Black and Pink Ball 2009

by Anis Salvesen

 Pink light bathed the building where the Black and Pink Ball was being held, a beacon in the darkness surrounding it. A pink, glittery carpet greeted one at the entrance, and there was a certain buzz in the air. Once inside, the giant open space that was an industrial conversion made one momentarily disoriented.

Swirling all about were chic-looking young people, cocktails in hand. They all could have easily been out on the town, enjoying the warm (okay, “less cold than usual”) Friday night. But instead they were at the ball, milling about the Auction table, choosing an item on which to bid.

My favorite part of the atmosphere, besides the great live music, was the fact that there were screens around the dance floor with mind-blowing statistics. At first it was a little strange to sit there drinking your cocktail while reading on a screen that women in India spend a ridiculous part of their day collecting water. But then you realized that by attending the event, by buying a ticket, you were not actually standing about pointlessly. You were taking action, taking time to focus on important issues. We have so much information being thrown at us every day (news stories, links sent by friends, endless ads), that it’s sometimes necessary to take a moment and re-focus on what matters to us.

 It’s true that attending the event was not equivalent to actually traveling to an impoverished country and physically helping people with say getting access to water. But instead of being out and about with our usual gang of chums, all of us attending were consciously focusing our attention on some of the world’s great issues and their impact on women – issues like lack of water, lack of access to health providers and medicines, poverty. Did you know, for example that although women do 2/3 of the world’s labor, they own only 1% of the world’s assets?

Attending the ball also galvanized me to learn more, to do something more to address the plight of women around the world. For example, I was struck by the statistic on Indian women spending so much time collecting water. I therefore did some research of my own and found that women in Africa spend 40 BILLION hours a year collecting water!! That’s forty billion hours doing what any American child can accomplish simply by opening the tap!

In addition to choosing from one of UniversalGiving’s 45 gift packages or 29 volunteer opportunities which improve the lives of women all over the world, I plan to join Spark, the organization “celebrating women who ignite global change.” The Pink and Black Ball is just one of the many events Spark hosts over the year. Since it was established in 2004, Spark has accomplished all sorts of great things, like sending 1,800 girls in Zimbabwe to school. In its first three years, Spark, relying directly on its members for 75% of its funding, raised over $250,000 for grassroots women’s organizations in Rwanda, Mexico, Bangladesh, Jordan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and San Francisco.

 I had a great evening, and I came away newly-excited about women’s issues. Thanks for reading this blog post, and I’ll see some of you at the Black and Pink Ball next year!

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