World Trade Organization group records "One Woman" anthem for Int'l Women's Day

In January, 2018, I was surprised - and thrilled - to receive an email from a woman at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland asking if she and her colleagues could do their own recording of “One Woman,” the anthem I co-wrote for UN Women.

My answer was a resounding “Yes!”

Front row, left to right: Cyril Cottereau (voice), Ninez Piezas-Jerbi (voice), Sroda Bedarida (voice),Helen Favez (voice), Sheila Coyle (voice). Back row, left to right: Steve Tanner (electric guitar), Majda Petschen (flute), Hannu Wager (bass guitar).

Front row, left to right: Cyril Cottereau (voice), Ninez Piezas-Jerbi (voice), Sroda Bedarida (voice),Helen Favez (voice), Sheila Coyle (voice).
Back row, left to right: Steve Tanner (electric guitar), Majda Petschen (flute), Hannu Wager (bass guitar).

And a little more than one year later, they did it. Recorded their own instrumental tracks, vocal tracks, produced a video - the whole shebang. And shared it, in-house, on International Women’s Day.

I asked her Ninez Piezas-Jerbi about the “making of” their song. By day, Ninez is a Senior Statistician, WTO Gender Network advocate, and the WTO Employee Networks coordinator. By night and weekend, she made “One Woman” come to life. We both hope this will inspire others to create their song so they can feel the joy and power when we sing together.

Beth Blatt (founder Hope Sings): Where did you get the idea to do your own in-house recording on “One Woman”?

Ninez: I got the idea during our preparation for International Women’s Day 2018.  After listening to the song again, I said to myself, “Why not see if our in-house musicians could do this, too?”  If we could pull it off, perhaps other international organizations could do the same!”  We had an amateur rock band at the WTO and a makeshift recording studio as well.  We could rehearse there and see if there was money to buy us a few hours to record the song in a proper studio.  For a long time now, I had been trying to find a way for us, WTO staff, to do something symbolic for Women’s Day and in our own unique way.  With our love for music at  the WTO, this was how we could do it.

So that’s what we did.  With the money entrusted to me as volunteer WTO Employee Networks coordinator, I bought 3-hours of recording time one Saturday afternoon in April 2018 in the cheapest recording studio we could find in Geneva.  We had a few volunteer musicians:  2 guitarists, a drummer, 3 female and 1 male vocalist - all of us sacrificing our weekend to do this song.  Lucky for us, too, our male vocalist did sound engineering as a hobby.  He had just been hired by the WTO on a short-term contract. Given our limited funds, we were so happy we could use him to help us edit our recording. 

Beth: What it was like in the studio to sing and edit? How did you feel before and after? 

Ninez: It was an experience to sing in a recording studio!  The special microphones for vocalists especially amplified our voices, we sounded like real recording artists!  It felt awesome!  As for the editing, given our work schedules, this was the difficult part.  It took a while for us to figure out how to make our sound better.  Some parts were not in the right tempo, some were out of tune and some needed more volume. Our volunteer sound engineer colleague had a lot of editing to do!  Moreover, his short-term contract ran out that he had to leave the WTO and Geneva!  After corresponding by email, though, he finally got the sound track finished in December 2018.  It was such a great Christmas gift to hear the final version! 

My next problem was getting the video done.  We didn’t have the money to get a proper videographer, so I had to do it myself.  I’m not a particularly great video editor, but I manage.  I had to learn, however, a new video editing software.  In the end, it took me 4 weekends to get it done, just in time for Women’s Day 2019!  It was really a labor of love because the video was the only way I could show off the hard work my colleagues and I put into the recording.  It’s not an official video of our organization, but just a symbolic gesture of support from some of the people who work there.

Beth: What a labor of love! Are you glad you went through it?

Ninez: What a rewarding experience it was!  For us colleagues who don’t normally work together, it was a great bonding experience and opportunity to use our love for music and do something meaningful together.  To highlight the end of our WTO International Women’s Day 2019 celebration, we were asked to sing the song live in our Atrium.  As we were singing, I really felt the support of colleaguesfor the hard work we had done to create this positive moment.  They all knew we were amateur musicians who only came together to sing this one song.  They especially got out of their offices to listen to us and give a supportive applause.  It was so touching!  It created such a positive moment for us all, especially when many joined in singing that last “Shine, Shine, Shine”!

