Helping Women: ACWW & UN


This past winter as I found myself intwined in the hustle and bustle of New York City life, I began to feel those crispy critters in the pit of my tummy craving some breakfast. I stopped into the first corner cafe I could find… as I finished my order, I looked around in despair to realize, my number was about to be proclaimed, and every seat and table in the dining room had been taken! I must have looked like a lost puppy dog, because this woman called out to me,”my table for 4 is only seating 1 and I would be happy to welcome you!” Could this really be? A perfectly accented, blonde, Julie Andrew’s a la Maria and the Von Trapp’s was offering me a seat at her table? I quickly jolted in exhalation that my Latte would have a chance to settle the critters, and soon realized fate had aligned me to this woman for a reason, in just a few moments she reminded me how precious life is when your biggest worry is finding a seat at which to eat your breakfast.

Well, it was beyond her kind demeanor and gentle spirit, which exuded from her very core… I knew there was more to Ruth, yes her name was Ruth. Something about her nudged at my hunch, this was quite a special person I beheld table- side… So I began to inquire! Without much subtlety, we began to dialogue about her New York City adventure and before I knew it I was learning about one of Ruth’s life missions. Now this wasn’t just a mission and more like a feet, and I couldn’t hold in my excitement to share my inspiration with each one of you… I just knew our chanced Breakfast encounter could become the perfect YLife Article!

Ruth Shanks is the World President of The ‘Associated Country Women of the World’… The ACWW is an organization, which was founded in the early 1930’s and consists of over 350, mainly rural based, women’s organizations in approximately 75 countries across the world! The ACWW’s mission is to be a global platform for those who are concerned with improving the lives of women across the world. It was formed to bring all rural women’s organizations together with an aim of furthering international cooperation.

ACWW represents over 9,000,000 women worldwide, explained Ruth… “ACWW has had consultancy status with the United Nations since the 1930’s and was one of the first organizations to gain this status. We have the opportunity to have representatives at most of the UN places around the world and they also serve on UN committees to put the voice of women into all documents presented to the various UN departments.”

In this partnership with the UN, ACWW helps give a voice to women around the globe, i.e. Relieving poverty, sickness, advancing the protection and attempting to maintain the preservation of women’s health and education. The ACWW Annual Report will be issued in just a few weeks and @TheYLife will make sure to bring those numbers to light for you, so we can all have a better understanding and perspective of the impact ACWW is making.

This organization is deeper than just UN Annual Reports and Data tables, this is a grassroots mission where Ruth tells us the organization, “can empower women in the developing world by providing assistance for small projects so they can take up opportunities to improve their lives and their children’s lives, especially in their communities but also to enable them to feel confident to take up leadership roles and promote women.”

The role of empowerment is a stance ACWW takes pride in within the international community. In fact, their mission is transferred through goals, like: “Women in the developed world can become part of ACWW in one of three ways. If they belong to an organization with similar goals as ours, that organization can become a member of ACWW and work to help promote what we do and raise funds to assist us to continue our work. Any women who are interested can become an individual member of ACWW and support of work, and also anyone can just make a donation towards our work. All of this information is available on our website.”

By promoting common interests in the economic, social and cultural spheres between women in developing and developed nations, ACWW is helping arouse an all encompassing goal for women of to simply help raise awareness for the rights of other women and girls around the globe who don’t yet have a voice.

For example, we asked Ruth about the agricultural initiatives ACWW is taking part in, which are campaigns like the one they currently have “called “Grow Locally Act Globally” and this is a promotion aimed at encouraging people all over the world, not only in the developing world, to grow their own vegetables. Thereby learning to feed families healthily and to provide for their families and if there is excess produce, maybe gain an income from it. We also have a representative working with the FAO of the UN.”

Women around the world are unarguably under constant violations of basic human rights, whether it be for sexual slavery, torture or lack of education and respect, it is an undignified world most women in the developing world must survive in. One instance proving this point occurred this past April 14th, with the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by the Terrorist group Boko Haram. They took the young women from a rural village located in the northeast region of Nigeria, nearing the border of Cameroon. This area is considered a stronghold for the terror group, linked to have received training from al Qaeda affiliates, according to U.S. government. Over the past months this incident has led to an eruption of global outrage over the fate of these young women… organizations like ACWW have been trying to prevent incidents like this from occurring, but it has taken the international community a second to realize it. How can we take note of incidents like this, in order to promote the safe keeping of the worlds women?

“With regard the kidnapping of the young girls in Nigeria, this is just one instance of atrocities against women and girls across the world. Our organization has passed many resolutions over the years relating to these sorts of issues and our member societies take these issues to their own governments. We, as women, have to be prepared to stand up for women’s rights and ask our governments to take action with regards these issues. It is not good enough for people to say “these are cultural issues” – they are the rights of women and girls to an education, to health facilities, to fresh water and to opportunities for a better life.”