Friday, April 4, 2014

Empowering Women: The Museum of Man as a place of discussion

by Joe Nalven

An interesting new exhibit about women opened at the SanDiego Museum of Man. Sometimes museum shows explore the origins of the mundane -- Beerology at the Museum of Man explored the enjoyable cultural item we call beer.

Now, the Museum of Man expands the conversation around the entrepreneurial role of women, especially in micro-businesses. This exhibit is about Empowering Women and centers on 10 women from countries outside the U.S. “who started their own artisanal businesses, resulting in great change in their own lives, in the lives of their families, and in their communities.”

Opening image for San Diego Museum of Man exhibit, Empowering Women
From the perspective of visual ethnography, I would focus on the images of the women, how they are pictured in their communities and their work. This is a traveling exhibit, organized by the Museum ofInternational Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

"Remember that AIDS is not a sin." Maria Rengane, South Africa (Narrated AIDS quilts)
However, there is more to the exhibit than the exhibited micro-businesses and business heroines. 
The Museum of Man is a good candidate in how to make the exhibit meaningful in other ways.
San Diego Diplomacy Council hosting International Women Leaders
In March, the Museum of Man teamed up with the San Diego Diplomacy Council to host 16 international women leaders who were touring the U.S. The international group of women were from Angola, Vietnam, Poland, Israel, Yemen, Palestinian Territories, Nigeria, India, Tunisia, Iceland, Denmark, Croatia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Nepal.

The objective of the U.S. State Department in providing these women an opportunity to tour the United States was to "learn more about the roadblocks women face in impeding their success in achieving their goals or advancing in their professions, and explore novel ways of overcoming such obstacles. The delegates will also learn the impact the nonprofit sector has in promoting women’s political participation, economic opportunities, and access to education and health care. Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience this country firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts."  

Several of the women leaders touring the U.S.
The Museum of Man became a center of conversation that is often found in a university think tank. But here, the connection seemed more tangible by the very nature of the exhibit showing women doing entrepreneurial things, not just talking about it.

At the same time, there is value in talking about it. Since my own experience is in "talking about it," the question then becomes in how to engage the wider public beyond the captive audience of the classroom. 

The Museum of Man has scheduled a panel discussion that ventures into the wider community of interest.

In further exploring the theme of the Museum of Man’s Empowering Women exhibit, the Museum is bringing together four women to discuss “how the lending of small amounts of money allows novice entrepreneurs to make big changes in their communities and their own lives.”

If you've wondered about how work gets done in less developed countries (especially since we have major labor problems of our own), consider visiting the Museum of Man for this discussion.

The panelists include:

Kaitlan Hammock, Microenterprise Program Manager, International Rescue Committee
Deborah Lindholm, Founder/CEO, Foundation for Women

Sarah Emerson, Director, Women Empowered Initiative, Project Concern International
Moderator: Peg Ross, Vice President of Global Human Resources & OrganizationDevelopment, Project Concern International

What:         Microfinance: Small Loans, Big Change, a discussion panel
When:        April 19, 2014, 11 a.m.
Where:       San Diego Museum of Man, 1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA, 92101
Why:          To learn about the empowering and community-building effects of micro-lending.
Cost:          Free with museum admission.

As a side note, I looked about on the internet for statistical data comparing women's earnings in developed and less developed countries. Yes, there were numerous tables and charts from the United Nations and other organizations about the male/female gap in earnings. That supposed gender wage gap in the United States, in one does a realistic analysis, is largely a myth. 

I was stymied when it came to women/women statistical date -- women in developed countries versus women in less developed countries. I am still puzzled by this weighting of statistical information and invite readers to post comments about wondering.

1 comment:

  1. There was an IVLP participant from Armenia as well. As you mentioned, there were 16 participants, not 15!