Recording April 2018.PNG

From left to right: Ninez Piezas-Jerbi (voice), Steve Tanner (electric guitar), Majda Petschen (flute), Beatriz Alvarez Castillo (voice), Isabel Calderon (voice), Hannu Wager (bass and acoustic guitars), Lilo Prizzi (percussion), and Kivanc Inal (voice, sound).

International Women's Day 2017

It's hard to believe it was four years ago that we released the recording of "One Woman" - the anthem Hope Sings created for UN Women - at the United Nations on International Women's Day.

Since then, the song has been heard by almost 1.2 million people on-line - plus who knows how many people live, in-person. Every year, women's groups and singing ensembles ask to perform the song, and we are thrilled when they do.

Since 2013, the song has been recorded in Chinese, Arabic and in a Japanese karaoke version. And this year,  the National Orchestra of Chile, led by conductor Alejandra Urrutia, will perform a symphonic version of "One Woman" (arrangement by Ignacio Perez) in honor of UN Women's HeForShe Arts Week.

Today, it is with a deep sense of gratitude that I acknowledge all the collaborators who allowed myself and Hope Sings to do the work that gives us our purpose and joy: creating songs inspired by success stories from organizations/causes that help women and children, songs that inspire people to support this great work.

I want to thank the composers, Graham Lyle and Fahan Hassan, and to our producer, Jerry Boys. Thanks to the people from UN Women who took a leap of faith - Michelle Bachelet, Nanette Braun, Jeca Taudte, Jaya Jiwatram and so many others. Thanks to Microsoft for the financial and technical support - Orlando Ayala, Oriana Spaulding, Alethea Lodge-Clarke.

And thanks to the amazing artists from all around this world who donated their time and talent - Ana Bacalhau (Portugal), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Anoushka Shankar (India), Bassekou Kouyate (Mali), Bebel Gilberto (Brazil), Brian Finnegan (Ireland), Buika (Spain), Charice (Philippines), Cherine Amr (Egypt), Emeline Michel (Haiti), Jim Diamond, Keith Murrell, Lance Ellington (England), Idan Raichel (Israel), Jane Zhang (China), Maria Friedman (England), Marta Gomez (Colombia), Meklit Hadero (Ethiopia), Rokia Traore (Mali), Vanessa Quai (Vanuatu), Ximena Sarinana and Yuna (Malaysia).

I thank the inspiration that came to me on a playground in New York City (video of the origin story here). 

Most of all, thanks to all the women who inspire me every day, at home and around the world. To you, I say - Shine, Shine, Shine.

One Woman

In Kigali, she wakes up,
She makes a choice,
In Hanoi, Natal, Ramallah.
In Tangier, she takes a breath,
Lifts up her voice,
In Lahore, La Paz, Kampala.
Though she's half a world away
Something in me wants to say ...

We are One Woman,
You cry and I hear you.
We are One Woman,
You hurt, and I hurt, too.
We are One Woman,
Your hopes are mine.
We shall shine.

In Juarez she speaks the truth,
She reaches out,
Then teaches others how to.
In Jaipur, she gives her name,
She lives without shame
In Manila, Salta, Embu.
Though we're different as can be,
We're connected, she with me

We are One Woman,
Your courage keeps me strong.
We are One Woman,
You sing, I sing along.
We are One Woman,
Your dreams are mine.
And we shall shine.
We shall shine.

And one man, he hears her voice.
And one man, he fights her fight.
Day by day, he lets go the old ways,
One Woman at a time.
Though she's half a world away,
Something in me wants to say.

We are One Woman,
Your victories lift us all.
We are One Woman,
You rise and I stand tall.
We are One Woman,
Your world is mine
And we shall shine.
Shine, shine, shine.
We shall shine
Shine, shine, shine.
We shall shine.
Shine, shine, shine.

For you Spanish speakers, readers - with subtitles!

One small thing you can do to support women today is support the work of UN Women by   buying a download at Amazon or iTunes (One Woman: A Song for UN Women).

What's the biggest growth market in the world?

