Women are the architects of their future

07 Oct 2012 00:06 | Armelle Loghmanian

 “Women are the architects of their future"

Interview by Alessandra Zocca

Marie-Anne Delahaut , 
Director of Research and head of the Information Unit at The Destree Institute,
Head and Founder of Millennia2015,
President of the Millennia2025 "Women and Innovation" Foundation, PUF

PWI – Marie-Anne, you have two hats, let’s start with the Destree Institute. Tell us, please, about its mission, activities and your role as Director of Research.

Our meeting for the interview happens at a happy time: The Destree Institute was founded exactly 75 years ago in Namur, on the 11th June 1938. It was named in honor of the Minister of Sciences and Arts Jules Destree, who died in 1936.
The Destree Institute is a European pluralist research centre, a non-governmental, non-profit body and a think-tank; as per our statute: <<Acknowledged as a general service for lifelong learning and research centre with an interuniversity calling, the Destree Institute works as a permanent think-tank …. It pursues its goals with the greatest attention to the European and global dimensions of these issues, along with their impact on society as a whole. The Destree Institute operates therefore as a sensor of change and generates innovative ideas for action, in favour of deliberative democracy and the common good of society>>.
The Institute is, organizationally speaking, structured in four dynamic units: history research, information society, citizenship and foresight.

I have been working for a long time at The Destree Institute with different missions: director of publications, network administrator and director of research, head of the Information Society. I have been active in the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society since 2003, with a special research about "Foresight and governance of the internet"(I).

PWI - What is your background and what brought you to join the Destree Institute?
As a student and at the beginning of my career, I was a member of the Liege section of The Destree Institute.
I began my career as a French Teacher, discovered computers in 1987 and decided to learn more about information and communication technologies: I became network administrator and I developed the independent network of The Destree Institute (DNS, mail and web servers, database). I had another job when I was asked to join the team and… I accepted.
PWI – Which are the main challenges of non-profit organization and of the research nowadays?
As far as I know, NGOs are created by people who have good ideas and goals, willing to act as "not for profit" organizations to develop projects. People gather spontaneously around those ideas and projects, people are ready to work, to produce research for free, but the difficulty is to gather money to finance these projects, particularly in the developing countries. The necessity of financing them is a struggle, the situation is not easy and funding is an important challenge for many NGOs.

PWI – What is the link between the Destree Institute and Millennia2015? What is the spirit of Millennia2015? 
Millennia2015 - "Women actors of development for the global challenges" is a foresight research process (II) developed and organized by The Destree Institute.

We are lucky to benefit from the wise advice of Dr. Eleonora Barbieri Masini (III) member of Millennia2015 Steering Committee. She has summarized Millennia2015's role and spirit in a short text translated into 22 languages by our members (extract below):

 "… Millennia2015's commitment is to highlight women's crucial role in society and their unrecognized capacity as builders of alternative futures, based on characteristics such as an innate future orientation, capacity to mediate and to network at all levels, capacity to be social actors, to face natural catastrophes and human conflicts by creating solidarity among women.

Millennia 2015 offers, through the use of advanced means of communication, the great opportunity for women all over the world to be in contact and thus render their role visible to themselves and at world level. … All women involved in Millennia2015 constantly show their participation by sharing their work and activities.

Women, in Millennia2015, come from different backgrounds, different cultures and different involvements in their societies. They come together with the aim of bringing to the forefront their role in every society as well as of building alternative futures according to their different roles, but with a common awareness.

… It recognizes the role of women as well as women's enhancement as social actors that can make a difference and not mostly as victims, as still often thought. Millennia2015 shows women themselves and the world, that they can bring change towards a more human and sharing community" (IV).

PWI –The Millennia2015 website contains lots of information and documentation, a huge effort. Could you please provide us with the key features of Millennia2015? What are its mission, goals, values and activities?
Well, Alessandra, let me try to illustrate the Millennia2015 key feature in a structured and concise manner:
  • The mission of Millennia2015 is to examine the strategies that - while respecting cultural and linguistic diversity - will lead towards more equality and solidarity and that take into account the needs/ values of women by the year 2025.

  • The goal of Millennia2015 is to act for gender equality, women's empowerment and their full participation to political, economic and social decisions, in complementarity with men, in order to build fairer and more ethical futures at the horizon 2025.
    The collaborative objective of Millennia2015 is to federate, on its multilingual website all the stakeholders mobilized for women’s empowerment, making sure to include the poorest.

  • The key values of Millennia2015 are complementarity between women and men, respect for rights and diversity, promotion of the human capital and of digital solidarity in order to empower women.

