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Forget About Resolutions–We Need New Habits

It’s a new year, and people around the world are resolving to change their lives for the better. Nothing is more motivating than January 1, and whether joining a gym, focusing on finances, or losing weight, millions of us have set our intentions and are taking big, bold actions to make them happen. That is, until early February, when 36% of the well-intentioned have lost sight of their goals, and by June, 54% have returned to the comfort of their daily norms. If you were one of those who have made resolutions and set them aside, know that you are not alone. In a study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Verv, the average respondent said they usually only keep their New Year’s resolution for 36 days, or a little more than a month.

Setting goals and making changes are not endeavors doomed to fail, but the secret sauce is not in our resolution, but in our habits. We are all creatures of habit – good and bad. Habits shape who we are, and by creating new, healthy habits, we can take the daily actions needed to reach our goals and make them part of our routine.

It’s hard to turn visions (aka resolutions) into daily actions because they’re usually so far outside of our normal activities, and oftentimes…huge. However, habits are automatic routines that already make up 40% of our daily activity, according to Dr. Wendy Wood, a professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California and author of Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick. “Decision-making, our intentions, our thoughts, our commitment, they’re very important when we start to change…continuing over time took something very different,” said Dr. Wood on a recent episode of Hidden Brain.

“Habits are cognitive associations. They’re mental associations that we form when we repeat an action over and over again in a given context,” she added. “When you do that, you are learning very slowly and incrementally to associate that context with that behavior. So, the next time you’re in that context, the behavior automatically comes to mind.”

Stacking habits, or tying a new habit to an existing one, is a great way to associate context with behavior. Simply look for patterns – such as your morning routine – to weave in new habits. Meditate with your coffee, do squats while brushing your teeth, work in some crunches when putting on your socks and shoes, or even park at a distance or take the stairs when you are out and about. The key is to do your new task every day. British researchers found that the amount of time it took for a task to become an automatic habit ranged from 18 to 254 days, with the median time being 66 days.

While habits may feel like they take a long time to create, they do stick much better than your typical resolution. And now as we’re riding yet another Coronavirus wave, building healthy habits is more important than ever since many of our normal routines have yet to return. Your new habits don’t need to be limited to the big three resolutions either – losing weight, exercising more, and extreme financial fitness. In fact, while we’re still living in the midst of pandemic related uncertainties, it might be better to focus on a new list entirely. For example, it’s impossible to set a goal of going to the gym five days a week if the gym keeps opening and closing due to COVID. On the other hand, it’s much, much easier to stack kindness with your working/shopping/dining habits. Going out of your way to appreciate the front-line workers who are continuing to help the world go ‘round should already be your norm, as it should be to everyone you encounter, but to be on the safe side, add to it.

As Dr. Nancy pointed out, being kind and generous to others is essential, especially now in these uncertain times. In social media post, she said, “It’s amazing to me that we have to teach people about kindness, but we do. If you’re not showing empathy and kindness, you need to start. Showing kindness to others is the most important thing we can do each and every day.”

Kindness and a few new, healthy habits can serve as the foundation for 2022, and you can add to that foundation as you go. If you haven’t implemented any changes yet, don’t panic, you don’t need a new calendar year to embrace them. A 2014 study from researchers at Wharton found that while the start of the new year can be a landmark date for change, so can the start of the week. “It’s not like there’s something magical about Dec. 31,” Charles Duhigg, a former New York Times reporter and the author of The Power of Habit, said. “What is magical is our mind’s capacity to create new narratives for ourselves, and to look for events as an opportunity to change the narrative.”

Embrace the new year, the new week or even the new day, stack old habits with new, and make it a point to do what you can to lead a happier, healthier life, especially in times of uncertainty. Practice kindness, empathy, and keep growing, learning and trying new things. If we all wake up determined to face the day by putting our best selves forward, not only can we change our own lives, collectively we can change the world!

 

 

 

 

Lift Women Up in the New Year!

