Seven Rural Women New Zealand members, including national president Liz Evans, are in Chennai in India for the 27th Triennial Conference of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW).
With a membership spanning 70 countries, ACWW world conferences are always colourful and enriching experiences.
“Despite language and cultural differences, we have the common ground of being rural women with shared challenges and experiences,” says Liz Evans.
Prime Minister John Key has written a message which will be delivered by Mrs Evans, conveying best wishes for an enjoyable and constructive conference.
He says, “Women play a vital part in our rural communities and are often the key advocates who communicate community needs to local and central government.”
The conference will discuss a resolution put forward by Rural Women on maternal health. We are calling on member societies to urge their governments to provide a well trained and resourced quality maternity health service, and to improve maternal health education for all women and girls to ensure the best outcomes for mothers and babies.
Resolutions from other groups cover a broad spectrum of concerns, including a call to stop the practice of female genital mutilation and circumcision; asking governments to banish the use of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA); and for the recording of all births to ensure children are recognised as citizens.
The theme of the conference is Empowering Women Worldwide: Encourage, Educate, Enrich. This is also linked to the UN Millennium Development Goal that all children are entitled to a primary education.
In support of this, Rural Women members will present 250 English reading books for school children in Chennai. Money for this gift was raised by Rural Women members during our Women Walk the World project, which saw 25 groups taking part in sponsored walks in April this year.
Access to books is so important for education, and we’re also taking along stationery items for local children. We hear that some are so keen to learn that they work part of the day in a quarry before attending school,” says Mrs Evans.
The conference begins on 26 September and runs through to 2 October. During the conference delegates will also elect a new board and the new World President will be announced, following a three year term of office of current World President, May Kidd.