Gender Harmony: The 2017 World Woman Summit

In the last few years a number of conferences have sprung up around a common theme: bringing women together increases the power of our collective voice. The United State of Women, The S.H.E. Summit, The Women’s Convention, and at the end of this month, the World Woman Summit. Convening in Little Rock, Arkansas at the Clinton Presidential Center on September 3oth, the World Woman Summit will bring women together (with some good men) to discuss key issues facing women across the globe and work to increase “Gender Harmony”. Tribe of Women will be there to hear from leaders from around the world and collect their Tribe Stories. The World Woman Summit is a global stage for raising women’s voices and inspiring people around the world, and we look forward to sharing the learning and wisdom we gather.

Who Will Be There?

We look forward to sharing the stories of women and men from around the globe during and after the summit. We are fortunate to already have relationships with a few of these amazing women who have supported and helped grow Tribe of Women. We’re thrilled to be able to be supporting them right back and are proud of their accomplishments and journeys to this global stage.

Holly Fish, founder of Women in Networking, will be giving incredible advice on accelerated networking. A few of Holly’s accomplishments are winning the Women in Business Champion of the year award along with being voted one of the most powerful women in Arkansas by AY magazine for her impact through her volunteer efforts. She has been an integral part of our Tribe from the beginning and we are excited for her to share her light with others. 

Sandy Wright will be moderating the panel discussing “Violence Against Women” during the Summit. Sandy’s personal experiences of domestic violence and abuse led her to form the Brave Woman organization. Sandy aims to help people throughout the country lift up the voices of survivors to help overcome their past and to push people towards a future of freedom. We’re also pleased to announce that she is our featured interview on the TribeTalk podcast in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Lynette Watts was executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas for 6 years and an advocate for women everywhere throughout her career. She has cheered and supported the women of Arkansas and beyond with her passion and leadership for decades and will be presenting the opening remarks for the conference. We are honored to have these women in our lives and see them speaking and impacting the lives of others while continuing their work of awareness, encouragement, education, and inspiration for women around the world.

Why a Summit? 

The World Woman Summit grew out of the World Woman Foundation, a movement started in 2013. The co-founder and CEO, Rupa Dash holds this conference every year to discuss the influence on global issues and hold a global mentorship program for Women in Film. We have been fans of Rupa’s for a long time and were happy to catch up with her before the summit to gain insight on the World Woman Summit and what people can expect.

The World Woman Summit is a “global conversation aimed to get people informed, inspired and ready to impact the world in a positive way.” 

One of the expressed goals of the Summit is to bring a diverse group of women and men together in a place that has both global and local impact. Rupa mentioned how this event is “intended to help bridge the socio-economic inequalities and provide direct engagement in the World Woman Foundation Global Leadership Institute.” The World Woman’s Foundation will also “provide a framework for Gender Harmony ™ which will be a new pathway for co-creating a better world together by accelerating women’s leadership for increased economic sustainability” that attendees can take back to their communities and begin implementing. 

Networking and connecting with other attendees and speakers will be a critical part of the summit as well. In her career, Rupa has seen a need for partnerships to be “more organic and natural” in order for groups to come together and create a better world. She emphasizes the importance and collaboration with women supporting women and is looking forward to seeing women in all stages of life come together and work to address the issues of Economic Development, Social Entrepreneurship, Global Health Equity, and Violence Against Women discussed throughout the Summit. It is important for women to break the cycles of struggle in their life and move forward with confidence.

Bringing the World to You

While at the World Woman Summit, Tribe of Women is looking forward to connecting with people from all over the globe who want to support women. We will collect interviews from conference speakers and attendees to share with you as these women lift up one voice to society and say, “We are here and we stand together!” 

Want to learn more about the World Woman Foundation and the World Woman Summit? Check out their website and social media for more information. Will you be at the Summit? We’d love to meet you! Let us know in the comments below.

