Women Helping Women

How Executives Become Waymakers for Workplace Equity

Tara Jaye Frank built a career as an equity strategist and teaching executives to become “waymakers” for workplace equity by listening and observing how people behaved and built relationships. She used that knowledge to become a greeting card writer at Hallmark Cards and used it again and again in multiple executive roles, including vice president of multicultural strategy, corporate culture and as a culture adviser to the president. For over 25 years she’s built her own bridge to success by being “really curious about other people and what they see, what they are motivated by, and how they build relationships and engage with others.” This has taught her about human nature and leadership, and given her the tools to advise and guide executive management to become “waymakers” for others. Tara says, “And here’s the thing of all the black and brown and women, the people who have been left out of the learning loop–everyone I know who’s made it to high levels of leadership in corporations have done so not only because of systems change, but because someone made a way for them. Point, blank, period!”

 

The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence

Tara calls her latest book, The Waymakers, an invitation to leaders “to get off the fence and into the arena.” She says that no one gets anywhere without someone removing the barriers to advancement, but she has found that while executives want to do the right thing, they don’t know what the right thing is, and more importantly they don’t want to make a mistake, offend someone and risk their professional reputation. They lack the “competence and confidence” to make the “bold and intentional” moves needed to truly achieve a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Tara says that she wanted to give them a way to do it, and also to inspire them to move forward.

When Dr. Nancy asked Tara what made this book different than all the others, Tara said that it is truly research-based. She did proprietary research asking employees what makes them feel seen, respected, valued and protected. Then she asked what makes them feel invisible, disrespected, and underappreciated. The answers showed what leaders do and don’t do to produce equity and inclusion. Next, she interviewed 30 of the top diversity, equity and inclusion professionals about what really works in their organizations—not theory, but real actions that drive progress. And most of all, Tara worked as an executive for many years and speaks “the language of power and position.” From her perspective, Tara says, “I seek to understand how the people around me define success, right? And then I very intentionally, very specifically help them build a bridge from where they are to where they want to be. I ultimately make a way right to that highest aspiration.” Her goal is for the book to become a tool for all leaders to become waymakers, and for it to help thousands—maybe millions of people reach their definition of success.

Learn Why Equity Is Taking So Long and Much More

Listen to or watch this conversation for more insights into leadership, how action differs from policy and what will really make a difference in the pursuit of equity. Check out Tara’s website for speaking, consulting and other insightful posts at tarajayfrank.com. And pre-order The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence from your favorite bookseller. It will be available in May 2022.

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How to Prepare for Possibilities in Leadership

Bobbie LaPorte has combined her experience in executive leadership of Fortune 50 companies with her training as an endurance athlete to forge a method of positive leadership that focuses on strengths and being prepared for anything. Bobbie says you can’t plan for a race that lasts hours, because there is no way to know if your shoe will wear a blister, or some other casualty will alter your course.  Bobbie has competed in six Ironman Triathlons and is training for her seventh. In business, she got caught in the dot-com crash when one of the companies she was running got sold. And of course, there’s 2020 and 2021, during which she coached organizations, teams and executives to ride the upheaval of COVID with techniques from the positive leadership playbook which teaches taking risks by doing things in ways that have never been tried before.  Now, she’s published a book about her experience called, When The Curveballs Keep Coming: A Leadership Playbook for An Uncertain World

“You can’t plan, but you can prepare.”

To write her book, Bobbie researched and watched executives who were navigating the shifts of the past two years successfully. She says that some were her clients while others were not. In this business climate you never know what will come next. Bobbie says that the old foundations for stability like our functional or technical knowledge, domain experience or accomplishments that led us to senior roles aren’t enough anymore. Now the real skill for leaders is being able to say, “I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I need help. Let’s put our heads together and figure it out.” This can also be a liability for women because although it’s more natural for us to be empathetic and vulnerable, it can be seen as incompetency, or we can fear it will be seen that way.

However, having the courage to say, “I don’t know. Let’s figure this out together.” To take the risk, be vulnerable and open to possibilities is the first step. In an environment where the boss is gone in a day or your entire team is different, you have to invest in a larger network of supports to be ready when your current support suddenly changes. And that’s the environment today—it’s when, not if. Bobbie says that we’re operating in a constant state of stress mode “and you see the physiological and psychological impacts of that.” But you have to be able to stop and be self-aware in order to create some space for options and possibilities. Read her book for the complete playbook on how to do that and keep from sticking to the status quo.