The_Lift_List

It takes only one woman to support and encourage another woman. Picture the faces of those who helped you along the way. You owe it to them—and to yourself—to do the same. – Dr. Nancy O’Reilly                

At Women Connect4Good, our mission is simple: women (and men) supporting women. Period. When we work together, we ignite our power to create real change. Right now, gender equity does not exist, and as we work towards it, we must be advocates for each other. We must raise our voices to speak up for the women whose voices may otherwise go unheard. We must speak kind words to each other and encourage one another when we can. We must support each other in our homes and offices, acting as advisors, mentors, and friends. One way we can do that is by lifting women up.

Lifting women up doesn’t stop with an idea — since launching in 2020 it has gained so much momentum, it has become a movement.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the 2022 Lift List!  A free checklist with 52 weeks of brand-new, simple actions that will help you step into your power, increase your impact, and build an environment where every person is valued, respected, and equally compensated.

Whether you’re prompted to “educate yourself and others about women’s accomplishments” or “reach out with your time and talent to help another woman” or “support women-owned businesses” the 2022 Lift List outlines the steps we need to take to help another woman rise. The List also spreads the word about the need for women to lift on another up, while reminding us that the first woman we need to lift is ourselves. Once we’ve done that, we can lift others from a stronger, more centered place.

The 2022 Lift List tasks fall under a number of categories including Women in Leadership, Women and the Pay Gap, Supporting Diversity & Inclusion, Supporting the Next Generation, and more. Each category includes a number of ways that we can educate and empower our daughters, ourselves, our friends and colleagues, and the women who currently (and soon will) lead the way. The Lift List also links to a number of fantastic resources, several of Women Connect4Good’s partners and organizations where you can make a difference.

As we regain our footing in these uncertain times, it’s important to remember that small changes add up, and when steps are taken by many women in support of each other, we can create massive ripples of change that lift up the world. Download your list and lift another woman up today—there are a thousand ways to do it. Reach out, listen to a story, share your own story and make a connection. Every single one of us can create change just by showing up.  We can do it together.

 

Women Lead Arkansas Is Empowering Women to Lead

Women Lead Arkansas (WLA) is empowering women and girls to engage in politics, policy, and leadership. The non-partisan 501c3 formed after a group of friends got together to complain about how politicians were trying to restrict women’s access to birth control. They felt like they were losing ground on a basic human right. As they write on their website, “The most infuriating aspect of the politics at the time was that there were no women involved in the discussions. Over and over, we saw tables full of men touting their latest attempts to control women’s bodies.”

They realized that until they took their seats at the table, men would continue to control legislation and restrict women’s rights to make decisions about their health and families. After looking for opportunities in Arkansas for women to learn how to run for office – and finding none that focused on women – Women Lead Arkansas was born.

Although birth control and reproductive freedoms began the conversation, that’s not what their work is about. Instead the organization focuses on women leading policy discussions and decisions about everything that impacts their lives. WLA doesn’t support political agendas; it supports women who are called to lead. It was decided early on that the organization should be non-partisan and inclusive on all levels – socioeconomic, race, gender identity, and experience. As summed up on their website, “To WLA, it’s all about the numbers. The more women we see in public office, the more normal it becomes, and the more likely others will continue to follow this lead.”

WLA started with political campaign training and has partnered with the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University to build on their “Ready to Run” branding and resources. CAWP is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about women’s political participation in the United States. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about the role of women in American politics, enhance women’s influence in public life, and expand the diversity of women in politics and government. Also nonpartisan, CAWP is the go-to organization for unbiased research on women in politics.

WLA has continued to grow, and since their first event has expanded their board to broaden their resources to “support all women and woman-aligned people seeking the tools to become stronger leaders.” One board member who answered the call to serve is Amanda Potter Cole. She feels strongly aligned with the mission and says, “Leadership is seeing that something needs to be done and being willing to use one’s talents to help make it happen.”

