Saturday, May 14

Thoughts on Women and Power

Riham Helmy, Vital Voices participant from Egypt, with Sherry Schiller

Last week I had the pleasure of working with two amazing groups of women through Vital Voices. One group is composed of 26 dynamic entrepreneurs from developing countries, in DC for a partnership of Vital Voices, the US State Department, and Fortune the Most Powerful Women.

I had the opportunity to lead seminars with these inspiring women for two days, including a session on shaping organizational cultures and leading change. It’s always so interesting how universally applicable my work is on organizational culture and leading change. The participants came from different continents and different industries. Their organizations ranged in size and age. And yet they all had experienced connective and disconnective cultures, and were grateful to learn a model to understand and shape culture. Similarly, our work around leading change was built on strategies to create greater purpose and harmony. They found these strategies practical and insightful, whether they were going to apply them in a manufacturing company in China or a micro-enterprise in Haiti.

All of these women are multi-talented, courageous, and dedicated to improving their communities and countries. One of our participants, Thembe Sachikonye, is engaged in the first independent news reporting and commentary in her country, Zimbabwe. I think you’ll be fascinated by the newspaper article she published about her experiences here last week. Thoughts On Women and Power” by Thembe Sachikonye, News Day – Zimbabwe (excerpt). Click on the article title link for her complete story.


Thoughts on Women and Power

At the beginning of this week I sat in Washington DC, in a room with 25 emerging women leaders between the ages of 25 and 45, from countries all across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, who are participating in the Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Without exception each woman appeared in some way to be a change agent, often going where others had not gone before, and taking risks that required courage and commitment to achieve uncommon goals.

Vital Voices Global Partnership is an NGO that identifies trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe, enabling them to make use of their potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities.

By equipping women with management, business development, marketing and communication skills, the partnership helps women to expand their enterprises, provide for their families and create jobs in their communities.

Thinking about it later, I realized that the leadership potential, the resolve and the intelligence and education I witnessed in that room were not unique to this space and this time.

In each of the countries represented by these women, there are 25 others, 250 others, 2 500 others and many more who, while they may not be in one room at the same time, are still as capable and effective as the ones congregated in Washington.

They too are agents of change, pioneers, trailblazers and icons of empowerment. What do all of these women have in common?

Let me know what you think about these issues.

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