  • The tasks of Millennia2015, detailed in the millennia charter, consist in:
    • Identifying the nature of current and future changes;
    • Promoting a culture of respect for diversity and peace;
    • Recognizing and acknowledging women's ability to be actors and not victims of social change, while developing a new worldview that can create a more sustainable life for all humankind; building networks of feminine competence.
      Basing on content analysis dealing with gender issues raised since 2008, the 37 variables (V) of Millennia2015 have been formulated and analyzed by the contributors. The elaboration of hypothesis will enable Millennia2015 to produce exploratory scenarios.

  • The Millennia2015 process, built with its international partners, is structured through three phases regulated by three international conferences organized by The Destree Institute:
    •  2008 - "Information transfer": Exchange and transmission of data as well as of analysis already collected or built, used to inform the participants or to question the society.
    • 2012 - "Knowledge process": Interactive building processes, step-by-step, for an innovative knowledge and a strategy made of precise actions.
    • 2015 - "Intelligence platforms": Collective dynamics of real field experiences exchanges and recombination of tools realized in order to learn together as well as to launch innovative initiatives.

The three conferences details are illustrated in the picture below:

 PHASES  Information Transfer Phase   Knowledge Process Phase  Intelligence Platform Phase
 ORGANISER  The Destree Institute
 The UNESCO & The
Destree Institute
 UN Women & The Destree Institute
 LOCATION  Convention Centre, Liege  UNESCO Headquarters, Paris  United Nations, New York
 DATE  07-08 March 2008   3-4 December 2012  2015

PWI - How is Millennia2015 organised, how does it work? What’s the geographical scope? How can individual women / firms / humanitarian organisations become involved in Millennia2015?
The governance of Millennia2015 is ensured by its direction, it’s a team within The Destree Institute and the steering committee.
My current collaborator, Coumba Sylla, who is research fellow at The Destree Institute for Millennia2015, came first as a trainee of the Eurodyssee Programme (Program of the Assembly of European Regions with the Union wallonne des Entreprises). I am lucky to welcome trainees, from the European ERASMUS Programme or from Eurodyssee: for example Rebeca Pascual Prats has been working with us for five months, her input is excellent. Trainees, motivated by a project, always come with an interesting constructive "new view".

The functioning of Millennia2015 is based on the strength and interaction of its network, which is a valuable human capital consisting of:
  •  Members
  •  Contributors
  •  Regional communities
  •  International thematic working groups (IWG)
We now count about 821 contributors, 2.713 members and 9.128 contacts in 109 countries

I would like to highlight the core importance of the International thematic Working Groups (IWG), which have been developed around the 37  variables within the framework of the foresight exercise.

The first and most active international working groups (IWGs) - "Women and eHealth" and “Women and Telemedicine” - have been created by Véronique Thouvenot, international expert at the European Centre for Humanitarian Health (CESH) and Scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO).
Other thematic working groups are being formed: "Women in situations of conflict and of war" (around the United Nations Security Council Resolution UNSCR1325 - Women, Peace and Security), "Women in Science", "Women and Sport" and "Women and eSolidarity".

Millennia2015 counts also several active Regional Communities, such as Benin, Djibouti, Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Guatemala, India, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nepal and Senegal. They have studied the variables, produce studies, reports and promote Millennia2015 in their country or region.

All people are welcome to join Millennia2015 it is easy and free to register online at: www.millennia2015.org/Community_Registration

PWI -   
What are the main challenges for Millennia2015??     

We dramatically need sponsors and financial partners. Millennia2015 was funded with the support of the International Organization of la Francophonie between 2008 and 2011, through partnerships such as the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men in 2011, but the global economic crisis made us decide to create a specific foundation to support Millennia2015.
The Millennia2025 "Women and Innovation" Foundation, a public utility foundation, is dedicated to collect funds in order to implement the activities of the Millennia2015 foresight research process led by The Destree Institute and to ensure the realization of the action plans in the partner regions of Millennia2015.
We also call for donors and we welcome all the contributions (VI), and we are also ready to establish financial partnerships in the long run.

PWI – I am often curious about logos, I wonder whether they have a real meaning and are not just chosen for aesthetical reasons. The Millennia2015 logo has been designed to express the “union” of many bodies supporting its intents and women. Is it true?
Indeed, Alessandra, the Leitmotiv colour used in documents and in the website of Millennia 2015 is fuchsia (magenta), while every shape and colour of the logo has a specific meaning:
  •  The female symbols represent universality. They are colored from local to global, resulting in sustainable development values essential for us all. We all have roots somewhere, so I designed the logo using the red/yellow of Wallonia, working with the blue/yellow of the European Community shifting to the blue of UNESCO and United Nations, and the green of hope for our planet. 
  • The three spirals around the female symbols represent the three Millennia2015 international conferences, as illustrated above (they are in movement on our welcoming page (VII).