Amanda’s work with WLA links back to when she spent six years on staff at the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, and served on the organization’s board for three. There she worked with digital messaging, both on the website and on social media, and used those platforms to streamline their communications materials, and spread the word about what they were doing. That was when she first realized that there wasn’t a directory of women’s organizations anywhere in the state of Arkansas, which she found frustrating and became determined to change. Amanda then became involved with the American Association of University Women – Little Rock Branch – and revisited her idea of a directory but still was not able to bring it fully together.

Fast forward nearly a decade, and Julianne Dunn, WLA Board President, reached out to Amanda wanting to put together a directory for WLA. Amanda welcomed the opportunity and now serves on the WLA Board She is also a member of the organization’s Digital Resource Hub committee, which is allowing her to accomplish her goal of making women’s organizations and resources available to all women in Arkansas in one easily accessible location.

“Our goal is to encourage folks to join us and share their collective knowledge. That is how, together, we can remove barriers,” Amanda said. “Our goal is to say, ‘Here’s these organizations that do grants, training opportunities, here’s research, a list of women business owners.’ We want to take all the bits and pieces and pull them together in one place. The ultimate goal is to help people cut down their research time and give women something exciting to think about and easily access.”

Today, WLA’s Digital Resource Hub is up and running and available to all site visitors, who can choose options to sort by primary purpose, leadership focus, geographical focus, or in its entirety. The Hub also boasts an online tutorial and a portal to submit resources. The Hub allows both Amanda and WLA to achieve their goals and provides a valuable tool to further empower women, and to provide access for all.

To learn more about WLA and access their Digital Resource Hub, or to learn how you can support their efforts, go to www.womenleadarkansas.org.

Embrace Gratitude for a Happier Holiday

Gratitude_For_Happier_HolidayAppreciation, or gratitude is the first and most fundamental happiness tool. Gratitude is the purest, strongest form of love. It is the outward-bound kind of love that asks for nothing and gives everything. Gratitude is the antidote to fear. Fear is strong, but love is stronger – Dan Baker, PhD.

The holiday season is upon us, and traditionally people have taken this time to think about everything they have to be thankful for. But for many people, things still feel topsy-turvy. COVID 19 is still on the map, and political unrest still casts a cloud over many interactions – especially at the holiday dinner table. Add to that the continued upheaval and uncertainty surrounding the job market, the economy, and so much more, and some find holiday cheer harder to come by this year. But believe it or not, gratitude can help. As Baker points out, gratitude is the antidote to fear, because it’s more than simply saying thanks, it’s a way of seeing the world.

The first step towards embracing gratitude is simply getting comfortable with the concept. In our culture, women have trouble simply saying “thank you” and expressing gratitude. For some reason, we don’t feel that we are worthy of receiving compliments or gifts. Why we think we must be worthy to feel grateful is beyond my understanding, but we’re programmed that way by a lifetime of self-esteem challenges in our society. When someone gives us a compliment, women are too often ready with a “yes, but…”. We need to think of the disservice to the person honoring us when we negate their compliment and instead simply feel grateful. We have to let go of our self-limiting beliefs to do this and that takes practice. We have to compliment ourselves and feel our self-worth, look in the mirror and tell ourselves how good we are, pick out the positive aspects–that kindness you showed someone who needed it, how you finally established healthy boundaries with your family, how you pulled off that negotiation at work—and practice, practice, practice.

Another way to embrace gratitude is to write it down. A gratitude journal is recommended by many professionals (including Dr. Nancy) for working yourself out of a stuck frame of mind. When you’re at a low point, thinking about what you are grateful for and writing it down opens your eyes to the many blessings in your life. In fact, the simple practice of writing down five things that we are grateful for each and every day can not only be simple, but according to research, it can be healing. With funding from the John Templeton Foundation, Robert A. Emmons conducted a study at the University of California, Davis, and found that subjects who counted their blessings, both large and small:

  • Felt better about their lives.
  • Were more optimistic about the near future.
  • Felt more inclined to help others with personal problems.
  • Exercised more.
  • Reported fewer physical symptoms than did subjects who wrote about stressful or neutral events.

