the longer-term impact was that<br />

of being different. When asked about my parents,<br />

I would use the grown-up, matter-of-fact word<br />

“deceased” about my dad, but that never seemed<br />

to prevent the inevitable expression of sorrow<br />

and/or pity that would follow. This lasted for years<br />

and I hated it. I have been sensitive to the ways<br />

people can deviate from expected norms ever<br />

since then.<br />

Leaving home<br />

Rena Levin<br />

Wanting to study some distance away and if<br />

possible in Minnesota, the state I loved dearly<br />

from family visits, I was thrilled to be accepted<br />

early to Macalester College. It had the kind of<br />

profile a budding activist looking for a good<br />

education would be attracted to and did not<br />

disappoint. I got so much out of my time there<br />

and would have been happy if BA studies were<br />

five years instead of four.<br />

Among many things I carry with me from that<br />

time is a firm belief in the value of liberal arts<br />

education. I spent a semester in Norway in<br />

college. I wanted to see a social democracy in<br />

practice. While there I learned how it works and<br />

that reality does not always match the ideal.<br />

I also met a boy! Wanting to see how things would<br />

go, but in a way that would be good for me no<br />

matter what happened with him, I applied for a<br />

Fulbright grant and was accepted. The year in<br />

Oslo confirmed we were a good fit, gave me<br />

greater insight into Norway, and shifted my grad<br />

school interest from public policy to the<br />

interdisciplinary field of American Studies.<br />

After college<br />

With my husband Christian<br />

Ten years in the US was good for Christian and<br />

me. I got my master's degree and found<br />

employment in advocacy. Having confirmed that<br />

studying computer science was better than<br />

working as a programmer, Christian was able to<br />

start on a new career path. It was his getting a<br />

non-profit job that brought us back to Arlington,<br />


ut I was happy. Some high school friends were<br />

also back, a few from college moved to the area,<br />

and there were plenty of engagement<br />

opportunities. When home during college, I had<br />

helped fight a proposed Disney historical theme<br />

park by the Manassas Battlefield. Returning after<br />

grad school, I volunteered with a smart growth<br />

organization rooted in that campaign.<br />

Moving to Norway<br />

A family tragedy brought us back to Norway in<br />

2008. The transition was not easy. Thank<br />

goodness for AWC Oslo! Though advocacy is no<br />

longer my day job, I use some of the same skills<br />

and exercise my liberal arts brain working at the<br />

Fulbright office. Also, Christian and I are now<br />

active members of the Norwegian Green Party.<br />

Who could have predicted that?<br />

What is justice?<br />

My short simple definition is that it is the righting<br />

of wrongs. Though this redress is something I<br />

work for, justice is not a word I use much. I am<br />

more likely to talk about fairness and respect. This<br />

can be in law and policy, but also in social<br />

interactions and how we live our lives. Sometimes<br />

change is bottom-up, other times top-down.<br />

However change comes about, we are not where<br />

we want to be until it is reality throughout society.<br />

There is one area where I find the word justice<br />

useful. When preceded by a specifier, it is<br />

shorthand for issues being connected and a call to<br />

think broadly about causes and remedies. Gender<br />

justice, racial justice and climate justice are all<br />

things I work for, and they do overlap.<br />

First steps in activism<br />

My wonderful high school history teacher's<br />

mantra was "geography is destiny." I think that's<br />

true in more ways than one, including how my<br />

interest developed. Growing up in the DC area<br />

meant being surrounded by people who cared<br />

about political and social issues. My earliest<br />

With my husband Christian<br />

Dressed up for Halloween as Linda Greenlaw. Greenlaw was<br />

a swordfishing captain first made famous by the book The<br />

Perfect Storm.<br />

memories of this include debates with fourth<br />

grade classmates about presidential candidates in<br />

1984, attending a rally outside the Soviet embassy<br />

for refuseniks with my Sunday school, and my first<br />

reproductive rights march which I went on with a<br />

friend and her mom.<br />

Come high school, my friends and I would go on<br />

our own, often with me as the organizer. After the<br />

2017 <strong>Women</strong>'s March in our respective cities, a<br />

good friend recalled me getting a group together<br />

for the 20th anniversary of Earth Day rally.<br />

Wanting to do something tangible as well, we<br />

started the day by picking up trash in a local park.<br />

My mentor<br />

The best mentor I ever had was my co-worker and<br />

later supervisor at Americans United for<br />

Separation of Church and State, Beth Corbin. I was<br />

fortunate to find work for a cause I cared about<br />

and that she was in my department.<br />

Beth will declare that something you're doing is<br />

fabulous or so good she's telling everyone she<br />

knows. While she giggles with you at the<br />

exaggeration, you walk away encouraged.<br />

Somehow, when you mess up, she'll discuss it with<br />

you in a way that makes it a positive learning<br />

