28 January 2017

Vulnerable women and children, Trump and the withdrawal of funding for NGOs outside the USA

President Trump has a lot to learn about women!
His first foreign policy decisions include the ban on US funding of NGOs in countries outside the USA who currently advise and support women who are considering or having to undergo abortion procedures. In the countries that will be affected women are often the victims of sexual crime and exploitation and the family and social protection systems to support them and their young children are absent.
This will dramatically increase the workload of social workers and others all over the world who are working to help people out of poverty through transformational change. Their aim, as ever, will be to work with people so that everyone can enjoy a peaceful place to live and where communities have economic health, essential for sustainable development.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that the organiser of the Miss Universe competition, an event that many of us find degrading, has such limited understanding. He sees women in terms of their dress and how they look. What he does not see is that this type of competition is often used by women from developing countries to escape poverty and deprivation, to buy their subsequent education and a way into the employment market. ‘America First’ in this instance suggest that this will be done at the expense of the already vulnerable and will disempower them further from working through transformational change.
It is no coincidence that the protest on the first day of the Presidency came from women around the world. President Trump’s first action is to push the most vulnerable women and their children further into poverty. This will fuel not diminish the anger at his misogynist behaviour. Support will increase from other gender groups, building on the increased equality that has been growing over the last three or four generations. He has picked the wrong target for his imperialist and isolationist behaviour. We now live in a glocal world. We will neither ignore the local or the global.
At the same time as his assault on the most vulnerable women the President announced the expansion of the US military and their weaponry. I have yet to see a war or a conflict where women and children have not been at risk of increased sexual assault as one of those acts of war that go unrecorded or unchallenged; I trust Mr President will examine his conscience and revisit his oath made on 19 January 2017, when he agreed to uphold the Constitution of the USA and by implication the international agreement of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The Founding Fathers were keen on peace and self-determination. This can only be achieved when there is mutual respect and dignity for each nation, not just the USA.
IFSW will continue to work with and support our members, our colleagues and the people with whom we have the privilege to work – who will face increasing challenges in transforming their lives from isolation and poverty into inclusion and involvement in their sustainable communities. With or without the help of the USA we will continue to build our resilience to oppression. If we do not agree with our political leaders we should join together in civil society to advocate and work for transformational change.
Join is on World Social Work Day 21st March and share our vision of equal and just societies arund the world!

Ruth Stark
24. January 2017