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Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to be a delegate to the UN Conference on Women by the NGO, Pathways for Peace.  From around the world, women gathered to tell their stories, share their struggles and offer solutions.  The focus this year was Rural Women.  At one panel, the moderator, Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, the Chair from the NGO/Committee for the Status of Women from Geneva as well as the Secretary General of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA), told her story.  


Although she was a highly trained human rights lawyer, she still considered herself a rural woman.  When she was born, her family had one blanket.  The poignancy of this struck me when I was at Whole Foods during the lunch break, surrounded by shelves with hundreds of varieties of everything from lotions to juices to jellies.  The point was brought home even more later that day when I went to my friend’s apartment where I was staying.  When I opened the cupboard door to find a towel, the shelves were filled to brimming with sheets, blankets, towels.

Nyaradzai went on to say that when she grew up, because her family was so poor, her older sister had to marry a man with resources so that Nyaradzai could go to school and own a pair of decent pants.  

In America, for most of us reading this, it boggles the mind.  I have gone through times in my life when I struggled financially and couldn’t pay my bills but my situation never matched the plight of the rural women around the world.

You may be wondering why I would share a story like this in an idea column.  Well, this woman who began life crawling towards the fire at night because her family only had one blanket, got an education and went on to become a world leader in the fight for human rights and women’s issues.  

How many of you out here have complained about the fact that you can’t accomplish your goals, that you don’t have enough of something to change your life? 

I will never forget this woman.  She reminds me to be careful of the stories I tell myself.  They are powerful.  Replace all the limiting ones with this woman’s story and remember how capable you really are, how unbelievably malleable life truly is.  Don’t give up.  Get educated, continue to strive to be your best, never make excuses, and appreciate all the blankets, pants, lotions, jellies that you have.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thank you for this special moment that we shared, at the NGO CSW Consultation. I am humbled by your sharing and reflection. My life experience shapes my daily struggles for human dignity and equal opportunity for girls. with best wishes. Nyaradzayi

    March 2, 2012
    • Hello Nyaradzayi,

      Thank you so much for commenting. Would you be willing to talk more about your journey? The little bit I heard brought me to tears and inspired me to heaven! I cannot imagine what I could learn if you shared more.

      All the best,

      March 2, 2012

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