experience that ensures you do better next time.<br />

Among other things she taught me: the<br />

importance of responsiveness, how to politely<br />

dismiss someone looking to argue so you can<br />

better spend your energy, to try to listen closely so<br />

you can speak to what's behind an articulated<br />

grievance, and the value of reframing problems as<br />

challenges. I’ve learned a lot from her.<br />

Always generous with her time, Beth is a true<br />

advocate and ally. I will always remember when<br />

she was promoted and said that for her, an<br />

important part of the job was to advocate up the<br />

chain on behalf of her staff.<br />


and still don't have a good handle on how people<br />

bring about change.<br />

What we know from where we lived before affects<br />

what injustices we notice and how we think about<br />

them. Instead of projecting our understandings<br />

from elsewhere unfiltered, we should be sensitive<br />

to context and aware of our limited knowledge.<br />

Proceed with humility, but don't remain silent.<br />

Wherever you are, be wary when social justice<br />

work is dismissed out of hand for being "foreign."<br />

If people are organizing, there is a reason.<br />

Thousands of people did not join Oslo's Black<br />

Lives Matter protest last year to focus on racism in<br />

the US. They came to shine a light on<br />

manifestations of racism in Norway.<br />

A person I would like to meet<br />

At a BLM March<br />

My biggest concerns today<br />

1. We need more empathy! This applies to all of<br />

us. Not being able or even willing to try to<br />

understand and feel with others is a major<br />

impediment to progress. I wish I knew how to<br />

bring about more empathy. Some reluctant<br />

people can be moved to act by examples of harm<br />

to relatable others, but it is disappointing that<br />

even this somewhat self-interested approach<br />

doesn't work more. If anyone has tips, I'm all ears.<br />

2. Norway fancies itself a nature-loving country<br />

and enjoys a reputation for being environmentally<br />

responsible. So people may be surprised to learn<br />

of its heavy involvement in fossil fuel extraction. It<br />

is the third largest exporter of natural gas in the<br />

world. It is thirteenth for oil production, but in<br />

2017 it was fifth per capita. Despite years of lip<br />

service to the importance of reducing emissions<br />

and a recent admonition from the International<br />

Energy Agency to stop investing in new oil fields,<br />

the government continues to promote exploration<br />

for more.<br />

A recent study found that the Arctic is heating up<br />

three times as fast as the rest of the planet. (As if<br />

the previously thought twice as fast weren't bad<br />

enough.) Norwegian alarm bells should be ringing<br />

loudly, but I fear that as long as the harm of<br />

climate change is most felt by wildlife and people<br />

living elsewhere, little will change.<br />

The role of culture<br />

Working for justice in a new country can be a<br />

challenge because of both systemic and cultural<br />

differences. I have lived in Norway for 11 years<br />

Rachel Carson. I would like to ask her how she<br />

made Silent Spring happen, both in terms of the<br />

vast data she pulled together from many locations<br />

(pre-internet!) and in terms of the courage it took<br />

to publish something she knew would meet great<br />

resistance from powerful interests. I would<br />

preface the question by telling her what a<br />

tremendous difference she made. It’s tragic that<br />

she died before seeing the creation of the<br />

Environmental Protection Agency, the new laws,<br />

and the rise of the environmental movement<br />

spurred by her work.<br />

Campaigning with Renuka Matthews<br />

Something I would like to change<br />

In a magic world, I would have the ability to turn<br />

my conscious brain off at bedtime and to have it<br />

start up again automatically at a preset time the<br />

next day. Falling asleep is a regular struggle<br />

because my thoughts tend to race. Sometimes<br />

they are the result of stress and worry. Other<br />

times they are about mundane things. It would be<br />

so nice to get more sleep. Even in the real world,<br />

I'm sure the effects would be magical.<br />



A Club Inspires:<br />

AWA Vienna,<br />

Austria<br />

Beverly Bachmayer, current Club<br />

FAWCO Rep, from California and<br />

Oregon, introduces her club to<br />

us. AWA Vienna is one of nine<br />

clubs in FAWCO’s Region 5.<br />

When and why was your club started, and by<br />

whom? Since its founding in 1924, AWA Vienna<br />

has focused on raising money for women’s and<br />

children's charities. The first club members were<br />

mainly diplomatic and military wives. This quote<br />

from Hannah Adler, the Chairperson of AWA<br />

Vienna in 1964, gives us a look into the club’s<br />

origins: “AWA came into being, most informally, as<br />

a response to a need felt in the community. It has<br />

become apparent that, no matter how<br />

distinguished and fascinating our speakers, there<br />

was a strong impulse in the community for a more<br />

active and varied program.”<br />

The AWA disbanded in 1939 and remained<br />

inactive during the war. After the war, during the<br />

Allied Occupation, American Embassy and military<br />

wives organized the Children's Friendship Fund<br />

and used the proceeds from a thrift shop to help<br />

deprived and starving Austrian children. AWA<br />

