Women empowering other women is a beautiful thing! Finishing the Women as Change Agent’s conference has made every woman’s life a little brighter and made every woman more motivated to take this light back into their communities. Keyla, Liz and Elliese are the three Panamanian residents who are fortunate enough to remain here in Panama, still surrounded by the energy that the conference created. Now, it is our honour and responsibility to take the knowledge we learned and empower the women in Panama to become change agents too.
MDG#3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women by 2015. –Millennium Development Goals, UN Development Programme.
We want to promote women through the sharing of knowledge and resources, and empower them through support groups and leadership courses so they can create change on community, business and government levels.
Our Goals – bringing our Vision to life.
Our vision is a three-step process. Our first goal is to create the women’s circles in Panama City. Our second goal is to create leadership workshops that will enhance the women’s circles, and our third goal is to empower women to take a larger role in business and government.
Our project proposal to promote the MDG #3: We want to begin by creating a Women’s Circle in Panama City. From there, we want to branch out to urban and rural areas where we have identified a lack of development resources (education, skills, mindset, support) and create Self-Empowerment Leadership Workshops and Women’s Circles.
Outcome: Through Women Circles and Self-Empowerment Leadership Workshops, we can provide the space for women from Panama and Expats to come together and challenge each other, share with each other, express successes and fears and ultimately inspire each other to make change. Through this, the women in Panama, especially Colon and Piriati Embera, can gain the power and tools to be more active in business and government.
*Step #1. Women’s Circles (Panama City)
Firstly, women on a professional and personal level often face issues and lack a comfortable environment to discuss and solve these issues. Secondly, women from Panama and Expats have diverse life experiences and mindsets that are tools for change, but are separated by language, culture, and social circles.
Our Proposal to promote MDG 3
Our first goal is to create a Women’s Circle in Panama City, which will provide a comfortable environment for Panamanian and Expat women to meet and exchange opinions and ideas. This will take place over the next few months.
First we need to brainstorm different ways we can structure the women’s circles. Here are a few questions we want to ask. Should we base the meeting around a specific topic or should we allow each meeting’s topic to organically unfold? How big should the group be so that women still feel safe to share? How often should we meet? Should we close the circle every few weeks and during the closed sessions make every women commit to coming or should we allow women to freely come and go to meetings? These are all important things to think about and once we define how we want the meetings to happen we can initiate the pilot program here in Panama City.
After a few months of the pilot program we want to do a deep analysis of what is working and what is not and use this information to allow other women to start circles and eventually spread them throughout the city.
*Step #2. (Indigenous Embera rural community ; Colon City)
Women in low-resource communities are often confined to gender-stereotyped roles and have limited access to education, tools, or opportunities to help them break the cycle of poverty.
Our Proposal to promote MDG 3
Our second goal is to start Self-empowerment Leadership workshops in Piriati Embera and Colon, two communities where we have already personally invested time and have developed relationships with the women.
The ‘Diagnosis’ period is critical to this Step in our Project, as we want to implement a course that will be working across cultures, so cultural sensitivity is vital. Working with our established relationships and contacts in each of these communities, we have to diagnose the current situation and interests of these potential participants. The ‘Planning’ period is equally important, as we want the women themselves to design a workshop tailored to their interests and needs. We want to touch upon a range of topics, from self-esteem, re-defining the concept of leadership, and practical skills such as how to write business plans.
Finally, we want to implement Women’s Circles in the communities, using our experience from the pilot program in Panama City, so that the momentum for change does not end with the Self-Empowerment Leadership Workshop.
There is a international under-representation of women in leadership positions in business and political arenas.
Our Proposal to promote MDG 3 – “A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is a strategic business statement which is created to focus an organisation on a single medium-long term organisation-wide goal which is audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible.” – Jim Collins
The Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal in all of this is that our workshops and women’s circles will spread like wildfire and empower the women though-out Panama to feel capable of taking on leadership positions, especially in business and government. Through women using supportive Women’s Circles and tools from the Self-Empowerment Leadership workshops to create their own businesses and aspire to leadership positions, we want to channel some of the economic growth in Panama to Colon City and rural areas. We also want our project to eventually be self-sustaining, even for-profit. We want to dream big and help others dream big too. With the tools we have there is no end to the possibilities!
Keyla, Liz and Elliese