I remember how moved I was when I first read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The book has been called “a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world” and I was struck by powerful story after story of violence and other forms of oppression against women. The book is a call to action, and I believe it has indeed inspired much activity on behalf of women and girls. As I recently wrote in my newsletter, the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools puts on institutes and conferences for people addressing the issue to come together and share in the solutions to said oppression in the form of education. Although they call themselves a “National” coalition, they certainly addressed the need for girls education in the US and around the world.
The following two more recent events illuminated the importance of women helping women closer to home.
Two weeks ago, I was invited to participate in an event hosted by the World Affairs Council’s Young Professionals International Network group here in Seattle. It was called Speed Mentoring and it targeted women with an international focus to their work. The group identified mentoring as something very important to career growth that still happens with less frequency among women than among men. Thirty-five of us mentors met with thirty-five mentees at the Impact Hub Seattle. We had created a booklet of bios, and the mentees had chosen in advance with whom they wanted to speak. Over the course of two hours, we had the chance to meet with five different people and have three open networking times, food and drink provided. It was a well-organized, celebratory, educational and extremely beneficial event.
Last week, I attended a meeting of a group that was also enlightening and enjoyable. A group of women at all stages of and in a variety of global careers, is getting together monthly to share a meal and discuss topics of relevance to our work. We call ourselves the Global Women’s Group and will rotate among our homes, taking turns providing content and discussion topics as well. Again, I appreciate the organization of the group — two people are the facilitators of the group, making sure we have the next host, working with the host to set an agenda and choose the subject of conversation, but we all contribute our wisdom, ideas, questions and experience. It was great to meet a new set of women in the city of my birth, and to get an education in all the different kinds of work they are doing, from education to development, to health care and gender equity consulting. I’m looking forward to the next gathering already.
These events remind me of the importance of making connections. Freelance work, which has its benefits, can be isolating and lonely. It can be easy to lose perspective. Co-working spaces like the Impact Hub as well as large events and small gatherings can all help us learn from each other, stay connected, and make more meaningful contributions to the world so that women who hold up half the sky can flourish right alongside those holding up the other half.