Icco and Wendy
Wendy has been approached by the development organization ICCO to devote herself to the "Strong Women" campaign which shall start in January 2008.
This campaign shall be focussing on the position of women and UN resolution 1325.
Development organization ICCO labours for a world without poverty and injustice. ICCO is active in as many as 50 countries and is one of the largest development organizations in the Netherlands.
In January Wendy and ICCO shall be travelling to Nepal, the poorest country in Asia, which is trying to get back on its feet after a bloody civil war. The position of women in Nepal is extremely bad.
Wendy: "I was approached by ICCO who informed me of the issues affecting women, resolution 1325, and the situation which women in for example Nepal find themselves in.
It is vital that this subject is brought to the attention of the public at large and I am honoured that I get to play a role in this.
Women in Nepal are viewed as second class citizens. Violence has become a part of their society. Many women are victims of domestic violence or end up working as prostitutes at a very young age.
Being a model, I have seen a lot of the world. I was fortunate enough to gain many beautiful experiences and my work has handed me many opportunities. Yet at the same time I realize that I have seen only part of the world; the parts that my fashion travels have taken me to.
In my profession we introduce people to a world of illusion. This time I have been given the chance to show them a different world. For me this journey to Nepal is a very interesting counterpart of my modelling work in which beauty and perfection, the idealized image, are always at the centre stage."
PressPress coverage of ICCO and Wendy Dubbeld.
Sterke vrouwen in conflictgebieden
23 jan 2008
De organisatie wil de strijd zichtbaar maken van vrouwen in (voormalige) conflictgebieden. Deze vrouwen hadden het ten tijde van de oorlog al zwaar te verduren, maar ook hierna is het niet makkelijk omdat hun stem niet wordt gehoord in de wederopbouw.
ICCO wil de strijd van deze vrouwen zichtbaar maken, onder meer door solidariteit te kweken tussen sterke vrouwen in Nederland en in post-conflictlanden.
Goodies article Nepal (pdf 1,7Mb, in Dutch)
Metro 18-01-08 (jpg 2,2Mb, in Dutch)
Wendy's DiaryWendy's Diary of her expreriences in Nepal.
&wendydiary=Jackie Charity Special
March / April 2008
My phone rings. On the line is ICCO to ask me if I would like to commit myself to the women in Nepal and come along on a press trip. After a brief explanation on the local situation I quickly make up my mind: Of course I want to commit to this project and give it my full dedication. "We are gonna go back to basics, something you're probably not used to" they warn me. "No problem" I hear myself reply.
Stress! I own no camping goods, and to be honest have never ever even slept in a sleeping bag.. After an afternoon of shopping, I feel a lot calmer. Down-filled sleeping bag, an ultra soft sleeping mat which according to the salesman will still feel comfortable on pebbles, a cute set of thermal underwear and a mosquito net. I am ready to go! The only challenge left is to reduce the pile on my bed to the allowable ten kilos luggage..
The day of departure. Observing the travel companions I notice how different this trip will be than the average fashion trip I'm used to. Instead of fumbling on hairstyles, talks about the latest gadgets and hair colours, Britney Spears' party behaviours and Tom Ford sunglasses, sharp political and cultural questions are being fired at ICCO representatives. Suddenly, my modelling and ordinary world seems very far away.
Upon arrival, I meet my guide and interpreter for the upcoming week, Joytsna Maskay. She is the deputy director of the local women's rehabilitation organisation Worec and she LIVES for her ideals. She calls herself 'a voice' because she speaks on behalf of all women whose rights are violated and suppressed day by day. But apart from this we are also peers and thus we speak about girls stuff, clothes and shopping between the heavy discussions.
We travel down to Chahari, a shelter for girls working in the "entertainment industry" (read: prostitution). Here they receive psychological help, they can share their problems, have a good cry, spend the night if they have nowhere to go and leave their children if they have to work. There is gynaecological assistance, and sex education.
I meet 21-year-old Binita, who left the countryside five years ago, hoping for a better life in the city.
But to be able to provide a living for herself, her child, brother and sister, she ended up in prostitution. Together we visit the cabin restaurants - where work goes beyond just serving drinks - and a massage parlour and dhori, a kind of bar, where Binita works in the evening as a dancer and singer.
At the end of the day I'm quite upset about the lives of these girls and women. They have no choices, they're stuck between a rock and a hard place: either a hard life on the countryside, defenceless against violence and abuse, or end up in the sex industry that comes with the big city. I do not know whether I would have had Binita's strength. I wonder if I would have been so brave had I have stood in her shoes.
We fly to Udayapur with Buddha Air, a flight with along the way a spectacular view of The Mount Everest. After a very scary four-hour drive we arrive at the Women's refuge centre where we will stay for the following two nights. We get a warm welcome with a tika, a dot of red powder on the forehead. We eat 'Daal Baath' (white rice with beans), a dish that the locals eat morning and evening, day in and day out.
We drive to the village of Rauta. After a long walk and a difficult climb through the beautiful nature, along rice fields and small villages, we arrive at a small house in the hills. The women's group 'Lali Gunaras' is established here.
The women tell me elaborately and very open about the hard life and challenges that they face every day. They have joined forces to grow stronger and stand against violence, to learn farming techniques from each other and to jointly save money for for example a water mill or acute medical help.
It becomes very clear that women are the real workers of Nepal. They are responsible for getting water, all agricultural work and they drag for hours through the hills to gather food, branches and rocks.
And the men, all sitting together in a circle playing another game of cards.
I also hear about typical customs, such as women who must stay by the livestock in the barn during menstruation because they are 'unclean'.
What I strongly realize during the long walk back to the car, is that the women of Nepal would not even understand the issues that concern us in the Netherlands, or other Western countries: the search for happiness, a job that pays the bills but is challenging in the same time, finding the right partner.
They simply have no choices, they survive.
Our last day.
It is not to comprehend that in the same world in which I live - with luxury, glamour and comfort - so much misery can also be found.
We fly back to Kathmandu, where we will have a discussion on Saturday with a UN representative and the director of Worec, Renu Rajbhandari. We talk about the UN Security Council's Resolution 1325, through which the United Nations is committed to a better position of women in conflict zones.
Thanks to my journey I can assist the women of Nepal and Resolution 1325 in my way.
I call out to all readers to help with this! Go to www.vrouwenstaansterker.nl.
VideoVideo of Wendy Dubbeld in Nepal.