PWI -   
I see that Millennia2015 is under the high patronage of UNESCO …           

Yes, indeed, Alessandra, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has offered support to host and promote our work. The Managing Director sent an encouraging letter to us for our 2008 conference and awarded the patronage of the UNESCO to the international conference Millennia2015, because the Millennia2015 goals underpin the UNESCO’s strategies and activities. In particular and in concern with Millennia2015 goals, UNESCO’s commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment - particularly in developing countries - is facilitated by the Division for Gender Equality in the Office of the Managing Director.
UNESCO has also recognized The Destree Institute as NGO official partner of UNESCO” (consultative status). Our NGO also benefits from the Special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC since 2012.

We also call for donors and we welcome all the contributions (VI), and we are also ready to establish financial partnerships in the long run. 

PWI -   
What inspired you to found Millennia2015?                  

Alessandra, let me try to highlight the path that brought me to create this initiative: I have always been a feminist but had no idea about how to activate that motivation.

In 1998 I have founded the Wallonia Chapter of the Internet Society, whose goal was internet for everyone and as a driver of education. I am still a member of that international network. The challenges of internet governance emerged at a global level in 2003 with the World Summit on the Information Society. I participated to the first session in Geneva in 2003 and organized a research about "Foresight and governance of the internet" in 2005 at the Castle of Namur with international researchers. I presented the results in Tunis in 2005, with 19.000 other members of the civil society. It was impressive to be part of a United Nations meeting and to discover the complexity of decision making at that global level. It gave me the opportunity of meeting and working with many people from different countries and… among them many women, leaders, researchers, actors of development. Some of them represented communities from developing countries, with so much courage and hope!

This experience of meeting many women from different countries and conditions, all active as architects of their own futures inspired me to develop a global network.

On the 8th March 2006 our fellow France Chapter of the Internet Society invited me to present our research about foresight and governance of the Internet. I decided to ask for a short presentation to my new women colleagues and… it worked. The idea of Millennia2015 was born!
In 2007 I created Millennia2015 as a foresight research process, hosted and part of The Destree Institute.

PWI -   
What are the main challenges that women have to face now, in your opinion, Marie-Anne? And in the near future?               
The main challenges that women have to face now are, in my view, summarized in the 37 topics issued from our foresight research, the 37 variables of Millennia2015. Not a small number … especially in the developing countries.
PWI -   
You look like you are running two “dream” jobs, at least in my eyes, because they are interconnected with your ideals … What other dreams have not yet come true in your life that you feel ready to share with us?                     

You say it: my "dream" jobs are interconnected with my ideals. They represent a significant part of my life and they are a sort of evolving, creative passion.

We have created the database of Millennia2015 members, where people can freely register on our website. You cannot imagine, Alessandra, all the positive comments, the projects, the hopes people share with us. Therefore, one of my dreams is to keep my promise to those members: we must finalize our action plan for women's empowerment; we must shape our valuable little stones and add them to the construction of humanity.

Women are the architects of their futures but time gets short because the problems are critical. We need to act now for our goals to be achieved by 2025, with women and men in harmony. It means a lot of work at a global level, a lot of hope, the strength of sisterhood and… a touch of madness, Alessandra…

Madness or braveness? Ha, ha ... Welcome to the club, Marie-Anne!
Short Biography

Marie-Anne Delahaut is Director of research at The Destree Institute, Head and Founder of Millennia2015.
She also serves as head of the Information Society Unit and network administrator at The Destree Institute, European Research Centre and NGO in consultative status with the UNESCO.
She is president and founder of the Millennia2025 "Women and Innovation" Foundation, foundation of public interest whose goal is to realize the activities of the Millennia2015 foresight research process.

Bachelor in Education, qualified teacher of French and of English, she has developed, since 1987, an expertise in ICT networks administration and has contributed, since 1989, to the development of the independent ICT network of the Destree Institute.

Marie-Anne participates in the World Summit on the information society since 2003 and in the Internet Governance Forum. She has published works about Foresight and governance of the internet.

Member of the Internet Society (ISOC), she has created the Chapter Wallonia (ISOC Belgium - Wallonia) in 1998, served as president (2005-2009) and is currently its honorary president.
She is a member of the Board of the Brussels-Area Node of the Millennium Project and director of publication of the French version of the "State of the Future" 2005 and 2006.
Marie-Anne is a member of the Belgian Association of Women Business owners, of the Commission on Women and Development of the Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation, of the French-Speaking Women Council of Belgium and also of the European Center for Women and Technology.

