I came to There Is No Limit Foundation because of my love for my friends and because of my desire to contribute to something greater than myself. The Foundation’s work is so meaningful to me as it is about the whole person: economic independence, education and health. As many of us know, it is difficult to have any of these without all. Two quotes that stuck with me at the conference that highlight the role of power in the human rights discussion that doesn’t seem to be explicitly stated as much as I heard it at this conference. Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA: “It’s not about empowerment; it’s about power.” And Dr. Gita Sen, General Coordinator, DAWN: “Speak truth to power and transform power.”
The conversation I have heard and been a part of up until now is usually about ensuring we all have equal rights and access to opportunity, but it is not as much about the powers that be that are preventing that from happening. What may have begun as a division of labor among men and women was ingrained into written law to perpetuate norms that benefit one by stealing from another. Changing law is incredibly difficult but there is still more to be done for that change in words to flow into change in action in our everyday lives. We can’t stop with changing the law; we still have to address the vicious cycle of prejudice ingrained into our collective psyche.
The laws have changed and are continuing to change and be strengthened through the tireless work of people like those I met at ICPD. This was a point that resonated with me at the conference, the need to continue this advocacy work, building and strengthening the political will, changing norms, demonstrating truth, exposing truth, especially to women and girls who don’t have the ease of access to the truth, and of course moving the law from policy to implementation in the community. “Ultimately, real change will only come when societies embody the values espoused by the laws. The laws are the first step, the internalised values come later.” Lise Eliot, neuroscientist, Rosalind Franklin University in Chicago.
My colleagues at There Is No Limit Foundation contribute to this change on a daily basis through implementing programs that are direct and impactful in meeting the needs of the communities we serve. We seek to empower individuals and families to reach their fullest potential and an enhanced sense of dignity through economic opportunities and the eradication of barriers including poverty, inequality, and violence. TINLF does this through a variety of programs that include school grants, school supplies provisions, school building renovations, sustainable fashion and farming grants and technical guidance, business literacy and interest-free grants, health services, climate action, water and hygiene projects, advocacy to end all forms of gender-based violences, including FGM.
After the conference concluded, I had the opportunity to tour UN Nairobi.
I left this trip and returned to New York more inspired than ever to continue our work to achieve the mission at the Foundation. Thank you for reading these reflections on my experiences at the ICPD Nairobi Summit and for the part you play in bringing about positive change. Please send me an email if you have any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.