Committee session started off with all 14 NGOs joining hands in an effort to end violence against women. The debate focused on cases of assault, especially sexual assault, and also included discussion about how it could be prevented. Women For Women International suggested self-defense training, whereas WASH United believed in prosecuting the men who commit the crimes, as in third world countries like Pakistan and India, often criminals are not held accountable for their actions. Areas where war prevails are often areas where crimes and cases go unnoticed, because in the midst of all the turmoil and conflict, women are either ignored or caught up in other issues like poverty and homelessness. Educate A Child suggested focusing on these areas; Save The Children seconded this by stressing on greater security in these areas.
However, crisis broke out when Bill Gates, creator of Microsoft and owner of the GATES Foundation, or more popularly known as “the richest man in the world”, passed away mysteriously in an airplane crash. After receiving this news via The Washington Post, the main emotion expressed by all of the NGOs was sorrow.
This sorrow did not last long though as it was almost immediately kindled into a raging fire when GATES Foundation announced that with the turmoil following the demise of Bill Gates, it would withdraw funding from all NGOs placed in America. GATES Foundation made the following statement: “We are not ‘withdrawing funds’ but are simply steering our direction of funding to foreign NGOs so that they too might have a chance to work for betterment”.
Important to note is that while all NGOs in committee session are on an equal level, in terms of input and the effect they can have on resolutions; out of committee, things are a little different. Some NGOs, such as Save The Children, have been working for a longer time to achieve their respective goals than GATES Foundation has. But it is GATES Foundation that remains the largest NGO with the most funds available, due primarily to the wealth in the hands of Bill Gates. It is for this reason that it is also the NGO that extends help to other, smaller NGOs.
Stung by the injustice of the situation and brought into a near-panic by the possible adverse effects this decision would have on their respective organizations, all NGOs rose up in protest against the measure. Some came out in open opposition; Educate A Child was the first to call out on GATES Foundation for its “ignorant mistake”. This was closely followed by CARE, which was clear-cut in its statement that if GATES Foundation chose to go through with the measure, CARE would remove all Microsoft products from its headquarters and would start a social media campaign titled “Boycott Gates”. Debate heated up when MAMTA added fuel to the fire by presenting the valid question of how CARE would use social media if it boycotted Microsoft products, as Microsoft is the world’s most popular, most well-known, and most widely used software system.
Women For Women International attempted to calm the argument by reminding all NGOs “to work together on the issue at hand”. Save The Children proposed to GATES Foundation that all NGOs needed to work together to “end the suffering of women and children”. GATES Foundation’s response was rather lofty, stating that it would like to remind Save The Children that “it is actually GATES Foundation that saves the children, not Save The Children”. Save The Children came with an immediate backlash by saying that in terms of longevity, GATES Foundation is “an infant in comparison to Save The Children” as it has existed for a far shorter amount of time. The fire was put out by MAMTA’s passionate words: “There is already a war going on in this world; we do not need one in between the NGOs”. Women For Women International seemed to be playing the role of peacemaker and seconded MAMTA on its statement and with that, debate about violence against women resumed.
It should not be forgotten that while GATES Foundation may have abandoned its quest to fund all American-placed NGOs, it is still an international organization and will be extending help to other bodies across the world. As per the delegate of GATES Foundation, “We have not abandoned our international plans just because funding has stopped in one area”. It is obvious that the withdrawal of funds will pose a serious blow to the smaller NGOs that rely heavily on the aid of GATES Foundation. However, these NGOs took the news in their stride and vowed to work harder. Save The Children, in particular, “believes in all exhausting all measures to raise funds to achieve its goals”. Whether or not the GATES Foundation chooses to carry through with stopping funding for American-placed NGOs or revoke its decision, due to the unfavorable response from the 13 other NGOs, is still undecided.