CTAUN Best Practices Award Chair Dr. Jacqueline Abbott presenting the winners, AAUW Poughkeepsie, with their Award

The recipients this year’s Best Practices Award were Joan Monk and Cecilia Dinio-Durkin of the Poughkeepsie branch of AAUW (the American    Association of University Women). Melissa Guardaro accepted the award on behalf of Joan Monk, who was unable to be present. Inspired by the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, featured at the 2011 CTAUN conference, (see Conference Report for 2011), the winning project is entitled “My Sister’s Keeper” (MSK). Its aim is to turn women’s concerns into venues for local and international action. Partnership with like-minded organizations, raising the visibility of AAUW, and support for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals are also key elements.

Implementation included the following:

1) Poughkeepsie members and book groups read and discussed Half the Sky to educate themselves about the issues.

2) An action committee was formed, which focused on 5 areas:

  • Violence Against Women
  • Gender Equality
  • Women’s and Girls’ Education
  • Maternal Health Care
  • Economic Empowerment

3) Publicity materials were created and members were encouraged to take action both personally and within their families.

4) Members attended events such as MSK Marketplace, International Women’s Day, where they did a Walk Across the Hudson, and Fair Trade Day.  Ms. Dinio-Durkin owns a Fair Trade shop that sells products made by indigenous women. Last year they sold 500 bags, each providing a day’s wage for a woman in Africa.

5) MSK supported a student through Beads for Education, raised money for the Heifer Project, contributed to the Fistula Foundation, and supported Kiva (which supports income generation for women in Africa). They also adopted causes such as a library in Madagascar and the building of a school in Liberia.

As their Year One project proved to be a great success, they hope to continue into 2012-13. For more information see