Vienna became active again in 1964, with about 60<br />

members. Today, the more than 280 members of<br />

AWA Vienna continue the tradition of women<br />

helping women.<br />

Over the past decades the City of Vienna has shed<br />

its wartime past and re-emerged as a vibrant,<br />

multi-ethnic city. The building of the Vienna<br />

International Centre (VIC) and the Austria Centre<br />

in the late 1970s and early 1980s led to a dramatic<br />

expansion in the UN presence. 1995 brought<br />

another boost to Vienna’s reputation as a leading<br />

international centre with European Union<br />

membership and the decision to host the<br />

headquarters of the world’s largest regional<br />

security organization, the Organization for<br />

Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). AWA<br />

has developed and grown along with its host city<br />

into a diverse, dynamic and cosmopolitan<br />

community. But the values and interests of the<br />

founders’ original purpose endure: making lasting<br />

AWAV members celebrating women’s right to vote<br />


The Board signing the lease for our first clubhouse<br />

friendships, adapting to new places, learning<br />

about our adopted home and its culture, sharing<br />

experiences, working together, having fun, and<br />

supporting worthy causes.<br />

Austria, the sewers featured in the Third Man<br />

movie, the Opera House, the City Hall, the Loos<br />

Haus and a multitude of other places. We have<br />

held group picnics, bike tours, cooking classes,<br />

wine tasting, yoga, Trivial Pursuit, Quiz night, and<br />

talks on many interesting topics. During COVID-19<br />

all these activities were moved to Zoom. Our<br />

flexibility in moving to online meetings really<br />

helped members to stay in touch during the<br />

lockdowns. We even set up a call list to check on<br />

members that we did not see or hear from often<br />

in order to keep them connected.<br />

AWA publishes a monthly magazine called<br />

Highlights (in print and on-line versions) to<br />

spotlight our members’ interests, backgrounds,<br />

and talents.<br />

How many members do you have and what are<br />

their nationalities? AWA Vienna’s approximately<br />

280 members hail from over 41 countries, giving<br />

the club a truly international character. The<br />

women of AWA are enthusiastic, sharing and<br />

generous with their time and resources to make<br />

sure that the over 100 monthly activities all come<br />

off without a hitch.<br />

How does the club run? AWA Vienna is run by an<br />

elected 15-member board. (The exact number of<br />

board members changes from time to time<br />

depending on priorities). In addition, over 50<br />

people regularly volunteer on various committees,<br />

organize ad hoc activities and contribute to<br />

fundraising events.<br />

What kind of events do you have in your club?<br />

Our over 100 events monthly are as diverse as our<br />

membership, from conversational language<br />

(Spanish, French, German, Italian) discussions, to<br />

walking groups, to board and card games,<br />

monthly luncheons and weekly coffee groups. Our<br />

numerous very professional and comprehensive<br />

tours are among the most popular events. Over<br />

the past few years, we toured the only synagogue<br />

to have survived Kristallnacht, the Borealis factory,<br />

which is the largest plastic manufacturer of<br />

An AWAV FAWCO Group Meeting<br />

Do you raise money for any particular<br />

cause? We raise money to benefit our primary<br />

charity, Die Möwe, which supports abused<br />

children and their families. Additionally we cook<br />

food for the poor, knit hats and scarves for the<br />

homeless, collect Christmas presents for children,<br />

and bake and decorate cookies for the homeless<br />

Christmas party. The charity team works hard to<br />

raise these funds and in the process has lots of<br />

fun and comradery.<br />

What was your favorite event last year? We<br />

recently celebrated our 97-year anniversary as a<br />

club with a birthday party on Zoom. Over 60 club<br />

members zoomed in with family and friends to<br />

share an evening of singing, storytelling and<br />

conversation, cooking demonstrations, poems,<br />

yoga and dancing. It was wonderful!<br />

Taking advantage of Vienna’s pleasant climate, we<br />

have held outdoor activities including picnics,<br />

drawing groups, dance and yoga in the city’s<br />

beautiful Stadtpark. These also were well attended<br />

and allowed us to mingle while social distancing.<br />

Zoom wine night.<br />

We hope we can have an in-person one soon.<br />

50<br />

Prior to COVID-19 our diverse tours often booked<br />

out immediately. For many years the US<br />

Ambassador has held a luncheon at the residence

With almost two million people, Vienna blends the<br />

old with the new in architecture, coffee culture,<br />

and traditions. Vienna’s abundant parks create an<br />

enviable “green lung” and provide endless<br />

opportunities for hiking, biking and running<br />

without leaving the city’s borders. Thanks to<br />

sound environmental policies, responsible city<br />

administration and a robust public transportation<br />

system, Vienna enjoys a very high quality of life<br />

and consistently ranks among the top three most<br />

liveable cities in the world.<br />

The city is a top tourist destination attracting 6.8<br />

million tourists a year. It is a gift to live in such a<br />

beautiful city and country that put a high value on<br />