Predictions and Resources from BobbieLaPorte.com

Listen or watch this conversation for more insights into how preparation can help guide positive leadership. Bobbie predicts that it will not slow down.  “The velocity of change and executive networks is only going to increase.” Bobbie’s book, When The Curveballs Keep Coming, is available on Amazon and she offers a business update, a training update and a monthly missive all free on her website.  Whatever position you occupy in your organization, Bobbie’s advice about preparation and self-awareness can help you maneuver whatever curveball has landed in your day and help you stay focused on the possibilities the obstacle created.

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How Women Use Power to Lead in Different Ways

Samantha Karlin is an impassioned leader for social change and has equipped herself with experiences that show how women use power to lead in different ways. She saw her mother behave fiercely and fearlessly when she testified before Congress to get permission for experimental treatment to save her disabled daughter’s life. She learned how women are used as pawns in a world “created by and for white, western, property-owning men.” And she amassed an education with a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy with a specialization in global gender analysis and conflict resolution from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, became a trained mediator, and immersed herself in global engagement with social entrepreneurs on women’s issues around the world.

As founder and CEO of Empower Global, Samantha facilitates training on diversity, equity and inclusion for Fortune 500 companies and oversees a groundbreaking women’s leadership challenge for women leaders around the world. She also hosts Samanthropolitics, a cutting-edge talk show about global politics and women’s rights, where she interviews Washington heavy-weights and feminist activists about foreign policy.

What Compels People to Work for Social Change?

Samantha describes a scene where 15 women social entrepreneurs from around the world, gathered in Bellagio, Italy for a retreat. The conversation shifted to why people will turn from caring only about money to caring about the environment or some social change that would make the world a better place. They concluded it was emotional. When people engage emotionally with a cause, like Samantha’s experience with her handicapped sister, people will move heaven and earth to make change.

In Samantha’s case, the next change-experience happened when she met two “amazing men” at an incubator in Washington, D.C., where they were experimenting with virtual reality to create “equal reality” for diversity and inclusion training. They put a headset on Samantha, and she was completely immersed in the experience. When she looked at her arm, she saw a black arm. She says the script that came with it put her “in the shoes of a black woman, or a handicapped person, somebody who’s not like you.” Really feeling what it was like to be marginalized and treated differently inspired Samantha to do training for them. With her graduate studies in conflict resolution, mediation, gender, and U.S. foreign policy, she saw the potential for how this tool could be used globally on different types of populations. Fortunately, they also needed a trainer.

Women’s Leadership Challenge

Samantha began her Women’s Leadership Challenge during COVID. Like many of us, she realized how much we needed human connection. She also saw how that could be transformed into creating cohorts of women leaders using the tools she had been using in her corporate workshops on women’s leadership, women’s empowerment, and storytelling for women. She created a group course with a curriculum based on her knowledge of the international world and how to create change.

Two challenges are being developed now: one in-person in Washington, D.C. and one virtual. Eight to ten women are chosen to be part of each challenge. Samantha says she keeps the groups small so that everyone will participate. Each person in the group gets to know the other women really well, and there is a lot of time built in for discussion. Samantha says that while she teaches the theory that she has developed to create institutional change, she only creates the framework for learning. She expects the participants to add their ideas and expertise and she can also bring in guest speakers to fill in gaps. There have been enough groups now to create a group of 50 women who have continued to connect beyond their challenge experience. She hopes this ripple effect will keep going and create changemakers throughout the world able to lead in empowering ways.

Samanthropolitics and TEDx “The Power of the Powerless” and More

Listen or watch this interview for more of Samantha’s personal stories to learn how she became impassioned for making social change at the core, where leaders are created. Samantha says that women can gain power by giving their power away and sharing power, which she calls “power with.” In her TEDx talk she explains that this is not inherent, but a learned skill. Giving power away creates more power.

Apply now for the new Women’s Leadership Challenge. And check out Empower Global for more information.

