Could you tell us a little about the Grandmothers Advocacy Network? How would you describe your organization’s overall missions and goals?
The Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) is a dynamic network of volunteers across Canada. We advocate at local, national, and international levels. We work to engage Canadian and international support for measures that will significantly improve the quality of life for Africa’s grandmothers as they strive to hold their families and communities together in the face of the AIDS pandemic. GRAN’s advocacy work is grounded on a firm commitment to social justice, equality and human rights.
Our current focus is on:
- ensuring access to affordable medicine
- improving access to education
- ending violence against women and girls
How long has GRAN been operating?
In one form or another, the network has been operating since 2007. In its current form, as an incorporated, not-for-profit civil society organization, the Grandmothers Advocacy Network has been active since 2012.
In terms of Women Peace and Security, is there a particular area or project GRAN is currently working on? If so, could you tell us a little about it?
Yes. We are focussing on violence against women in the context of the mining and trade of conflict minerals in the Great Lakes Region of African and Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM).
We feel we are beginning to make some progress on CEFM and were pleased to have had a very productive meeting with former Foreign Minister John Baird on the issue.
As you know, this year’s International Women’s Day was “Make it Happen” and its main objectives were to celebrate women’s achievements and to call for greater equality. Do you have any words of advice for anyone who is trying to “Make it Happen” (make a difference) in the world, or in their communities, but doesn’t know where to start?
Find a like-minded group of women in your community and join forces with them.
Speaking of joining forces with like-minded people, is there a way for people who are interested in the work GRAN does to get involved? Are you looking for any volunteers? And where are your offices located?
We are a “virtual” network without a “bricks and mortar” office.
GRAN is always delighted to welcome new participants who share our passion for social justice, equality and human rights. You don’t need to be a grandmother to join. We operate on the principle of Ubuntu, a sub-Saharan African philosophy and way of life. Ubuntu defines what it means to be truly human: we affirm our own humanity when we acknowledge the full humanity of others. Ubuntu principles include dignity, respect, empathy, caring sharing and compassion. You would be joining an amazing group of women.
Thank you! One last question, if we may: Do you have any upcoming events?
Yes we do! On Thursday, March 12 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm the University Women’s Club of Vancouver and GRAN (Grandmothers Advocacy Network) are hosting an event in recognition of International Women’s Day at Hycroft in Vancouver. Dr. Gretchen Roedde will recount her experiences on the front lines in over twenty-five countries working as a doctor in mother and child health and HIV and AIDS. I highly recommend the speaker, Gretchen Roedde. She is an amazing woman who has made a real difference. The event promises to be a great way for us to recognize IWD2015 and its theme #MakeItHappen.
This interview is part of the Women Peace and Security Network’s International Women’s Day blog series.
As noted above, you can find out more about GRAN and the work they do by visiting their website www.grandmothersadvocacy.org, following them on twitter: @GRANadvocates or contacting them directly at email@example.com