family, children and quality of life.<br />

Bring n Bite at the clubhouse in our Dirndls<br />

for the club’s general meeting. These always drew<br />

more than half the club members and we are<br />

looking forward to the next one.<br />

What else should we know about the club? We<br />

have a wonderful, newly renovated clubhouse<br />

used for small groups studying languages, playing<br />

games, yoga classes, meetings of the board, and<br />

many other meetings and coffees. We hold our<br />

annual Christmas party in the clubhouse as well<br />

as many other festive activities.<br />

Hopefully, in the fall many of you can visit us<br />

during the FAWCO Region 5 meeting. All things<br />

COVID-19 considered, of course.<br />

Tell us a little about your city and country in<br />

general Vienna, the capital of Austria, is rich in<br />

musical, artistic and gastronomic delights. Located<br />

in the eastern part of Austria, close to the borders<br />

with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary,<br />

Vienna benefits from the best of its neighbors<br />

cultures and its imperial past.<br />

AWAV Drawing Group meeting in the Stadtpark<br />

What are a few undiscovered gems in your city<br />

and/or country? Coffee houses and Heuriger<br />

(taverns serving new, local wine): Austrians like to<br />

gather together with friends and (pre-COVID-19) it<br />

was not uncommon to find entire families<br />

meeting at restaurants or coffee houses to pass<br />

the afternoons and evenings, enjoying good food,<br />

wine and each other’s company. People-watching<br />

is a favorite pastime that many indulge in during<br />

warm afternoons in the parks or around the<br />

Glühwein (hot mulled wine) huts in winter.<br />

While many of Vienna’s art museums are worldfamous,<br />

its plethora of unique and eccentric<br />

museums are largely unknown to the average<br />

tourist. No matter how strange your interest in a<br />

particular subject matter, period of history or<br />

famed person, Vienna probably has a museum<br />

dedicated to it. The yearly Long Night of the<br />

Museums allows you to explore as many of these<br />

establishments as you have time and energy for in<br />

a single night.<br />

Any unusual/interesting traits of the locals?<br />

Drawing on their rich ethnic mix and historical<br />

background, the Viennese speak a dialect that is<br />

highly expressive, but nearly incomprehensible to<br />

the non-native speaker. Viennese humor (Schmäh)<br />

is likewise characterized by subtle, indirect and<br />

suggestive wit.<br />

Biking in Neusiedler See, summer 2020<br />



I Decided to<br />

Become a Lawyer<br />

When I Was Only<br />

Nine!<br />

Lauren Mescon, member of AWC<br />

Amsterdam, went on to become a<br />

lawyer specializing in<br />

collaborative divorce as well as a<br />

family law judge in Georgia.<br />

I grew up in Savannah, GA, and never moved,<br />

spending my whole childhood in the same house<br />

with myparents and siblings. My four<br />

grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins lived<br />

nearby. I had “Yankee” cousins in New York that<br />

came down every summer. My K-12 education<br />

was spent in the local public schools and I made<br />

life-long friends. Then years ago, nine of us held a<br />

“2 nd Grade Reunion”, and even our teacher<br />

attended - in her 80s!<br />

What I remember is the stability of my family and<br />

town. We had dinner at my paternal<br />

grandparents’ house every Friday night and every<br />

Sunday morning I would wake up to my maternal<br />

grandfather whistling as he came to visit.<br />

My grandmother’s and father’s volunteerism<br />

impacted me. My grandmother volunteered with<br />

the Jewish National Fund, which I still volunteer<br />

with today. We have planted over 240 million<br />

trees in Israel.<br />

My father had a different meeting each night for<br />

all the boards he volunteered for. He was a war<br />

veteran from WWII but was the gentlest man on<br />

the planet. The one exception was the basketball<br />

court. He coached for the Jewish Center and<br />

taught every boy their first four letter word! He<br />

was my hero.<br />

Growing up in the South when I did, I vividly<br />

remember seeing “White” and “Colored”<br />

bathrooms, as well as the discriminations faced<br />

by Blacks and Jews.<br />

Early years<br />

Lauren Mescon<br />

I announced at the dinner table that I was going<br />

to become a lawyer. I was nine years old. Growing<br />

up Jewish in the South I was constantly exposed<br />

to things I felt but did not understand. As a child,<br />

you can know instinctively something is not right,<br />

even if you cannot articulate it. I also grew up on a<br />

steady TV diet of shows about lawyers, like the<br />

public defender Perry Mason and storefront<br />

lawyers like Matlock.<br />

Leaving home<br />

Me as a toddler with my Dad<br />

When I went to college at age 17, I wanted to get<br />

as far away from home as possible. I went to the<br />

University of Colorado in Boulder. Because I loved<br />

it so much, I stayed for summer school and<br />

graduated in three years. I learned to ride horses<br />

and fell in love with the mountains and hiking. I<br />

never did well with skiing, though.<br />


Life today<br />

I met my husband through our kids…they were in<br />

school together. He called to ask me on a date, but<br />

when we began to pick a time for our first date, I<br />