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Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge Grows Women Leaders

Katie Steele Danner is the Executive Director of the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, and as a graduate alumnus of the third class of the Leadership Challenge, she has personally experienced how the statewide program grows women leaders in many careers throughout the state. Now in its 32nd year, the Challenge has grown 1,300 alumni that have spread their wings internationally. Katie describes it as a traveling symposium with a class of 30-40 women who meet for a dozen days in four, three-day sessions. Each session does a deep dive into a specific community’s issues, often discovering problems needing solutions in that area are relative to the entire state and intersect with what is happening nationally and globally. It focuses on emerging women leaders, educating them about the state of Missouri and helping them realize where their strengths and leadership can make a difference. Katie says that the Foundation hopes their eyes are open to possibility, not only to their own careers, but also how they can be more engaged in their communities.

In Katie’s case, she was a young Missouri State Representative when she accepted the challenge. While still in her 20’s she ran for office, thinking that she could do a better job than the three men running in her district, and she won. She went on to serve three terms and says that she, “had the opportunity to get to know the state of Missouri in a way that without that experience, I never would have learned the vast diversity of opportunities, and frankly, the challenges of the state of Missouri.”  However, her experience with the Challenge and the Foundation has introduced her to a vast array of expertise among the women in Missouri, including the woman engineer who runs the Callaway nuclear power plant, who is a Challenge alumnus. She says that the networking is phenomenal when you think about over a thousand women leaders now serving on boards and in leadership positions where their voices are heard, literally around the world. Katie says, “We have many women that are working with large corporate firms that are currently based in Brazil, Germany or England, etc.”

How to Apply for The Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge

There are two ways to become an applicant: an alum can refer you, or you can nominate yourself. The referral would introduce the applicant, list her strengths and what she is doing personally and professionally, and describe her as an emerging woman leader who would be successful in the program. To self-nominate, an applicant would say something like, “I’m really interested in learning more about the state of Missouri.” Then list her strengths and describe why she thinks of herself as an emerging leader, and how the Challenge would help her hone her leadership skills and grow her leadership into new areas of potential.

Katie says that the awards luncheon event that Dr. Nancy and Women Connect4Good helped sponsor in Springfield, Missouri, this year resulted in a number of women self-nominating from throughout Southwest Missouri. “And that helps us because we want diverse women, not only diverse industries, diverse experience, but diverse in geography and obviously diversity across the entire spectrum.” She encourages anyone interested to apply on their website at GreaterMo.org, and she will follow up with them.

More Benefits of the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge

Katie says that she is amazed at the number of industries she has learned about through her years of being an alum of the Challenge. And she encourages others to step up, because even if you feel you don’t know enough, there are women to help you along the way. That’s the purpose of the Challenge – to empower each other to lead. She tells the story of a young Challenge alum named Fatima who immigrated from Bosnia as a five-year-old with her parents and is now a US citizen. St. Louis, Missouri, is the largest resettlement area for Bosnian refugees, a fact Katie also wasn’t aware of until she worked with Fatima and others volunteering for the International Institute helping resettle the Afghanistan refugees in St. Louis. Fatima’s personal story as a Muslim child in a Christian sponsoring family helped with understanding the refugees in the current crisis. Fatima’s job is managing staffing for the mayor pro tem of Kansas City where she uses her experience to talk about homelessness and how partnerships with corporate America work to help fill hunger needs in rural Missouri.

Listen or watch this interview to learn more about how Katie sees the fluctuation to more remote work can benefit women and provide opportunities for women to lead in their communities where they are needed most. Stay in touch with their activities and events on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. And go the website for more information about the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, a fascinating organization growing more women leaders in Missouri every year.

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Creating Systems Change to Lift Women and Girls

Kelly Nevins is currently CEO for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI), the job she announced she wanted while getting her master’s degree in leadership. Growing up the daughter of a single mom who struggled to support her daughters while facing challenges that working men didn’t have made Kelly intimately aware of the workplace inequities between men and women. In fact, she says that when policies are made to help people, if they were not created with a gender lens, “Men and boys would continue to rise to the top, but women and girls would fall through the cracks.”  Also, less than 2% of foundational funding goes directly to help women and girls. This was true in 2001 when the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island was created and is still true today. As a result, Kelly has spent most of her career working to change the systems that cause inequities. She says that means the WFRI works in the spheres of advocacy, training leaders to advocate for change in the community and individuals to advocate for change for themselves.

