MEET AILCE BOUMAN-DENTENER
Every week we meet up with inspiring people and we talk to them about issues that play a role in the world of MARIE-STELLA MARIS. This week we talk to Alice Bouman-Dentener, President of Women for Water Partnership. After a warm welcome at her home in The Hague, she speaks frankly and passionately about what makes her tick.
What is it that you do?
\"Originally I am a biologist. Development is my passion. What features are innate and which are learned? And how do social processes develop? That's something that really intrigues me, something I really like. It has always fascinated me, and I have always dedicated myself to this subject. Currently I’m President of the Women for Water Partnership. This is a global social network of women's organizations.\"
What is the main strength of Women For Water Partnership?
\"True Cooperation: our diverse knowledge and expertise is committed to reducing poverty. We encourage empowerment of local women's groups. We do this within the social context of a community, with respect for tradition and for the different roles that men and women play.\"
\"Water is an ideal way to empower women, because traditionally women are the water carriers in developing countries. They are the ones that supply the community with water. By giving women the possibility to develop projects related to water in their own community, you give them strength. This in turn breeds respect, which increases their confidence. Eventually they develop from water carriers to water managers.\"
What characterizes you?
\"I am a pioneer. I enjoy building things from scratch. I have the ability to glue things together and to connect people. I’m also an idealist, but a pragmatic one. ‘all talk but no walk’ is not how I work. We must all act together, and make the world a better place. I can bring people together and inspire them to take action.\"
WHAT ROLE DO THE FOLLOWING THEMES PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?
\"When it comes to poverty, if you really ask what people want, the answer is water. Because water is life, it is the base. In addition, it is the means to start local development. Both individual and communal development.\"
\"Sharing is collaboration. The difference between giving and sharing is that with sharing, you consider the other as equal. And that’s why I think the principle of 'sharing water' is so beautiful. Because it implies equality. We realize that the water is not ours alone. It's something nature gives us. And we realize that we have a responsibility to share. Mankind is a social species and we share intuitively.\"
\"Sharing also enables people to manage their own development. Because you can’t truly develop people. People develop themselves. If you can support this process, you’re actually sharing.\"
\"I honestly think that we have the earth on loan. That we have a responsibility to clean up after ourselves. But we cannot do this alone. Water is a unifying element. And I believe in the binding force of those women around the world.\"
\"Women are often victimized. They need a safe environment to discuss their predicaments and bring out their inner strength. Providing their communities with water is an effective empowerment tool. It gives women strength and allows them to grow and develop.\"
\"My father always used to say, \"It is OK to be proud, but do not think you are better than others. You are actually the lesser person if you do not use your talents to the fullest. You have an obligation to do something with what you have been given. You should have faith in your empowerment. Then you can grow. Then you can contribute.\"
\"I have no interest in power, money or fashion. I’m interested in people and the connecting of people. The real thrill that drives me, lies in ensuring that people have water. Or, it lies in ensuring that people can provide for themselves. In English it is expressed quite beautifully: \"Sharing water is celebrating life.\"
Incense pots of women in the Siwa Oasis in Egypt.
The main focus in your life?
\"Development in the broadest sense. That of my own children, my direct environment, but also on a global scale. It seems abstract, but it’s actually very practical. We are continually developing. New lessons arise daily. Fascinating processes to which we as individuals can make a small contribution.\"
Where would you like to contribute most?
\"To the quality of life on our planet and a good and healthy life for all. To sustainable development so to speak. Each and every day.\"
Who inspires you and why?
\"Many things inspire me. It depends entirely on the situation. I can be inspired by a beautiful piece of music or a beautiful part of nature, but also by visiting one of our member organizations. Discussions at the kitchen table with my husband and our grown-up sons are an enduring source of inspiration.\"
Cushion with dancing women: \"A reminder of our work with women in Africa where dancing together was the completion of our work conferences.\"
The spirituality of water: \"A Christmas gift from a dear friend who played a founding role in the Women for Water Partnership.\"
Authentic harvest mask from northern Tanzania. \"For me this symbolizes the relationship between water and food.\"