Emmons also found that those who wrote down what they were thankful for daily experienced more benefits than did those who wrote once a week. Keeping that in mind, write in your gratitude list in journal every day and before you know it you will feel better and more positive. Being grateful helps us to focus on what is important–the people we love–not the stuff that is replaceable. And acknowledgement of our gratitude for their survival makes us strong and affirms our values.

The best part is the fact that you can use gratitude as needed. No amount is too much. It is proven completely safe and effective for making you feel better about life in general. In the midst of the noise, we can choose not to allow the tumultuous drama that has affected our daily lives define us. You simply need to pause, reframe and think about what you’re grateful for. There are so many things in the world to cause us to feel outrage, sadness or despair. And while those initial feelings are earnest and sometimes justified, they shouldn’t always dictate your response. Take three seconds to pause, think and breathe, and then allow a clear and present mind to choose the most appropriate way to respond to what’s going on around you. Repeat as necessary.

Gratitude is that it doesn’t have to be approved by anyone. It’s ours to keep and use at will. Keep in mind the fact that gratitude is a lifestyle strategy, rather than something we do casually during the holidays, so work hard to implement it this week and for months and years to come. As Dr. Nancy says, “There are so many things in this world that we can be grateful for. When you look at each day as an opportunity to be grateful, anything is possible.” Our lives are all filled with miraculous gifts to be grateful for, to savor. That’s why we need to make it a habit of feeling grateful for what is, and share the gift of our positive outlook with everyone around us to create a gratitude-filled happier holiday.

 

 

 

Burnout Behind Job Exodus for Many Women

BurnoutDuring last week’s Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, the topic shifted to women leaving the workplace first during the pandemic, and now as part of the great resignation – which isn’t over yet as nearly two-thirds of workers are hunting for a new job, and nearly nine out of ten company executives are seeing higher than normal turnover in their organizations. Looking at reasons for the exodus, Michele Meyer-Shipp, who most recently served as the first highest ranking woman at Major League Baseball in the role of Chief People & Culture Officer, felt that for many women the cause was simple – burnout.

She’s definitely on to something. A recent report from Limeade, a software firm that surveyed 1,000 full-time U.S. workers, found that in fact burnout (40%) is the main reason respondents left their job, followed by organizational changes (34%), lack of flexibility and not feeling valued (20%), and insufficient benefits (19%). A June survey of 2,800 workers from global staffing firm Robert Half further backed that up and found that more than four in ten employees (44%) say they are more burned out on the job today compared to a year ago. And last but not least, a study by Asana of 13,000 knowledge workers across eight countries found that 71 percent had experienced burnout in the past year.

As if living through a global pandemic weren’t enough, the workplace shifted as the world adapted to shutdowns, surges, and all other associated pandemic issues. Being in the office, at home, back in the office, or a hybrid of both further taxed an already stressed system and women oftentimes bore the brunt of those never-ending changes. Meyer-Shipp was quick to point out that while no one size fits all, a lot (a LOT) of women are burned out as a result. “As people started to leave the workplace, women were picking up extra workloads and carrying the weight for their teams, their departments, their organizations and literally got to that point where it’s like, ‘enough’. It’s like, ‘seriously people like I’m not doing this anymore.’ I think we had a lot of that.”

Granted, many women and men were burned out before the pandemic, but during those first months they had time to think, time to re-assess, and time to plot a move forward that didn’t include the stress that was increasingly associated with their jobs.

Before you blame the employee for burnout because of their resilience, backbone, yoga practice – or lack thereof – you have to realize that they have little to do with the root causes of the condition. According to the foremost expert on burnout, Christina Maslach, social psychologist and professor emerita of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, we are attacking the problem from the wrong angle. “Categorizing burnout as a disease was an attempt by the WHO (World Health Organization) to provide definitions for what is wrong with people, instead of what is wrong with companies. When we just look at the person, what that means is, ‘Hey we’ve got to treat that person.’ ‘You can’t work here because you’re the problem.’ ‘We have to get rid of that person.’ Then, it becomes that person’s problem, not the responsibility of the organization that employs them.”

