Monday, September 9, 2013

Women's World Summit Foundation

Let me introduce you to Elly Pradervand, she founded the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) in 1991 and continues to guide and direct the daily activities of the organization.   Each year WWSF awards prizes to rural woman leaders for creativity and courage exhibited in their day-to-day life. Since it’s inception WWSF has given $1,000 cash awards to 385 rural women leaders and women’s groups around the world for their work in improving the quality of life in rural areas.

I was privileged to meet Elly a few years ago at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. There she introduced prize award winners to the global audience gathered in New York.  Elly is a Swiss citizen of German origin, an advocate for women’s and children’s rights and educator, mother of two, grandmother of four, and an avid activist for the creation of a world that works for all.

In 1991, compelled by her knowledge of the hazardous and extreme conditions of many rural women’s lives around the world, she founded the Women’s World Summit Foundation to shed light on their contributions to household food security, development and peace. This humanitarian, non-governmental, not-for-profit, Swiss Foundation has attained United Nations consultative status with ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) and is a member of UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) and DPI (the UN Department of Public Information.

The population that the Foundation serves is invisible to most of the world. When you ask Elly why she is doing this work, she pauses and with an emotionally charged voice she tells this story about visiting a village where the women take her to a field, showed her the rudimentary tools they use to plant seeds to grow the food they need to feed their families.  She recognized that their food security rested on those tools and field. She saw that when she tried to break ground with the tool that was handed to her, she couldn’t dig a hole.  She could not imagine how they could get anything to grow on the rock hard, unforgiving soil.  In that moment she knew she had to do something for those women and their children who have no voice in the political systems and economic environments in which they live.

The second story Elly tells is of a woman she met who walked six hours everyday to get clean water for her family - six hours every day, barefoot in the hot sun, day in and day out. When we hear these stories, see pictures of the women who live in this harsh terrain and learn of their creativity and courage in meeting the challenges of their lives it brings tears and hope and gratitude for women like Elly who respond from the depths of their hearts.

WWSF will honor again ten rural women in 2013 to receive the annual prize for women’s creativity in rural life. Prizewinners will be announced to the media on 15 October - International Day of Rural Women.

The first mission of the WWSF is to empower rural women of the world, bringing their stories to light and acknowledging their creativity as they enhance lives in their communities. WWSF, under Elly’s leadership and guidance, has also co-created in 1995 the World Day for Rural Women-15 October and launched in 2000 the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse - 19 November, which evolved into the 19 Days of activism campaign for prevention of violence against children and youth 1-19 November.  

Elly Pradervand spends the currency of her heart by giving a voice to voiceless rural women and by advocating for better prevention of violence against children and youth around the world by encouraging a transformation of traditions and structures into pathways for equality, non violence, development and respect for human rights. How do you spend your currency of the heart?

Follow Elly and WWSF on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Huffington Post

 Rosemary Williams launched Currency of the Heart to inspire readers to “pay it forward” from the heart’s most precious currency. We’d love to hear from you! To share your story or to request permission to republish this blog post, please email 

© 2013 Rosemary Williams

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