Surviving Summer: How Your Tribe Can Help

I think most moms have a love/hate relationship with summer. Sunshine at the pool, vacations, and family time. It’s wonderful when the kids are out of school and the house is full, warm, and loud. But what about our lives? Our work and personal responsibilities have not changed. But instead of having the hours between 8 and 4 to get-stuff-done, we have the added responsibility of the fun, enrichment and entertainment of the growing hearts and minds of our kiddos 24/7. I have far from perfected the summer work/life equation, but in my years of trying and failing, trying and almost succeeding, and trying again (and again), I’ve realized the one thing that makes it all easier is relying on your tribe.

girls playing summer

Asking for help isn’t easy. PMS (perfect mom syndrome) is real (thanks society!), but it isn’t possible. So let’s let that one go, shall we? New society mantra: “We can have it all. Just not all at one time.” Now that we have that covered, we can be open to being honest with ourselves and each other, and comfortable with asking for help.

Lean on your tribe and let your tribe lean on you. I call it “reaching out and reaching back”. You would be there if someone asked, right? You recognize the reach out and you reach back. Your tribe is there to do the same for you. Summer is the perfect time to ask for the help, support, or affirmation when you need it. Here are some “Surviving Summer Tribe Tips” to help you reach out to your tribe:

1. Play-date swaps

Sometimes asking for help is easier when we know we can reciprocate. The “I’ll scratch your back if you busy calendar to do listscratch mine” mind-set is easy to get our heads and hearts around. Have a meeting or desperately need some time to yourself? Make an arrangement with a good friend in the same boat. She takes the kids for a few hours, a few days in a row, or a whole week, and you return the favor. I have a friend who can work from home and so can I. Our projects and “intense times” flex, so we are able to look at our calendars and say, “Hey, I have a busy week in June. Would you be able to take the kids that day (days, week) if I can take them for a day (days, week) in July?” We have dubbed it “Cousin Camp”. The kids love it, and so do we!

2. Work/Play-date together

Go to one another’s house, let the kids play and each of you relax (together or separately), or get some work done. So much of our lives revolves around our kids, so the likelihood that you have found a “kindred spirit mom”, who you like and your kids like to play together, is pretty high. If you’re lucky, they are also a person who doesn’t care if your laundry is done or your floors are vacuumed. The beauty of women together is that we intuit what one another need. There have been times when both my girlfriend and I are heads down at the dining room table and working away when one of the kids comes in. Depending on intensity and deadlines, one of us will get up and take care of things while the other gets-stuff-done. It’s a beautiful thing in every way.

3. Share the struggle

women laughingSummer is hot enough without wearing your stress jacket everywhere you go! You have to learn how to take it off. It’s important to share your frustrations and built up stress with your tribe and not insulate it. That’s why girlfriend dates are so important. Whether it’s for dinner, getting pedicures, grabbing coffee, sitting on the couch with a bottle of wine, or just a phone call (yes, those still exist), find time with your tribe. See each other, hear each other, feel each other. Take solace in your friends with similar struggles and obstacles. Validate each other’s frustrations, and share your own strategies. Take off that damn stress jacket and cool down.

4. Say “yes” to you

I will never stop saying this. Saying “yes” to you is the best gift you can give to others. Schedule time for yourself this summer. relax sleep rejuvenateIt’s rare that you have free time, so when you do have it, use it for rejuvenation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shut the door behind the kids only to turn around to my quiet house to… fold laundry, do dishes, or pay bills. What!? No. Stop it. This will not give you the energy cushion your need to get over the summer hump. When you find free time, use it for you. Get to that yoga class, paint your toenails, go for a run, or (gasp!) take a nap. You heard me ladies: YOU ARE ALLOWED TO NAP. Do whatever is going to refill your cup, not continue to empty it.

Are we perfect mothers? No. Never will be. And that’s okay! “Balance” is a myth if it’s summer or not, and while we do love the family time, vacations, and oddly comforting chaos of summer, it’s okay to admit that it’s hard and we kind of hate it too. Luckily, if we reach out to our tribes, they will be there. And when they reach back we will tribe it right back to them!

Can you relate? Have you figured out some ways to take care of yourself this summer? Comment and share with THE tribe!

Women’s March on Washington – Women Supporting Women

Last weekend, I spent a chilly, overcast day with several hundred thousand other women and men of all ages, colors and creeds on the Mall in Washington DC. Several things compelled me to go to the Women’s March on Washington, but one of my goals was to capture some of the stories of women who would be attending with me – stories that also compelled them to travel to the nation’s capital to make their voices heard.

