The First Day Lectures

My objective in writing this blog is more about sharing my thoughts and understanding about what I have learned in the first day lectures. In regards to this matter, I think it is fair to declare that my thoughts and my understanding about the issues presented by various presenters might not necessary be corporative with other participation’s ideas and learning. Nonetheless, I would like say I am very lucky to have learned from not only our prominent guest speakers, but also from my dearest fellows in this economic empowerment program.

Today we have listened and learned from three speakers. Our first speaker is the very lovely Ms. Jen Euell. She has given us with loads of information about the overview status of women in US and Montana. What really captured my attention is the information related to single mom Vs poverty in Montana. It was also overwhelming for me to know that while single mums are more likely to be very poor compare to other social groups within the society, in Montana 1 in 5 children is still living under poverty.

Moreover, the salary gab between women and men in relation to level of education also captured my attention. I have to say that this new knowledge has challenged my thought about US culture and politics in so many ways. While listening to the Jen’s presentation, many of us, if not all, have concluded that women with higher education and social space are not necessarily having equal pay and equity access to promoted positions.

During Jen’s session, we have also discussed about the ideas of promoting men and women into the non-traditional role. For example, allowing women into labor force and men having men to care for children and elderly sometimes. However, this can only be achieved through a the mutual understanding of each other roles in order to achieve family’s objectives and financial necessity.

Furthermore, It was very surprise for me to learn that 34% of American Indian women will be raped in their life time, and 39% of them are also facing domestic violent. One of the reasons of this violence is the sexual and racial stereotype. In Laos, according to Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS) conducted in 2012, more than 80% of respondents (in rural areas) think that it is ok for domestic violent toward women who do not obey her husband or under perform her duties of caring for her family due to whatever reasons. This is largely a perception represented within ethnic tribes. This has me thought that regardless of the country’s status (least developed or developed), marginalized groups of women in the society are more likely to encounter social injustice such as discrimination and domestic violence.

In the afternoon, our fellows have leaned from Dr Suzanne Tilleman presentation. Her experience and extensive knowledge about business corporative model, that helps local entrepreneurs such as farmers, women, self-help groups in communities to reach sustainable market, have gained my admiration the most. During her session, I have leaned the meaning of new words such as ‘ scope creep or mission creep’. Also, I have learned about the fundamentally importance of balancing our value proposition and the profit. I think this cooperative model will be very useful for my work and help my target groups such as women and farmers substantially in the area of economic empowerment.

Our last session was with Ms Toni. I have learned on how to maximize the benefits of using technology to promote our product and advocate our work through the most powerful marketing tools such as facebook, WordPress, YouTube or Tumblr.

What new is that, I have also learned that individual can apply to KiVa website to fundraising his/her own projects and activities. As an economic empowerment fellow, I aim to gain better knowledge in this area by doing more research about it and I hope that I can mobilize my knowledge in way that can benefit communities as much as possible.

Personally I think I have learned so much than I expected from the lectures in this very first day, and I can’t wait to learn more from the rest of five weeks!

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog. I will resume back to this duty again in the 18th April!.

See you later!

Soukanlaya Rattanavong

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