Wow, Just WOW

Wow! Just WOW!

I’m awed by my experience of the last two weeks, still holding a sense of overwhelming really. Overwhelming not just specific to the very full agenda but overwhelming for all that women all over the world are holding, advocating for, growing in, challenged by. Holding space for what might happen, what could happen if we have the courage, grace, patience, strength, vision, and the will to make it happen.

I’m awed by how women who are demeaned, devalued, victimized and made to feel “less than” on a daily basis, can still rise with a strong sense of self.

They rise wielding wisdom and bold courage, defiantly speaking out and often being imprisoned for it in areas where, in essence, being a woman is a crime.

Event sessions I sat through evoked an extreme range of emotions.

It’s one thing to sit in my comfortable chair in the U.S. and hear on the evening news the discouragement of women in the Middle East who are victimized. It’s another thing to sit with these women, to see the pain in their eyes, hear the quiver of anger and frustration from women are being stripped of basic human rights all the time and sometimes all at once.

I attended the Global Solidarity to Combat State-led Violence against Women forum and was filled with rage and shocked to come face to face with the pain of what it means to be a woman in these days in some places.

Did you know?

  • Some women planned to attend this event in person, but are not present because visas were denied – denied by people in positions of power who wield power in arbitrary ways just because they can.
  • Some have come close to completing university degrees, only to be told that in Afghanistan they no longer have access to university classes or the education such classes afford.
  • Some have lost the right to even name the children they give birth to.

Ugh. I weep silently in the face of the anguish and from the comfort of where I sit cannot even fathom such oppression.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

I went from this anguish to glorying in all the possibilities and potential put on display at a forum, The Ecosystem Work of Systems: Creating Enabling Environments. Here I encountered women from across all walks of life and generations who broke through systemic barriers, and are speaking with joy about the promise of possibility. Inclusive digital economy, gender equity, digital inclusion, social innovation, and gender equality communities of practice. These women lit up the virtual room, reminding me that we are a people of hope even in the face of global atrocities.

A big take-away:

We should never underestimate the power of story. A great gift of the CSW gathering is that it provided a global forum to hear the stories – the range of real life that is happening all the time all at once. We need to listen for, learn from and respect the stories, curate the stories, and market them when and where it matters. A lot of outrageous stuff and outstanding stuff is going on pertaining to the status of women but until we tell the story of it, it is hidden.

Categories: Column Encounters at the Well

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