ECOWAS Women – New Partner Organization

By Jaana Rehnstrom

ECOWAS is a collaborative organization for economic development among 16 western African states. ECOWAS Women was founded in 2008 and has members from six countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and works for the empowerment of women in multiple ways.

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Mouna Moriah Ahmed-Berry is from Liberia, and temporarily in the United States. She came to participate in and host a parallel event at the NGOCSW in New York recently.

Could you describe what your organization does?

ECOWAS WOMEN In Liberia, is a non-profit organization involved in the promotion of programs and ideas that empowers grass-roots women through capacity building; mentor-ship, rehabilitation, talent discovery, various skills training, awareness programmes, health-care service, education, and loan scheme.

The members of each country organization choose which aspect to focus on. For example, in Liberia we are very committed to getting women into politics. Yes they get harassed, but nothing will change unless we do this. All political parties are welcome. We collaborate with the sister groups in the other countries on trainings.

We also invest in agriculture: we own a small plot of land, where we grow cassava. We now need a machine to make it into farina (a kind of flour), which women then sell in the market. We also use this to feed schoolchildren, and have volunteers in the schools.

We also organize microloans to women’s businesses.

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How are you funded?

The organization is independently funded, mostly by $5 monthly donations from members. It also functions through supports of all kinds; and fundraising programs, beauty pageants, art exhibitions, cultural events, fashion shows, workshops, seminars, movie making & promotions, sports activities, agriculture, buying & selling, import & export, and other activities that help generate Funds to carry out its projects.

What do you hope to achieve while in the US and in association with Kota?

I hope to form Partnership with donor Organizations that will help enhance and strengthen the growth, development and ideals of the ECOWAS Women Organization.

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AFPDE - Women’s Association for the Promotion and Endogenous Development - DRC

By Nayara Lima

The AFPDE is an organization based in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its goals are to recognize the rights of women and children, to protect them and to support them in their rehabilitation from violence.

The headquarters of the AFPDE is located in Uvira, DRC.

The headquarters of the AFPDE is located in Uvira, DRC.

Created by militant women in 1999, AFPDE is committed to recognizing the rights of women and children, protecting them and supporting them in their rehabilitation. Although the country is full of many natural resources, the population (over 60 million inhabitants) lives in a very difficult situation. In fact most of the population has no access to primary health care, drinking water, electricity, a healthy living. The civil servants, military and police are not well paid, leading to molestation, theft, corruption and attack by military and police on the civilian populations to meet their needs. This situation is largely caused by bad governance in the country since independence and also by the various wars that continue to claim victims in the east of the country. These wars cause systematic looting of the property of the population and lead to widespread sexual violence against women and girls. These are rejected by their husbands, families and find themselves abandoned to their fate with serious injuries.

The mission of the AFPDE is to encourage autonomous efforts of women related to the protection and promotion of human rights in general and to improve their social, health and economic circumstances. The choice of activities to be implemented is decided by members of the women’s groups that are supported by AFPDE.

International Women’s Day parade in Uvira on March 8, 2019.

International Women’s Day parade in Uvira on March 8, 2019.

Currently AFPDE conducts its activities over the whole of the South Kivu and in some corners of the three other provinces of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The groups have undertaken many different kinds of activities, such as education, nutrition and health programs for orphans and Burundian refugees; literacy and economic empowerment training of women; and water, hygiene and sanitation programs such as building of toilets and distribution of menstrual hygiene supplies, to name just a few. More on the AFPDE programs here.

AFPDE is a partner organization of the Kota Alliance.

Four questions for Elizabeth David Dembrowsky from Good Counsel Services

By Matti Pousi

Elizabeth David Dembrowsky, Founder of Good Counsel Services

Elizabeth David Dembrowsky, Founder of Good Counsel Services

Our new partner organization, Good Counsel Services aims to ensure the financial and legal security of other nonprofits and social entrepreneurs through education, effort, and empowerment. As a nonprofit that receives funding from foundations, institutions, and individual donors, Good Counsel is able to provide affordable, quality legal services to its clients.

After graduating with a law degree from Brooklyn Law School, Elizabeth David Dembrowsky founded Good Counsel in 2016. She has also served as the Executive Director for Keren Or, Inc., the Jerusalem Center for Blind Children with Multiple Disabilities since 2012, a position that helped her understand the problems many small nonprofits face: an utter lack of invaluable legal support to help carry on their mission and hold their tax exempt status.

We had a chance to interview Elizabeth and asked her four questions about her daily work at Good Counsel Services.

What is the most interesting thing happening at Good Counsel right now?

Our team of volunteers and interns – a great group of students in high school, college, graduate school, law school, and several recent law school graduates, all working together to help us serve over 100 clients.

What is your day-to-day work like at Good Counsel? What role do your interns have?

Everyday is different – we try and balance direct client service work and creating resources that groups can access on their own. We are constantly looking for new support and meeting new partners.  Also- our interns play a huge role and our program is lauded by our partners and participants and we are particularly proud of that. We ensure the students and volunteers grow and are challenged – and have fun doing it!

What is the most rewarding aspect about your work?

Serving a need that is unmet in our community and being able to fully use my skills about something I am passionate about – social impact startups and their inspiring leaders.

What are your hopes for Good Counsel's future?

I would love to see if hire full time staff within the next two years and have a dedicated office space where clients can meet confidentiality and also attend group sharing sessions. We also hope to more fully expand our work to all five boroughs and upstate New York as well.