Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Next Generation of Young Female Leaders: Confident, In Control, and Visionary

“Many change agents focus on pathology. Instead, one must focus on vision.”
                                                                                                                                -Gail Straub

 Gail Straub, co-founder of the Empowerment Institute, held an eye-opening and profound leadership workshop with nine global scholars from Korea, Egypt, India, Afghanistan, Indonesia, South Africa, the United States, and Austria from September 17-19, 2012. Organized in advance of the launch of the Omega Institute’s new Women’s Leadership Center during the 2012 Women &Power conference near Rhinebeck, NY, Gail’s workshop imparted the tools and skills necessary to allow these dedicated young women to explore their own leadership styles and to identify the next steps for growth and empowerment.

The commonalities between the issues these women from around the world say they face are striking: across the board, the global scholars indicated that they needed help with boosting their own self-confidence, “owning” their achievements, finding a “mirror” to be able to accurately assess their efficacy as a leader, finding a balance between masculine and feminine as well as head-driven and heart-driven leadership styles, and being able to trust others. Although the women work in extremely diverse fields, including with female inmates in the United States, with sex workers in India, in interfaith and women’s empowerment projects in Indonesia, and in building shelters for women in Afghanistan,  they faced similar challenges in being able to fully claim and flourish in their leadership potential.

Gail helped the group to identify their own personal “limiting beliefs,” such as “In order to trust someone else I have to give up control,” and to redefine these beliefs to create achievable visions. She pointed out that most change agents focus on pathology—that is to say, they focus their attention on identifying and defining problems, which tends to cause the problem to grow and to limit an individual’s ability to find solutions to the problem. Instead, Gail encourages young leaders to focus on their vision—and the solution to the problem will follow.

Azza, from Egypt, has the following vision: “I want to be in control of my life—I want to get in the boat of life and guide the boat, not let the boat be guided by the waves.” Hyung Kyun, from South Korea, wants to “harvest the abundance of life.”
On September 22, Gail interviewed Azza, Samu (from South Africa), Manizha (from Afghanistan), and Tejaswi (from India) on stage at the Women & Power conference. These courageous young leaders got a standing ovation from the crowd as they shared their life experiences and hopes for their own future as well as for the futures of women in their communities. It is female leaders like these with whom SAVE liaises around the world to find new and sustainable ways of combating violent extremism, through the targeted and responsible inclusion of women in the security sphere.

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