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Shifting Mind Sets

How do I change a mind set premised on a belief system that is cemented in cultural brainwashing and socialization centuries old? Women have been brought up believing that they are third-rate citizens in their communities. In fact, where I come from, the status of women comes after that of children (men are at the top, of course), cows, goats, dogs and cats!! Women do not even believe women like themselves can be leaders. So, when a woman rises up to lead, women are the first ones to pull her down. The systemic brainwashing of women in our families and communities through religion, traditions, culture, and education, has left a permanent mark in their psyche – they find it hard to believe in themselves. They believe they cannot change the way things are and the way things are done. This is one of the most challenging barriers in my work with women in my community.

Our society is very patriarchal. Men feel threatened by women who question the institutions and cultural practices that put down women. Husbands will force their wives through threats not to attend women-led organizations that empower women to see and create possibilities in their lives. Women have no support system when cultural practices abuse their human rights since our legal systems and religious institutions are no better.

To overcome these barriers, personally, I have learned about women’s human rights and joined hands with organizations that work to enlighten male leaders on the unique needs of women living with HIV/AIDS and their children, what they need from leaders and how leaders can support them. In addition, I have supported women to create groups that act as support systems when husbands die. Within women’s groups women support each other in crafting ways to overcome their daily challenges. These women’s groups have become life-line support for new members who do not know what to do when they realize they are HIV positive. I have supported widows get legal help when relatives or other unscrupulous community members try to steal their property by linking them to paralegal personnel who train them on human rights awareness and link them to human rights organizations that help women claim their property.

Currently I use PulseWire and other online communities to highlight the problems women face in my community by writing about them, pointing them to resources and offering solutions they may choose to try out to solve their problems. I also learn about creative ways women are addressing similar challenges in other parts of the world. Recently, I shared my thoughts about peace education in PeaceXpeace and connected with an organization interested in partnering with us to do peace education training for teachers in Kenya.

In PulseWire, I have posted my organization needs in the Action Center and found resources useful for us in Resource Exchange. I have announced our Women’s Congresses as well as connected with great women through conferences announced in Global Gatherings. Women learning from women will help shift mind sets.

Comments

Bhavya's picture

you have a strong voice and I

you have a strong voice and I am encouraged by your active participation in emancipating women from their own mental shackles.

Too often it is women who bring ourselves down by not believing we are equal and more equal than men.

Amani K's picture

Thank you

Hi Bhavya,

I like the words "... we are equal and more equal than men." Thank you for your words.

Karambu

Dr. Karambu Ringera
Founder and President, International Peace Initiatives
Vice President, Global Ecovillages Network (GEN) Africa
Advisory Board Member, Women Human Rights Institute, University of Toronto
Member and Delegate, Soroptimist Internationa

Christine.Dahl's picture

Wow. You have so clearly

Wow. You have so clearly identified so many obstacles and opportunities. When I read your essay, I felt sad for women who do not even know they have a voice and for women and men who would silence them. Thank you for helping women who have the greatest needs. Take heart. You are shaping the future.
Christine

Amani K's picture

Thank You

Hi Christine,

Thank you!!

karambu

Dr. Karambu Ringera
Founder and President, International Peace Initiatives
Vice President, Global Ecovillages Network (GEN) Africa
Advisory Board Member, Women Human Rights Institute, University of Toronto
Member and Delegate, Soroptimist Internationa

Julie Tomlin's picture

Again, wow

Your writing indicates a strength and determination which I can see has propelled you to tackle the issues and prejudices you face and you have clearly grasped the potential that online communities offer.
I wish you well, really well.

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

Amani K's picture

Thank You

Hi Julie,

Thank you for your kind words and well wishes - we will continue to do our best.

Peace,

Karambu

Dr. Karambu Ringera
Founder and President, International Peace Initiatives
Vice President, Global Ecovillages Network (GEN) Africa
Advisory Board Member, Women Human Rights Institute, University of Toronto
Member and Delegate, Soroptimist Internationa

Nancy J. Siegel's picture

You write so passionately

Dear Dr. K:
You write so beautifully, clearly and passionately. You have a strong voice, which clearly is being heard!

Nancy Siegel

Nancy Siegel

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