Productive Sisterhood – Enhancing international ties

By Ranjani Shanker

When I first heard about sister cities, my first reaction was “WOW!” It sounded so exciting and as I tried to understand more, I saw this fabulous concept to be so global in nature and yet so local in flavor!  Truly glocal 🙂

As defined by the Sister Cities International, “a sister city, county or state relationship is a broad-based, officially approved, long-term partnership between two communities, counties or states in two countries.  A sister city, county or state relationship becomes official with a signing ceremony of the top-elected officials of the two local jurisdictions, following approval by the local city councils  (county commissions or state legislatures), as appropriate.”

It is amazing how these partnerships have limitless possibilities of diverse activities, and encompasses municipal, business, professional, education or cultural events or projects.  The concept aims at combining the influential, powerful and community driven energy generated by three main sectors of any city – local government, businesses and non-profits!

San Francisco has definitely been a forerunner in establishing these sister-city partnerships in 17 countries across the world, starting as early as 1957 with Osaka, Japan and has continued over the years to establish relationships with Manila, Sydney, Bangalore, Shangai etc.  The most recent sister we have is Amman, Jordan!  I love how San Francisco is so internationally embracing and has an inbuilt culture to develop friendships that benefit individuals, communities, cities, countries and the world on the whole.

We at UniversalGiving are committed to identifying such initiatives not only because we are currently supporting organizations and projects in our sister cities but also because we LOVE San Francisco!  We have multiple projects and organizations who we partner with and feature, in the countries where SF fosters sister-city partnerships.  For instance, In Caracas, Venezuela we have an organization called ACCION International that provides people with financial tools such as microenterprise loans and business training to work their way out of poverty.  So we are steadily supporting the development our lesser-privileged sisters and brothers and by the looks of it, we are poised for growth in that direction!

The Sister City concept has drawn its share of flak over the years for showing minimal economic development as part of the arrangement.  As I see it, developing nations have a recurring problem of seeing their rich getting richer and their poor getting poorer, which can be addressed through these partnerships.  To provide opportunities to the lesser privileged, it would be wonderful to see non-profits and the government hold hands in these cities to find newer avenues of growth and development.

Everyone yearns for family and at UniversalGiving, we are always looking to expand ours!


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