Dear Friends of 4W,
I am writing today because you are one of a special group of people who have made the success of the 4W Women and Wellbeing Initiative possible. You have attended our programs, shared your work with us, and served as advocates, advisors and financial supporters. Thanks to your incredible support a talented group of leaders are working together representing fields including global health, women’s studies, human ecology, education, agriculture, international studies, earth sciences, and more. We have launched a suite of transformative research to action projects, we have raised over 5 million dollars, engaged over 2500 students, and, in recognition of our collective work, we have been awarded a UNESCO Chair on Gender Wellbeing and a Culture of Peace at UW-Madison.
4W in Review
The 4W Initiative has a bold and broad vision of the role that higher education can and should play in addressing poverty, violence, racial injustice, barriers to education, inadequate access to family planning and health care across the life span. Perhaps most importantly, we aim to address underrepresentation of women in leadership as a critical issue that compromises the ability of our social institution to make change and serve everyone. Here are some examples of the 4W impact on our students and our world:
- Our Health by Motorbike Program In Kenya worked for change alongside the community, and established a health center, trained community health workers, installed over 100 water tanks, and more.
- Our MORE Program (Money, Relationships and Equality) fostered conversations about purpose, resilience, and using resources in keeping with our values. The recently published book, “The Big Picture” provides useful information about financial security and purposeful living.
- Our Global Artisans Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace collaborates on design and microenterprise in Ecuador, Mexico, India, Kenya and Nepal. Artisan partners increased quality, artistry and sales in their local settings, while our Madison sales have been doubling each year, with a pre-holiday total of $15,400 in 2016.
- Our STREETS program is addressing sex trafficking locally and globally. We have convened global leaders to improve care for survivors and make policy recommendations.
- Our Women in One Health in Ghana has trained teachers to use our one health and girls empowerment agricultural curriculum, which will reach over 1000 students in 20 schools during 2017.
During 2016 we established a number of ways for you to continue to engage with us. Our first Annual 4W Summit featured Donna Shalala and Terarai Trent, who inspired us to continue and expand our work to make life better for women and make the world better for all. We also launched our new website at www.4w.wisc.edu , where you can learn more about our programs and leaders. And please follow 4W on Twitter @4WMadison.
- The 4W-affiliated Earth Science Women’s Network, an international peer mentoring networking served 98 women from Wisconsin and 2999 women scientists around the world, with support, career resources and community.
There is so much to do! Our programs, all relatively new, need to be further developed and sustained. Our strategic priorities for 2017 relate to education in Africa, gender and climate change, and health disparities in Madison. And our course, we must remain agile and ready to respond to emergent challenges and opportunities related to women and wellbeing.
I hope I have conveyed, the promising early impacts of our nascent 4W programs, the joy of this shared work, and the potential for the future. While it is important to paint a hopeful picture, and celebrate success, it is also important to bear witness to the truth of the suffering that continues, whether it is discrimination, abject poverty, violence, or sexual exploitation. The truth is this, there is almost nothing you can imagine that isn’t already happening to a women or girl. There is nothing that we can make up. How can we make sense of this? What can we do?
I take my cues from women and girls themselves – the ones I have been privileged to meet through our 4W work in orphanages, rural villages, schools and clinics --survivors of parental loss, human trafficking, migration, and war. Yes, there is sorrow and despair. But there are also moments of joy and song. There are dreamers and tryers among them, despite what they have experienced. They remind me that we cannot ground our hopes in odds or projection models. Hope is a moral imperative. If we are going to face the challenges in our world, we have to be brutally, wildly hopeful!
The 4W Women and Wellbeing Initiative is founded on the belief that, as an institution of higher education UW-Madison can, should and must make life better for women and make the world better for all. I am so grateful to have you with us on this journey.
Lori DiPrete Brown
Director, UW-Madison 4W Initiative
P.S. Please Save the Date 2017 4W Summit from April 27 to 29th. We will feature renowned Indian environmentalist and scholar Vandana Shiva, as well as scholars from all over the state of Wisconsin and beyond.