Achievements for WFRI

Kelly notes that while WFRI is non-partisan and does not back women running for elected office, they do offer training programs to inform women how public service can support their vision for change. One success story she shares is how Gail Golden helped pass one of the first paid leave laws in the United States after attending one of the training programs WFRI offers, called the Women’s Policy Institute. Gail then became a senator in Rhode Island’s general assembly and now has moved on to be a senior adviser to the Women’s Bureau for the federal government.

Another success story is how WFRI helped pass the Fair Pay Act in Rhode Island, which changes the definition of what pay means. Kelly explains that the federal equal pay law was passed decades ago, but the courts have narrowly defined what equal pay means. She says WFRI worked really hard to broaden that so that unless there is a specific difference, like more longevity with the company or more education directly related to your job, people must be paid the same.

Advice for Women Today

Kelly says that right now it’s a “buyer’s market.” With one in three women leaving the workforce, employers are willing to negotiate to get good employees. Now is the time to ask for what you want and negotiate for what you need, including flex time, work from home and salary. There are also a lot of free or low-cost training programs out there. Kelly says to search for your state employment agency and see what they are offering. Some are even providing childcare as a benefit of their training. There are also options for gig employees, which is important since more women are interested in starting their own businesses. Of course, when they do that, there are no benefits. However, Kelly says that policies supporting those options are also being discussed. She points out that the pandemic has revealed that childcare isn’t a parenting issue; it’s a workforce issue, and “we need to make it accessible, safe and affordable. And she admits that it’s complicated and won’t be easy to solve, which is why we need women sitting at the table where those decisions are made.

Listen or watch this amazing conversation for more information about women’s funds. Kelly says there are hundreds of women’s funds throughout the country and the world. The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island is the only one in her state because it is so small. To learn more, check out their website (www.wfri.org) or call 401-2-62-5647. Search women’s funding for more information or go to womensfundingnetwork.org for a membership list of over 100 women’s funds.

If you don’t have a women’s fund in your area, you can start one. Kelly tells the story of an international fundraiser, Simone Joyaux, who was angry at the gender and racial inequities she saw and discovered a women’s fund doing good things in Arizona. She came back to Rhode Island and founded WFRI 20 years ago. Kelly says the volunteers and board members of WFRI are “advising at those tables where resources are being allocated and decisions are being made” and working “on legislative change both locally and nationally to set the stage for creating a better Rhode Island and a better country.”

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You Have the Power in You

Sheila_RobinsonWhen Dr. Sheila Robinson said, “You have the power in you,” she was referring to her upcoming book, Redefining Your D.I.E.T. and Transform How You Look, Feel and Perform, but it pertains to practically everything in this conversation, from her childhood story where her mother taught her to work hard and be happy, to the upcoming theme for the Diversity Woman Media Business Leadership Conference, “Empowered to Lead,” and especially how we need to work to fix the broken systems so we can unite and grow stronger together. As Dr. Nancy says early in the conversation, “Happiness is a muscle. You have to work it. You have to believe it. You have to exercise it and you have to use it.” Dr. Sheila agrees and she works it every day in her nationally acclaimed publishing company, Diversity Woman Media, through her two magazines: “Diversity Woman” and “Inclusion,” her online self-care programs, Wellness Wednesday and her conferences throughout the year, culminating with the 2021 National Diversity Woman Media Business Leadership Conference, November 4-5 (registration is underway).

Empowered to Lead

Dr. Sheila stresses the need for all of us to share our resources. We’re all going through something very different. Some of us are home-schooling and may have developed short-cuts or techniques that have helped, so share it with others. Diversity Woman Media is all about that. And Dr. Sheila chose “Empowered to Lead” as the theme for the November 4 conference because by bringing a diverse group of women and men together, they can share resources that empower women to be their best and overcome obstacles and barriers that hold us all back. Sheila is excited about the different virtual ways they’ve developed to help women connect—simple things like clicking on a link to join a table talking about a topic of interest, building unity and energy by wearing the t-shirts with “Empowering to Lead” on them and sponsors on the back, platforms where participants can see one another like direct Zoom calls, and so on.  Sheila says, “Empowered women empower women.” Bringing women together for two days of opportunities to learn from and exchange ideas with some of the most extraordinary leaders is an empowering transformational experience.

