March 1, 2004: Headlines: COS - Afghanistan: COS - Swaziland: Country Directors - Swaziland: Women's Issues: C4Women: When the position became available at the Center for Women, I actively lobbied for it," recalls Afghanistan RPCV Jennet Alterman. "I had learned from experience in the Peace Corps that the only way to bring about positive sustainable success for individuals is to do it at the grassroots, village level and to start by educating people.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Afghanistan: Peace Corps Afghanistan: The Peace Corps In Afghanistan: March 1, 2004: Headlines: COS - Afghanistan: COS - Swaziland: Country Directors - Swaziland: Women's Issues: C4Women: When the position became available at the Center for Women, I actively lobbied for it," recalls Afghanistan RPCV Jennet Alterman. "I had learned from experience in the Peace Corps that the only way to bring about positive sustainable success for individuals is to do it at the grassroots, village level and to start by educating people.

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-45-115.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.45.115) on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 5:41 pm: Edit Post

When the position became available at the Center for Women, I actively lobbied for it," recalls Afghanistan RPCV Jennet Alterman. "I had learned from experience in the Peace Corps that the only way to bring about positive sustainable success for individuals is to do it at the grassroots, village level and to start by educating people.

When the position became available at the Center for Women, I actively lobbied for it, recalls Afghanistan RPCV Jennet Alterman. I had learned from experience in the Peace Corps that the only way to bring about positive sustainable success for individuals is to do it at the grassroots, village level and to start by educating people.

When the position became available at the Center for Women, I actively lobbied for it," recalls Afghanistan RPCV Jennet Alterman. "I had learned from experience in the Peace Corps that the only way to bring about positive sustainable success for individuals is to do it at the grassroots, village level and to start by educating people.

One Left Behind

By Annabelle Carr
Deep Magazine
March/April 2004

When the position became available at the Center for Women, I actively lobbied for it," recalls Jennet Alterman. "I had learned from experience in the Peace Corps that the only way to bring about positive sustainable success for individuals is to do it at the grassroots, village level and to start by educating people. Thatís what the Center does: weíre dedicated to helping individual women find success in their lives."

Itís a commitment that Alterman has maintained throughout her life, from her pioneering college experience to the Peace Corps to the South Carolina political machine. Today, she looks back on the lessons of her success and the path that brought her home.

Jennet Robinson Alterman, Director of Charlestonís groundbreaking Center for Women, explains why her success is in the accomplishments of others.

Open Your Eyes
"Iím a typical Southerner," says Alterman. "I grew up here in Charleston and with Southern expectations for what women can and canít do, but Iíd never faced direct gender discrimination. Then, while I was away at an all girlsí college, I was given an opportunity to attend a [prestigious, Southern] menís college for one year."

It was a year that forged the direction of Altermanís life. "This was back in the early 70s when many single-sex colleges were grappling with going coed, and I was one of ten Ďtrialí women. When I got to this menís school and people said to me: ĎYou canít do that because you are a woman,í it was a shock to my system. Luckily, instead of running into a corner and biting my tail I got angry. And it was a wonderful learning curve for me."

Altermanís first job out of school taught her even more about gender inequality. "Television broadcasting was one of many fields in which men were, and in many places still are, routinely paid more than women for the same work." Then, as a Peace Corps volunteer: "My assignment in the late 70s was to work in health education in Afghanistan. I ran headlong into health discriminationóreproductive health inequities that were shocking to me as an American and a woman. So what I found between my first three experiences as a young woman was just how really difficult it was to be a woman on this planet. And itís been reinforced by other jobs that Iíve held."

Learn the System
Returning to the U.S. in 1978, Alterman became the press secretary for Lieutenant Governor Nancy Stevens, the first woman ever elected to South Carolina state office. "I was lucky to meet some of the great visionaries and thinkers of the time: Inez Tenenbaum, whoís currently running for the U.S. Senate, and Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court Jean Toal.

Woman has a third
response to threat: to befriend
and nurture. We take care of each
other, and thatís how we survive.

We worked to get the Equal Rights Amendment considered by the South Carolina House and Senate. This was 1980-81, and it was soundly defeated. The ERA has never passed here in SC! But it was with these wonderful women that I learned how state government operated. Together, we worked very hard to educate and bring about change."

Take Risks
After eight years in government, Alterman went back to the Peace Corps. "It was time to take a risk. So I got on a plane and flew to Southern Africa and spent three years running a Peace Corps program in the monarchy of Swaziland. Alterman continued with the Peace Corps in Washington, putting her expertise to work on worldwide programs like the International Program for Women and Development and micro-enterprise development. "I kept seeing it over and over again: where woman are not allowed to be educated, the economy suffers."

Educate
When she returned to her hometown in 1996, Alterman saw in the Center for Women an opportunity to further her goals of success for women. "We do it four ways: through individual counseling, peer support groups, resource referrals and educational outreach programs. We have a popular brown bag lunch series, which we started several years ago to offer a snapshot in a different area each week. We also have The Entrepreneurial Woman series, for women who are starting or running their own businesses. Itís everything you need to know on how to start and run your own business, without getting an MBA."

Do Something
"ĎThereís a special place in hell for women who donít help other women,í said Madeline AlbrightóI have that typed up on a piece of paper in my office. All the great therapists and philosophers claim that man has only two responses to threat: to fight or to flee. Research has shown that woman has a third response: to befriend and nurture. We bond, we take care of each other, and thatís how we survive. Thatís one of the reasons we live longer: when our backs are to the wall, we donít bottle it up inside. We call a friend and ask her how sheís doing."

Last year, the Center for Women directly reached over 4500 women in the Charleston area. "We did over 60 programs, and every single woman I asked to donate her time in doing a program has said yes. Not one has turned me down because sheís too busy. Thatís a great way to give back."

Women who are not ready to volunteer can become members of the center for as little as $25 a year, but itís a little that goes a long way." That membership money goes toward offering the great majority of our programs free of chargeóallowing others access to the programs is a great gift. Over 50 women owned enterprises contribute as Business Members. Come check us out if youíre in the area. Come to one of our programs, and see if itís something you want to support."

Oh, and before you go, be sure to call a friend.




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Story Source: C4Women

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Afghanistan; COS - Swaziland; Country Directors - Swaziland; Women's Issues

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