From Local to Global Women Empowerment Creates Massive Change

Cheryl Pia | December 06, 2018

From Local to Global Women Empowerment Creates Massive Change

When Rosalba left her native El Salvador for Mixco, (a 50 square-mile slum neighboring Guatemala City) ten years ago, she found herself lost in a muddy sea of displaced strangers. Lacking in clean water, sanitation facilities, jobs and communication among its overwhelmingly migrant population, Rosalba’s adopted home left her afraid and alone. Her husband, a day laborer, turned to long nights of heavy drinking to cope with his alienation and marginal earnings. Unable to share her story or experiences with anyone in her community, she carried on in silence for five years before catching word of a new PCI Women Empowerment group in Mixco.

As she began regularly attending their meetings, the ice began to melt; Rosalba began to make strong connections as she and the other women discussed solutions to issues plaguing their lives, families and communities.

The group encouraged Rosalba to recognize her self-worth; she began asserting her place both in her home and her community in addition to standing up to her husband’s mistreatment. He worked to provide income and education for her four children and became a community leader who helped make nutritious food accessible to Mixto’s families.

We all know that the most remarkable transformations begin with internal change, but the support and understanding of a sympathetic community can often be what facilitates this change in the first place. As women like Rosalba work tirelessly to carve out their place in environments that so often work against them, empowerment and confidence are perhaps the most crucial baseline tools of all. By offering social and financial training and encouraging the independent organization of women in communities across the world, PCI’s Women Empowerment (WE) program helps women gain the confidence to become agents of individual and collective change. Rosalba is just one of the 500,000 women across the world whose transformations and self- advocacy have been encouraged by WE. Through the social support and leadership development offered by the program, these women have developed the confidence to save money, start businesses and enact change in their families and communities.

As both a female CEO and philanthropist, I have seen firsthand the ripple effect that just one instance of female empowerment can have. Whether it takes the shape of a small local organization or a high- ranking corporation, a single woman has the capacity to spark massive change in her community and workplace. However, the change can extend far beyond her immediate sphere; just one self-sufficient and prosperous woman-owned business can inspire a hemisphere’s worth of aspiring female CEOs to follow through on their own ideas. As WE’s efforts have proven time and again, empowerment and support are at the core of women’s success stories, and this is why I believe so deeply in establishing mentorship and support in the workplace. Throughout my 20 years of building PIA, I have made a concerted effort to uphold female representation in a traditionally male- dominated industry, working to employ women and support their career growth. Having come from the entertainment industry, one in which women have been continually underrepresented and mistreated (an issue that has come to the forefront of public consciousness in the past year), I developed a passion for encouraging and facilitating the support among marginalized employees that is so desperately needed in the business world. By working to empower and nurture the careers of my female employees, I aim to not only set an example for other creative agencies, but also contribute to the shifting tide of a culture that encourages women to raise their voices and embrace their creativity.

Despite the particulars of cultural barriers, there is little fundamental difference between the work PCI does with women globally and the way businesses should support their female employees. The empowerment of marginalized people is a universal need—one that has been inadequately addressed for too long. As stories like Rosalba’s prove, solidarity and support between women can lead to extraordinary progress; by making enough waves in our own businesses and communities, we can catalyze the broader empowerment of women in all corners of the world.

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