The United Nations Association’s Dane County Chapter held a lecture to discuss a global health gender equity initiative at the Central Branch of the Madison Public Library, Tuesday.
The UNA’s Dane County Citizen of the Year and University of Wisconsin professor, Lori DiPrete Brown detailed an extensive UNA program titled the 4W Initiative, which is an acronym for Women, Well-being, in Wisconsin and the World.
DiPrete Brown outlined a series of global inequities which the 4W Initiative is seeking to remedy, including the 31 million women and girls who are denied a primary education and the 222 million women worldwide who do not have access to family planning.
She then talked about the various projects which the 4W initiative engages in to achieve their mission of women’s health equality and said 4W’s multi-pronged approach gives the program a unique ability to further women’s empowerment.
“We have a holistic focus on wellbeing,” DiPrete Brown said. “We have catalyst projects, conferences and forums on a variety of topics, grants and internships, we’re focusing a lot on the special role of higher education. You need expertise sometimes to inform conversations.”
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Among the various catalyst projects is a program that allows human trafficking and sexual assault victims to work toward ending forced prostitution both in Wisconsin and across the globe, including efforts to facilitate a peer network of survivors.
DiPrete Brown said the 4W’s approach to combatting human trafficking is a key first step in helping survivors regain their footing, but said that the fight against sexual slavery is still ongoing.
“This is about survivors having a voice as to how they get their lives back,”DiPrete Brown said. “There’s trafficking in our state at truck stops and a lot of places you wouldn’t expect. I think this is really awful that we have to do this in 2020. We shouldn’t have to be doing this work.”
The 4W Initiative includes a nationwide effort to help women achieve greater equity and financial independence in relationships as well as various projects aimed at supporting female artisans, achieving more favorable health outcomes and improving education access for girls in various developing nations.
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DiPrete Brown said 4W’s efforts to advance women’s education is a centerpiece to the initiative’s long-term goals and asserted the importance of schooling.
“Our job is not to send girls to school so they can raise healthy babies or be good workers, our goal is to send girls to school because education is a human right,” DiPrete Brown said.
DiPrete Brown ended her presentation with a brief description of the various grants and internships the 4W Initiative administers and described her organization’s collaborative efforts with non-profits to promote global women’s equity, including a collaboration with AfricAid to celebrate International Women’s Day last September.