started yelling at him about his personal custody<br />

arrangement! He suggested I shut up since he was<br />

asking me for a date, which I did, and the rest is<br />

history 21 years later.<br />

Early years with my boys<br />

Next steps<br />

After college, I headed back to Georgia for law<br />

school - back then the dream was to be the first<br />

female governor of Georgia. After law school at<br />

Emory, I was a prosecutor in Savannah then<br />

Maryland. Finally, I came back to Atlanta and<br />

began working for the City Attorney of Roswell, an<br />

Atlanta suburb. I also did a two-year expat stint in<br />

Hong Kong when my two boys were very young.<br />

After living in Hong Kong, I returned to Roswell<br />

and was diagnosed with breast cancer. A year<br />

later I was divorced and a single mom with two<br />

boys, ages four and five. The City Attorney of<br />

Roswell was still my mentor and probably the<br />

most influential person in my personal and<br />

professional life. He mentored me by giving me<br />

office space and cases to develop a private<br />

practice, which ultimately led to a specialization in<br />

family law.<br />

Starting my law practice<br />

I had my own practice and was able to pay it<br />

forward as my mentor had for me, offering the<br />

same opportunity to a friend who became a<br />

lawyer after her own divorce. She still practices<br />

family law in Atlanta today.<br />

He was a business dean then became a university<br />

president and retired to join his current<br />

organization, accrediting business schools<br />

worldwide. He was hired to create the Europe,<br />

Middle East and Africa office and here we are. It<br />

has been an incredible journey these last six and a<br />

half years!<br />

Getting involved in justice<br />

I guess my first involvement would have been<br />

leading a protest against the dress code at the<br />

Savannah/Chatham County Board of Education.<br />

We even had a lawyer file suit for us. From there,<br />

we protested when Nixon came to town, walked<br />

out of high school during Vietnam and when white<br />

supremacists marched, chanting, “we want our<br />

schools back!”, we ran alongside them chanting,<br />

“We want our schools Black!” I was part of the<br />

Savannah Mayor’s Council on Race while in high<br />

school as well.<br />

Looking to the future<br />

What we are seeing now is a total assault on our<br />

democratic process. It has become party over<br />

country, with politicians literally scheming to stay<br />

in power and take away the thing that has made<br />

the US so phenomenal - a democracy where the<br />

people have a vote. The nuances of elections laws<br />

and involvement of various governmental bodies,<br />

from cities to counties to states to federal, offers<br />

many hidden places for our right to vote to be<br />

tampered with.<br />

I became the first and only practitioner in Atlanta<br />

to practice Collaborative Divorce, which is a more<br />

civilized way to divorce. Lawyers, mental health<br />

professionals and a financial specialist/neutral<br />

party work together with the couple to transition<br />

them to separate households. I taught<br />

Collaborative Law nationally and was named<br />

as a Super Lawyer by my peers in Atlanta from<br />

2004-2009.<br />

I also became a Family Law Judge in Fulton<br />

County, GA, working for the elected judges,<br />

handling case conferences and some hearings for<br />

the family court.<br />

With colleague Denise and Mayors Franklin and Tomlinson<br />


Current concerns<br />

My biggest concern is that there is no longer bipartisan<br />

politics. If our politicians will not<br />

communicate and are only interested in their own<br />

power, how can our country move forward<br />

without deteriorating into partisanship with no<br />

focus on policy?<br />

I also am very worried about the inordinate power<br />

of negative social media campaigns that grow<br />

exponentially, often with false information.<br />

That is a huge problem for international relations,<br />

as well. There are many hostile players out there<br />

with no interest in their people or morality. We<br />

need courageous conversations and open debate<br />

between drastically different points of view with<br />

leaders that encourage it. That is how we begin to<br />

move forward and make change.<br />

The role of culture<br />

Living in Europe has made me shake my head in<br />

wonder at the American belief in, and continued<br />

proliferation of, gun ownership and open carry<br />

permits. It really makes no sense to me. I also am<br />

very conscious of where and when I “show” my<br />

Jewish identity depending on where I am in<br />

Europe, which comes from living in a place that<br />

experienced WWII on its shores. Witnessing the<br />

George Floyd murder, subsequent protests and<br />

then the insurrection as a US expat also changes<br />

your perspective, as the commentary is from<br />

My family together for Thanksgiving<br />

outside, not with the narrow lenses of someone<br />

with only an American perspective.<br />

What would I change if I could?<br />

I really do not want to go back in time and start<br />

over, but it would have been nice to work hard<br />

enough to become the first female governor of<br />

Georgia. But I would not change anything, as I<br />

might not be sitting here today, involved with The<br />

FAWCO Foundation, married to my incredible<br />

husband, with amazing kids and grandkids.<br />

