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How do we empower women to speak out?

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.


Vasantha's picture

Men need to be helped

The cultural silence found in many parts of the asian and african continents forces women not to talk much in the presence of their men. Only when women have sufficient space privately to raise their concern only then they will be able to do it in the presence of the men.
On the other hand, we have seen that if men are put together on their own in exercise to understand patriarchy, they see that they also are suffering from patriarchal values and then are able to understand the women are suffering. Then they will encourge women to speak.
However, there are no hard and fast rules. It may vary from place to place.

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Wonderful conversation and

Wonderful conversation and question Abella. I encourage you to post this to your journal as well, as we are trying to keep this group mainly for questions about the application process along with important announcements.

However, I think your question directly relates to what we are trying to accomplish here in this program: to give women the tools to increase the impact of their leadership and voice. One of the first things that comes to mind for me is that women need a space where they feel comfortable to speak out. As Vasantha mentions above, this often only happens when women are alone, by themselves. My second thought is that this process, of speaking up, needs to be encouraged and nurtured at an early age--only if we encourage our girl children to speak up and let them know they are valued, and instill in little boys the ability to listen and value their sisters, are we ever going to see any difference.

This forum, PulseWire, and Voices of Our Future are meant to bring out our empowered voices, make us feel stronger seeing the support from across the globe, holding us up, telling us to reach for the light!


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Dear Abella and vasantha,

It is true, for over centuries, even up to now the patriachy culture has been reffered in the relationship between men and women. Traditionally people get used to have men in front, be the leader and consistently more vocal than women.
In deed those not necessarily showing only men are capable and should be in the position number one and speak more in all living aspects. We know that actually women know better about reproductive health, family care, water utilization etc., though apparently they 'missed' the family planning decision, the rights to health, sanitation and hygiene criteria and soon. More women stand up; however, we can not deny that women in their lives facing specific barriers as part of their gender disparities.

They have personality barriers as you pointed; they are not getting used to speak, to lead, to produce something - they are submissively have been indoctrinated to become the 'followers', the 'recipients' and the good 'listeners'. Culture has put 'soft' or 'hard' demarkation of what to do or not to do in order to be 'good women'. Institutions are mostly controlled by men; so are resources. Women are mostly 'alone' and 'lonely' to do the 'life-journey'; even when they are already in the place of politician among men in the parliamentary. Stereotypes are around - they say '... cause you are in the 'men's path'.... Thus, gender movement is not only for women but also for men; as partners to support the advancement.

It is suggested by Nawal el Saadawi to create alliances - otherwise no gender movements could win.
Thus, this is also part of our challenges to vote women for women, to support women for women - to avoid women as enemy to another woman. Gender disparity - jealousy is easily born in women compared to men. Female is more emotional than male due to feminine versus masculine characteristic that was born inside us.
We need extra training for earn the women's skills to get more practical and systematic; in strategic thinking, decision making and so on. Why? Our ancestors forgot to train girls... they only train boys...

The new era of millennium goals has highlighted the importance of women's empowerment and gender equality.
It is our obligation to encourage the women 'voice', the 'choice' and stand up for 'forces' towards the changes for gender harmony, equal opportunity, equal access, equal control for the equal benefits.
The women's empowerment is family advancement towards future investment! Go tell this to all men..

Move on ladies!


abella's picture

Thank you.

Hi Vasantha,Rachael and Erna,

Thank you so much for such an enlighnment.

Rachael, I will definetely post it to my journal, I am still learning how to use Worldpulse, hope you guys will bear with our mistakes here and there, we will soon get it...:-).

There is an African saying goes: 'If you educate a woman you educate the entire village'.

Thank you for letting me understand that this is a movement, literally a revolution that needs time to mature, but it will definetely happen. It is good to know such hope exist, because i believe women are endowned with a mother like love and care, where when they get and opportunity it will serve more than one individual.

I will definetely keep walking as i try various approaches suggested and more to raise a champion in a girl child and help grow confidence in and adult woman.


I am because we are :-)

Nancy Fritsche Eagan's picture

The Wisdom of Women

Thank you Abella and all,
I just came out of a very inspirational interview with a Latina woman in NYC and opened my computer and read your post. My interview was about money and the economy. Her story was about leaving home at 14 to feed herself and educate herself and how this shaped how she approaches life and raising her daughter now. She said "I am not ashamed to tell you what it was like for me." She sits with her daughter every month to pay the bills and reflects with her daughter as bills and costs go up and down and what that means for their budget. She is teaching her daughter how to live in an uncertain world, how to make do, how to make decisions about money, how to save for something you really want or need. We need to access more of this wisdom and the strategies that women have been using to keep themselves and their families going. We need to go out and ask women questions and be ready to capture what share -- especially for our daughters.
The e-mail I opened after yours was from "CNN Breaking News" -- -- Percentage of Americans in poverty rises to 14.3% in 2009, highest in decades, Census Bureau says.
What if we were to interview all the women we knew? What could we be learning? How can we share that wisdom with the world? Maybe that is what we are all up to.
Take care, Nancy

Hello Abella

Im sure all of us know that we are raised by our patriarchal condition-only the father were the once who decide for the family.Always the father is the pillar and head of the family and we, women is the light bringer.How about if it happens that the pillar they said was been infested by termites?And also,we.women are like the cord of an electricity and the men are the outlet.Once you put the cord in the outlet it will work and will be usefull.Women need to have a space and opportunity like trainings in relation to what we have observe.Like for example a mother whose 3 daughters were being rape victims one at-a-time at the same day in the community.It's my first time to met/know her.For a very long time she don't want to speak-up in the presence of local gov't.volunteer staff because she said she's been ignored of the help &,support they need from them and they're being ostrascised.She said that the blotter she made in the local police station was lost without giving her a copy so meaning she lost her faith towards them.What I do is i mediate by first requesting those who are present in the meeting the assurance that all the things that transpired during our conversation can just keep to ourselves and to the four corners of the room?.Nobody wants to experience the same what had happen to them but there's a STOP to that.After letting her cry,consoling her and the groups assurance she started to speak-up all her pains,sorrows and grievances.We end up the meeting by acknowledging the kindness presence within the heart of everyone who listens to her situation.

To a simple person a simple words which comes from the very core of the heart is enough to console.

Ina Hume's picture

Patriarchy and marriage/children

This is fascinating. I look at the whole partiarchal society in a slightly different way now, as I just got married two months ago (anniversary on friday). Everyone expected me to take my husband's name- which to some extent I may have done- neither of us are sure as I was so late on the day and lost the paperwork. I am keeping my name for work purposes, as I have built up over 20 years worth of contacts as Ina Hume, so i don't want to lose those connections, however small it is to have a new name.

But the thing that really got me thinking, was the fact that so many of my friends are not married but have children with partners, and all of them have given the father's name to their children without thinking twice. Some are no longer with the father's and so have a different surname to their children who they live with for at least part of the time. It seems strange that even in western countries, women give all these things away in the personal realm without thinking, but are still feminists in the professional sphere. We need to question all forms of patriarchy and why things are the way they are, and challenge things if they perpetuate sexism and the disempowerment of women.

I love my husband dearly and he will support me whatever I want to do. And, changing your name is something that men can also feel emasculated by, especialy if their friends or family's are not so progressive. Luckily my man is secure and he accepts his radical feminist, forgetful wife. (The question is did i forget or was i late on purpose....)

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