Self Care is not Selfish

Like many women, Dr. Sheila was brought up to take care of everyone else first. If they were all happy, then she was too. But that meant putting herself last and the pervasive mindset is to feel guilty if we put ourselves first. However, she learned that if she puts self-care first, she is better able to care for everyone else. When she lost 25 pounds she felt 20 years younger; she was more productive and even her mental ability improved. She wasn’t on any particular program and says that whatever support you need should work for you because “you have the power within you.” Since diet has so many negative connotations, Dr. Sheila chose to make it an acronym for her book title, Redefining Your D.I.E.T. and Transform How you Look Feel and Perform. “D” is for drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks. “I” is for what you ingest. She says you can eat whatever you want, but she ascribes to the 80-20 rule – 80% of what you eat should be to keep you alive and 20% for enjoyment. “E” is for enjoying exercise. There is no sacrifice in self-care. It’s all about you. “T” is for your thought process. Dr. Sheila says , “It all starts there. You got to have a compelling reason to be a better you and to believe that you can. And so anything will work you know, it’ll work.”

Let’s Create Some Win-Wins

All of Dr. Sheila’s work is about creating win-wins, but she is particularly focused on fixing the broken systems that create obstacles for us to unite. She says that the systems keep us apart and the reason people don’t fix them is the fear that they will lose something. The opposite is true when there are winners and losers, we all lose something. She says the have-nots will always turn over the haves. The solution is to create win-wins and be stronger as a country and as individuals.

Listen or watch this conversation for more ideas about empowering ourselves and others through changing our perspective and seizing opportunities to learn, grow and share our resources.

Most of all, register for the National Diversity Woman Media Business Leadership Conference, November 4-5, and look for Dr. Sheila’s upcoming book, Redefining Your D.I.E.T. and check out her magazines and other online programs.

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The Power of Intentioning to Advance Women’s Leadership

Gloria Feldt admits she made up the word “intentioning” to describe what happens when intention becomes an action. While intention is a wonderful word, it’s static, and Gloria wanted an active verb. She says that, “intentioning is an active verb because I want women to know that we’re talking about not just ambition, not just thinking about it, not hoping, not wishing, not dreaming. We’re talking about, hey, we’re doing it.” And her new book, Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take the Lead for (Everyone’s) Good details 9 new power tools to tell women how to use the power of intentioning to advance women’s leadership, starting with their own.

Leadership Intentioning Tool #1 – Uncover Yourself

Because of her own belated start on her career, Gloria starts with the tool she had to use before she could cross the starting line, “Uncover Yourself.” She grew up one of few Jewish people in a small west Texas town. She knew she was different from the moment she was born as the granddaughter of immigrant grandparents with thick accents and very different cultural practices. She didn’t want to be different, so she did what every girl did. She got married and had four children to become a mother just like everyone else. However, by the time her youngest was four months old, she started community college and 12 years later, she says she discovered “that I had what I called a CEO brain, and I’m willing to take almost any level of responsibility in order to be able to bring people together, have a vision and make things happen in the world.” She uncovered herself, and after serving as CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America for 30 years, Gloria uncovered her passion to advance women’s leadership and started on her current career—NY Times bestselling author, motivational speaker, and co-founder and president of Take the Lead Women, which prepares, develops, inspires and propels women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025.

From NO EXCUSES to INTENTIONING

Gloria armed women with nine power tools with her book, NO EXCUSES: Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. She says that when she did the research for the book, she found that women remained stuck in spite of earning more degrees than men and having broken through many glass ceilings, we remained only 18% of top leadership positions across every sector. She says that she became obsessed with why and “realized that women have been socialized differently around power than men. The history books, all written by men express power in terms of wars and fighting. She says, “It’s about scarcity that there aren’t enough resources, So I have to fight you for mine.” However, Gloria says there is no limit to power. She compares it to a hammer. You can build something with it or smash things apart. She educated as many women as she could with the concept of having the “power to” instead of power over. With “the power to, you can make life better for yourself, your family, your community, your country, the world.”

Now with INTENTIONING: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take the Lead for (Everyone’s) Good, she takes action with nine additional power or “intentioning” tools to help women dream the impossible dream and then live it. Gloria explains that she uses the VCA method and differentiates it from ambition, which is the fuel that makes intentioning happen. You have to start with the vision, then have the courage to put one foot in front of the other and finally, take action.  She says, “Ambition is I hope. I wish. I want. Intention is heck, yes, I’m doing it. I see it already. It’s happening!”

