Raymon Offenheiser

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Seattle pushes women’s rights & private sector to fight poverty | 

It’s International Human Rights Day and you may be surprised to learn that the modern notion of human rights is little more than half a century old. The universal declaration of human rights was made largely due to the Holocaust, the atrocities of WWII.

Locally, the focus of two leading humanitarian organizations is on advancing women’s rights and finding more effective ways to combine traditional aid and development strategies with a supposedly kinder, gentler and more socially responsive private sector.

It’s the Seattle approach – socially liberal and business friendly, if not economically conservative.

“We are compassionate, creative and outward looking,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said at Global Washington’s annual meeting last week. McGinn noted how at the World’s Fair in Seattle some 50 years ago, many predicted we would have flying cars and jet packs when, in fact, today we continue to have poverty, inequity and injustice — here and abroad.

“We care about that and are doing something about it,” he said. “And that’s what it really means to be a city of the future.”

Two meetings last week back up the mayor’s claims. (Sorry I’m a bit late, but I had a family emergency and this is a one-man news operation)

Global Washington, an organization dedicated to building up the region’s burgeoning humanitarian and social enterprise community, held its annual meeting with an opening keynote talk by Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, an activist and educator who is promoting women’s rights and childhood education in Afghanistan despite threats against her life.

Sakena Yacoobi, speaking at Global Washington

“I believe education is a key issue to transform life,” said Yacoobi, who described the many obstacles she has faced and what motivates her despite the risks. Women’s and girls’ rights are critical, she said: “Afghanistan will have peace when the women of Afghanistan are leaders.” Continue reading