Also in one of my moves, a box of my journals<br />

and letters, including a series between me as an<br />

idealistic, very naïve high schooler and a Vietnam<br />

vet in jail, was thrown away. I would love to<br />

re-read what I wrote from a teen to an adult.<br />



“Why Did I Join The<br />

Human Rights Team?”<br />

Members of the FAWCO Human Rights Team explain why<br />

they got involved.<br />

Twana Rhodes, AWC<br />

Berlin, Berlin,<br />

Germany<br />

I hold the strong belief<br />

that Human Rights is<br />

not just something “to<br />

do” about something<br />

“over there.” As I<br />

believe Eleanor<br />

Roosevelt stated, “It’s in<br />

your hands,” and I take<br />

this quite literally.<br />

Upholding human<br />

rights, the fabric of human rights, if you will, is<br />

your personal responsibility to do the right thing<br />

in your own backyard. I suspect many “dogooders”<br />

and human rights defenders, activists,<br />

and those of us who sit in front of our televisions<br />

exuding outrage over the latest injustice, are<br />

failing to look at our own indiscretions. What if, in<br />

some collective reality, the tiny injustice that I<br />

impose on my son, or my neighbor, or my coworker<br />

. . . adds another drop of water to the sea<br />

of injustice that forms and swells and lands in<br />

devastating human rights violations, on some<br />

community, some-where “over there.”<br />

Tiina Kujala, AWC<br />

Finland, Espoo,<br />

Finland<br />

When I was offered the<br />

opportunity to join the<br />

FAWCO Human Rights<br />

Team I felt very<br />

intimidated by all the<br />

members, who know<br />

and do so much. I<br />

quickly realized that<br />

every action, every word, every chance to learn<br />

about human rights is valuable.<br />

In my work as a teacher and in a political<br />

organization I have discovered that working for<br />

human rights is in the daily lives and details, just<br />

as much as in the large projects.<br />

Being a member of the Human Rights Team has<br />

changed my life and offered me tools to help<br />

change the world.<br />

Sue ENGLAND,<br />

Munich IWC,<br />

FAWCO UN<br />

Contact and<br />

Human Rights<br />

Team, Munich,<br />

Germany<br />

I joined because it’s<br />

a great<br />

international<br />

group, something I<br />

like a lot, as I have<br />

lived and worked in<br />

seven different countries. I have studied and<br />

taught human rights law, and I can add that<br />

international expertise to our talented group.<br />

All over the world the human rights issues women<br />

face are the same: access to justice and getting<br />

the full range of political, economic, medical,<br />

social and cultural rights that all people have been<br />

given under international law, for real!<br />

Ulrike<br />

Naeumann,<br />

Heidelberg<br />

International<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Club,<br />

Weisenheim am<br />

Berg, Germany<br />

I love the fresh<br />

spirit and the<br />

energy of our<br />

monthly Human<br />

Rights calls and FRN<br />

meetings. I love to<br />

discuss with these smart ladies how to make the<br />

world a place of justice for everybody, especially<br />

for women and girls. Every meeting I hear<br />

something new, something that makes me think<br />

and gives me ideas to make little changes in my<br />

life. Sometimes the stories I hear make me sad,<br />

but I am filled with hope that together we can<br />

make the world a better place.<br />


Ann BIROT-<br />


Paris, FAWCO<br />

Refugee Network<br />

and Human Rights<br />

Team, Tours, France<br />

I feel at home with the<br />

FAWCO Human Rights<br />

Team. It is a safe place<br />

to not only talk about<br />

sensitive topics but<br />

more importantly to<br />

brainstorm strategies to<br />

raise awareness in FAWCO and beyond about<br />

human rights issues. I am constantly learning<br />

from my FAWCO HR Team sisters. The FAWCO HR<br />

Team is like a marinade, it tenderizes me and<br />

helps me stay grounded in my own and others’<br />

humanity! AND it gives me hope that together we<br />

can create a more peaceful World for all!<br />



The Gentle Touch<br />

of Hands-on Help<br />

Ulrike Näumann, member of<br />

Heidelberg IWC and co-chair of<br />

the FAWCO Refugee Network, tells<br />

us how she got involved in<br />

working with refugees.<br />

I was born and raised in Bensheim an der<br />

Bergstrasse, Germany. We lived in a very small<br />

village in nature and at the edge of the forest. My<br />

mother worked in the Department of Health, as<br />

my father had lost his eyesight and could not<br />

work anymore. My father stayed at home and<br />

took care of my brother and me.<br />

Leaving home<br />

Ulrike Näumann<br />

I decided to study Protestant theology to become<br />

a pastor. The church suggested studying at<br />

different places to get to know different doctrinal<br />

opinions so I studied at the Universities in<br />

Bielefeld, Bern, Münster and Heidelberg.<br />

At university I heard about liberation theology, the<br />

social concern for the poor and political liberation<br />

for oppressed people. I learned about the forms<br />

of inequality such as race or caste. This touched<br />

me a lot. I worked in a shop with Fair Trade Goods<br />

as a volunteer.<br />

I discovered that I love to move and that I love<br />

changes. After marrying, my husband and I<br />

moved to Brussels, Belgium and I worked for the<br />