 

 

Watch/Listen for Amazing Ideas

There is so much more to learn from this Smart, Amazing Conversation with Dr. Nancy:

  • On how Take the Lead’s 50 Women Can Change the World Programs really are creating change one industry and profession at a time
  • The richness of diversity as the secret sauce that makes businesses and organizations soar beyond limited boundaries
  • The Intersectionality of racism and sexism and how Gloria sees it as “two heads of the same coin.”
  • The opportunity of the disruption we are experiencing as we emerge from our many crises for the past few years.

Learn more about Take the Lead and upcoming programs at https://www.taketheleadwomen.com/. Order Gloria’s new book at https://gloriafeldt.com/intentioning/. And follow and engage with her everywhere @GloriaFeldt.

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How Activism and Entertainment Can Provide Careers for Women

Inspiration for Helping Others Get Their Voices Heard

Terra Renee

Terra Renee was born to a family involved in activism, but entertainment was her own idea for a career.  The two drives collided when Terra discovered a thousand other women who looked like her auditioning for a very small part in a TV show. Being young and naïve didn’t stop her from instantly realizing that she MUST create jobs for these women. She started writing a screenplay until friends urged her to apply for a grant. She won the grant, which was presented at a luncheon. That luncheon introduced her to another young woman who told Terra that she loved her grant application and wanted to be her publicist. Terra couldn’t imagine why she would need a publicist, but went along, and out of that meeting, African American Women in Cinema (AAWIC) was founded to be a one-time event honoring different women of color in cinema. Twenty-three years later, it is a fully functioning organization helping support women of color to take on roles of filmmaking “from soup to nuts” as Terra says.

Ironically, while writing that first screenplay, Terra took courses in film directing the School of Visual Arts as part of her search. She says that she met a Vietnamese man there who offered “to break her into the business.” When Terra laughed in disbelief, he introduced her to his friends who were producing short films. Terra worked with them in every capacity getting valuable on the job training, and when one of the friends got funding for a feature length film, Terra was hired as the first woman and woman of color associate producer. And when the director submitted it to the Cannes Film Festival, it won an award. The synchronicity of the work, the grant, and the award happening in conjunction with the founding of AAWIC all happened with such an “ease” that Terra says she knew, “This is what you were called to do, and you finally found it.”

YouTube University—A Safe Place to Learn

Terra has talked a lot about the opportunities technology has provided women in past interviews, but in this one, she mentioned how she consults YouTube University on a variety of issues. She says that while some people find it isolating, Terra says, “It’s a very singular space, and it does not allow room for anybody else. That makes it a very safe space emotionally.” So, if she can’t reach a friend on the phone, she types in the subject that is bothering her and says that she finds, “a litany of videos from women who face the same issue.”  She is puzzled that women have been taught so differently. She says that she doesn’t know if they expected us for the next million years to be in the kitchen and raise the children or what. While she thinks there’s nothing wrong with that, she adds, “But God gave us so much more. And we have a responsibility to contribute.” Terra says that it’s also our responsibility to create safe spaces emotionally for one another, reinforce the positive attributes that we have and not focus on the negative. “Balance, in my mind,” Terra says, “is the key to life.”

Women’s Perspectives that Inspire Terra

Terra said that she is encouraged by the women’s groups she has attended recently and the willingness to put differences aside and support each other. She mentioned one in which women announced that they were running for office and could use some help. And others replied that they didn’t have much but offered three or five dollars. Another example was a group of young women in technology who were reaching out to support one another and listen to each other’s issues. And finally, Terra told of being in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when President Biden spoke and how amazed she was to hear women who were born and raised in Tulsa, who had never heard of the Tulsa massacre. What inspires Terra is the new level of visibility for things that have been hidden for so long, and the flame it has sparked. She says it’s about understanding one another without prejudice, engaging, and from that dialogue, putting together an action plan. Terra thinks this is all very powerful, and exclaims, “Oh, Dr. Nancy, there’s another movement!”

