The world is filled with seemingly impossible challenges: wars, conflict, environmental degradation, interpersonal violence that affects one in every three women in the world, and the list goes on and on…
So where can we even begin to find hope and the possibility of change when problems are on a giant scale? The answer lies in women and women’s groups.
When I was a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University, I developed my innovation framework for violence prevention; this was reviewed by the Violence Prevention Alliance of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the NGO I founded was admitted to the alliance on the basis of the science behind the methods.
One of the pillars of my innovation framework is the power of women and women’s groups around the world. You most certainly have seen the power of women’s groups and their ability to successfully carry out health promotion and social change efforts; it is quite possible you may have benefitted from it in some way.
The WHO recommends empowering women with health information because of the pivotal role we play in caring not only for ourselves but also for our families and our communities.
But what exactly is the force that underlies women’s ability to overcome odds and improve conditions in the world?
When women and women’s groups work together to improve conditions in the world – this is love in action; it is one of the keys to overcoming seemingly impossible odds, and creating a better world today, and a better future for our children and grandchildren.
The next time you wonder how to make sense in a world that appears senseless and how to find hope in a world that feels hopeless, remember the power of women and women’s groups. Therein lie the seeds of hope, and love is the life-force contained within the seeds. I invite you recognize this and support women and women’s groups today, especially on International Women’s Day, but also everyday.
We can fly to the moon and we can explore the deepest oceans, yet our human hearts have not kept pace with technological advancements.
War and other forms of violence and bloodshed are vestiges of our old selves.
What kind of world do we want to leave for our children and grandchildren?
What if we invest as much in peace and violence prevention as we do in war and weapons? What if we systematically plant and cultivate the seeds of love?
What might the world be like in the next fifty years and beyond if we had a curriculum that taught adults and children everywhere essential elements of compassion, cooperation, peaceful discussions, and non-violent conflict resolution?
What if movies and television programs were saturated with actions that depict loving-kindness rather than aggression? What if along with teaching children reading and writing, we teach them about the active practice of empathy and caring for others? What if we taught all parents everywhere ways of raising children without resorting to violence?
I invite you to sit with these questions for a moment and envision the resulting world if we were to bring these ideas to fruition. This is a legacy you can feel proud of – and a legacy that will ripple forward into future generations.
It is time for our hearts and minds to keep pace with our technological advancements. There are many ways to plant the seeds of love as an antidote to violence. We can do so as individuals, as communities, as nations, and as one collective family on this planet.
What kind of world do you wish for your children and grandchildren?
We are wired as much for love as we are for aggression. War is not inevitable. We have choices as individuals and as nations.
The physical and emotional fallout of war and conflict contribute significantly to the global burden of disease and distress. If we want to improve the health of individuals and nations, then we must reset our compasses to focus on “tools of widespread construction” rather than “weapons of mass destruction.”
It is the only sane and compassionate course of action and future generations will thank us.