However, a Gallup survey actually found that the top reasons for burnout are unfair treatment, unmanageable workloads, a lack of role clarity, a lack of communication and support, and unreasonable time pressures – all of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. That furthers Maslach’s assertions that the root causes of burnout do not lie with the individual, but with the workplace as a whole. Current events such as the great resignation are not happening as a result of people not wanting to work, but instead prove that they’re burned out and need more workplace support.

Emphasizing the need for honesty and transparency from managers and employees, Brandon Greiner, vice president of operations for MedExpress, says, “An important first step in keeping stress in check is for managers to regularly check in with employees and encourage them to provide honest feedback regarding their workload, work environment and responsibilities.”

Lindsay Lagreid, senior advisor at Limeade, takes that further by saying that managers need to also start asking better questions. “Asking ‘How ya doing?’ and accepting answers like ‘I’m fine’ or ‘hanging in there’ aren’t going to cut it anymore. Instead, try more specific questions like:
*Have you been able to complete your projects on time? If not, why do you think that is?

*Do you have the resources you need to get your work done? If not, what else would you need?

*What can I do to make your job easier?”

We are still navigating unprecedented times and burnout, like so many other issues this pandemic has brought to the forefront, needs to be recognized and explored. That means we need to talk about it, look for ways to address it, and ultimately define ways to prevent it from happening in the first place. Keep in mind the fact that collectively taking action on this issue at every level is crucial to get and keep women employed and in the pipeline for advancement. Ultimately, this is a time of reinvention and change, and in order to hold on to top performing women and men, the workplace not only needs to recognize the issue, but make some changes of its own.

World Pulse is Women Helping Women in Action

World_PulseAt Women Connect4Good, our efforts are focused on furthering the cause of women’s empowerment and achieving gender equality. Our name says it, and our work proves it – WomenConnect4Good supports women. It’s about women (and their male allies) supporting women. Period. To do that, we support and promote the work of a number of different organizations, and our Founder and CEO, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, partners with exciting women leaders who are making change for all of us.

One such organization (with an exciting female leader) is World Pulse, an independent, women-led, global social network for change. CEO Jensine Larsen originally founded it as a print magazine, as digital media gained momentum, they quickly took World Pulse online. Jensine said, “While the mission remained the same, the impact multiplied. Today, tens of thousands of people around the world are united through our social platform and our members touch millions more as a result. As we develop new ways to elevate our online community it will only continue to grow. We are speaking a new world, and the world will hear us roar.”

Tens of thousands is right. With a decade of experience using the power of technology to grow women’s leadership across the globe, World Pulse currently has 80,000 network members, with 227 countries and territories represented, and 21,600,000 reported lives changed worldwide. Through their online platform, the organization has created a safe digital refuge where women unite to courageously tell their stories, share resources, start businesses, run for office, and launch movements. As Jensine says, “Together, we’re creating a world — both online and off — where all women thrive.”

World Pulse’s work is important. As a digital accelerator for emerging women leaders solving global challenge, the organization grows leaders, providing an accessible online leadership pathway and safe environment to accelerate women’s leadership growth and offline impact. They also amplify women’s voices to maximize power by crowdsourcing voices on timely issues and promoting them to advocacy partners, media, and global decision-making forums. In addition, they link movements and network women leaders and organizations across regions and topics to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing for greater collective impact. Ultimately, they recognize the importance of combining the power of women with the power of technology to speed up the pace of change.

Acknowledging that women are the key to solving all global problems – World Pulse members tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues, and create new initiatives that impact their communities and create a more gender-equal world. Initiatives include new apps, education programs, advocacy campaigns, and tools to transform lives. To date members have launched 171 community initiatives, impacting a total of 1,251,782 lives.

