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NEWS | September 2020

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Equality: It’s everybody’s business

September 20-26 is Gender Equality Week in Canada. It is a time when we honour pioneering women who fought for gender-blind human rights, universal suffrage, employment equity, and many more causes that chipped away at privilege and challenged systemic discrimination. It is also a time to look around us and acknowledge that subtle and glaring inequalities persist, both at home and abroad. A time to ask ourselves how we can be part of the solution.

In this issue, we will meet women who are making their communities more inclusive, equitable and prosperous - through creative initiatives, inspiring resilience and astute planning. From Eastern Europe to West Africa, South America and the Maghreb, these leaders are enhancing quality of life for their neighbours and driving economic development in their local areas.

In the second instalment of our International Spotlight, we will drop by Collingwood (ON), where municipal leaders co-hosted a virtual UN summit on sustainability in small towns. Finally, as all FCM programs continue to adapt to COVID-19, we will learn how our resourceful partners are turning pandemic restrictions into digital opportunities.


Tunisia: An inspiring leader emerges

Soumaya Ouerfelli Miled is a municipal councilor and president of the “Equality and parity of opportunities” commission in the Tunisian municipality of Nabeul . She is also vice-president of the "Network of elected municipal women in Tunisia", a group born on March 8 with the support of FCM’s Program for Inclusive Municipal Leadership (PIML).

Soumaya is committed to the fight for human rights, in particular the rights of women. She is proud of the Habib Karma municipal kindergarten in Nabeul, which will be established with the support of the PLMI, and will help women who need to work in the labour market. Soumaya also hopes to contribute to equal opportunities at the national level.


Ukraine: Rolling toward inclusion

Ukraine is home to some 3 million people living with disabilities, 2 million of whom are part of the working-age population. However, according to the country’s Ministry of Social Policy, only 540,000 are employed.  With support from FCM’s Partnership for Local Economic Development and Democratic Governance (PLEDDG), entrepreneur Lyudmila Netskina is working to increase that number.

Lyudmila leads the Harmony NGO in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. Its project, Socialization of People Living with Disabilities Through Entrepreneurship in Vinnytsia, was the recipient of a PLEDDG grant to support local economic development.  

With the funds, Lyudmila launched a coffee kiosk and a nail salon, both of which are staffed by people with disabilities. Lyudmila uses a wheelchair and wants to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. She says she wants employers to look beyond disability and instead see a person’s potential and desire to work.

Her eagerness to give back to her community doesn’t stop there. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ukraine, Lyudmila took the profits from her two new enterprises and bought protective suits and PPEs for local hospitals.


Bolivia: Women harvesting food security

As part of the PMI-LED innovation fund in Bolivia, the "community plots" project in Pailón supports 30 families, in particular low-income mothers, in the creation of community gardens. The organic produce they grow on small tracts of land and stacks of carefully recycled plastic bottles fosters both hope and financial independence. Ten of these producers obtained access to the municipal fair thus giving greater visibility to their products and facilitating market access.

This initiative breathed new life into the municipal economy by promoting female entrepreneurship and made it possible to respond to food shortages exacerbated by the pandemic.

SEE HOW THEY DID IT (in Spanish)

International Spotlight: Collingwood

In early September, the Town of Collingwood (ON) co-hosted the inaugural Habitat in Towns - Collingwood World Summit with the Urban Economy Forum (UEF) and in collaboration with UN-Habitat.  The virtual summit challenged participants to explore the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of creating resilient and sustainable communities. 

Panels and discussions focused on issues such as urban assessments, sustainable resources, municipal finance and investment, gender equality, and the impact of COVID-19 on town development. Several FCM Board members from small to medium sized communities, including Councillor Kathy Jeffery from the Town of Collingwood, participated as panelists and in the large steering Committee for the World Summit.


COVID Response: Teaming up with technology

Our partners around the world continue to amaze us with their ability to adapt and innovate as they address evolving pandemic circumstances. Many are making use of technology to introduce new ways of reaching out and delivering services. While Zoom has been the most popular tool, many other apps and channels are also contributing to closer ties between partners. Through it all, flexibility has been the greatest predictor of success.



FCM’s international programs are funded by Global Affairs Canada.

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