Leadership: What Difference Do Women Make?

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What Difference Do Women Make?

In March, the Women Power and Politics exhibition asked if you think having women in power makes a difference. We deliberately used "women" in plural because, for the first time in history, we are seeing women exercise their power as a critical mass, be in formal politics in the Parliament of Norway or the village councils of India or in more informal ways, as religious leaders in Morocco, community activists in Nigeria or grassroots leaders in Mexico. What do you think are going to be the effects of this critical mass?

Are women just more practical?

Lately, I've been hearing the argument a lot that women are just more practical. They understand the cost of violence and the many years and lifetimes it takes to repair damage to individual psyches, the fabric of communities and the infrastructure of countries. Do you think women are more practical?

Women do make a great difference

Women do make a great difference worldwide directly or indirectly. Some women have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to effect change. A proverb that potrays this is 'the man is the head while the woman is the neck which turns the head'. So some do work quietly and get things done without much publicity. Those that come to the forefront represent the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

sesame seed
sesame seed

Palestinian Women making a difference

The story about the Zapatista reminded me of an article I read back in March that i thought is worthy of sharing:
Hundreds of Women, School Girls Demonstrate in Beit Ommar
March 3rd, 2008

[On] Monday march 3, the females of Beit Ommar marched against the atrocities being committed by the Israeli military in Gaza. More than 200 women from the village and girls of all ages gathered on the main street and began marching towards the military watchtower. They carried Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against the Israeli Occupation and in support of national Palestinian unity. Israeli soldiers attacked the demonstration, as they did at similar student demonstrations throughout the West Bank today, firing tear gas, sound grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at the crowd, with some participants as young as 10 years old. The soldiers then began shooting tear gas into the brand new girls’ school, which just opened this year.
At one point, about an hour into the demonstration, the Israeli military arrested one young man on a side street. Several women, including a PSP committee member, immediately intervened. They were also supported by a PSP male activist who was nearby. The man and women stood in front of the jeep to prevent it from driving away. Soldiers then attacked the protesters, punching both PSP members multiple times. Eventually, after threatening more participants with arrests, the soldiers left with the man. Later in the day young men came out into the streets to confront the Israeli military vehicles that were still in Beit Ommar. 6 were reported wounded.

This was the third consecutive day of demonstrations in Beit Ommar against the horrifying attacks on Gaza that have left more than 100 dead and over twice as many wounded. Many Palestinian activists and leaders have been quick to point out that there is still unity and solidarity between the people of the West Bank and the people of Gaza, who have been increasingly isolated after residents rejected the imposition of a Fatah-led government last summer. Mustafa Bargouthi, a member of the Mubadara movement, said yesterday that this looked like the beginning of a return to the tactics of the 1st intifada, in which Palestinians engaged in decentralized, popular resistance to the Israeli Occupation.
source: http://palestinesolidarityproject.org/2008/03/03/hundreds-of-women-school-girls-demonstate-in-beit-ommar/

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Michael DeLong
Michael DeLong
Etats Unis

Regarding Repeating the Mistakes of Men

Sinead O'Connor says that the opposite of patriarchy is not matriarchy, but fraternity (to which I would add: or sorority). By this I take her to mean that we should not be looking to fix the current situation by replacing the rule by men with rule by women. It is the entire system of "rule by" that is problematic in the first place. Gender equity cannot be addressed by rises to power, but rather by the sharing of power.

Michael DeLong
Michael DeLong
Etats Unis

Regarding the Above

Sorry if the above comment seems jarringly out of context! I was responding to a comment much further upthread!

Luciana Francis
Luciana Francis
Royaume Uni

We are more important than we think

I believe that History ( or as an university;sfriend used to say: "His-tory") has not found apprpriate ways to embrace women in their sheer relevance and magnificance, therefore women's importance have to be appreciated via the consequence of daily, continuous affairs like those of bringing up children and caring for their loved ones. I am generalising because History has done so to many generation of women, but of course there were those who fought for rights which were unitl they fought for it, denied to us (i.e vote, birth control, work rights). Its a complex debate for we fght on many fronts, and there are women in the world today fighting to have the right to vote, and on the other hand there are women aiming for equal pay in the work place. Historically we have been idealized as Muses for Masters, but there were woen creating, searching, discovering and pioneering in their own right. For some reason, history has favoured the male denominations of genius and heroes, but lets not forget the women who not only brought those called heroes up, as well as paved their own track to fulfill their destinies, the heroines, the Mistresses (even that term seemed to ahve been hijacked from us and made perjorative!). Look at the life of Marie Curie, Christine de Pizan, Mary Whollstonecraft and so many others...Why arent they in our hsitory books???