Women's March on Washington | TribeofWomen.com

As I was traveling, several friends contacted me to wish me well and tell me that I was marching for them because they couldn’t attend a march at home. I cannot put into words how humbled I was by their sincere gratitude for my willingness to do something that I was not at all hesitant to do. It felt a little silly to say “you’re welcome” when I would have gone for the sheer enjoyment of traveling, seeing my brother and his family, eating amazing Lebanese food, and getting to hang out with the friends who flew out with me. Standing up for women’s rights was kind of the cherry on top.

At some point, I realized that if each of the 200,000 attendees that march organizers were anticipating in DC were marching for others, we would be representing an amazing number of women across the country. To our astonishment, the total estimate announced Sunday was around 500,000. Considering how many friends I was representing, there were around 5 million people represented by marchers in DC alone.

Women's March on Washington | TribeofWomen.com
Women were not alone in DC. I would guess approximately 1/3 of the people at the Women’s March were men marching for their partners, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.

Extrapolate that out for the total number of people marching in the entire U.S. – estimated at 3 million – and 30 MILLION people were represented by the women and men who marched last Saturday. Even if you cut that in half to account for people who weren’t representing as many as I was, 15 million is not paltry. Obviously, a lot of people felt strongly about the mission and vision of the event.

But Monday, social media started looking sad. Friends of mine were sharing status updates they found online – some were pretty hateful – about the Women’s March. These posts didn’t just communicate a lack of information about the purpose of the women’s march or ask genuine questions to learn why women marched, they directly questioned the need for the event at all, and in some cases, harshly criticized marchers with personal attacks and name-calling.

Now, I and others like me could simply scroll past these posts and move on, choosing to “go high” when others “go low” (thanks Michelle!). For these situations, I am particularly fond of the “unfollow” feature on Facebook. On the other hand, I strongly believe I have a responsibility to respond. Because, while I most definitely marched for women of color (who have been marching a hell of a lot longer than I have), and my LGBTQIA friends and family, immigrant women raising children my son attends school with, women with disabilities, victims of sexual violence, women who worship in mosques and temples, and the rights of my daughters to be in control of their own reproductive health and earn what they deserve in the workplace, I also marched for women who aren’t aware their rights are being threatened, and who lash out against things they don’t understand with criticism and disdain. To those women, I say “It’s okay if you don’t understand why I chose to march (or even oppose the stated reasons for the march online) – I marched for you anyway.”

Women's March on Washington | TribeofWomen.com

All the freedoms women enjoy today – our freedom to make our own decisions about our healthcare, the ability to take out a loan in our own name, the right to vote, the ability of our daughters to play sports just like your sons, the right to speak out against sexual harassment and demand equal pay in the workplace – ALL of those freedoms were won in part by women who were willing to march. Some of them may were probably told they don’t speak for their peers, but they still marched. I am grateful for those women. And last Saturday, I was proud to take my place in line with those women to keep those freedoms from disappearing.

At the very root of everything Tribe of Women stands for is the desire to create a culture of women supporting women. We have more similarities than differences – we must remember that. I spoke to dozens of women at the march about our mission last Saturday. I watched eyes light up and smiles break across faces when I proposed the idea that we can come from different backgrounds and have different lives and goals, and STILL STAND TOGETHER.

I think I can safely say that we have all been the victim of the normalization of “mean girl” culture in our society: the judgement and criticism that transpires among women, directed toward women they disagree with. The belief that women are inherently mean to each other. We have witnessed useless debates over breast vs. bottle, work outside the home vs. staying home, judging the size of one’s family, are leggings pants or pajamas (yes, some debates are this silly)… the list seems endless.

But in the end, we are all women. We should be demanding the right to decide for ourselves what is right for us, as individuals, based on our own personal life-choices and beliefs. We should be encouraging each other to make those decisions even if they are not the decisions we would make for ourselves. And we should be able to make those personal decisions without suffering the backlash of other women questioning the decisions we have made for ourselves.