In 2020, one of the most turbulent years in history, women’s resilience prevailed. As summed up on the World Pulse website, “Against a rising wave of authoritarianism, amidst a global pandemic, and facing a climate crisis, women wielded their power on the streets, at the ballot box, and on World Pulse – reminding us that our sisterhood was made for moments like this.” In their 2020 Global Impact Review, World Pulse reports that in their top seven regional impact areas – Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia, Northern America, Middle East & North Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, and Europe – their impact included increased awareness of issues, improved relationships, changed community behavior, modified social norms, altered family behavior, increased access to resources, improved community health, and greater influence on law or policy. The top seven strategies used to affect that change in individual lives and communities included leadership visibility, education, organizational growth, collective action, community organizing, media, and donation to a cause.

The organization has drawn the attention of world leaders. Phumzile Miambo-Ngeuka, UN Women Executive Director says, “World Pulse’s work building digital empowerment at the grassroots level is a critical effort that will enable women to build community, unleash economic opportunity, and influence decision-making.” Jane Goodall, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace says, “It is time we listen to the voices of World Pulse. It is time for women to use technology to band together, speak out, and heal the world. It is time for women to take the power.”

World Pulse is women helping women in action, and they are lifting women up and promoting and helping women achieve equity worldwide. As Dr. Nancy says, “put five women in a room and in just a few minutes, they will analyze the situation, figure out a solution and take the necessary steps to solve it.” World Pulse is proving that when you get women together, namely 80,000 women together online, you can not only solve the problem, you can change the world.

To learn more about World Pulse, to take part in the conversation, or to join us in supporting their mission go to https://impact.worldpulse.com today.

 

Diversity Woman Media is Empowering Women to Lead!

Diversity_WomanIf there’s one thing that Dr. Sheila Robinson believes, it’s that every woman is a leader–EVERY woman. We lead in our families, with our children, and in our communities. Women also lead in the workplace, and now more than ever we need to empower them to do just that, and give them the tools and support they need to step up and redefine corporate America. That’s why she chose “Empowered to Lead” as the theme for this year’s national 16th annual Diversity Woman Media Business Leadership Conference.

Sheila founded Diversity Woman Media and currently serves as its publisher and CEO. Diversity Woman is nationally recognized as a leading multi- platform enterprise with program offerings that advance all dimensions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through publishing two magazines, and producing regular Leadership Development Academy workshops and national conferences, the organization’s businesswomen’s network and membership directory provide a forum for established and aspiring women in leadership roles, including mobility of all women and marginalized professionals. They work to empower women as leaders to help them achieve their career goals through real-world experiences with sage advice, information, and mentorship.

Diversity Woman’s flagship event, the annual Business Leadership Conference, is around the corner (November 4-5), and this year’s theme personifies the organization’s focus. The opening keynote from Tara Jaye Frank – “Making a Way” – will recognize how difficult the past months have been (and still are) for many women in the workplace, and will guide participants through “what leaders of the future must believe, know, and do differently to unleash their own power while unlocking the potential of every ONE.”

Sheila_RobinsonTara’s compelling keynote will kick off two action packed days where attendees will be front and center to experience powerful speakers, a fireside chat with Sheila and Ruchika Tulshyan, panel discussions, peer discussion roundtables, breakout sessions, executive coaching, and the conveyance of the organization’s Mosaic Awards to Subha Barry, CEO of Seramount; Lorraine Hariton, President & CEO of Catalyst; Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor with Morgan Stanley; and our very own Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, Founder and President of Women Connect4Good, Inc.

Once again, Diversity Woman Media’s Business Leadership Conference is attracting women business leaders of all races, cultures and backgrounds from the world’s largest corporations and entrepreneurs from successful women-owned businesses. Following last year’s event, with continued commitment to the safety of community and staff, the event will also be virtual, and promises to deliver the same innovative opportunities for engagement and networking experience with a similar outcome attendees are accustomed to experiencing in-person.

To learn more about the event, and the participating speakers and coaches, or to reserve your spot, go to the Diversity Woman website today!

