From Mexico to Beijing and New York, Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) still carries on the vision of its founders Jane Cottingham and Marilee Karl of communicating ideas, creating solidarity.
“My path in life led me to involvement in several movements for social justice and change.”
Marilee’s early activism transcended borders and included working with indigenous North Americans and the civil rights movement in the US, participating in the student movement in Europe in the late 1960s, and, in the early 1970s, the feminist movement in Italy and international movements for economic justice and solidarity with Third World struggles.
Through these movements, Marilee came into contact with women from many parts of the world who were part of the growing women’s movement worldwide. Seeing the need for linking women in their struggles for empowerment, Marilee co-founded Isis in 1974 as an organization that would provide communications channels for women, especially in the South, to share their ideas and experiences. Marilee was one of the coordinators of Isis from 1974 to 1994. She played a key role in facilitating the transfer of Isis International from Rome to Manila in 1990.
Marilee continues her activism and commitment to the women’s movement as Honorary chair of Isis International Manila and through giving her support to other women’s organizations as well. She lives in Italy and works as a freelance consultant for United Nation’s and NGOs, in the areas of gender, sustainable development, food security, participation, networking, planning, monitoring and evaluation. She co-organized an international Rural Women’s Workshop during the World Food Summit in 1996 and is the author of several books and other publications, including Women and Empowerment, Measuring the Immeasurable: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of Networks, Inseparable: The Crucial Role of Women in Food Security, and The Global Knowledge Women’s Forum: Transcending the Gender Information Divide.
Jane Cottingham is a Technical Officer for Women’s Perspectives and Gender Issues at the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization in Geneva, a post she has held since 1991. She works with women’s health groups, policy-makers and scientists to ensure that women’s rights and gender perspectives are integrated into the reproductive health research agenda. She has extensive experience of working with women’s rights groups cross-culturally.
In 1976 she co-founded Isis- Women’s International Information and Communication Service, and served as the organization’s director in Geneva, Switzerland, for 11 years. During this time she helped to create an international women’s information network, built up a documentation system on and for women, and co-authored and edited numerous publications on women’s issues. Ms Cottingham received a Masters in Population Sciences from Harvard School of Public Health in 1991. She is a member of the Editorial Advisory Group of Reproductive Health Matters