Bogalusa woman makes presentation at UN

Published 10:59 pm Saturday, March 30, 2013

Emma Dixon, currently busy planning a local Earth Day celebration, is also founder and president of the Bogalusa-based Louisiana Community Reinvestment Coalition.

As LCRC president, she recently participated in a panel on “Economic Empowerment as a Possible Protection Against Violence Against Women” in conjunction with the 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meetings in New York.

The session, presented by the Rural Development Leadership Network, was held on International Women’s Day, March 8, at the Church Center for the United Nations. The panel was one of a series of events held by Non-Governmental Organizations during the meeting of government representatives at the UN. The overall theme of the CSW meeting was the “Elimination and Prevention of all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls.”

Dixon said such high-level participation is educational.

“One of the most significant things for me is learning the experiences of women from around the world and the similarities to real issues all women face, including women here in Bogalusa,” she said. “Since this panel participation was my third, I participated in 2006 right after Katrina and in 2009 immediately before moving back home to Bogalusa in the middle of the banking financial crisis, I have garnered a more informed world view of women’s issues.

“In particular, most women face the challenge of economic survival and rural women are affected the most. Economic empowerment affords women the opportunity to make new and real choices for their families and children. Avoid violence is one of them. Most recently, the Daily News ran an article on the parish 10 percent unemployment rate, which is as high as the state’s unemployment rate. Also, as we know, education is one of the top ways persons and families may move from poverty and become empowered economically.

“Now, as we highlight the focus on improving education in Bogalusa, we recognize this is key in improving the economic outlook for our future. This is one factor that may change the equation of ongoing poverty in low-income and rural communities and promote economic prosperity in our community in Bogalusa.”

The LCRC mission is to help community members gain greater access to credit and capital for affordable housing, micro- and small business development and poverty reduction through asset and wealth building, Dixon said. It also does organizing, advocacy and policy work related to the issues of credit and capital.

The organization’s funding supporters include the Twenty-first Century Fund, the Ford Foundation and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. The group is also preparing a series of title assistance and succession planning workshops in collaboration with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.

Dixon’s statement to the CSW panel highlighted asset building as a mechanism for escaping violence to women. The processes of asset building include but are not limited to education, homeownership, small and micro business development, individual development accounts and general access to credit and capital, she said.

On the topic of education as an inroad to preventing violence against women and girls, Dixon spoke on “What Price a Girl’s Life?” a publication of the Partnership for Global Justice on the story of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban in 2013 for promoting education for female children.

Dixon also discussed advocacy for creating new micro lending policy practices for lending with the World Bank to other countries. She emphasized the large number of Rwandan women in Parliament who create and change policy.

Dixon also spoke on the importance of community-based credit unions, community development financial institutions, noting with others on the panel that economic independence may make it more possible for an abused woman to leave a violent situation.

The panelists’ statements were followed by dialogue with women who were in attendance from around the world. Representatives from the Netherlands, Ethiopia, Camaroon, Japan, North America and numerous European countries joined the dialogue with the RDLN participants, speaking from the experience of their own countries, cultures, and organizations.

The other participants on the RDLN panel were Meredith McGee, a business owner and author from Mississippi, who spoke about the advantages and realities of entrepreneurship; Joan Lucas of the Belize Rural Women’s Association, who emphasized that even well-to-do women could be subject to domestic violence; Jacqueline Childress of the Southwest Georgia Project, who described niche farming and value-added processing led by women, and Mily Treviño-Sauceda, President of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, a new national organization of farmworker women’s groups, who spoke about the economic exploitation of farmworker women and their vulnerability to violence in the home and in the workplace.

Dixon previously worked as Wealth Divide Outreach Coordinator for United for Fair Economy, a Boston national non-profit, and as Louisiana State Organizer for Preserve the Estate Tax issue. She co-authored UFE’s annual MLK State of the Dream reports for two years, and her op-ed ‘Simply Blown Away’ was published for the Katrina anniversary commemoration.

She participated in the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict, and Courage Executive Leadership Program and has been a featured guest on national talk radio programs.

Now, she’s committed to Bogalusa.

“In the future, I hope to take a group of high school girls from Bogalusa to the United Nations, Commission on the Status of Women and broaden their outlook and experiences,” Dixon said. “I think the experience may heighten their cultural, economic, and social awareness. When these students bring their experiences back to Bogalusa it may enhance their contribution to making a better community.”

To get involved with the Earth Day activities or for additional information, contact Dixon at 735-8035 or online at