She was awarded the title of "Outstanding Woman 2011" for "her work and her action in favor of equal opportunities between women and men" from the Belgian Federal Deputy Prime Minister, in charge of Employment and Equal Opportunities.

Marie-Anne Delahaut lives in Wallonia, near the French border. Married, she has three sons, one daughter and one grandson.

Marie-Anne Delahaut

- Director of research at The Destree Institute, Head and founder of Millennia2015,
- President of the Millennia2025 Foundation, PUF,
- Head of the Information Society Unit of The Destree Institute, NGO official partner of UNESCO (consultative status).


www.Millennia2015.org - www.institut-destree.eu - www.facebook.com/Millennia2015

9, avenue Louis Huart, BE 5000 Namur, Wallonia - Tel: 32.495.213.981 -

Disclaimer -   
Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Destree Institute and Millennia2015, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.


(I) "Foresight and governance of the internet"

(II) The foresight process of Millennia2015 - Basing on content analysis dealing with gender issues raised since 2008, the 37 variables of Millennia2015 have been formulated and analyzed by the contributors. Millennia2015 will produce explorative scenarios. In preparation for the 2012 international conference, the task is about setting the issues, in other words the good questions to be answered by expressing desirable futures. The issues will result in formulating a clear and elaborated vision for 2025 for each continent. The strategy needed to reach the Millennia2015 vision shall be the Action plan for women's empowerment, to be finalized at the Millennia2015 conference at the UNESCO on 3 and 4 December 2012.

(III) Dr. Eleonora Barbieri Masini (Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Social Sciences, Gregorian University, Rome; Honorary member of the Club of Rome; Member of WAAS World Academy of Arts and Sciences; Past President of WFSF (World Futures Studies Federation) (1980-1990); Chairman of the Futures Research Committee of the International Sociological Association (1978-1997); Coordinator of the Network WIN (Women's International Network) Emergency and Solidarity, sponsored by UNESCO (1986-2005); Consultant to many Intergovernmental Organizations, such as United Nations University, UNESCO and UNDP; Member of the Finland Futures Academy).

(IV) www.millennia2015.org/Millennia2015_Its_role_and_spirit

(V) 37 variables of Millennia2015:
Definitions, analyses guide and questionnaires: www.millennia2015.org/KP2010_Foresight_Exercise

 1  V01 - Women, access to information and to knowledge 20   V24 - Women, media, ethics and development
 2  V02 - Strengthening women’s capacities  21  V25 - Violence against women
 3  V03 - Women in situations of conflict and of war  22  V26 - Women, economy and adaptation of the values for a sustainable global management
 4  V04 - Women and new participative skills  23  V27 - Women, feminism, ideas debate and politics
 5  V05 - Climate, ecology and respect of the environment  24  V30 - Towards a knowledge society: creativity and culture
 6  V06 - Change of attitudes about women  25  V31 - Women and discrimination
 7  V07 - Women, religion and obscurantism  26  V32 - Women and stereotypes, respect of oneself and of others
 8  V08 - Women and e-Health: connected medical knowledge benefiting all  27  V35 - Women, work and entrepreneurship
 9  V09 - Women, lifelong well-being and pro-activity  28  V36 - Women actors of development, creators of futures, assuming future generations' responsibility
10   V10 - Women, cultural and linguistic diversity  29  V37 - Women's strength and sensibility as drivers for the future
 11  V12 - Women and girls status, relations between women/men, girls/boys in family and in society  30 V38 - Women as mediators and generators of peace
 12  V13 - Women, ethics and sustainable development  31  V40 - The strength of networks for women
 13  V14 - Women, poverty and striving for daily survival  32  V41 - Women and good governance
 14  V16 - Women and girls, lifelong education and training  33  V45 - The power of stories and of intergenerational transmission to inspire change
15   V18 - Key position for women at all power and decision levels  34  V46 - Women, digital divides and internet governance
 16  V19 - Women and human rights  35  V47 - Women and migration
17   V20 - Women and democracy, societal priority for the future  36  V48 - Women's empowerment
 18  V21 - Women, research, science and technology  37  V51 - Women, creative and collaborative solidarity
 19  V23 - Women and gender equality    

(VI) The Millennia2025 "Women and Innovation" Foundation: for donations please check our bank account or by PayPal, all the details are online: www.millennia2015.org/millennia2025_foundation

(VII) www.millennia2015.org

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