Posted by: ginalazenby | August 26, 2013

The power of women when they get together – doors open!

My second conversation with Deepa Narayan while I was at the Hollyhock lifelong learning centre in Canada was extremely enlightening. We had had a conversation about how the culture in India needed to change in order to ensure the safety of the 600 million women and girls there (read it here) … legislation alone is not enough as there has to be a will to follow through on laws and support women.

In this second video Deepa gives some insights into the work she has been doing and the effect it has been having.

She has spent much of her life focused on getting practical strategies into public policy which more effectively get people out of poverty. Now, she said, she has been turning her attention to working more directly with women and helping them to see their strengths. Regrettably these women have internalised many beliefs about themselves that are not true. Many have a mantra of “I’m not good enough” etched into their psyche. (I am afraid that’s not just poor Indian women who fall into that trap!).

Deepa talked about projects where poor illiterate women who had had no education had been brought together and learned new habits of saving, getting lines of credit, developing their skills, building their confidence and had really had an impact on the livelihood of their families and communities. What made my heart soar was the news that a real shift in power had been taking place. Previously these women had systematically been cheated by village leaders and institutions. Now with their new confidence they are not only confronting those who have not been giving them their due, they are challenging them to secure real change. Whereas before these women would not be allowed inside a bank, now when the managers hear they are coming they are outside ready to greet them because they know that when aggregated together, these women are their best customers. It’s been a real reversal of power at ground level in the villages in a very short period of time.

I think this is a good lesson for women from any background in countries all over the world.  There are two things which are game-changing. Firstly when we learn to tune in to our power within and change our mindset and secondly, when we get together with other women and seek to bring about change … then that potent combination is a force to make a real difference in the world. If the uneducated peasant women of rural India can turnaround how the banks view them, then imagine what we educated, resource-rich women in developed countries could achieve ?!

It’s worth thinking about…. yes?

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