Empowered with Purpose

Posted on Jun 13, 2018

Mrs. Jayanthi, Managing Trustee of Women’s Voice Trust, in Chinnamanur, Theni District, welcoming RSWR board member Marian Bean to a group’s brick-making project.

In January, I traveled to Tamil Nadu, India, with fellow RSWR Board member Doug Smith and former Board member David Camp, to learn about the Right Sharing experience from the women with whom we partner through our grant-training and skill-building service programs. During our two-week visit, we were privileged to meet many strong women and learn how their training has contributed to the success of their RSWR-funded individual and group projects.

 

This was my first trip to India, although I had previously visited the other two regions RSWR serves: I was in Kenya in 2016 with members of my family, and in Sierra Leone in 2017 as a member of the Board, along with General Secretary Jackie Stillwell and former Board member Lucretia Humphrey. Although culture and history mean that our work in each region is specific and unique, some common themes and experiences were evident in my travels. While all the women with whom we partner have a very low income and limited formal education, they are hard-working and often the sole source of family income.

Marian Beane and General Secretary Jackie Stillwell with the women of
Fourabay Market Women Association in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The women are good at organizing and are willing to work across differences for the betterment of the group. They are very committed to the welfare of their children, especially their education. Throughout my visits I heard stories of marginalized women feeling a greater sense of empowerment. This came about as they developed a greater capacity to provide for their families, including school uniforms and fees, more nutritious food, and a new roof on their home. It was also expressed through the modeling of respect and acceptance of differences, gaining a sense of greater respect from their husbands, and experiencing a higher standing in the community.

 

I am humbled by the strength of purpose and determination of these women and the opportunity Right Sharing and its supporters have been given to partner with them in important and meaningful ways. It has been a blessing to see their business successes, to observe their pride in the betterment of their families and their empowerment in their communities, and to witness their gratitude for RSWR’s contribution to making all of this possible.
– Marian Beane