Following the tsunami disaster in India on December 26th, 2004, women and children in particular were subjected to economic, social, and psychological pressure. In Tamil Nadu, the flood catastrophe claimed 8000 lives. Because of traditionally male-dominated power structures, only one percent of the destroyed property in the region belonged to women. Women are usually not counted as part of a household and often do not have access to aid. However, this tragedy offers opportunities for women to play a key and lasting role in societal reconstruction and civil society more generally. In response to this climate of inequality and potential change, Women without Borders (WwB) implemented the sustainable and comprehensive female leadership project ‘Connecting Women and Children for Hope!’. The project aimed to equip women with the economic self-sufficiency and the emotional support to rebuild their lives. In celebration of the project’s success, WwB held an interview with Dr. Neela Valli to discuss the particular challenges women faced in the wake of the tsunami. In addition, Dr. Valli was a guest of honor at the ‘58th Night of Viennese Economy’ Ball, hosted by Mayor Dr. Michael Häupl and supported by the Initiative ‘Wider die Gewalt’ and the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue. The total proceeds of the ball were dedicated to ‘Connecting Women’ project.
Dr. Neela Valli, Director of the Initiative Women in Development (IWID) in Chennai, India and WwB’s local implementing partner in the region.