Current Activities Giving Voice to Women in Activism and Entertainment

Terra has expanded her offerings over 23 years. In this conversation, she mentions several:

  • An educational series the last Friday of each month where various prominent leaders in the industry talk about various careers. This month, a sound recordist who worked on Michelle Obama’s, “Becoming” documentary is talking about sound as a career.
  • On the Clubhouse App, a weekly filmmaker series every Monday at 6:00 pm talking about the process, so new filmmakers won’t get discouraged and quit before we can see their talent.
  • The next film festival will take place online Nov. 4-6, 2021.
  • Talk with Terra podcast, every Thursday at 7:00 pm on RudyRadio.com.

Listen to this conversation for more of Terra’s insights and story and check out AAWIC website and Terra’s personal website for more information.

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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.

How A Champion of Women Lifts Women Up and Transforms Lives

Linda Rendleman is a passionate champion of women, who says that her path began when she was a child and always wanted to hang out with the children who had less than their peers. Helping others was at her core, so empowering women and girls through various means became her life’s work: as an author, the Women Like Us book series; an inspired speaker,  the visionary and founder of the Women Like Us Foundation, a global charity with the mission of transforming lives of women and girls who change the world, and most recently a transformational coach helping women rediscover their worth, gain clarity and healing from the past, and create their most confident next chapter.

Always forward thinking, Linda began one the first city women’s magazines in the country, “Indianapolis Woman,” and she started a website for women called, Business Women Connect, before anyone understood the impact a website that helped women network and share workplace strategies could have on the lives of women. After getting cancer, her life was redirected and she dusted off her dream of having a charity—a social profit that could transform the lives of women and girls and change the world in the process.  She turned her for-profit into a nonprofit (social profit) and set out to help as many women as possible.

Getting Clear about your Mission

Linda says that early on in her work with the Women Like Us Foundation, she was very involved in sex trafficking and homelessness, but the overarching piece was always education. That was key in her own way forward, and she saw that as the path for others. However, they found themselves trying to change everyone’s lives. She said that, “you can’t do that. It’s like the story of the starfish. You know, you can help that one—throw that one back into the sea.” Then the foundation began narrowing their vision. As a result, she advises women starting a social profit not to waste time trying to help too many people. Narrow your vision until you have a clear message.

Now, Linda says Women Like Us works mostly in Kenya. They began supporting a woman who rescued girls from female genital mutilation (FGM). A tradition in Kenya undertaken by grandmothers and mothers to ensure their daughters are considered good marriage material. Linda says it is done because men don’t want the women to run away after they marry them because of their sex drives.  They also helped a woman named Anne who started a school in the deep Rift Valley area of Kenya called Victorious Teens International. Girls eventually drop out of school when they start their menstrual cycle and are made to sit in dirt or the grass.  Linda became close friends with Ann Kabui and was shocked when she found out the woman had died and was a victim of domestic violence herself. In the process of bouncing back, Women Like Us founded the Women Like Us Center in Nakuru, Kenya, to educate women on ways to transform their lives. They learn to sew and get a certificate so they can get jobs as domestics or start a microenterprise. They are also learning computers now; they grow vegetables to feed their family and have chickens and sell eggs. Linda says it gives her cold chills thinking about how happy she is for these women.

Women Like Us Book Series and Documentary

Linda wrote her books to share women’s stories. When we hear one another’s stories, we are inspired to learn more and support each other. In the 70’s and 80’s when Linda began her education and career, women did not support each other at all. They competed for the few jobs allotted to women and did not reach out to lift other women up. Linda says she was always a feminist and was outraged at limitations placed on women. Among her many radio and television shows, she also executive-produced the film documentary, Women Like Us.  Three Journeys.  One Mission. To Change the World, which follows three women through their travels, experiencing their personal journeys of adversity and evolution, along with witnessing the unimaginable social injustices women face around the world. She says that women she works with to support other women all feel like they are instant best friends because of their shared passion.

What’s Next for Linda and Women Like Us

Linda is reaching out to individual women who are wanting to understand their own next chapter. As an attentive listener, Linda is able to cut through the noise to hear the messages of personal stories that no longer serve us and need to be reframed. Check out her website, whatsnextforwomenlikeus.com for more information. And listen to or watch this conversation for more insight into Linda’s personal story and her rewarding work as a champion for Kenyan women and girls.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

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