The BillBerry Bluestocking Fund
Educating girls for Effective Civil Society thus Effective Governance and Markets and Peace in Small Pacific Nations
Patron – Luamanuvao Winifred “Winnie” Alexandra Laban, QSO
Why Blue Stocking, why BillBerry? The Blue Stockings Society was an informal organisation dedicated to women’s education in mid-18th century England; an early initiative to promote gender equality and empower women. Bill and Berry were the nicknames of two young Girl Guide leaders women who rode 8,000 kilometres around Europe in the last summer before World War Two began in 1939 and who inspired the Fund’s founders.
The Fund is dedicated to the UN Millennium Development Goal Number 3 – Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. Its particular focus is the Pacific Islands region where much needs to be done to raise the status of women. An important indicator is women’s representation in national legislatures which is only about 4 per cent and thus much lower than most other parts of the world.
The intention is to assist local civil society organisations that are working to develop leadership amongst girls and young women. Girl Guides and Scouts Associations have proved their capacity in this in a number of countries. In the region one example is the civic education programme of the Solomon Island Girl Guides which was recognised in a study by NZAID and AusAID. A standout example from Africa is the highly successful work of the Burundi Girl Guides Association in training women to be candidates for parliament. A few years ago the Burundi Parliament passed a law requiring 30% of its number to be women. Assisted with some funding from the United States, the Association trained women candidates so that the seats were filled and it continues to support them.
Globally there is no larger organisation for girls and young women than the Girl Guides Movement and arguably none better equipped to produce women leaders of the future. It is already established in a number of Pacific nations and there are sound regional and global governance and support structures.
Initially it is planned that the Fund will support the Solomon Island Girl Guides Association to continue its civic education and leadership programme for young women. A partnership between this fund, the indigo Foundation (http//www:indigofoundation.org), the Foundation for Effective Markets and Governance (FEMAG – http//:www.femag.org.au) has been formed for this purpose. The fund is intended to be auspiced by the indigo Foundation. Its capital is now close to $80,000, but more is needed to provide sufficient annual income for this programme. And of course much more is needed to fund similar programmes in other Pacific nations. FEMAG and the ANU’s Regulatory Institutions Network have contributed $10,000 to cover initial costs of the programme.
Since independence in 1978, only one woman has ever been elected to the Parliament of Solomon Islands. Developing the leadership of young women means they have the potential to contest seats in Parliament in the future. This is not of course an end in itself. More women in parliament engenders more participation of women in public life generally and in public policy development and calling government to account in particular. This flows on to improvements in education of girls and in health services thus family planning. Ultimately women are better enabled as those making the main consumer and health decisions for their families. It may well be that educating and empowering girls and young women is the best thing that can be done for a developing country once the basic needs of livelihood are provided.
The Fund’s founding donors and governors are Anna Brown, Richard Arthur, Jill McSpedden, Allan and Lois Asher and Robin Brown. They will continue to add to this amount as they are able. Others have also generously made contributions.
This fund is part of the Greater Good Foundation (http://www.greatergood.org.au). Donations (1 cent or 10 cents or more for every kilometre ridden in 1939 and 7 decades on perhaps!) are very welcome. For Australian citizens they are tax deductible.
Donations to grow this fund would be very much appreciated. Donations may be made by credit card at this website: Greater Good Foundation Form
You will find a drop down menu under “to fund”. Select BillBerry Blue Stocking Fund (indigo Foundation)
Alternatively bank transfers may be made to this account:
Account Name: Public Trustee Common Fund
BSB: 062-920 Acc No: 1003 6944
Reference: BillBerry Bluestocking Fund
For a tax deductible receipt go to http://www.greatergood.org.au/contact and send an email
Alternatively highlight the following form, copy and paste it to a document, print and post it
BillBerry Bluestocking Fund
Please fill out the following information:
* indicates a required item
Mr ⃝ Mrs ⃝ Ms ⃝ Miss ⃝ Other _____________
Home Phone_______________ Mobile________________
Donation Amount* ________________
Please select payment method*
Visa ⃝ Mastercard ⃝ Amex ⃝ Diners ⃝
Signature______________ Expiry____ /____
Cheque / Cash Please send your cheque made out to “BillBerry Bluestocking Fund” to
c/- Public Trustee for the ACT
PO Box 221
CIVIC SQUARE ACT 2608
GreaterGood holds Australian Taxation Office endorsement as an income tax exempt charitable entity and its Gift Fund holds Deductible Gift Recipient status. Gift Fund ABN: 33 180 890 151