German Protestant Church. I had three children<br />

while we lived in Brussels.<br />

With my family on vacation in 1974<br />

During this time I joined the AWC Brussels, as my<br />

husband is American. Here I made friends and got<br />

In the elementary school of my little village I<br />

found what we learned very boring. But I did love<br />

to listen to the stories from the Bible because<br />

they made me think and boosted my imagination.<br />

I especially loved the stories about justice, for<br />

example “The Judgement of Solomon.”<br />

As a teenager, I went to a Roman Catholic girls<br />

school and became interested in the Protestant<br />

church. This was where I found my “tribe.”<br />

In my school and in the church we always<br />

supported local and international projects for<br />

people in need.<br />

With my daughter Paula in May <strong>2021</strong><br />


change the world. Maybe after raising my children,<br />

I learned that you can make a difference for an<br />

individual person. You can change their world.<br />

My role models<br />

My role model was my mother, who taught me to<br />

be tolerant and to respect other people. My<br />

mother taught me that education is the most<br />

important thing in life. After surviving WW2 in<br />

Dresden she knew that degrees are the only<br />

values you can’t lose. This is why I am helping<br />

refugee children to get settled in the German<br />

school system.<br />

With some of the refugee women in 2018<br />

to know the American culture. I was impressed by<br />

the tradition of volunteering and fundraising for a<br />

good cause.<br />

Moving countries<br />

My role model for my profession was a female<br />

pastor I met.<br />

My involvement today<br />

Before the COVID-19 restrictions, I organized a<br />

meeting of refugee women every Wednesday<br />

afternoon. Sometimes we made trips to a park<br />

during the holidays. This was lots of fun.<br />

Next we moved from Brussels to Germany and to<br />

Princeton, NJ in the US, where my children became<br />

US Citizens. Then we moved back again to<br />

Germany and subsequently Brussels; we just love<br />

this city.<br />

Today we live in the Palatinate in Germany and all<br />

three children are at university. I sing in a choir<br />

and give language training to expats. I am also<br />

involved in the local refugee work, especially with<br />

women and children, helping them to settle in. I<br />

use the skills I learned and the experiences I had<br />

made as an expat myself.<br />

What is justice?<br />

Justice is if everybody has access to equal<br />

prerequisites regardless of origin, nationality, sex<br />

and social status. Justice is laying an equal<br />

foundation for everybody. Justice is if there is no<br />

child left behind.<br />

Why do I do it?<br />

When I was in my twenties I thought I could<br />

A field trip from Freinsheilm to Mannheim in 2018<br />

I also offer language training for refugee women<br />

and am helping a family from Syria with different<br />

issues, for example helping to get the children<br />

tutored. I was very glad that I found two tutors in<br />

our FAWCO community: Tara Scott and Pascal<br />

Shrady. I also helped the father of the family to get<br />

a place in a rehabilitation program for the blind.<br />

The future<br />

I dream of getting more ladies involved in the<br />

FAWCO Refugee Network: helping with “hands-on<br />

activities” or tutoring or giving language training to<br />

refugees, focusing on students and the refugee<br />

mothers.<br />

2.8 million children in Germany are growing up in<br />

poverty. That is one in five children. This is one of<br />

the biggest social challenges in Germany. Around<br />

two thirds of children living in poverty experience<br />

it long term. Concrete effects of poverty in<br />

Germany include not owning a car or electronic<br />

devices and no vacations. https://www.dw.com/<br />

en/1-in-5-children-in-germany-grow-up-in-poverty/<br />

a-54260165.<br />



Founded in 1931, FAWCO is a global women’s NGO (non-governmental organization), an<br />

international network of independent volunteer clubs and associations comprising 58<br />

member clubs in 31 countries on six continents. FAWCO serves as a resource and a voice for<br />

its members; seeks to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide, especially in the areas<br />

of human rights, health, education and the environment; advocates for the rights of US<br />

citizens overseas; and contributes to the global community through its Global Issues Teams<br />

and The FAWCO Foundation, which provides development grants and education awards.<br />

Since 1997, FAWCO has held special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social<br />

Council.<br />


FAWCO is an international federation of independent organizations whose mission is:<br />

• to build strong support networks for its American and international membership;<br />

• to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide;<br />

• to advocate for the rights of US citizens overseas; and<br />

• to mobilize the skills of its membership in support of global initiatives for<br />

education, the environment, health and human rights.<br />


We want this magazine to be interesting for all FAWCO Members. In an effort to provide<br />

articles of interest to all of our readers, we have created an online feedback questionnaire. It<br />

should only take a few minutes of your time to complete and will be a great help to us!<br />