According to Hillary Clinton, WOMEN

The speech she made yesterday in honor of International Womens' Day is chock full of what I find extremely heartening info. Programs that help female entrepreneurs around the world - which we at Hope Sings, of course, love. See my bolds below. All you social entrepreneurs, take note of conferences and training opps.

Sure, there's lots of disheartening data, too. But I'm a glass half full person. Remember: Hope Sings.

One of the biggest growth markets in the world may surprise you. You’ve heard about the opportunities opening up in countries like China, regions like Asia and industries like green technology. But one major emerging market hasn’t received the attention it deserves: women.
    Today, there are more than 200 million women entrepreneurs worldwide. Women earn more than $10 trillion every year, which is expected to grow by $5 trillion over the next several years. In many developing countries, women’s incomes are growing faster than men’s.
    Facts such as these should persuade governments and business leaders worldwide to see investing in women as a strategy for job creation and economic growth. Many are doing so. Yet the pool of talented women is underutilized, underpaid and underrepresented in business and society.
    Throughout the world, women do two-thirds of the work, yet they earn just one-third of the income and own less than 2 percent of the land. Three billion people don’t have access to basic financial services we take for granted, like bank accounts and lines of credit; the majority of them are women.
    Certainly we are seeing the impact of excluding women in the Middle East, where the lack of their access to education and business has hampered economic development and helped lead to
social unrest.

                         Ripple Effect

    If we invest in women’s education and give them the opportunity to access credit or start a small business, we add fuel to a powerful engine for progress for women, their families, their communities and their countries. Women invest up to 90 percent of their incomes on their families and in their communities.
    When women have equal access to education and health care and the freedom to start businesses, the economic, political and social benefits ripple out far beyond their own home.
    At the State Department, we are supporting women worldwide as a critical element of U.S. foreign policy. We are incorporating women’s entrepreneurship into our international economic agenda and promoting women’s access to markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Pathways to Prosperity Initiative and women’s entrepreneurship conferences.
    The U.S. is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum 2011 to help foster growth and increase opportunities for women throughout the region. We are working with the private sector to provide grants to local non-governmental organizations around the world that are dedicated to women and girls.

                       Closing the Gap

    We are encouraging governments and the private sector to use the tools at their disposal to provide credit, banking and insurance services to more women. Through our mWomen initiative, we will begin to close the gender gap in access to mobile technology, which will improve health care, literacy, education and economic potential.
    This is a central focus of my diplomatic outreach. Wherever I go around the world, I meet with governments, international organizations and civic groups to talk about economic policies that will help their countries grow by expanding women’s access to jobs and finance.
    Many powerful U.S. businesses have embraced this mission as their own. ExxonMobil Corp. is training women entrepreneurs to help them advocate for policies to create more opportunities. Coca-Cola Co. has issued an ambitious challenge in its “5 by 20” program to empower and train 5 million new women
entrepreneurs across the globe by 2020.

                       Improving Access

    Goldman Sachs Group Inc. started the “10,000 Women” initiative to open the door for women who would not otherwise have access to a business education. Ernst & Young is tapping into the productive potential of women with its “Winning Women” program to help female entrepreneurs learn growth
strategies from some of the most successful leaders in the U.S. Companies all over the world are committed to increasing productivity, driving economic growth and harnessing the power of emerging markets through greater diversity.
    As Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank said, “gender equality is smart economics.”
    Governments are passing laws that support women’s economic empowerment and building awareness of women’s rights. Botswana lifted restrictions on the industries in which women can work,
for example. Morocco now allows women to start businesses and get jobs without their husbands’ approval. Bolivia began a land titling effort to recognize that women and men have equal rights
to own property.

                   Astonishing Achievements

    This week, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It’s an occasion for honoring the achievements of women. Without question, the past century has brought astonishing progress, by just about every measure, in women’s health, their economic opportunities, political power
and more. Today, women are leaders in every field.
    Never in history have there been so many forces working together for gender equity.
    But International Women’s Day is also an occasion for recognizing how much more needs to be done to support women and girls worldwide. I encourage everyone reading this to reflect on what you and your friends can do to support women -- to put words and ideas into action.
    If we decide -- as societies, governments and businesses -- to invest in women and girls, we will strengthen our efforts to fight poverty, drive development and spread stability. When women thrive, families, communities and countries thrive -- and the world becomes more peaceful and prosperous.