The story started in 2000 when an African lady from Burkina Faso and the BPW Vice President responsible for Membership was looking for new members in Africa attended a trade fair for emerging countries in Geneva. The lady from Africa, Rasmata Kabré agreed to found a BPW Club and in February 2002 the Vice President visited BPW Ouagadougou to celebrate the foundation of the new Club.
The President of the new Club, Rasma Kabre, convinced the Vice President to travel to Niamey, the capital of the neighboring country of Niger. There, women who were interested in BPW welcomed us for a meeting and we visited a hospital where “Fistuleuses” receive surgeries.
The Vice President had no clue what “Fistuleuses” meant and found the following explanation:
If a Cesarean operation cannot be realised when a women is giving birth to a child, the tissues in the lower abdomen become suppressed, blood cannot circulate anymore and the tissues die away. Therefore fistulas (holes) can emerge and often the women can not longer control her urine and feces. Such women are not only excluded from their communities but they are also considered to be “dirty” or obsessed by bad spirits and have no hope for a future. As a midwife, Rasmata Kabre was well informed about the destinies of such women and has decided to make a change in her country.
In 2006, the former Vice President and now an International Past President visited BPW Ouagadougou again. Rasmata Kabre asked her to accompany her to the UNFPA (United Nation Population Fund) in Ouagadougou to confirm that she was a BPW member and that BPW International is an associated NGO to the UN.
In a meeting with the director of the UNFPA the Past International President confirmed the requested facts.
At the next visit in September 2009 Rasmata Kabre presented her “Centre d’hebergement des Femmes Fistules” with an information panel showing the most artful BPW Logo.
Rasmata Kabre showed her car which was offered by the UN partner-project and which she used to pick up fistula women in different villages to bring them in her Fistula Center.
In the center, women of different ages are prepared for the surgery.
After the surgery the women recover in the Center and receive support to take over a professional activity which provides them an income.
At the Fistula Conference in 2009 a young woman who had a successful surgery thanked Rasmata and her team for her new life with tears in her eyes.
Rasmata Kabre concluded, if BPW International can open the door to a UN-Partnership, then her project is important enough to take to the Minister of Burkina Faso for the “Promotion de la Femme”, Céline Yoda Konkobo.
The members of BPW Ougadougou where invited by the Minister who promised a national campaign “Zero Tolerance to Fistula”.
In the meantime Rasmata Kabre founded her own foundation “Fondation RAMA” which has organized another Congress which will take place in Ougadougou from 28-29 September 2017.
BPW International Member Projects and Experts
A lady from Africa showed me how to use the leverage of BPW International - I gave her no instructions, she took a step by step approach on her own initiative – and inspired my decision
What Rasmata Kabre can do, other BPW can do, too.
BPW International has to offer a tool which invites BPW members with small or large activities to register their projects and make use of the leverage and prestige of BPW International.
Therefore, a so called PILOT concept was developed and approved by the delegates at the International Congress in Jeju in 2014. This PILOT concept, the BPW International Member Projects & Experts, is a new and unique bottom up tool. It offers a platform to members who have initiative to make a difference. They can register their projects or offer their expertise as an Expert. On this platform the BPW initiatives and performances of numerous members become visible and create synergies, a great women empowerment tool.
Zurich, August 2017 - Antoinette Rüegg