Womem have been the change points in my life. Once I understood that, I understood that when women do shoare power with men - or even control it for a while - they take my reality in very interesting and positive places. They do the same for nations.
That being said, in a study I did in the 90's of women heads of state, I found that women behaved just like men in that position. But the conclusion I take away is that the position defined the women, and the position was created by decades or centureis of men. We have not had enough time to fashion leadership structures that balance male and female to understand how much better the world would be with a crit8ical mass of women in power. ( If we had, there would be no war in Iraq)

Dee Shelby Knight
Etats Unis

Women as muse/initiatress/goddess/mother

It seems odd, does it not, that in many ancient texts throughout history, people (mostly men) have gloried in the power of woman, the "Divine Feminine" principle, and yet turned around as a society and in fear and ignorance sought to squelch her power?

I see this issue in much the same light that I see religious bigotry and hate organizations. A fear of the unknown causes a desire to oppress it.

Dee Shelby Knight
Etats Unis


This is echoed throughout many cultures (as I stated above) and in different ways. There is a tribe (I cannot remember which or from where, I'll have to find my information again) where the men recognize the power of women, especially during her menstrual cycle, and do not allow them to use the power lest they themselves become insignificant.

Variations on this with different feminist issues can be found in abundance worldwide.

Lalita Raman
Lalita Raman
Hong Kong

Pride v/s Prejudice

Any human being with a heart and soul can make a difference to this world, to our neighbors, family and friends. However, sadly even in today's day and age, a Woman in Power and the way she conducts is more often than not micro-scoped like a tooth-comb. A woman who tries to exercise her day to day activities as a critical mass, every so often is criticized as being aggressive. Yet, amidst all this I think each of us as a Woman have made a difference as a colleague, friend, wife, girlfriend,Samaritan & mother. And The Difference is our empathy, sincerity and diligence and the ever willing attitude to accommodate -live and let live.

Etats Unis

Transcending the Cocoons

The recent surge in collective expression of power by women across the continents showcases the strides made by women in fields of education, arts, literature, science, politics and businesses etc. This surely is a harbinger of new social construct. A foreboding of a new milieu where gender equality is not just skin deep but runs in the very veins of the society. I think that the new trend is viral and is shaping the new world woman by inspiring them to not just EXIST but to LIVE a LIFE with a MEANING that transcends the confines of their protected, cocooned world of homes with white picket fences. Long live Aung San SuU Kyi, Medha Patkar, Benazir Bhutto, Hilary and the list is endless...

Emma Regis
Emma Regis

Long live the difference

An example: I was one of five women participatns invited to a three-month, all-men religious trainging workshop on formation. The organizers, invited us, because they have experienced that in an all-men conference, when women were invited, the men got more "dynamic" in their participation!!! But they did not want a one-to-one ratio as they found out the dynamics veered towards sexual-intimacy thing. Weird? But, I was grateful for that "conclusion" as it brought me to The Netherlands and Europe for the first time.


Looking for extraordinary Women

IMW members,

I'm a Venezuelan filmmaker living in France (at the moment) , after I saw and got to know about IMW, immediately became a member.

At the moment I'm creating a project that its to promote and help understand differences.

It will be a collection of portraits (written by the person itself and picture) about extraordinary women for different backgrounds, culture, age and profession.

I will recollect the material and do a book and a video art .

If you think you can be a great example to other or feel you have a story to tell, please contact me, I will love it if you can be part of it.

Thank you,

Beatriz Ciliberto


My mother

A few days ago, my brother and I had a conversation. He is a teenager, and had just read the gossip-blah about Rihanna and Chris Brown. I have no idea how it happened, but at one point my brother said, "I would never hit a woman, even if she pissed me off. First of all, mom would never forgive me, and besides, who am I to hit a fellow human being?"

My mother taught us to think of either gender with respect in spite of difference. It might sound a bit preachy, but the reason I walked away from an abusive relationship, is because I knew even before it started that I deserved better. My mother showed me by example.

Mothers teach, with instilled lesson and by example. They are such a powerful influence and can make the difference between a successful society and a disintegrating one.

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