Held on 14-16 May 2009 in Rome, the theme for the Annual General Assembly of European Foundation Center was “Fighting Poverty, Creating Opportunities”. Throughout the conference, more than 600 delegates from 60 different countriesdiscussed how foundations can contribute to tackling with poverty from different perspectives.
The President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, made the opening plenary speech and emphasizedthe importance of collaboration and highlighted the need for a wide involvement of actors, which go well beyond the sphere of state action and insisted that there is simply no way in which complex goals can be achieved without the concerted efforts of different actors, both public and private.Sibongile Mkhabela, Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, highlighted the importance of empowering local communities so that they can set their own agendas and decide how they wish to address and solve their own problems.
Filiz Bikmen, Director of Programs and International Relations from Sabanci Foundation spoke at “Addressing Poverty through Empowering Women: A Rights-Based Approach” session. Ms. Bikmen gave the United Nations Joint Program example from the Foundation, which is a partnership between UN agencies, the Ministry of Interior, and the Sabanci University carried in 6 pilot cities. She said: “This program is rights based in the sense that it looks at the root causes for women and girls’ disadvantages in society with regards to rights, for example: Lack of involvement in decision making at local and national levels, poor access to services or no available services (shelters, child care) little or no economic empowerment.”