Please click on the link or paste it into your browser<br />

to complete our short five question survey.<br />

SURVEY<br />

THANK YOU!<br />


FAWCO receives financial remuneration for page space from advertisers. Views expressed or benefits<br />

described in any display advertisement, advertorial or any webpage visited online directly from these<br />

adverts are not endorsed by FAWCO.<br />

Copyright <strong>2021</strong> FAWCO<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong>© <strong>Magazine</strong> is owned and published electronically by FAWCO.<br />

All rights reserved. All bylined articles are copyright of their respective authors as indicated herein and are<br />

reproduced with their permission. The magazine or portions of it may not be reproduced in any form, stored in<br />

any retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy or otherwise –<br />

without the written consent of the publisher.<br />



The <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> Team<br />

Liz Elsie Karen Berit Michele<br />

For more information about this magazine, please contact a member of the <strong>Inspiring</strong><br />

<strong>Women</strong> team:<br />

Editor in Chief, Liz MacNiven, inspiringwomen.editor@fawco.org<br />

Advertising and Sponsorship Manager, Elsie Bose, advertising@fawco.org<br />

Distribution Manager, Karen Boeker, iwdistribution@fawco.org<br />

Social Media Manager, Berit Torkildsen, iwsocialmedia@fawco.org<br />

Features Coordinator, Michele Hendrikse Du Bois, inspiringwomenfeatures@fawco.org<br />

Acknowledgements:<br />

Thanks to our profilees: Ann, Karen, Kelsey, Kristen, Lauren, Lindsey, Rena, Sue, and Ulrike<br />

with thanks also for the use of their photos and those of their friends and families. Additional<br />

thanks to Beverly, Karen (and the whole FAWCO Human Rights team), Katja, Lauren, Marina,<br />

and Mary for their work on the articles.<br />

The cover photo is of one the survivors of human trafficking featured in the book Hope is the<br />

Thing with Feathers (for more information on the book see the feature on page 22) taken in<br />

The Netherlands in 2016 by My-Linh Kunst, former two-term FAWCO President and member<br />

of AWC Berlin. My-Linh explains "this was one of the Nigerian survivors from the Bijlmer -<br />

Bridge2Hope project who initially did not want to talk to us. I felt bad holding my camera<br />

because it seemed like exploitation. I didn’t expect to get any pictures that day. But when it<br />

finally happened, it was magical." Images of survivors holding feathers symbolize how<br />

fleeting and illusive hope can sometimes be, like birds and feathers that drift away and come<br />

back to you.<br />

Special thanks to the proofreading team of Karen Boeker (AWC Denmark), Laurie Brooks<br />

(AWC Amsterdam/AWC The Hague), Celeste Brown (AWC The Hague), Sallie Chaballier (AAWE<br />

Paris), Janet Davis (AIWC Cologne), Tamar Hudson (AIWC Cologne), Carol-Lyn McKelvey (AIWC<br />

Cologne/FAUSA), Lauren Mescon (AWC Amsterdam), Mary Stewart Burgher (AWC Denmark),<br />

and Jenny Taylor (AIWC Cologne and Düsseldorf).<br />

Please note: images used in this publication are either sourced from the authors themselves or<br />

through canva.com.<br />


Coming<br />

November 18<br />

<strong>Women</strong> and<br />

Hospitality<br />

“Hospitality is Simply Love on the Loose.”<br />

Joan D. Chittister<br />

Hospitality is big business, but to be done<br />

well it requires a passion to serve others.<br />

We encounter hospitality daily and all<br />

recognize when we receive exceptional<br />

hospitality and when it is lacking.<br />

Providing these services is hard work but<br />

can be oh so rewarding.<br />

The next issue of <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> has<br />

profiles of features on women who have<br />

made hospitality their business in some<br />

way. It also has features to whet your<br />

appetite in time for the holidays!<br />

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That’s I<br />

Using Loud Voices to Achieve Equality<br />

This photo shows Rena Levin and Karin Blake taking part in a march in Norway.<br />

62<br />

Rena and Karin met through AWC Oslo. Discovering they shared a<br />

common passion about women’s rights, they organized the <strong>Women</strong>’s<br />

March Norway. Using activism to spread the message that gender<br />

inequality is human injustice.

nspired!<br />

Using Small Voices to Achieve Equality<br />

Belgian TV and Radio Presenter, Annabelle van Nieuwenhuyse. Photo taken by<br />

Brigitte Meuwissen of AWC Antwerp.<br />

Annabelle is a prominent figure in Belgium. She started a language<br />

school in her home during the pandemic, teaching children both French<br />

and Dutch. Using education to overcome cultural misunderstanding<br />

aids the fight against inequality.<br />


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