FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2013
Impact of empowering women economically is captured on film
WATERLOO, ON - MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) is excited to announce Drew Warkentin, of Morden, Manitoba, and Eric Tichbourne, of Ottawa, Ontario as the winners of our 2013 Time for Change video contest with their video, Marie and Liz's Story.
Launched in September, the contest challenged entrants to produce a video to bring awareness to the issue of women's economic empowerment, which was this year's theme. Through the medium of sound and moving visuals, competitors were asked to highlight its importance as a solution to poverty, mentioning how entrepreneurial opportunities organizations like MEDA are bringing positive change to the lives of women in developing countries.
"What intrigues and fascinates me most about MEDA is that even though it may not be the biggest, ideas go a long way," Eric (above right) notes. "MEDA people share their successful approach with other folks to make things better all over the place."
"Instead of just giving people something, MEDA shows them how to do things to create business opportunities that benefit them, their family and their community," Drew (above left) explains. "There are many residual effects from just teaching them about business and other skills to go along with that."
Eric first heard about MEDA's Time for Change contest at an international development roundtable MEDA organized at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo and was excited to tell Drew about it. "That was really an eye-opening event for me and it was probably one of the highlights of this past term. I didn't think I could learn so much in such a short period of time," notes Eric. "It's not the learning part that most impresses me -- it's MEDA's values, their story, and their mission."
The pair decided to focus on the experiences of Marie Warkentin (Drew's sister) and Liz Logheed in western Africa. Marie and Liz shared their first-hand stories of the value to society from empowering women by giving them the tools to succeed. Liz's story of a start-up soap business in Ghana inspired Drew and Eric to draw a comparison to MEDA's GROW (Greater Rural Opportunities for Women) project in northern Ghana.
Drew, 20, who is studying civil engineering at the University of Waterloo, says the exercise opened his eyes, providing him with knowledge he will take away the rest of this life. "The whole idea of women's economic empowerment in Western Africa was new to me," Drew confesses. "Both Eric and I went into the situation knowing nothing."
Eric, 20, is studying chemistry and economics at the University of Waterloo. He saw the contest as a great opportunity to learn about gender disparities in a different society, delving deeper into its impact on economic development and what organizations are doing to solve it. "It's important for people to recognize that MEDA does more than just talk about ideas," Eric says. "MEDA also makes sure they work."
MEDA staff determined the first place winner and runner-up based on the theme, the strength of their argument, clear expression of ideas, production values and originality. Brother-sister pair Andreas and Sylvana Tiedtke (pictured left), age 13 and 15 respectively, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, were awarded second place for their video, Women's Economic Empowerment Story.
Inspired when she attended the 2012 MEDA Convention, Sylvana began thinking about the privileges she had and felt that everyone should have the same opportunities. "When women are empowered, it's not just about women being better," notes Sylvana. "We all deserve the same kind of treatment and equality -- the same opportunities."
The viewer's choice winner was Danish Khan for his video, The Malala Song Echoes. As a 25-year-old studying at the NED University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan, Danish (pictured right) was inspired by MEDA's work of empowering women and the realities of his own village, where girls are deprived of their right to education when they marry young. "This contest gave me an opportunity to highlight a critical issue regarding discrimination in girls' education," Danish says. "If we educate one boy then it will only help him to earn bread for the next generation, but if you educate one girl it will help her educate the next generation."
MEDA currently has programs focused on women's economic empowerment in Pakistan, Ghana, Haiti and Libya. While women around the world have the same hopes and dreams, many lack the ability to provide even the simple things in life such as food, shelter and education for their families. In the developing world, life is particularly difficult for women and girls because they face many barriers to employment due to cultural norms in their society.
MEDA helps them overcome these obstacles by teaching them how to farm, run a business or even open a bank account. Women flourish as they earn an income, and with more money, their children's health and nutrition improves.
MEDA introduced the Time for Change video contest last year to encourage people, especially youth, to explore world issues. Last year's winner, Daniel Penner, of Harper, Kansas, addressed food security, drawing parallels in milk production in North America and developing countries with his video, Milk: From Cow to Consumer.
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MEDA is an international NGO founded in 1953 that provides technical expertise in subsector and value chain analysis, market linkages, financial services (rural finance, deposit mobilization and youth & financial services), health systems, and financial institution capacity development. MEDA's expertise cuts across sectors, working with vulnerable and underserved populations like youth, low-income women, and rural populations.