March 4, 2015 | Comment


The feminine face of power

I was born in Santiago, Chile, in the middle of the political upheaval. My parents had to move to Costa Rica when I was 5 years old looking for refuge. I had already one sister and one brother, and my mother was pregnant.

In this difficult situation I saw the different roles that my parents played. My mother had the ideas and my father supported them. She was the one who found the best school for us; she inspired my father to finish his university studies; she found a good house for renting. In order to give us food, she waited in long queues to receive milk. To ensure we had a good education she found several extra courses in the arts which we could take for free. This capacity of my mother to see opportunities in difficulties and to make the effort to fulfill her vision was the result of her love, her sense of responsibility, her unending hope and her adventurous nature. These qualities are not exclusive to my mother but are qualities that many women in war situations, natural disasters, poverty, and other social difficulties are compelled to draw upon. These capacities constitute the feminine face of power, which is absolutely essential to sustain and nurture families and communities, and create new realities in changing times.

My experience with a special woman leader:

During my work experience at UNFPA (UN Population Fund) I was engaged in many affirmative actions for gender equality, not only from a legal perspective, but also from a policy perspective crafted by governmental institutions. Those affirmative actions concentrate on the strengthening and building of women’s capacities to impact the development and growth of communities.

However, gaps still remain which need to be filled in the cultural aspects where myths and false beliefs continue to put women in a subordinate position. However, women have been learning to acknowledge and use their own strengths to overcome the limitations of the existing social structure.

As I was grappling with the paradox of personal empowerment and secular development, I had the great fortune of meeting Dadi Janki, who serves as the head of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. She is one of those women who have the courage and conviction to walk the talk of what spiritual empowerment and leadership is all about in spite of the rejection and discrimination she faced from her family and from the community at large.

Even today, as she walks to the milestone of 100 years of age, Dadi Janki continues to inspire me to overcome my own fears and insecurities and to assume a position of leadership in a world dominated by the leadership of men. She teaches by example and wisdom on how to nurture my self-confidence and vocation for service.

She has demonstrated to me how the quality of my own thoughts and feelings, and the clarity in my intention, need a constant spiritual practice such as meditation, in order to keep my inner peace and wisdom as foundational to making accurate decisions.

These two women — Dadi Janki and my mother have been my source of inspiration. They have taught me in different ways the greatest lessons a young woman is privileged to have:

1. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ In a practical way and in different contexts, women have an enormous capacity for creating solutions to problems and transforming awareness, attitudes, and perceptions that are needed in these changing times.

2. ‘In the final analysis, what really matters?’ If we could acknowledge and give more resources, time, and energy to strengthen the feminine qualities and build spiritual capacity in both men and women, we could work together with equality, respect, and appreciation in creating generative communities. We could rise above limitations, break free from silos, and inspire succeeding generations to a future of unlimited possibilities.

Filed in: Center Peace - March

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