Latinas: Together in Community

10/21/16

When our new workshops for Latina women begin in October 2016, Unidos will educate and develop leadership skills that builds on wisdom clearly stated 100 years ago.

“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.”  In  1920, Ghanaian scholar and educator, Dr. James Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey, convinced the colonial rulers of Ghana that women must be educated alongside men for the advancement of his country. 

By 2009, international academic research proved Dr. Aggrey’s theory to be correct. Leah Witcher Jackson’s article, “Educate the Women and You Change the World: Investing in the Education of Women is the Best Investment in a Country’s Growth and Development” [1] summarizes:

An extensive body of research indicates a significant correlation between gender equality and the level of economic and social development of a country… Evidence suggests that women with more control over resources will spend more money on basic living needs (e.g., food and health) and education. Research demonstrates that investment in women, and more specifically women’s education, has numerous positive effects on not only the women but also her children and family. These outcomes not only improve the quality of life of women and families but also combat poverty and foster economic growth.

Also in 2009, we note that a native of Yamhill County, Nicholas Kristof (New York Times columnist) and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, emphasize the crucial importance of education for girls and women in the efforts to fight oppression world-wide in their best-selling book, Half the Sky[2], that has become a PBS documentary and an international movement.

Unidos Bridging Community agrees that women may have a unique perspective with child rearing and development that often makes them the major change agents within their family and churches. This is why one of three programs under our Latino Leadership Development Project, a 2016 initiative with funding provided by the Oregon Community Foundation and MRG Foundation, is dedicated exclusively to women. 

Latinas: Together in Community brings together a cohort of 12-20 immigrant women twice each year to take the first series of 8 workshops that will provide both traditional and experiential education about the broader community to which they immigrated.  While most immigrants from Latin American countries have been active with extended family and their church, direct involvement in decision-making as part of a community is less familiar.

Through Latinas: Together in Community, Latina women will tackle topics including 1) advocating for themselves and their families in education and healthcare, 2} understanding the roles of local and state government and the importance of civic participation, and 3) navigating the labyrinth of the federal immigration system. Meeting and conversing with local leaders and a trip to the State Capitol will give a personal perspective to their education.  Volunteering at a local school and participating with campaigns to encourage people to vote will provide direct experience in civic engagement.

Isaura Peña, recently hired employee of Unidos and graduate from Willamette University and daughter of an immigrant family rooted in Jalisco, Mexico, will coordinate Latinas: Together in Community.  Expressing her enthusiasm for this new program,

While these women are building bonds of friendship and support, they will also be expanding their English skills and learning about their communities. When immigrant women are integrated into their larger community, we expect that they will become more skilled leaders both now and for future generations.”

Educated woman can indeed change the world!

 

Submitted by

Sally L. Godard, Executive Director
Unidos Bridging Community
August 2016

 

 

 

[1] http://forumonpublicpolicy.com/summer09/archivesummer09/jackson.pdf

[2] Kristof, Nicholas and WuDunn, Sheryl.  Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, 2009

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