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How do we empower Women to Speak out?

I have been thinking for quite sometimes now.See, I have been in training industry this is my sixth (6) year now. Ever since i started todate, i have been observing something that now gives me more concern, i dont know if this only happen on my part of the world or its universal.

Whenever i do training in any area, from Entreprenuership, sales, project management, leadership or confidence building(this is to mention but few), I ask people to share ideas or suggestion, regadless of how equall in number all gender will be presented in those training or talks, in most times men tends to be more vocal than women. My efforts to get the women talk and participate has never seized, and the amazing thing is when they are encourage to talk, the brilliance that comes out of their wisdom is amazing, they bring solutions and ideas that no one has thought of, i could even dare to call them revolutional ideas. I have seen this in most training I conduct, from coorporate, religious group even at schools and universities.

Why is this so, can someone help be understand the phycology behind this and what should be done about it.

Hope to hear suggestions that will help me help the women in my community(even you in your area) understand their potentials and how to bring it out for the benefit of all.


Lilith784's picture

The girl cell

Hello abella,
big question! I am sure there are as many facets to the phenomenon as there are cultures on this planet... maybe even more than that. One piece I thought of when I read your post is Eve Ensler's thesis that the verb society has imprinted on girls is 'to please'. Not to challenge, or to engage, or to contribute, or to yell at the top of your lungs - and maybe there is a connection between this expectation toward girls and the kind of quiet, secretly wise and amazing women they grow into. If you are interested in seeing her talk (and wow, she DOES use her voice!), here is the link to her presentation: By the way, I really like your journal title!

irmia's picture

Thanks for the link

Hey Lilith:

Thanks for the link!
It's always my problem too (to make women speak out).


abella's picture

Thank you

Hi Andrea,

Thank you for the Link and info. I am trying to use worldpulse to gain much information as possible thank you for making this possible.


I am because we are :-)

vivian's picture

nice observation. am like

nice observation. am like that and it is a big challenge. this day. i have learn to say any thing even if it is not relevant, i try to speak before the training ends.

Will really love to be empowered to speak more than what am doing now.


''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

abella's picture

Way to go!

Way to go Vivian,

It started just like that even to the greatest speakers of today, never ever give up on you, along the way you may fall but you will need the falling to strenghten your muscles.

Keep walking...

I am because we are :-)

Mei Li's picture

Universal Questions

Last night I made dinner for my friend and I. I told her about VOF 2010 and asked her what she thought some of the most important issues were that women faced in America, and globally. Our conversation led to personal value, as it was mentioned in another respond to your post. When girls are raised from early ages to value themselves, their voices, their own thoughts and actions, instead of being driven by external forces or expectations - I believe they have a strong change of speaking loudly for themselves, for their communities, for the issues they face daily.

Recently, I read a poem at a local cafe. The poem is a list of statistical violence occuring by men toward women globally. Sometimes I feel timid to read this. I know the world is as it is due to adherence to social customs. I do not point my fingers at anyone, rather, I realize women are silent and men are often more violent due to the societies breeding them, the countless images they witness and absorb into their subconscious minds moment-by-moment. After the last time I read this poem, my friend Anthony came up to me and said, "You know, I just want to let you know that sometimes when you read that poem people probably think you hate men."

And I said, "Really? Because I'm just listing examples of patriarchal violence. If they are offended, they should not be offended by my words, but by the systems of oppression that oppress them as well as women. Further, I am offended every time I turn on the television or open a magazine and see "beautiful" women as only size zeros. I'm offended every time I hear commercials geared toward women about diet pills, supplements, implants, multiple ways to change/manipulate their bodies because society is telling them that they are not good enough HOW THEY ARE, but they need to do something to themselves to be accepted. Those things are offensive and they need to be spoken about."

I do not hate men, at all. I have a problem with patriarchal oppression. But, I cannot say all women are on the same page as me. In fact, I meet many women who are still living under the thumb and rules of the men in their lives, no matter how painful their lives have become. One example, is a friend of a friend. She has been with the same man for seven years and is incredibly unhappy in her relationship. There is verbal/emotional abuse and a lack of support. He does not like when she goes to visit friends and will not watch the children if she needs some time to herself. As a result, she has become highly addicted to multiple things. She is numbing herself to withstand the pain of the relationship she is in. Why does this happen?

One suggestion I have for you leads me to another story :)

When I was facilitating workshops for women who were just released from woman in her forties told me, "I do not want to write anything. I have nothing to add to my journal. I do not want to do these exercises."

I said, "That's ok, you don't have to write anything you don't want to."

After a few moments of silence, she asked, "Why do you write?"

And I said, "My voice was stolen from me when I was very young. I was not allowed to voice myself around my father most of the time because he was drunk and my mother told me not to say anything that would upset him. Then, when I was a teenager, my father found 4 of my diaries and read them all in my face while he stirred a cocktail. I know what it is like to be told what I have to say is not good enough, is just confusion, is meaningless. Writing has saved my life, again and again. Every time I open a journal now, I am refusing to be silent. I am refusing to hide my history. I am refusing to be quiet at the expense of upsetting someone who would benefit from hearing my raised voice."

The woman in the workshop...the one who never wanted to write...ended up being the first one to pick up a pen every week and the one who was most excited to share her entries when we met the following weeks.

I know this is used constantly, Ghandi's "Be the change you wish to see," but from my personal experience...I have to get up on stage and read poems that may jolt people into thinking about the world around them. Because after I'm done reading, people walk up to me with tears in their eyes with many blessings and gratitude because just by listening to me they have found value in their own lives and stories.