It’s simple, really: If you want to understand why I marched, I am happy to share. If you don’t want to march, you don’t have to. But every day, whether or not you know why, I’m still marching for you.

— Laurie Marshall

Trusting Your Inner Voice – How Do You Find It? Why Should You Use It?

Speaking Up

Flashback to a conference room table. Seven men, two women sitting side-by-side, and a presenter are gathered as a professional peer group. Introductions are being made by the leader of the group. He starts with the man next to him, says his name, his company, and what he does. He then proceeds to the first woman, says her name, that she is the girlfriend and better half of her boyfriend, and moves on to the next woman to introduce her as the better half of her husband. He moves on through the rest of the group, introducing each man and including their company and skill-set.

The second woman is older and more experienced, and the introductions of her colleagues is starting to be drowned out by the blood rushing to her ears and her inner voice is saying, “This is wrong.” while the voice of doubt chimes in, “Maybe I heard that wrong or am overreacting.” supporting the voice of society whispering, “I don’t want to sound bitchy.”

Things come back around to the group leader who is preparing to have the presenter speak. “Excuse me.” says the older woman. “I’d like to take just a moment to make sure our presenter has the same background information about everyone at the table.” The ocean sound in her head has cleared with only one voice remaining. She proceeds to share the professional profile of the young woman next to her as well as her own. When she’s done, she smiles, says thank you, and gestures to proceed. No anger, no fist pounding, no name calling. It just needed to be done.

Afterward, the older woman is talking to a male colleague from the group and asks if he noticed the skewed introductions. Nope. Again, the heat rises in her ears in a combination of disbelief, frustration, and anger. Maybe she should have been more forceful, more obvious, and more blatant so that the oversight and correction would be noticed! But someone did notice.

Giving Back

Flash forward to six months after the meeting, the young woman asks the older woman to coffee. They know one another better now, and consider themselves to be friends. The coffee is casual, but the younger woman seems to have something specific she wants to talk about. “Do you remember that meeting?” she asks, describing the day of the sexist introductions. “I couldn’t believe it was happening. I questioned my own sanity and didn’t know what to say or do.  And then you spoke up for us. It woke me up to what happens to women every day, that what I’m experiencing IS real, as well as what I can do about it. I can speak up for myself, and others. Gracefully. Tactfully. But definitely, and without apology.” So, while the older woman was fuming over the fact that the men in the room had not noticed, the person who mattered – who would go forward, listen to her own inner voice from that point forward, affect change, and do the same for others – did.

Woman thinking about love and standing with blackboard behind herOne of thousands

This is one of thousands of stories women experience every day. Opportunities to support other women. Our colleagues, our friends, our daughters of birth or of our heart. Sometimes they are as unconscious as how you conduct yourself. Other times, they are as intentional as reaching out and lifting up through mentoring, volunteering, advocating, or having a work-place strategy like the women of the White House. They all start with trusting your own inner voice, then navigating the jungle of doubt, judgement, and crazy makers to use that voice in speaking up for ourselves and others.

Let’s Talk!

What have you done or experienced in finding, listening and then acting upon your inner voice? What stories do you have? What wisdom can you share? Speak up! Comment on this post or submit your stories at our website. We’re listening, and we hear you.

TEDx Videos are Up!

While the idea for Tribe of Women had been part of my life, and I had written about it for NPR’s “This I Believe”, the seed truly started growing as I prepared to speak at TEDx Fayetteville in 2014.

After the presentation, there seemed to be a buzz in the air about the importance of having a “tribe”, the pervasive culture of “mean girl”, and the role that society and feminism play in how we feel about ourselves and each other. The tribe that one finds or seeks out for oneself often looks different from person to person, but the message is the same. Non-judgemental acceptance and connection, which blossoms into leadership if you’re led in that direction.

To see how it all began, view the TEDx, “I believe in tribes of women” here. To tell your own story and share your beliefs in tribes of women, click here. To help shift the culture of women in our lives, our companies, and our world, join THE tribe here.

We hope you hear us saying We see you! We hear you! We feel you! and join us to help strengthen the bonds of womanhood in a world that seems to need a little bit more of what we have to offer.