 

Gloria Feldt’s Intentioning and How Women Will Take The Lead

IntentioningIn 2010 Gloria Feldt, author, and cofounder and president of Take The Lead, redefined the way women look at power in No Excuses – Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, by putting it into a historical context and showing the ways in which women have made huge leaps forward in the past, only to pull back right when they were at the threshold. Gloria argued that there’s no excuse for women today not to own their power, whether it’s the way women are socialized, or pressured to conform, or work/life balance issues. Women are still facing unequal pay, being passed over for promotions, entering public office at a much lower rate than men, and often still struggle with traditional power dynamics in their interpersonal relationships. Gloria’s solution to all these places where women face inequality is the same: we must shift the way we think about power to achieve true parity with our male counterparts.

The 9 Leadership Power Tools (chapters) outlined in No Excuses serve as a guide for women from every walk of life and have helped them “change the way they think, and therefore the way they act.” Gloria’s power tools are rooted in a sophisticated concept of power. Women redefine it so they can embrace it with intention and use it effectively. This shift from the outdated, oppressive “power over” to the expansive, positive, and innovative “power to” cracks the code that has held women back from leadership parity. For more than a decade the 9 Power Tools have given countless women immediate, usable ways to navigate the world as it is while changing aspects of their world that keep them from advancing.

Fast forward 11 years, and one catastrophic pandemic later, and Gloria is once again sharing her experiences and inspiring women to embrace their personal power to lead with intention, confidence, and joy. In her latest book, Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) GoodGloria not only unveils the next step in advancing gender parity in all spheres of business and life, she also lays out the vital next steps in the overall advancement of our economy and our civilization.

Gloria’s latest book is not written with the pandemic as a side note or brief historical fact, but instead looks at how recent events have revealed deep fault lines in our culture and the systemic inequities that have always held women back. It comes as no surprise to her that women flexed their formidable muscles when needed most, representing a disproportionate number of essential workers during the darkest days of the coronavirus global outbreak and leading the charge against racism in the U.S. That being said, this book is decidedly about the future, taking the leadership lessons learned from this disruption and creating a better world for all through the power of intention.

In addition to preparing women to lead change, be change, and sustain change, improve their impact, turn obstacles into assets, apply their power to energies, using their ambition as fuel to achieve their intentions, Intentioning also shares the stories of “Intentional Women” (including Dr. Nancy O’Reilly) teaching readers 9 Leadership Intentioning Tools, with tips for implementing them and practice exercises for each.

Through the lens of women’s stories, Intentioning delivers a fresh set of leadership tools, skills, and concepts that help all women reach their own highest intentions. Gloria purposefully creates new norms, while guiding institutions to break through the remaining barriers to gender and racial parity for everyone’s good. It’s a must-read for every woman who is ready to reach for more and help move women’s progress forward in the workplace and in the world. Learn more at www.intentioningbook.com.

 

Standing With the Women of Afghanistan

Stand_With_Afghan_WomenIn Afghanistan, the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops last month, signaled an end to much of the progress that women in the country had made, and many of the rights they had come to enjoy. While Taliban leadership assured citizens that they would allow women to work and pursue education, the hard-handed Taliban rule of the 90’s, left many Afghans afraid that those pledges would not be fulfilled. If the past couple of weeks are any indication, those fears are well founded.

Today there are no women in the Taliban’s newly named interim cabinet, and the country’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs was abolished. And although women can continue to study in universities, classrooms will now be gender-segregated, Islamic dress is compulsory, and subjects being taught are under review. All of this despite the fact that over the past twenty years millions of Afghan girls and women were able to attend school, hold a job and help shape their destiny for the first time. After years of not being able to leave their homes without a male chaperone, their educational opportunities allowed them to become judges, teachers, journalists, police officers, and government ministers. However, the Taliban recently told working women to stay at home, admitting they were not safe in the presence of the militant group’s soldiers, which means Afghan women are now effectively locked out of participation and leadership in the communities they helped form.