My advice - keep raising your own voice :)

We feel empowered when we know we are being listened to.
We wake up stronger knowing we are the change people may need to hear/see/touch/smell/taste.

I can think of nothing better in the world than the voices of women collectively rising.

And, in addition to all that, in agreement with other responses - I, too, believe men need to be taught to listen to their sisters as well.

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

irmia's picture


Hey Mei Li:

Your story is so interesting! And I like the way you write. It's flowing :)


jadefrank's picture

Abella's response

Hi Mei Li,

Just wanted you to see that abella responded to your post... see it below!


ps. so happy to see you're applying!

Mei Li's picture


I saw it indeed, it was the first thing I saw this morning, aside from a sleeping puppy next to me :)

and was just about to reply!

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

abella's picture

Keep walking the talk :-)

Hi Mei Li!

I read your story again and again, its like you are here with me and you speak your heart out. I have heard all that you have said, you have done more than enlightening my mind, you have given me courage to keep speaking even when at time i might think i dont make such impact, at the end of the day if i will touch even a single individual its does count so much in the world of women.

On the issues of a lady that is in abusive relationship, i have experienced the same with some of my friends, this disturbs me so much, i am planning to write a strory on the same soon, these realationship affect not only them but also the babies they bring to this world, it so sad! :-(

I real thank you for such great response,

Hope to read more from you.

Keep walking the talk, there is no stopping ...we have just begun.

I am because we are :-)

Mei Li's picture

: )

I cried when I read your post. When I did my VOF Assignment 1, I talked a lot about validation. It is so empowering when we know we are being heard, when we have a forum to listen to each other on and reply, collaborate, communicate. I have been introduced to so many links to articles, films, issues, pleas for peace and blessings of hope, it continuously fills me and makes me wake up stronger every day.

Remember, you are probably making the strongest impact when you do not think you are making any impact at all!

When I taught a poetry workshop, one woman was quiet in every session. She never even picked up her pen. She was so angry. I could feel it sitting next to her. She had lost custody of her twins. She had just been released from prison. Her life had been turned upside down from decisions and choices she had made, abuse that was done to her and inflicted by her. She had forgotten how to value who she was for all that she was.

So one day, I chose a new writing exercise. I told the women to close their eyes and think of an object. The first object that came to mind - that is what I wanted them to write about. And that one woman who was always so quiet asked, "Can I write about a gun?" She wrote the story of being held at gunpoint a few years earlier. This was the story that unleashed all other stories.

Another time, another woman was equally silent. She would listen to the poems we read at the beginning of the workshop, but she seldom spoke. It was nearing the last week of the workshop and I wanted them all to feel confident in writing their stories. They had already demonstrated that they did not feel comfortable to raise their voices, so at least I wanted them to pick up a pen. We did an exercise that was supposed to help them look at what led them to that very moment. The woman who seldom spoke....told us the story of leaving her 4-year-old son with her boyfriend while she went to the store. She was gone for 20 minutes. The boyfriend fell asleep while watching football. Her son drowned while she was gone.

We are all shaped by the stories and experiences we have lived through. For some of us, these experiences can be so empowering and can open us to our inner strength. We can learn from each day and carry with us the lessons of the moment. For others, we learn to be invisible because somehow we have learned to equate invisibility to safety.

It will count every single day if you wake up and choose to be yourself, to speak loudy, to be the example. I am teaching a workshop in October and I know that people will all get something different out of it. We must hold true to ourselves, that is when we shine the brightest. Sometimes I read poems in front of people and I think the poem is bad or not crafted well enough. I think I have read the same poem too many times. But there is always someone new in the crowd. A few weeks ago I brought my neighbor to a poetry reading. He was reluctant to go. He doesn't really like poetry :O but he told me afterward that I read something that made him cry and I was truly touched!

Our words evoke emotion. When we appear vulnerable, just as when we appear strong, we are teaching others to look deeply inside of themselves, to not be scared of what they find, and to celebrate who they are :)

I am because we are, exactly :)

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

abella's picture

I am going to give it a shot!

"Our words evoke emotion. When we appear vulnerable, just as when we appear strong, we are teaching others to look deeply inside of themselves, to not be scared of what they find, and to celebrate who they are :)"

Thank you for the above sentence, it has taught me something i have been doing for ages but at time i felt like what is the meaning of these.See, I am involved with so much projects...last year my company did "Parents Engage day" where after a long period of mentoring children we found out that much as they want to become so much more but they lack support from parents, the day was parked with more than a thousand parents and I spoke...mind you, I am 28, single-never married and I have no child, but after i was done speaking, a multitude of parents came after me some crying and some wanting my contacts so as i have more session with them one on one on how to be a better parent, i honestly freaked out and did shut down, because i thought who am I to tell these parents, most of them where woman bytheway how to raise their children while i had none,now refering back to your above statement i know now that i did wrong...we are to organise the same event on Feb 13 of 2011, this time i will be more that prepared with a sustainable strategy of how to help these mothers.

"Remember, you are probably making the strongest impact when you do not think you are making any impact at all!"

Another thing with this statement, i have been requested to counsel a mother and a girl child who is 13 and has been raped by her father, who is now in jail, the case is still in court and the girl still goes to give testimony now and then, honestly i didnt know what to go say, but now I will go and say whatever i have from my heart and just be there for them...who knows, maybe one out of 100 statements i will make one will be the answer to this familly.

Again, thank you so much Mei Li.

Much Blessings.

I am because we are :-)

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