I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.
Activist & Nobel laureate
Source: The Bravest Girl in the World
Photo by: Antonio Olmos
1. I believe in the potency of global female empowerment as a means to shift the world for all of us because we’re all interconnected. None of us can be left behind in the advancement of humanity as a whole.
At any given location on the planet (yet especially in the developing world), women are being oppressed, silenced, and abused at staggering rates:
- “Women make up half the world’s population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world’s poor.” (Global Poverty Project)
- One in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. (un.org)
- There are approximately 21 million (forced labor and sex) slaves alive today – more than at any point in history and 55 percent are women. (ilo.org)
- There are approximately 781 million illiterate adults in the developing world. Two thirds are women… That’s 496 million women who cannot read. (World’s Women 2015 report)
- Every day, nearly 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. (who.int)
If you consider the actual impact of the above statistics on humanity, you’ll see that the effects far exceed just women:
- If every Ethiopian girl finished school it would add almost US$4 billion to the country’s economy.
- If young Nigerian women had the same employment rates as young men, the country would add US$13.9 billion to its annual GDP.
- If adolescent pregnancy was delayed in India, it would add US$767 billion in potential lifetime income. (girleffect.org)
So, if we are interconnected to everyone and everything then, it follows, that what we do has a veritable, direct influence on the whole. Our actions are not impactless; they create unseen ripples that touch the rest of our world, whether we are aware of it or not.
If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.
Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Source and Credit: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Samar Jodha
2. I believe in alchemy. Not in the obscure, over-used context of turning actual lead into gold. To me, the ‘lead into gold’ is a mere metaphor for what happens when we begin to create solutions out of our problems and inspired creativity out of our suffering.
‘Alchemy’ according to:
“A seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.”
“Any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance,usually of little value, into a substance of great value.”
“A power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.”
I view alchemy as a basic principle found in all layers of nature. The very nature of nature is alchemy because life itself is always shifting, morphing, transmuting, and changing to become more elevated and more efficient.
Any transformational process is alchemy. Anytime something or someone goes from one state to another more elevated state – alchemy is present.
I am inspired and moved to be a catalyst in transforming what’s disempowered, disenfranchised, voiceless, and disconnected into what’s empowered, inspired, connected and fully realized.
The most powerful way I know to do this on the most efficient scale is to focus on supporting women from both the East and the West in finding their voice and their power because when they do, their light overflows out into their children’s lives, their families, and their communities.
This creates ripples of transformation that span every vertical and horizontal spectrum.
Empower 1 woman > 1 child > 1 village > 1 community > 1 country > humanity
While politics do not interest me, I certainly resonate and agree with these specific words:
The role and rights of women, their freedom and equality and dignity, is the unfinished business of the 21st century.
Former US Secretary of State
Although by the world’s standards I grew up in a privileged environment, the outside could not see what was going on within. The women in my family were largely disempowered and the dynamic was extremely patriarchal, as is the case in a lot of families, especially from developing nations.
Growing up, I was very disenfranchised and I felt not only like my voice did not matter, but that it was wrong of me to use it. Anything I sought to do that was beyond the norm was either laughed at or ridiculed. The men in my family ruled and made the decisions that impacted the whole. We, the women, had to go along with it without question or rebuttal. We were expected to play out supportive roles instead of leadership ones.
This is why I resonate so much with other women’s shared similar circumstances. What I see going on in the Eastern regions of the world (and in developing countries overall) is a physical manifestation of my internal journey.. physically represents what I felt growing up. This is why I’m so inspired to support them… Because by supporting them I am supporting myself and also opening up the space for women everywhere to be able to rise up and own their inherent power as well.
When I first heard these words I got an electric shock up my spine and goosebumps all over my body:
The world will be saved by the Western woman
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
I had an instant knowing that this was my call to arms because in many respects, I’ve been so blessed in my life. The ‘western woman’ represents the educated and resource-rich side of the Feminine. We are literate. We have specialized knowledge. We have access to technology and other tools that can create big impact. I believe it is our duty and responsibility to pay that forward and to harness our natural-given talents, passions, and expertise in service of raising up the whole.
We, as Americans, have won the lottery of life and the distinction between us and people living in developing countries is not that we are smarter, not that we’re harder working, not that we’re more virtuous — it’s that we’re luckier.
Award-winning journalist & co-author of “Half The Sky”
I’m collaborating with READ Global*, an organization with operations in Nepal, Bhutan, and India.
READ focuses on empowering rural regions by bringing together education, enterprise, and community development to create lasting change in South Asia. They partner with villages to build Community Library and Resource Centers (READ Centers) that include a fully stocked library and computer room, as well as programs on topics ranging from literacy and women’s empowerment to livelihood skills and health education. Each READ Center is paired with a for-profit enterprise that generates income to sustain the center in the long run.
Via The Metamorphosis Project, we’re raising funds for women’s resources and empowerment programs at the Badhikel READ Center in Nepal.
En Via is a Mexican non-profit organization committed to supporting social and community development through the combination of three main programs: microfinance, responsible tourism, and education.
Their micro loan program gives women the opportunity to create or expand small businesses empowering them to better provide for themselves and their families. Their educational programs impart women with the knowledge they need to make better decisions regarding their businesses, personal finances, and use of loans. Their tourism model allows them to leverage the resources from tourism and direct them sustainably into communities, while connecting people to the ideas, strength and power of women working hard to improve their future.
Through a collaboration with En Via I travelled to Oaxaca, Mexico, where I spent ten days training over 85 micro-entrepreurial women via 1:1 private consults and group workshops.
These resourceful and driven women inspired me with their resilience and strength as well as with an admirable willingness to learn and leverage their understanding of themselves and their businesses in order to better provide for their families and empower their communities. I will never forget their smiles.