As if that were not enough, Afghan women and girls have been banned from playing sports as the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, said women’s sport was considered neither appropriate nor necessary. According to NPR, ads showing women’s faces have also been blacked out and Taliban members have been erasing street art and murals that often conveyed public service messages.

How have the women of Afghanistan responded to these actions (and many more)? Loudly. Last week, dozens of Afghan women demonstrated in the western city of Herat to demand their rights to employment and education. This week Hannah Bloch writes at NPR.com that “Day after day, Afghan women have taken to the streets in groups large and small to protest against Taliban rule, the regime’s new curbs on their rights and Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan.” In Kabul, they demanded equal rights, and women in government and others demanded “azadi” or freedom. In response, the Taliban have at times used force — wielding whips, beating women with batons, pointing guns and firing weapons into the air.

This situation is only days old and events are continuing to unfold at a horrifying pace. Gloria Steinem reached out and asked supporters to join her in an Emergency Response for Afghan Women. Donor Direct Action, which she co-convened with South African Judge Navi Pillay, supports a front-line women’s group in Afghanistan that has protected Afghan women and children since 1999. She and Jessica Neuwirth recently spoke with the leadership of this group and said, “It was heartbreaking to hear first-hand from Kabul about the scale of this crisis and the utter lack of resources to respond. These women are fearless and inspiring, and they need our help. That is why I am convening this Emergency Response for Afghan women.” Women for Women International is providing emergency support for Afghan women, The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security is taking action to help protect Afghan women and human rights leaders, as well as many, many other organizations.

Write letters, donate if you can, raise awareness and lend your voice. We need to stand together with the women of Afghanistan and help them any way we can.

Ready. Inspire. Act. Making a Difference in Massachusetts

By RIA, Inc.

Throughout history, buying sex has been packaged in many ways. We call it prostitution, trafficking of humans, solicitation, sex work, and a myriad of other descriptions. Regardless of how we frame it, the underlying reality is that absolutely no one goes unscathed in a culture that feeds off the bodies of people for sex.

As direct service providers, survivors and allies in Massachusetts, Ready. Inspire. Act. Inc. (RIA) cares deeply about the language used to describe “buying sex” and asks that you form your opinion by listening closely to the people with lived experiences in prostitution and the commercial sex trade, both victims and survivors – female, transgender, male.

A majority of voices say that what they have experienced is not a profession. It is survival. It is isolation. They testify to experiences that kept them from being able to fully care for their children or themselves. These voices share experiences of being raped and violated, often more times than they can remember or count. These voices say they would never choose for their daughters or sons to have sex to survive. These voices demand that their lives be free of abuse, disregard, and loss.

These voices are right before us, if only we choose to listen, engage, and hear their reality. When we refuse to hear the stories of those whose bodies are seen as a commodity for sex, we refuse to see people as human. From this place, we can easily rationalize all forms of gender-based violence, oppression and injustice. It is this modern-day slavery, the denial of humanity that continues to keep us all bound.

What will it take for us as a culture to see all people as worthy of respect and dignity, rather than as a means for our personal gain, pleasure or profit? Are we willing to see our own humanity reflected in another? Are we okay to justify and forgive the oppression of one for the benefit of the other? We ask you to respond with us as we lean into this collective reflection. When we wrestle with the truth mirrored in this reflection, we all indeed become free.

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RIA operates with a mission to stand with and support people with experience in the commercial sex trade, and its associated exploitation, trafficking and prostitution, by providing a range of community-based services. Offering clinical care and case management, peer advocacy and mentorship, workshops, training and groups, the Massachusetts based nonprofit is made up of a team of survivors and allies, standing as one in vision and mission to deliver skilled and compassionate care that elevates the people they serve. The organization had 5,185 care encounters and completed 47 new program intakes in 2020 alone and is committed to expanding programmatic outcome measurements and more in the years to come. To learn more about RIA, or their upcoming inaugural gala, go to ReadyInspireAct.org.

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